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[62]

The bombardment of Island No.10, above described, commenced on March 15th, and was continued night and day. Up to April 1st the enemy fired several thousand thirteen-inch and rifle shells. On March 17th a general attack with five gunboats and four mortar boats was made, and continued nine hours without any serious result. Finally the forces of the enemy were greatly increased, and began to occupy both banks of the river, and also the river above and below the island, when a portion of our force retired, and about April 7th the remainder surrendered.

The fleet, on April 12th, proceeded next to Fort Pillow, about one hundred eighty miles below Island No.10, and a bombardment was commenced the next day. This was continued without effect until the night of June 4th, when both Forts Pillow and Randolph, the latter some twelve miles below the former, were evacuated—these positions having become untenable in consequence of the withdrawal of our forces from Corinth and the adjacent portion of Tennessee.

Nothing now remained to oppose the enemy's fleet but our gunboats at Memphis, which were, say, seventy miles farther down the river. The gallantry and efficiency displayed by our improvised river navy at New Madrid and Island No.10 gave rise to hopes scarcely justified by the number of our vessels or their armament. Our boats had fewer guns than those of the enemy, and they were less substantially constructed, but their officers and crews took counsel of their country's need rather than of their own strength. They manfully engaged the enemy, and disabled one of his rams, but after an hour's conflict were compelled to retire.

The possession of Memphis being no longer disputed, its occupation by the enemy promptly followed.

At an early period of the war the government of the United States organized some naval and military expeditions, with a view to capturing our harbors, occupying an extensive tract of country in their vicinity, and especially obtaining possession of a portion of our cotton crop. The first movement of this kind was by a fleet of naval vessels and transports which appeared off Hatteras Inlet on August 27, 1861. This inlet is a gap in the sandy barrier that lines the coast of North Carolina about eighteen miles southwest of Cape Hatteras. It was the principal entrance to Pamlico Sound, a large body of water lying between the sandy beach and the mainland. The channel of the entrance had about seven feet of water, and was protected by two small forts constructed on the sand. Our forces were under the command of Captain Samuel Barron, an officer of distinction formerly in the United States Navy. After a short

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