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[204] 32pounder rifled gun. A line of entrenchments about two miles in extent was occupied by the troops.

As the sun rose on the 13th of February, the cannonade from one of the enemy's gunboats announced the opening of the conflict, which was destined to continue for several days and nights. At eleven o'clock the enemy's infantry moved forward upon the entrenchments, along the whole line. They were met by a scorching fire, and were repeatedly driven back. The day closed with the disastrous repulse of the enemy from the trenches at every point of assault. They withdrew their infantry, but kept up an incessant fire of artillery and sharpshooters, by which the Confederates were harassed, and deprived of rest and refreshment.

It was expected that the next day the enemy would renew his attack upon the entrenchments. The morning passed without any indications of such an onset. The smoke of a large number of gunboats and steamboats on the river was observed a short distance below, and information at the same time was received within the Confederate lines of the arrival of reinforcements to the enemy, who was already reported to be more than twenty thousand strong.

At half-past 2 o'clock the Federal fleet drew near the fort. It consisted of six boats, carrying forty-six guns. Five of these iron-plated batteries approached in line of battle, en echelon. They kept up a constant fire for about an hour and a half. Once the boats got within a few hundred yards of the fort. When they reached the point of the nearest approach, the fire on both sides was tremendous. That of the Confederate batteries was too destructive to be borne. Fifty-seven shots struck the flag-ship, and more than a hundred in all, plunged upon the decks of the assaulting fleet. Every boat was disabled, except one, which kept beyond the range of fire. With great difficulty, the shattered iron-clads were withdrawn from the storm of shot hailed from the fort. Fifty-four men were killed and wounded on the boats, while in the batteries not one man was killed or seriously hurt, and no injury was done to the works.

The incidents of two days had been altogether in favour of the Confederates. Their casualties were small; but their sufferings had been extreme. The conflict had commenced on one of the coldest days of winter; the thermometer was twenty degrees below the freezing point; and while the troops watched on their arms in the trenches, it sleeted and snowed. Many of the men had their feet and hands frozen. Their clothes were stiff from frozen water. In the engagement in the trenches, many of the wounded who could neither walk nor crawl had been left in the narrow space between the two armies; and as no flag of truce was allowed, under which they might have been brought off, they lay there in the pitiless weather, calling in vain for help. Many thus died who otherwise might have been saved, and those of the wounded who were recovered alive, not

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February 13th (1)
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