Doc. 127.-battle at Paducah, Ky.
Paducah, March 29, 1864.The smoke of the battle of Paducah has at length cleared away, and we may add another chapter to the history of the war of the rebellion — to us, of this city, the most eventful chapter written. On Thursday, the twenty-fourth instant, Union City, sixty-five miles distant, was attacked and surrendered to Colonel Faulkner, of the rebel army. The news speedily came to Paducah, with a note of warning to our commander to prepare for an attack. Colonel Hicks having been apprised of the concentration of rebel forces south of here for some days previous, needed nothing to stimulate him to increased activity in the means of defence. Rumor had a busy day playing on her “harp of a thousand strings” on Friday, the twenty-fifth, till about two o'clock in the evening, when all of a sudden the presence of a large rebel force in the suburbs of our city was no longer a doubtful  question. I beheld what I supposed to be a flag of truce moving up Broadway, our principal business street. Starting at once to provide for the safety of my family, believing that half an hour at least would intervene before the battle would open, I was surprised to hear the sound of musketry as I made my way to my residence. The battle had actually.begun. Its sudden com-mencement can be accounted for only upon the presumption that the enemy's flag of truce was not a flag of truce, or at least was not respected by those who sent it, for Federal pickets were fired on and prisoners taken before the flag could possibly have reached its destination. Moreover, I am informed by Adjutant Taylor that when he went to meet the flag, with his white handker-chief waving, he was fired upon, and had to retreat. Thus the battle opened, leaving non-combatants, women, and children to make their escape through the rain of shot and shell, which had been provoked by this strange and untimely attack. Our forces consisted of the Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry, Major Barnes, two hundred and seventy; three companies of the One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois infantry, Major Chapman, one hundred and two; and the first Kentucky heavy artillery, (corps d'a frique,) Colonel Cunningham, two hundred and seventy-four; total, six hundred and forty-six. These were under the command of the war-worn veteran Colonel S. G. Hicks, who was severely wounded at the battle of Shiloh. The force of the rebels is believed to have consisted of three brigades, under command of Major-General Forest; General Buford and Colonel A. P. Thompson's forces were among them. It turned out that Colonel A. P. Thompson had the commission of Brigadier in his pocket. The rebel forces were supported by the august presence of his ex-Excellency Isham G. Harris. After the battle had raged awhile, Colonel Hicks received a message by flag of truce, in substance as follows, namely: That he (Colonel Hicks) was assailed by an overwhelming force, that resistance was useless, and, to prevent further effusion of blood, he demanded the surrender of the fort, with all the Government property and stores at the post at Paducah; that if a surrender was made, Colonel Hicks and his forces should be treated as prisoners of war, but if refused and the fort had to be taken by force of arms, no quarters would be given. Signed by Major-General Forrest. To this bold demand Colonel Hicks laconically replied that he had been sent here by his Government to protect and defend the post, and his sense of duty and obligation as a soldier forbade the surrender. The battle was then renewed with vigor, a spirited assault being made upon the fort by the Kentucky rebel forces, under command of Colonel or General A. P. Thompson. In this fatal assault Colonel Thompson received his death-charge as suddenly and furiously as the proud oak receives the thunder-bolt. A shell passed through his body, tearing to atoms the lower part of the breast and down to the limbs, throwing portions of his body fifteen feet distant. It is said that just before, and almost simultaneously with the shell, a musket was fired at the Colonel by an ardent young African, which took effect in the forehead. The assault was gallantly repulsed, and the shout of victory arose from the fort. There were other attempts to take it, but each time the besieging hosts were driven back by the intrepid boys at the fort, into whom now seemed to be infused the indomitable courage and valor of Colonel Hicks. While the fort guns were at work most powerfully and fatally upon the enemy around, two gunboats, the Peosta, (thirty-six,) Lieutenant Shirk commanding, and the----, (thirty-two,) Captain O'Neil, poured an incessant torrent of shot and shell through the streets of the city upon the enemy, who were as busy as bees plundering stores, gathering up horses, etc., mostly belonging to citizens; but few Government horses being lost. In addition to the plundering, the rebels fired the large frame building on Broadway, built and used by the Government as quartermasters' depot and office. They destroyed our railroad depot and a new boat upon the ways, both of which they knew to be the property of