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[459] were so placed that the artillery could not be brought to bear upon them with much effect except by a fatal exposure of the gunners. During all this time a gunboat in the river kept up a continuous fire in all directions, but without effect. General Forrest, confident of his ability to take the fort by assault, which it seemed must be perfectly apparent to the garrison, and desiring to prevent further loss of life, sent a demand for an unconditional surrender, with the assurance that they should be treated as prisoners of war. The answer was written with a pencil on a slip of paper, ‘Negotiations will not attain the desired object.’ Meantime, three boats were seen to approach, the foremost of which was apparently loaded with troops, and, as an hour's time had been asked for to communicate with the officers of the gunboat, it seemed to be a pretext to gain time for reenforcements. General Forrest, understanding also that the enemy doubted his presence and had pronounced the demand to be a trick, declared himself, and demanded an answer within twenty minutes whether the commander would fight or surrender. Meanwhile, the foremost boat indicated an intention to land, but a few shots caused her to withdraw to the other side of the river, along which they all passed up. The answer from the fort was a positive refusal to surrender. Three companies on the left were now placed in an old rifle pit and almost in the rear of the fort, and on the right a portion of Barton's regiment of Bell's brigade was also under the bluff and in the rear of the fort.

On the signal, the works were carried without a halt. As the troops poured into the fortification the enemy retreated toward the river, arms in hand and firing back, and their colors flying, doubtless expecting the gunboats to shell us away from the bluff and protect them until they could be taken off or reenforced. As they descended the bank an enfilading and deadly fire was poured in upon them from right and left by the forces in rear of the fort, of whose presence they were ignorant. To this was now added the destructive fire of the regiments that had stormed the fort. Fortunately some of our men cut down the flag, and the firing ceased. Our loss was twenty killed and sixty wounded. Of the enemy two hundred twenty-eight were buried that evening and quite a number next day. We captured six pieces of artillery and about three hundred fifty stand of small arms. The gunboat escaped up the river.

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N. B. Forrest (2)
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