previous next

[548] much like a third part of the full moon when apparently magnified, it is rising above the horizon. The flame glowed brilliant and beautiful; no smoke was visible to dim its splendor. It was a beacon light, placed in a position to throw its beams along each arm of the bend of the river, the convex side of which is turned toward Vicksburgh. So powerful was the light, that at the point where our fleet was moored, the shadow of a hand held a foot from the boat's side was distinctly thrown upon it. This beacon with treacherous fidelity, showed to the foe the now fast disappearing boats; but, happily, it was fired too late. The sight of the boats appeared to add new rage to the enemy, who could not fail to count the cost to him of such a fleet joining Farragut's three gunboats already between Vicksburgh and Port Hudson. The firing became more rapid. From the upper batteries to the last ones down at Warrenton leaped flame on flame. The dull echo of the cannon, and the whirr and shriek of the flying shells startled the midnight air. But now comes a roar which tells that our boys are awake and lively! The light that showed the boats to the enemy revealed to our men the outlines of the batteries, and the roar which deafens the ear to every other sound is the peal of the heavy pieces on our gunboats.

After an interval of maddest rage, the upper guns of the enemy almost cease their fire. It is evident our boats have passed the first-reached batteries — all that have escaped the deadly onset. That no large portion of them is missing is evident from the activity of the forts at Warrenton, and the answering thunders of our own guns.

By this time the beacon-light was burnt down, and ceased to render its cruel aid. Just as the gathering darkness and the yet longer and longer intervals of silence gave intimation that the exciting scene was nearly over, another startling incident woke anew the emotions of the time. Midway between the extinct beacon in the city and the lower batteries at Warrington a new glow of light, soft as the dawn but rapidly blushing into deeper intensity, climbed gently toward the sky. “They are lighting another beacon,” shouted many voices; but again the speakers were mistaken. The light grew stronger every moment; it wanted the mellow, vivid, space-piercing brilliancy of the beacon; above it rolled volumes of thick and curling smoke; and more — the light with slow and equal pace was moving onward, passing down the stream! There was no disguising the truth--one of our own boats was on fire! The white color of the smoke showed that among the fuel to the flame was cotton. The inference was plain; it was not a gunboat but a transport that was burning. On floated the doomed vessel; her light doubtless exposed to the rebels' view the floating flat-boats and barges, for the firing, especially from the Warrenton batteries, was for a short time violently renewed.

The glow of the burning boat continued in sight until the beams of morning hid its glare. Before this, however, the solemn drama had reached its termination. The spectators reluctantly retired to their cabins when nothing remained to engaged the attention but the flaming wreck, and scattering shots--

The distant and random gun,
That the foe was sullenly firing.

It was not until noon to-day that any account of the fate of the expedition reached this place. We then learned briefly that the whole of the eight gunboats had reached their journey's end without having suffered any material damage. On the Benton, Porter's flag-ship, one man was killed and two wounded by the explosion of a shell. The boat that was burned was the transport Henry Clay; her crew got safely to shore. She was set on fire by a shell exploding among the cotton with which her engines were protected. She was loaded principally with commissary stores and forage, including a large amount of soldiers' rations and oats for the cavalry.

--New--York Tribune.

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 Places (automatically extracted)
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.
David D. Porter (1)
D. G. Farragut (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: