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[40] war vessel steams up at full speed—rushes by—is gone! It is Farragut on the Hartford, in a desperate hurry to open the path to the city. Even while hurrying past he delivers broadside after broadside of shot, shell, grape, canister and spherical case. Watchful eyes at the Confederate batteries are open now to note that behind the bold Hartford are still to pass its companions. Thirteen of these follow, each of which in turn rushes by, making no stay, pouring in broadside after broadside.

Some of the fleet must have been injured by the Confederate batteries. Although no record at the time was kept in Confederate report, one of the sloops-of-war, the Varuna, hoping to strike was badly struck in return by Southern gunners. The enemy had the advantage of the night, the smoke and the rush. For the Confederates, the batteries, with many guns disabled, hurled now and then a shot that through the storm found a target. Had there been ready obedience to the orders of the authorities, the fire-barges would have made the river as bright as day. With such assistance the war vessels would have been seen, and being seen would have been halted with shell and shot. The fight on our side showed a double face—one for the bank, another for the river. In both forts a manly defense was made through days and nights of fire. On the water, a pervading inefficiency was suggested in the naval defense, upon which so many hopes had been built only to break like glass. In this general statement—proved by one brilliant exception—I quote General Duncan: ‘To the heroic and gallant manner in which Captain Huger handled and fought the McRae, we can all bear witness.’ The passage of the fleet was brief in time, as minutes are counted, but long in tension as human hearts beat Between 3:30 a. m. and the daylight at 5:20 it had fulfilled its work for the Union, under a heavy pressure of steam which filled the black night with blacker smoke. Having passed, the vessels anchored below the quarantine, six miles above

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Thomas B. Huger (1)
D. G. Farragut (1)
Johnson Kelly Duncan (1)
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