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[221] Preston proceeded to light the fuses and the fires; the latter had been arranged by Engineer Mullan. The officers then got in the boat, and they reached the Wilderness precisely at midnight; her anchor was slipped, and she steamed at full speed a distance of twelve miles, and then hove to. At 1.40 the powder-boat blew up; the shock was hardly felt, and four distinct reports were heard. The fuses were set by the clocks to one hour and a half, and the explosion did not occur until twenty-two minutes later. Commander Rhind says: ‘The zeal, patience, and endurance of officers and men were unsurpassed, and I believe no officer could have been better supported.’

At the anchorage, twenty-five miles from the powder-boat, there was the appearance of distant lightning on the horizon; then came, after a lapse of time, a dull sound, and after a couple of hours a dense powder-smoke that shut out the view and was an hour in passing.

At daylight the different divisions of the fleet stood in at low speed. At 11:30 A. M. the signal was made to engage the forts, the Ironsides leading, and the Monadnock, Canonicus, and Mahopac following. The Ironsides took her position in the most beautiful and seamanlike manner, got her spring out, and opened deliberate fire on the fort, which was firing at her with all available guns.

The Minnesota then took her position in handsome style, closely followed by the Mohican, which ranged ahead and anchored; a few shells gave the range, and then they opened fire rapidly and with precision on the guns in the fort, receiving at the same time their fire. There was a considerable gap in the line, and some fifteen minutes elapsed before the Colorado passed in and ahead, anchored, opened on the fort, and was followed by the other vessels of the line. The other lines then got into position with a moderate degree of success,

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A. C. Rhind (1)
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