citizens. Four cars were burnt; the locomotives escaped. They set fire to a few bales of cotton on the levee. A row of some six buildings, one of which was occupied as military headquarters, fronting the river, served as a lodgment for their sharp-shooters, who skilfully plied their art upon the lookouts and other openings upon the gunboats. A marine that showed his head was in great danger of losing it. Lieutenant Shirk at once discovered the necessity of routing them, and sent a few volleys into the buildings, which set them on fire. A dastardly thing in the sharp-shooters was the refuge they sought in a new boat upon the ways, filled with women and children. Thus protected by their sacred presence, they poured their deadly missiles upon the gunboats with impunity. After a while they fired the boat and skedaddled, leaving women and children to find other quarters. Many business and dwelling-houses have suffered greatly from the shells of the gunboats, prominent among which are the Continental Hotel, City Hotel. and Branch Bank of Louisville. The latter is almost a mass of ruins, with its entire contents. Cashier S. B. Hughes and family resided in the building, but, fortunately, had escaped. The entire Federal loss is fourteen killed, forty-six wounded, and perhaps thirty prisoners, taken from the hospitals. It is difficult to estimate the rebel loss, as their killed and wounded were mostly buried by themselves or taken off in their retreat. Adjutant Taylor estimates their loss at three hundred killed, and the usual proportion of wounded.  Cairo advices from points passed on their retreat indicate heavier losses. One thing is certain — they came, they saw, and they got most terribly thrashed. They plundered dry-goods and shoe-stores extensively, and obtained a large number of horses; but merchandise and horses have seldom been bought at so dear a price, illustrating the divine maxim, that the way of the transgressor is hard. The battle closed for the night at about eleven o'clock. On the morning it was believed that the fight would be renewed, and Colonel Hicks determined to destroy the lodgment of their sharp-shooters by firing the buildings that had been or could be made useful to the enemy in that way. Thus some thirty or forty houses fell a prey to the flames and the stern necessities of war. Many noble buildings, ornaments to our thriving but unfortunate young city, were destroyed, in most instances with their entire contents. The destruction of our gas-works is a sad affliction to us. The attack was so sudden, and had been preceded by so many false alarms, that few indeed were prepared for the shock. Colonel Hicks, himself, always acting upon the principle that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, surely could not have anticipated, though he so nobly repulsed the impetuous dash, as he was fired at on his way from headquarters to the fort. The pell-mell rush of citizens was of itself terrific, and, to many, would doubtless have been disastrous, but for the coolness, tact, self-possession, and untiring exertion of our most excellent Quartermaster, Captain J. A. Finley. After making the best possible disposition of such property as could not be removed to the river, records, papers, moneys, and other valuables, with his family, had to be taken care of. Moving them all to the large wharf-boat of J. H. Fowler & Co., which was now freighted with probably a thousand frightened souls, and valuables of a public and private kind, he turned his eyes upon the confused mass of human beings, on boat and shore, that were crying for safety. In a moment he comprehended the responsibility and magnitude of the task. Assuming control of the vast crowd, with limited means of escape, forgetful of self, he seemed to be the instrument in the hands of Providence that saved us. Owens's ferry-boat, the Blue Bird, was ordered alongside the wharf-boat. A coal-barge, upon which your humble servant, with his family and many others, had taken refuge, was ordered to drop down and make fast to the ferry. Insufficiency of motive power was a fearful question. Meantime the Peosta poured her streams of fire over and around us, causing an awful tremor to seize our vitals. All now ready, Captain Finley ordered fastenings loosed, and heavily, like a huge leviathan, the trio of boats swung round, the graceful Peosta withdrawing a little to give us swing, and we were off to the opposite shore just in the nick of time; ten minutes later, and we would have been in the hands of the rebels, as they had ordered the destruction of every boat in their reach. Why didn't they take the Peosta? She didn't run. It is no light matter to have a vast crowd of thousands, mostly women and children and invalids, thrown together without a moment's preparation. For providing means of sustenance and comfort for that immense, terror-stricken crowd<*> much praise is due Captain Finley, who, at th<*> expense of his own feeble health, was hard a<*> work for twenty-four hours, constantly on the alert to meet every necessity. Jo. Fowler, V. Owen, and. Aleck. Woolfolk gave their hearts and hands freely to the work of providing for the multitude. The busy