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[498] in such manner as to check the advance of the land forces, and to bring intelligence of their approach. I had previously built a line of bonfires along the banks of the river, which were to be ignited by Captain Purvis's pickets in case the boats attempted to pass at night. I also called upon Captain Purvis for an additional guard for the fort, to serve as infantry.

To Captain Thomas O. Benton, commanding Bell's battery, I assigned the command of all the artillery on the fort, and to Captain William B. Spencer, Company F, Eleventh Louisiana battalion, I assigned the command of all the infantry. Lieutenant A. R. Abercrombie, Superintendent of Heavy Artillery Drill, personally inspected the management of the heavy artillery during the action, and Lieutenant J. D. Girtman, the light artillery, the fire of which was very effective.

All the heavy artillery were manned by Captain Spencer's company of infantry, which had been drilling for some time in heavy artillery, commanded by Lieutenants C. C. Duke, D. Castleberry and A. D. Parker.

This disposition of the troops having been made, and all being in readiness, on the receipt of the first intelligence the long roll was beaten, and the troops, with spirit and enthusiasm, awaited the attack of the enemy.

All the government stores were moved to the large commissary in the fort, and the few remaining citizens notified to leave the town. Officers and men laid on their arms all Saturday night, a vigilant guard being kept.

At daylight, Sunday, 10th instant, the smoke from the gunboats was in sight, but the boats themselves did not appear before 1 o'clock that day. They were the iron-clad Pittsburg, the Arizona, General Price, and ram Switzerland. They rounded the bend two miles distant, and proceeded up the reach in line of battle to a point a mile and a half from the fort.

Not wishing to throw away a single shot, I took position in the lower casemate and issued orders that fire should not be opened until the lower gun was fired as a signal. Just when we expected the boats to open fire, a yawl bearing a flag of truce was observed approaching the fort. Anticipating that its object was to demand the surrender of the fort, I deputized Captain Benton and my Adjutant, Lieutenant James G. Blanchard, to meet the yawl, with instructions, in case of such a demand, to respond that ‘we would hold the fort forever.’

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William B. Spencer (2)
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