Commander Porter's report.
Gen. Williams that rebels, in considerable force, under Gen. Breckinridge, were moving on this place. The rebel ram Arkansas, with two gunboats, Webb and Music, were also in the vicinity of the city, to support the attack of the rebel army. I made such a disposition of the naval force under my command, as I thought would give the most aid to our small force on shore. On the morning of the fifth inst., at one A. M., the enemy made an attack on our land forces, and drove in the left wing of our army, killing Gen. Williams. Our men retreating, I opened fire with shot and shell over them on the advancing enemy, and turned them back. It was the intention of the enemy to make a simultaneous attack by land and water, but the fire from the Essex and other gunboats, driving the enemy back, evidently disconcerted their plans. Though not making her appearance, I had information of the vicinity of the ram Arkansas, and this morning I determined to steam up the river and attack her, and, if possible, prevent her rendering further assistance to the land forces she was cooperating with. At ten A. M. I came in sight of her, at about the distance of half a mile, and immediately opened fire. After an action of about twenty minutes, I succeeded in setting fire to her, and at meridian she blew up, with a tremendous explosion. The Arkansas had a crew of one hundred and eighty, and mounted ten guns, (six eight-inch and four fifty-pound rifles.) This vessel, the Essex, mounts seven guns, and had only forty men on duty at the time of our going into action. My First Master, Mr. R. R. Riley, was in sick-hospital, and his place was supplied by Second Master David Porter Rosenmitla, who conducted himself to my entire satisfaction. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. D. Porter, Commanding Division of Flotilla in Western Waters.
Lieutenant Commanding Roe's report.
Katahdin could render no assistance to the place until the afternoon. During yesterday afternoon, the Kineo and Katahdin shelled the enemy, firing clean over the town into his very camps. This we were enabled to do by means of a system of signals established by Lieut. Commanding Ransom, on the tower of the State House, which corrected our aim. Our shells did fine execution, and drove the enemy from his position, and determined him to retreat, he having been repulsed by our troops under Gen. Williams, in the earlier part of the day. The only way we can operate is by firing at extreme elevation, clean over the town of Baton Rouge. This morning Commander Porter, in the Essex, accompanied by the Cayuga and Sumter, started up to attack the Arkansas. The Katahdin and Kineo remained at their stations, near the State House, but were subsequently signaled to follow up and close in with the other vessels, but when nearly up with the enemy, appearances indicated an attack on the town, and we were again ordered back to our stations. In the mean time the Essex engaged the Arkansas for about one hour, when the latter was fired, deserted, and at one P. M. blew up with a terrific explosion. For some unexplained reason, the two consorts of the Arkansas left early in the morning, and advantage was taken of their absence to engage the ram. We have thus had a bloodless victory, but the timely arrival of the Cayuga and our approach in force, no doubt had a good moral effect, as the ram was badly managed and made a poor fight. The enemy are still hovering in the rear of the place. Information is received that to the six thousand troops already in this vicinity, four thousand are approaching from Manchac, and others from Vicksburgh. I keep in constant communication with the Commander-in-Chief of the troops here, ready to open fire when and where he may desire. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Commanding Ransom's report.
Gen. Breckinridge. The Kineo and Katahdin were placed immediately in a position previously indicated to me by Gen. Williams to protect his right flank. But his lines were so much extended, and so completely covered the enemy's approach, that our guns could not be made available with safety to our troops at any time during the morning. In the afternoon, however, we were notified of such changes in the relative positions of the two forces, that we were enabled to open (with tremendous effect, we are informed) upon the enemy's left wing, which caused him to withdraw in much haste, and to fall back several miles. Early in the morning, soon after the attack had been commenced, the smoke of a steamer, supposed, from information received the previous