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[237]

Fort Pillow.

Federal Floating Mortar Battery at Fort Pillow. There would have been no engagement at Fort Pillow had it not been for the continued annoyance inflicted upon that position by the curious little craft--one of which we see tied up to the wharf in the lower picture. Secure in the knowledge that Beauregard's presence with a large force at Corinth had precluded the Federal land attack, General Villepigue awoke one morning to the sound of bursting shells which a Federal mortar boat was rapidly dropping over his ramparts. Every day thereafter, Flag-Officer Foote continued to pay compliments to Fort Pillow by sending down a mortar boat towed by a gunboat of the type seen in the picture. There was nothing for the Confederates to do but take to their bomb-proofs, so long as the Federal gunners continued the bombardment. At last General Villepigue, chafing under the damage done to his works, called urgently upon the Confederate flotilla to come up and put an end to the mortar boats. Early on the morning of May 10, 1862, the day after Flag-Officer Foote went North, leaving Captain Davis in charge of the Federal flotilla, the Cincinnati towed mortar No. 16 down to the usual position for shelling the fort, and then tied up to the edge of the stream to protect her. The mortar fired her first shot at five o'clock. One hour and a half later the eight rams of the Confederate River Defense fleet suddenly and unexpectedly appeared bearing down upon the Cincinnati. The latter quickly slipped her moorings, and opened her bow guns upon the approaching vessels. One of these, the General Bragg, passed quickly above the Federal ironclad, turned and struck her a violent blow on the starboard quarter. After that the Bragg disappeared down the river, but the General Price and the Sumter continued the attack. One struck the Cincinnati again, but the other received a shot through her boilers from the Benton, and this ended her part of the fight. The wounded Cincinnati was helped to the shore and sunk. The other Federal ironclad had now come upon the scene and the melee became general. The General Van Dorn rammed the Mound City so severely that she was compelled to run on the Arkansas shore. After that the Confederate rams returned to Fort Pillow and the half hour's thrilling fight was over.

General J. B. Villepigue, the defender of Fort Pillow

Boats that brought on the battle


 

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J. B. Villepigue (3)
Andrew H. Foote (2)
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Dorn (1)
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Benton (1)
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1)
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May 10th, 1862 AD (1)
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