previous next

[427] occur, and I must tell you of a little affair that happened here, and has created great mirth on our side, notwithstanding the loss of the Queen. I think the loss of that vessel is worse than the affair of the Galveston squadron. I have scarcely patience to write about it or to be amused at any thing.

During the time of the running the blockade by the Queen of the West and the Indianola, five of the guns in the forts at Vicksburgh were burst and dismounted; therefore it was an object to make the enemy fire as much as possible. I got a mortar in easy range and opened on that part of the town where there was nothing but army supplies, and soon provoked a fire of four of their heavy batteries. The shell at first fell over the mortar and around it, bursting close to our men, but the range began to grow shorter, until they let us have it all our own way.

Finding that they could not be provoked to fire without an object, I thought of getting up an imitation monitor. Ericsson saved the country with an iron one--why could I not save it with a wooden one? An old coal-barge, picked up in the river, was the foundation to build on. It was built of old boards in twelve hours, with pork-barrels on top of each other for smoke-stacks, and two old canoes for quarter-boats; her furnaces were built of mud, and only intended to make black smoke and not steam.

Without knowing that Brown was in peril, I let loose our monitor. When it was descried by the dim light of the morn, never did the batteries of Vicksburgh open with such a din; the earth fairly trembled, and the shot flew thick around the devoted monitor. But she ran safely past all the batteries, though under fire for an hour, and drifted down to the lower mouth of the canal. She was a much better looking vessel than the Indianola.

When it was broad daylight they opened on her again with all the guns they could bring to bear, without a shot hitting her to do any harm, because they did not make her settle in the water, though going in at one side and out at another. She was already full of water. The soldiers of our army shouted and laughed like mad, but the laugh was somewhat against them when they subsequently discovered the Queen of the West lying at the wharf at Warrenton. The question was asked, what had happened to the Indianola? Had the two rams sunk her or captured her in the engagement we heard the night before? The sounds of cannon had receded down the river, which led us to believe that Brown was chasing the Webb, and that the Queen had got up past him.

One or two soldiers got the monitor out in the stream again, and let her go down on the ram Queen. All the forts commenced firing and signalling, and as the monitor approached the Queen she turned tail and ran down river as fast as she could go, the monitor after her, making all the speed that was given her by a five-knot current. The forts at Warrenton fired bravely and rapidly, but the monitor did not return the fire with her wooden guns, but proceeded down after the Queen of the West. An hour after this the same heavy firing that we had heard the night before came booming up on the still air.

A rain commenced which defies all efforts to describe, and has been falling ever since, inundating every thing around here, and shutting out all sounds excepting the thunders of heaven, which are reverberating all the time, day and night. You can form as good an idea of affairs below as I can. I shall not believe in the safety of the Indianola until I see her.

The firing of the heavy guns may have been a ruse to entice some more of our gunboats down there, but it won't succeed. Brown may be there and out of coal, and I am afraid to set a coal-barge adrift for fear the ram might pick it up and be enabled to cut around with it, for they have a short supply now.



Richmond Examiner account.

Richmond, Va., March 7, 1863.
In the early part of the war, the Southern Confederacy was much diverted with the Yankee fright at “masked” batteries, little thinking the day would soon come for them to turn the tables on us and join in a general guffaw over our panic at gunboats. During the summer of 1862, the newspapers (believed by the immense Conrad) pleaded earnestly for the fortification of coasts, harbors, and rivers, and endeavored to prepare the public mind for the disasters which would inevitably ensue as soon as the gunboats began to swim in our waters. But Mr. Davis sneered at navies, placed his reliance in the somnolent Mallory, and expended his energies in the creation, on the average, of two brigadiers to each private.

True to the prediction of the newspapers, cherished by the noble Conrad, the gunboats came. They knocked down the mud-banks at Hatteras and alarmed the good people of the Old North State beyond measure. Their next essay was upon Fort Henry, a little pen, which Mr. Benjamin supposed to be placed, as near as he could guess, at the confluence of the Nile and the Ganges. After that the gunboat panic seized the whole country, and it became a serious question at the navy department whether liberty and the Southern Confederacy could exist in the presence of a cannon floating on a piece of wood in the water.

In this state of direful trepidation the unhappy South remained until the night at Drury's Bluff. On that eminence the fragmentary crews of Mr. Mallory's exploded navy were assembled to contest the advance of this modern horror — the iron gunboat. Sailors, marines, and middies did their best, and, with the aid of Providence and some spunky clod-hopper artillery from the neighborhood, succeeded in driving the gunboats off. Here was bravery and skill; but the exploit was no greater than the Chinese had performed on the Peiho. Yet the whole Confederacy threw up its hat, wept, danced, chuckled, and shouted as if Leonidas and Thermopylae had been found


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Brown (3)
David D. Porter (1)
F. Mallory (1)
Leonidas (1)
Ericsson (1)
Jefferson C. Davis (1)
Conrad (1)
J. P. Benjamin (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 7th, 1863 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: