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[226] second attempt was made to destroy the Arkansas by the Essex and the Queen of the West. It was unsuccessful. The former went down stream to join Farragut, and the latter returned to join Davis' flotilla.

It was fortunate that Farragut had not lingered above Vicksburg, for the river was falling and the chances were that with his deep-draft vessels he would have had to remain there. Davis withdrew his fleet to the mouth of the Yazoo and afterward to Helena, Arkansas. Forty per cent. of his men were on the sick-list.

The ram Arkansas, whose hastily built machinery was totally inadequate to the handling of her mighty bulk, had been prepared as well as could be for making a combination with General John C. Breckinridge in the attack upon Baton Rouge. But her engines continually breaking down, she arrived too late, and although Lieutenant Stevens, her new commander, was eager to put his vessel into action, she ran aground, on the 6th of August, just as the Essex hove in sight. Commander William D. Porter at once opened with his bow guns, and seeing that resistance was useless, Lieutenant Stevens set the Arkansas on fire, and with the crew escaped on shore. Shortly afterward the great ram blew up.

When Farragut and Davis had parted company, the waterway from Vicksburg to Port Hudson was practically handed over to the Confederates, who employed their time in strengthening their old works along the river banks and building new batteries at Port Hudson. The light-draft gunboats, familiarly known as “tin-clads,” which had been equipped at the suggestion of Davis, began to join the fleet in the early autumn. Davis employed his vessels on some minor expeditions up the Yazoo and other rivers, but 1862 closed with a gloomy outlook for the Federals along the Mississippi.

From February 1st to April 5, 1863, gunboats were busy on what are known as the bayou expeditions. Admiral David D. Porter had succeeded to the command of the Mississippi

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