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[371]

All Saturday the rebels had fired at intervals, whenever troops appeared in range on the banks, generally using Parrott missiles.

Cooperating with the army was Rear-Admiral Porter, who had brought up three iron-clads and several mosquito vessels from his Mississippi fleet. The former were the Louisville, Lieutenant Commanding E. K. Owen; Cincinnati, Lieutenant Commanding Bache; and De Kalb, (old St. Louis,) Lieutenant Commanding Walker. The Admiral's flag-ship was the armed transport-steamer Uncle Sam.

Saturday evening, at dusk, to determine the enemy's strength, the iron-clads were pushed forward, and engaged the Fort for an hour or two, each being struck, but with trifling loss of life.

Sunday morning was occupied in getting the troops into position and preparing for our struggle.

The enemy, finding themselves outnumbered, had abandoned all their outer works, and retreated to the last and inner line. This, stronger than the others, run at a right angle from the front to the opposite side of the bend. For hundreds of yards in front, trees and bushes had been felled, giving a wide open space swept by cannon and commanded by musketry. Assailants must either charge over this, or make it an artillery duel. Their right was the river fort, a work of unusual strength. Walls twenty feet high, a deep fosse or moat surmounting, and mounting nine guns, two of which were protected by immense bomb-proof casemates shielded with iron, the others being en barbette.

Across the sand-bar, between it and the long reach or channel, were placed guide-frames, by means of which to train the guns accurately upon any approaching vessel. The Fort could also change its fire to the plain, over which assailants would have to advance. The strength of their position was such that, although outnumbered, they expected to hold it successfully, and men would occasionally ride along their front, planting rebel flags. Our army stretched across, distant but half a mile, part slightly sheltered by a ravine, the others among the enemy's barracks, which, numerous and strong, gave a measure of protection.

Gen. Sherman's corps held the right, disposed as follows: In Gen. Steele's division, Gen. Hovey's brigade holding the right, Gen. Thayer's the centre, and Gen. Blair's the left.

In Gen. Stuart's division, Acting Gen. G. A. Smith's brigade the right and G. K. Smith's the left. The General Morgan's corps holding the army's left. A. J. Smith's division, Burbridge's and Landrum's brigades, Sheldon's brigade, in Osterhaus's division, resting on the river-bank, the extreme left. Gens. Lindsay's and De Courcy's commands of the latter division, had been sent along the opposite shore when first landed, to cut off escape on that side.

A simultaneous attack was to take place by both fleet and army. Our batteries had all been placed in position, and the enemy, alarmed, commenced shelling every position of the army exposed to view. Their missiles fell thick, and ambulances commenced going to and fro.

These carts with the red flags soon became busy enough hunting their loads. Just at noon the gunboats moved up, and went into action. The firing was instantaneous and terrific on both water and land; no feeble bombardment and manoeuvring, but a joint outburst from both army and navy. The Fort directed its fire upon the fleet, the gunboats pouring their welcomes into the casemates. The rebels hurled at our navy its own nine-inch shell, captured two weeks previously on the Blue Wing. Above the Fort the air was filled with dirt, bars of iron, and splinters. Vessels were hit repeatedly, and occasionally some huge shell would enter a port-hole or penetrate the wood, and burst inside. With the army, all our batteries along its front were in action, and the musketry incessant.

The plain was swept by canister and ball in every direction, shell coming rapidly and accurately from each rebel battery. Behind their works, at short intervals, were placed field-pieces. The horses of these, and the rows of dodging heads, were all that could be seen. Protected by their earth-works, and possessing a great advantage over us, they fully appreciated it, and no portion of flesh belonging to the Confederacy was needlessly exposed. The merciless pelting of bullets into our ranks grew more rapid and deadly as we slowly advanced. As for the artillery, it could not be fired faster than it had been from the first.

Our own batteries did excellent execution, dismounting one or two guns, and slaughtering their horses rapidly. The musketry proved less successful, although half the line was in action. The assailed exposed one tenth of their body, the assailants the whole, and thus the dice which death was throwing gave them odds of ten to one.

Fortunately, the quarters were not close enough to avail them much. Had they been, the place would now be dearly bought.

General Thayer, as usual, foremost where duty called, had his favorite horse shot under him. His brigade was composed of the Fourth, Ninth, Twenty-sixth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-fourth Iowa regiments, and First Iowa battery, who suffered severely. Acting-General G. A. Smith's brigade was warmly engaged, and he, also, while leading at the extreme front, had his horse shot. The Eighth Missouri, which name seems ever present where gallant actions are concerned, had been pushed into the hottest fire. Well led by Lieutenant-Colonel Coleman, who was slightly wounded, it suffered severely. Five officers were killed and disabled. Brave Kirby, its Major, had his horse shot, and was considerably bruised by the animal falling. Lieutenant Lee Morgan received a ball through the face. Capt. Jameson, wounded in arm at an early moment, refused to retire, and fearlessly led his men through the action. Lieut. B. W. Musselman, although on the sick list, joined his company and did good service.

In General Morgan's corps matters went equally


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