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[226] having ascended the river from New Orleans, anchored off Prophet's Island, and the mortar boats took their position, and early in the afternoon commenced a vigorous bombardment of the rebel works. At half-past 9 o'clock in the evening, a red light from the flagship signaled the ships and gunboats to weigh anchor. The “Hartford” led, the “Albatross” being lashed on her starboard side; the “Richmond” followed, having. the “Genesee” lashed to her; next came the “Monongahela” and the “Kineo,” while the “Mississippi” and the “Sachem” brought up the rear. The mortar boats, from their sheltered anchorage, were prepared to renew their bombardment with marked effect so soon as it should be necessary.

Signal lights were flashing along the rebel batteries, showing that they were awake to the movements of the Union squadron. Soon the gleam of a fire kindled by the rebels was seen, which blazed higher and more brilliant till its flashes illumined the whole river opposite the batteries with the light of day. This immense bonfire was directly in front of the most formidable of the fortifications, and every vessel ascending the stream would be compelled to pass in the full blaze of its light, exposed to the concentrated fire of the heaviest ordnance. Still it was hoped, notwithstanding the desperate nature of the enterprise, that a few at least of the vessels of the squadron would be able to effect a

Silently in the darkness the boats steamed along, until a rebel field-piece, buried in the foliage of the shore, opened fire upon the “Hartford.” The challenge thus given was promptly accepted, and a broadside

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