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[160] and the forts themselves were menaced by the water, which was undermining the friable soil upon which they were erected. Finally, on the 11th of April the floating bar was again considerably injured, although enough remained to form an obstacle difficult to surmount.

On the 18th of April the mortar-boats, which were to open fire, cast anchor two thousand metres from Fort Jackson, along the woods above mentioned, without being discovered by the enemy. In order to disguise them more effectually, their masts and rigging were enveloped with green boughs, while their hulls were plastered over with the reddish clay of the Mississippi. Six of them occupied a more exposed position close to the left shore, but their fire was more certain. A few gun-boats accompanied them. The distances had been calculated with great precision, so that on the morning of the 18th these twenty mortar-boats were able to concentrate their fire upon Fort Jackson. The effects of this terrible bombardment were soon felt, without, however, preventing the fort from replying with vigor. It even soon compelled the six mortar-boats which were not masked by the wood to change position to avoid being sunk, but the exact spot occupied by the rest was not discovered. Finally, toward five o'clock in the evening all the wooden buildings occupying the parade-ground caught fire. This accident suspended the service of the Confederate guns, and the garrison had the greatest trouble in extinguishing the flames. At sunset, after having discharged one thousand five hundred shells, Porter ceased firing. During the night the Federal gun-boats which kept guard succeeded in scattering several fire-ships launched by the enemy.

From the 19th the mortar-boats continued firing without intermission day and night, each of the three divisions composing the flotilla performing this service for four hours. Not having been able to regulate the fuses of the shells properly, Porter determined not to cut them; so that, instead of bursting in the air, these projectiles buried themselves five or six metres deep into the soft earth of the fort, and their explosion, although not very dangerous to its defenders, greatly injured the construction. On the evening of the 20th, Farragut confided to his flag-officer, the brave Bell, one of the best officers in the American navy, the

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