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[472] expressed the desire to clear the river of all obstructions with his navy and land batteries, thus facilitating Hood's advance movement.

A steady rain began to fall. The roads, naturally rough and hilly, became miry and difficult to pass with artillery. Frequently, at sudden bends in the river, the road would diverge and throw our land forces some distance out of range, and from cover of the gunboat and transport. Our command encamped the night of the 1st south of the crossing of the Memphis and Clarksville railroad over the Tennessee river, the gunboat and transport anchoring under shelter of our batteries.

The location of General Bell's encampment was some two miles north of Morton's battery, in a large cypress grove, near the river bank. As we subsequently learned, this gallant command, always a favorite with the artillery, had pitched their oil-cloths and blankets — they had no tents — as best they could to protect themselves from the threatening rain. Some were drying themselves before the blazing pine fires, others were preparing their scanty meals, while others, from the fatigue of the march, had fallen asleep, and, no doubt, were dreaming of dear ones at home, or “the girl they left behind them,” when suddenly the roar as of distant thunder was quickly followed by the crashing of the cypress trees above and around, caused by the explosion of thirty-two-pounder shells right in the camp, producing confusion and naturally a first-class panic, not only among the horses, but among the men. Gallant soldiers and otherwise intrepid officers could be seen running in almost every direction, frequently running over one another, carrying with them the first thing they could lay hands upon; one had a saddle, another a camp-kettle, a bridle or a musket, while still others were dashing through the woods on horseback without saddle, and frequently without saddle or bridle, while they themselves were without coats, and often hatless. The advance of these wild men on horses struck the artillery camp, and, arousing the officers and men, declared “the gunboats were right down there in the woods, and moving right into our camp.” Some who had lost their horses and their way out of the dense forest, concealed themselves behind logs and stumps, after awhile crawled back and extinguished the fires, and a dead silence reigned throughout the camp.

Several gunboats, approaching from below, were attracted by the bright camp-fires, and, shelling the woods with great accuracy, caused this amusing incident, which was so often laughed over by the boys.

It rained continually throughout the night, making the roads still more difficult for artillery, especially with half-fed and worn-out horses, so that our fleet steaming ahead of land batteries precipitated an unequaled

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John W. Morton (1)
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