previous next

[476] suitable officer to take charge of his “fleet.” At this time I had never met General Forrest. A few hours later I was ordered by the General to examine the gunboat Undine, with a view of taking charge of her, and to report to him if she needed anything to make a cruise. I reported her hull and machinery intact, armament and ordnance good, but no provisions and fuel for one day's steaming. An ox was driven under the bank and butchered, a few barrels of hard-tack from the Mazeppa was rolled on board, twenty cords of pipe-staves were taken from the river bank to be used as fuel in lieu of coal, when I reported to General Forrest the flagship was ready for duty.

The crew was as impromptu as the supplies, made up from material on hand. But the crew was the best part about it. The vessel was but little better than a wreck, whilst the crew was selected from my old battery, all of them tried men in heavy and light artillery. A large part of them had done volunteer duty on the Arkansaw ram in the terrible conflict with the whole Mississippi-river fleet at Vicksburg.

My pilots, engineers, mates and fireman were detailed from the transports captured; they all denied being in the marine service of the United States, so there was nothing wrong in impressing citizens found on our soil. Before the war I was a steamboat man, so you will see from commander down every one was familiar with the duties devolving upon him. Lieutenant-Colonel Dawson was to take charge of the transport Venus with our two six-inch “Parrot” guns that had done so much work the day before. I arranged with Colonel Dawson a class of signals, very simple but understood by ourselves. The Undine was to take the lead, running about one mile ahead. A long blast from the whistle indicated no enemy in sight; short, quick, consecutive blasts was, the enemy in sight in force, retire quickly. Everything was now arranged and understood, and we were about to start when some one noticed we had no flag to designate our nationality. Not a Confederate flag could be found. The Captain of General Forrest's escort gave us his battle-flag. In lieu of ropes to hoist it a boy climbed the mast-pole and nailed it to the mast, where it remained until it went up in fire and smoke.

We started on a cruise of observation, the whole command following along the bank of the river. We would steam along slightly in advance, occasionally catching a glimpse of the enemy's cavalry on the opposite side of the river.

Late in the afternoon of the 1st, I think, of November, we had steamed several miles in advance of our land support. We were running on slow bells, about one mile in advance of the Venus. On turning

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)
Mississippi (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
N. B. Forrest (3)
W. A. Dawson (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November (1)
1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: