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 would not have minded, but two dozen were rather more than we had bargained for. But we had ventured too far to think of backing out; through we must go. The first vessel which stood out to engage us was ‘No. 6’ (Kineo), against which we had a particular grudge, inspired by Read, who desired us all to handle roughly any sea-going vessel we should see with ‘No. 6’ on her smoke stack, as that vessel was engaging the McRae, above Forts Jackson and St. Philip when Lieutenant Commander Huger was killed. Read, who was First Lieutenant under Captain Huger, and devotedly attached to him, saw the ‘No. 6’ by the flashes of the guns,1 and had ever since treasured the hope of getting alongside the fellow some day. This ‘No. 6’ came out like a game cock, steamed to the front to take the fire of a great monster from which ‘mustangs’ and river iron-clads were hiding and fleeing. I sent my powder boy to Read with a message to come forward, as his friend was in sight. He came leisurely and carelessly, swinging a primer lanyard, and I think I have never looked at a person displaying such remarkable coolness and self-possession. On observing the numbers ahead his eye was as bright and his smile as genuine as if he had been about to join a company of friends instead of enemies. We were now getting close aboard ‘No. 6,’ and he sheered with his port helm and unmuzzled his eleven-inch pivot gun charged with grape. It was hastily pointed, and the charge fell too low to enter our ports, for which it was intended. This broke the terrible quiet which hung over us like a spell. Every man's nerves were strung up again, and we were ready for the second battle. With a sharp touch of the starboard helm Brady showed me ‘No. 6’ straight ahead, and I gave him a shell through and through, and as we passed he got the port broadside. He did not follow us up. These two shots opened the engagement. Soon we were a target for a hundred or more guns, which poured in an unceasing and terrible fire. Generals Breckinridge, Van Dorn and others viewed the engagement from the top of the Courthouse in Vicksburg, and were appalled at the apparent rashness of attempting the passage. The fire of the enemy was almost unceasing, nor were we idle by any means. As we have said before, every gun was fully manned, and wherever we looked, in every direction, we saw gunboats. It was only necessary to load the guns and fire and we hit. The rams were taking up a position to come out and strike us as we passed. One of them, the Lancaster, was slowly moving across our path, and I
1 The fight occurred about dawn.
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