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[483] went screaming through the cypress trees, tearing the limbs like a tempest. The sky seemed darkened with the deadly missiles flying from fifty guns. The striking of our shot and shell against the enemy's boat could be distinctly heard. Tree-tops were pierced by the enemy's shell and dropped upon our guns, but were quickly removed and the firing resumed. The big guns from the forts bore down heavily upon Thrall, shivering the rammer staffs in the hands of his men, but sunk deep into the loose soil and exploded without harm. Soon the agonizing screams of the wounded and scalded were heard across the broad river, when we called the attention of Colonel Rucker to a gunboat in flames. The Colonel, waving aloft his sword, cried out, “Three cheers for Morton's Artillery!” Quickly other boats were afire. Generals Forrest, Buford and Bell now came up to our position, puffing and blowing bringing with them by hand the section of Morton's battery--Lieutenant Brown commanding — from the works below, and all full of enthusiasm. General Forrest now acted as gunner, General Buford, No. 1, loaded the piece and General Bell, No. 4, fired it. They took the greatest delight in their novel work. We had a distinguished lot of cannoneers, though awkward in the “step.”

General Forrest would cry out, “Load, ready, fire!” with the vim of an old artillerist. As the gun was discharged he would call out to Major Tom Allison, of his staff, to “note the effect of the shot.” Once the Major sang out, “Too short, General,” when Forrest replid, “Good shot, boys! ricochet; it will go right through her!” and as he would strike too high, to use his own phrase, would “elevate the breech of the gun lower.” At each discharge the gun would recoil some distance, as it was on an inclined plane. Forrest would cry out, “Run her up, boys!” when Buford and Bell, assisted by the cannoneers, would run the gun by hand into position.

In the meantime Morton ordered Zarring to turn his guns upon the upper fort, and soon he was exploding his shells within its walls, though more than a mile distant and elevated at least one hundred feet above his level.

Thrall's guns were turned upon two transports lying a short distance above the landing, and soon succeeded in setting them afire; their cables burning, they drifted with the current, and, coming in contact with other transports and the barges tied up at the landing, they, too, were speedily in flames. In about two hours from the firing of the signal gun every transport and barge was on fire. We now directed our batteries to the destruction of the warehouses and supplies ashore.

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N. B. Forrest (5)
Buford (3)
Jesse K. Bell (3)
J. B. Thrall (2)
John Morton (2)
Lemuel Zarring (1)
E. W. Rucker (1)
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