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[163]

The story of the Arkansas.

By George W. Gift.

No. 3.

Our arrival at Vicksburg was hailed with delight by all the army. The officers came on board to see the marks of the struggle, whilst squads of eager privates collected on the bank to get a near view of the wonderful craft which had just stood so much hammering. This attracted a daring band of sharpshooters to the other bank, and we were forced to open with our heavy guns to disperse them, which was easily accomplished by half a dozen discharges. The enemy below showed decided signs of demoralization. A mortar-boat which had been allowed to get aground was hastily set on fire and blown up. A sea-going vessel (commanded by Craven), left to guard the transports, sprung her broadside athwart the stream to be ready for an attack. Everything got up steam and Porter's flag-boat opened with a hundred-pounder Parrott gun in a spiteful, angry fashion, throwing her shot over and beyond us. If we had had a smoke-stack, and proper boiler fronts, and good engines, and a new crew, and many other things, how we would have made a smash of those fellows! But as our smoke-stack was so riddled, the draft was destroyed, and as our engines were troublesome, faulty affairs, and our crew were nearly all killed, wounded, or used up, we had to bide where we were, and see this chance slip away from us. Read cast many longing glances down the river, and I think would have been perfectly willing to undertake the task, broken down as we were. But there is a limit to human endurance; we could do no more, and we rested. During the day the telegraph informed Captain Brown that he had been promoted to the rank of Commander, and we were thanked from Richmond for our brilliant achievement. Our dead were removed on shore for burial and our wounded were taken to an army hospital. As soon as we arrived at Vicksburg the detachment of soldiers left us to rejoin their command, which reduced our force to a very low ebb. As well as we could, we put the ship to rights, and the day wore away. As soon as dark began to set in it was evident that the enemy meant mischief.

Everything was under way, and soon the guns from the upper battery opened quick and sharp, to be replied to by the broadsides of the heavy ships coming down—the Richmond (Alden) leading. Our plucky men were again at their quarters, and steam was ready, should we be

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Fitz John Porter (1)
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