me that this matter would be attended to as soon as he arrived on board. To my utter surprise, not one single fire-barge was sent down the river, notwithstanding, at any hour of this night. It was impossible for us to send them down, as everything afloat had been turned over to Captain Mitchell, by order of the Major-General commanding, and the fire-barges, and the boats to tow them into the stream, were exclusively under his control. In consequence of this criminal neglect, the river remained in complete darkness throughout the entire night. The bombardment continued all night, and grew furious toward morning.
April 24.At 3.30 A. M., the larger vessels of the enemy were observed to be in motion, and, as we presumed, to take up the positions indicated by the small flags planted by them on the previous evening. I then made my last and final appeal to Captain Mitchell, a copy of which is attached as document M. The Louisiana was still in her old position above Fort St. Philip, surrounded by her tenders, on board of which was the majority of her cannoniers and crew, and the other boats of the fleet were generally at anchor above her, excepting the Jackson, Captain Renshaw, C. S. N., commanding, which had been sent the day before, at my suggestion, to prevent the landing of forces through the canals above. The McRae lay near and above the Louisiana, and the steam-ram Manassas, with her tender, remained in her constant position above Fort Jackson, both with steam up, and ready for immediate action. The enemy evidently anticipated a strong demonstration to be made against him with fire-barges. Finding, upon his approach, however, that no such demonstration was made, and that the only resistance offered to his passage was the expected fire of the forts — the broken and scattered raft being then no obstacle — I am satisfied that he was suddenly inspired, for the first time, to run the gauntlet at all hazards, although not a part of his original design. Be this as it may, a rapid rush was made by him, in columns of twos in echelon, so as not to interfere with each other's broadsides. The mortar-fire was furiously increased upon Fort Jackson, and in dashing by, each of the vessels delivered broadside after broadside of shot, shell, grape, canister, and spherical case, to drive the men from our guns. Both the officers and men stood up manfully under this galling and fearful hail, and the batteries of both forts were promptly opened at their longest range, with shot, shell, hot shot, and a little grape, and most gallantly and rapidly fought, until the enemy succeeded in getting above and beyond our range. The absence of light on the river, together with the smoke of the guns, made the obscurity so dense that scarcely a vessel was visible, and in consequence, the gunners were obliged to govern their firing entirely by the flashes of the enemy's guns. I am fully satisfied that the enemy's dash was successful, mainly owing to the cover of darkness, as a frigate and several gunboats were forced to retire as day was breaking. Similar results had attended every previous attempt made by the enemy to pass or to reconnoitre, when we had sufficient light to fire with accuracy and effect. The passage was of short duration, having been accomplished between three and a half A. M., and daylight, under a very rapid and heavy pressure of steam. Of the part taken in this action by the Louisiana, Manassas, and the other vessels composing the co-operating naval forces, I cannot speak with any degree of certainty, excepting that the Louisiana is reported to have fired but twelve shots during the engagement. But to the heroic and gallant manner in which Captain Huger handled and fought the McRae, we can all bear evidence. The Defiance, Captain McCoy commanding, was the only vessel saved out of the river fleet. Shortly after daylight the Manassa was observed drifting down by the forts. She had been abandoned and fired, and was evidently in a sinking condition. The McRae was considerably cut up in this action by shot and grape. The Resolute was run on shore about a mile above the forts, where she hoisted a white flag, but by the prompt action of the McRae, she was prevented from falling into the hands of the enemy. She was subsequently wrecked and burned. The Warrior was run ashore and fired on the point just above Fort St. Philip. Nothing was known by us of the movements of the Stonewall Jackson, the Governor Moore, or the General Quitman. The steamers Mosher, Music, and Bell Algerine, in charge of the fire-barges, were all destroyed. So was also the Star. The heroic courage displayed by the officers and men at both forts was deserving of a better success, especially after the fortitude which they constantly exhibited through the long tedium of a protracted bombardment, unsurpassed for its terrible accuracy, constancy, and fury. Thirteen of the enemy's vessels, out of twenty-three, succeeded in getting by, viz.: the Hartford, Pensacola, Richmond, Brooklyn, Mississippi, Oneida, Iroquois, Cayuga, Wissahickon, Sciota, Kineo, Katahdin, and Pinola. In addition to the foregoing, and to Varuna, and such other vessels as were sunk, there were six gunboats and one frigate engaged in this action, besides the mortar-flotilla. Heavy chains were flaked along the sides of the most of these vessels as an iron-proof protection. The extent of the damage which was done to the enemy we have no means of ascertaining. The vessels which passed all came to an anchor at or below quarantine, six miles above the forts, where they remained until about ten o'clock A. M., when they all passed slowly up the river, with the exception of two gunboats left at the quarantine as a guard. Shortly after the fleet above got under weigh, a gunboat from below made her appearance with a