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[208] and thirty kilometres from its mouth, and on the 16th of June it made an attack upon two Confederate batteries erected on a spot called St. Charles. This engagement, which took place at a distance of six hundred metres, was most vigorous; at last the weak armor of the Mound City was pierced by a cannon-ball, which burst her boiler, causing a frightful havoc on board that vessel. In an instant the water and scalding steam spread in every direction, burning and suffocating all who were betweendecks; a large portion of the terrified crew jumped into the river only to meet with another kind of death, for those who could swim were nearly all struck by the balls of the enemy. Fiftynine corpses were lying in that unfortunate vessel; forty-nine men had disappeared, and forty-one were wounded; out of one hundred and seventy-five, only twenty-six escaped from this disaster. The other gun-boats in the mean while took the place of the Mound City, which had drifted to leeward with the current, and soon after, a landing-party, turning the Confederate batteries, captured these works with most of their defenders.

About the same period, the naval division of Colonel Ellet appeared above Vicksburg. This place was now the only obstacle which separated the Federal fleets that had come from Cairo and from New Orleans, and was thus blockaded by them both above and below. But its position enabled it to defy all attacks, from whatever side they might come. Six hundred and thirty-two kilometres above New Orleans, the Mississippi, in numerous windings, after running from south-east to north-east, turns abruptly in an exactly opposite direction; it thus forms a flat and marshy strip of land on the right scarcely one thousand two hundred metres in width, and on the left it enfolds the extremity of a long chain of hills, which extend into the interior of the State of Mississippi. Vicksburg is situated on the bluffs which form the extremity of these hills. The Confederate batteries rose, some at the foot, others on the summit of these bluffs; the first swept the surface of the waters contiguous to the place; the others commanded not only the entire peninsula, but also that portion of the river lying beyond. A current running three miles an hour, and an ever-shifting channel, increased still further the difficulties which the Federal fleets had to surmount. Farragut had soon

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