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 on before his vessels could be put in motion. It was impossible, however, to delay any longer. The Federal ships filed before the enemy's works, steering their course by the light of the Confederate guns. They were struck by a few cannon-balls, but none of them were stopped, and before daybreak Farragut's entire fleet was again assembled below Vicksburg, ready to bar the passage against the Arkansas. The latter, not being provided with a sufficiently strong engine to manoeuvre in the midst of the current, which is very strong in that part of the river, did not dare to attack him. On the 22d of July, the Federals made another attempt to get rid of this inconvenient neighbor. The Essex, one of Ellet's ships, commanded by W. D. Porter,1 was charged with this duty. At four o'clock in the morning she descended the river, and, without returning the fire of the Confederate batteries, steered under full steam toward the Arkansas, which lay at anchor close to the shore, and struck her violently with her beak; but the blow glanced off, and the Essex ran aground upon a shoal. While endeavoring to extricate herself, she discharged her guns at close range against her stationary foe, causing her much damage. But the Confederates in their turn concentrated all their guns upon the Essex, while their infantry opened a still more destructive fire with their rifles, compelling her to retire. After waiting in vain for the two fleets to come to his assistance, Porter slowly descended the river and joined Farragut's ships, having had his armor pierced by only two balls. The injuries received by the Arkansas were repaired, and the Federals were obliged to acknowledge that it would be impossible, with the means at their disposal, to reduce Vicksburg, the fortifications of which were growing every day. They had vainly tried to avoid them, by cutting a channel through the narrow tongue of land enfolded by the waters of the Mississippi in passing before the city; under the influence of the summer heats, the level of the river fell faster than they could dig the channel. The heat decimated Williams' soldiers, who were employed in this rough and thankless work. The crews of the fleet were also terribly reduced
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