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[389] when the explosion occurred, and took the precaution to close the trap-door, thus keeping out a quantity of steam. There was still enough to make breathing almost impossible that came through the windows in front of us. I had sufficient presence of mind to cram the tail of my coat into my mouth, and thus avoid scalding. Shortly we discovered that to remain would induce suffocation, and we opened the trap-door, and, blinded by steam, sought the stern of the vessel. Groping about the cabin, tumbling over chairs and negroes, I sought my berth, seized an overcoat, leaving an entire suit of clothes, my haversack, and some valuable papers behind, and emerged upon the hurricane-deck. The shell were flying over my head, and here was obviously no place for me to remain. Looking over, I saw the woolly pate of a negro projecting over the stern below me, and, calling to him to catch my coat, I swung myself over by a rope, and landed directly upon the rudder. At this time it was suggested that a boat be sent to hurry up the De Soto, and among those who entered it was your correspondent. We reached it in about ten minutes, passing on the way several men on cotton-bales, among them Col. Ellet and McCullogh of the Commercial. Almost exhausted, the occupants remained behind, while another crew was sent up to pick up survivors.

The yawl had reached the boat and was busily engaged in picking up the crew, when three boat-loads of confederate soldiers cautiously approached the vessel and boarded her. Of course there was no resistance, and our boys became their prisoners.

The De Soto hearing several men shout from the shore, “Surrender,” was allowed to float downstream, picking up as she floated several who had escaped on cotton-bales. When she reached a point ten miles below, the yawl overtook her with others who had been similarly preserved.

We reached the Era No. 5 and found her all right. Our coal-barge was leaking badly and hard aground. Of course, we had to leave it. The De Soto had unshipped both rudders and became unmanageable, and it was concluded to destroy her, lest, with her valuable gun, she should fall into the enemy's hands. Her pipes were knocked out, a shovelful of live coals placed in her cabins, and she was soon destroyed.

It was now ten o'clock Saturday night, and if we would escape more intimate acquaintance with Southern society and Southern prison life, we must make every exertion now. With a sigh for the poor fellows left behind, and a hope that our enemies would be merciful, the prow of the Era was turned toward the Mississippi. The night was a terrible one, thunder, lightning, rain, and fog. I doubt if under any other circumstances Red River would be deemed navigable. All hands were set to work to throw overboard the corn, to lighten her up, and we are slowly crawling down the river. We know to a certainty that we shall be pursued. The gunboat Webb is lying at Alexandria, and we know that she will start in pursuit of us whenever she learns of the destruction of the Queen and of the escape of a portion of her crew. Our only hope lies in reaching the Mississippi quickly, whence we shall make the best of our way to Vicksburgh. The Webb is a model of speed, and can make fourteen miles an hour against the current. If we do not get aground, and if our machinery does not break, we hope to outrun her. If I am captured, a visit to Vicksburgh will be my portion. We shall see.

The following is the loss by the capture of the Queen of the West, as far as I can ascertain:

Prisoners.--Cy. Eddison, Second Master; Henry Duncan, Third Master; David Taylor, Engineer, (scalded;) D. S. Booth, Surgeon; First Master Thompson, (wounded on the Atchafalaya;) Adjutant C. W. Bailey; one blacksmith, name unknown; George Andrews, James Foster, carpenters; L. C. Jarbou, Thomas Williams, David McCullom, Charles Launer, Carrol Smith, Ed. Hazleton, Charles Faulkner, John A. Bates, Norton F. Rice, Wm. Brown, Geo. W. Hill, soldiers; Mr. Anderson, of the Herald, and about thirty negroes.

Killed.--George Davis jumped overboard from the De Soto, and is supposed drowned.

The above list are the names of those who floated down the river and were not picked up by the De Soto. They will probably be captured by the next confederate steamer in these waters, probably the Webb, as she pursues us.

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