Col. R. Q. Mills, with his regiment, to drive them from the position, which he did most successfully, capturing several prisoners. Just before dark Admiral Porter moved up with several of his ironclads to test the metal of our fort. Colonel Dunnington, who commanded the fort, was ready in an instant to receive him. The fire opened and the fight lasted nearly two hours, and finally the gunboats fell back in a crippled condition. Our loss was slight, that of the enemy much heavier. During the night I received a telegraphic dispatch from you [Holmes] ordering me ‘to hold out till help arrived or until all dead,’ which order was communicated to brigade commanders, with instructions to see it carried out in spirit and letter. Next morning I made every disposition of my forces to meet the enemy in the desperate conflict which was soon to follow. Colonel Deshler with his brigade, with the regiment of Colonel Dawson attached, commanded by Lieut.-Col. A. S. Hutchison, occupied the extreme left; Colonel Garland with his brigade, with his right resting on the fort, while Colonel Dunnington commanded the river defenses. It was near 12 o'clock before the enemy got fully into position, when he commenced moving upon my lines simultaneously by land and water. Four ironclads opened upon the fort, which responded in gallant style with its three guns. After a continuous fire of three hours, they succeeded in silencing every gun we had, with the exception of one small 6-pounder Parrott gun, which was on the land side. Two boats passed up and opened a cross-fire upon the fort and our lines. Still we maintained the struggle. Their attack by land was less successful; on the right they were repulsed twice in attempting to storm our works, and on the left were driven back with great slaughter in no less than eight different charges. To defend this entire line of rifle-pits, I had but one battery of field pieces, under command of Captain Hart, to whom great credit is due for the successful manner in which they were handled, contending as he did with fifty pieces in his front. The fort had been silenced now about an hour, most of the field pieces had been disabled, still the fire raged furiously along the entire line, and that gallant band of Texans and Arkansans, having nothing to rely upon now save their muskets and bayonets, still disdained to yield to the overpowering foe of 50,000 men who were
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