little Blue Bird and another small boat picked up many a little squad of terrified sufferers from the river bank and ferried them over during the night. The Blue Bird once ventured up too close to the concealed sharp-shooters, and had to fall back into the safe old rule of little boats not venturing too far. The steamer Louisville arrived late in the night. Captain Wolf, her commander, crowned himself and his boat all over with glory. Her state-rooms and larders were thrown open free of charge to the weary, hungry multitude, and her wheels were ever in motion to go where humanity and necessity required. The Louisville and Captain Wolf will never be forgotten by the hundreds who took refuge there. Captain Wolf really looked sorry when it was all over, for, although his stores must have been exhausted, his benevolence shone yet full-orbed upon every suffering face. The high-headed Liberty No. 2 steamed up about eleven o'clock Saturday morning, yet in time to regale many an empty stomach; and what could have given that prince of steamboat commanders, Captain Wes. Conner, more joy of heart than his ability to relieve the pangs of hunger under such dreadful circumstances? He gave all he had, and only looked sad when he had no more to give those homeless sufferers, and then invited as many as desired to take free passage on his boat. But we were all chained by a magic spell to the point from which we could behold our smoking homes. It is painful to turn from the praise of the benevolent to deal in censure, but the steamer New-Iowa deserves a passing notice for the exorbitant charges which were extorted from all who partook of her hospitalities. Had Captain Finley been promptly notified, she would have been required, in the name of the United States, to be a little more considerate and charitable. Long live Colonel Hicks and the brave soldiers and marines who defended our city, and long live Captain Finley and the other noble hearts who contributed so fully and freely to the varied necessities of a panic-stricken, afflicted, and home-less people.1
Another national account.
Paducah, Ky., April 4. 1864.There have been so many different and conflicting versions of the recent fight at Paducah, Kentucky, published in the papers, that I have  concluded, as I was here a part of the time, and in sight of the place all the time, quorum fui pars, to give you some reminiscences of it; now that the smoke of battle has entirely cleared away, the enemy have gone out of the country, and we can ascertain definitely what has taken place. I have been informed by one of our prominent officers here, who was in Fort Anderson and in the fight all the time, that our loss was fourteen killed and forty-four wounded. As the rebels carried off most of their dead and wounded, it is impossible to ascertain their exact loss; but it must have been enormous. This officer told the writer that our artillery mowed them down, making lanes through their ranks, which, however, were immediately closed up by others. I was told that as many as thirty dead were counted in one heap and nineteen in another! Forrest, in his retreat, told a lady in the country where he stopped (who related it to my informant, one of our officers on a scout) that he lost three hundred killed and one thousand wounded; and as these rebel officers generally diminish instead of exaggerate their losses, his loss must have been greater — probably four hundred killed, and one thousand two hundred or one thousand five hundred wounded, as their wounded were said to have been strewn along the road, at almost every house on it, and they were engaged all night in hauling them away along the road. Many must have been killed by our shells, which were thrown into almost every part of the town; and many were shot in houses from which the rebel sharp-shooters fired upon our men on the gunboats and in the Fort. I was told by the officer first referred to above, that he counted as many as fifteen bodies in one house, and more or less of their dead were found in almost every house burnt. Not only Forrest himself, but some of his officers, (and I have it from the persons to whom it was said,) confessed that they had been deceived by their friends here, in reference to the strength of the Fort and the number of the garrison. They had been told that the works were weak and not at all formidable; and that the Fort was manned by some two hundred or three hundred soldiers, and a few raw recruits of the Seventeenth Kentucky cavalry, without arms, and would be nothing to take! I was personally well acquainted, and had been for several years before the rebellion, with the rebel General (formerly Colonel) Albert P. Thompson, who was killed while leading a charge on the Fort, within some forty yards of it. He was a prominent and popular lawyer of Paducah, and district-attorney, before the rebellion. When that broke out he joined the rebel army; and was promoted until he reached the rank of Colonel, when he received a severe wound in the neck at the rebel attack on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from which he recovered. He was then promoted to the command (not rank, as I have been informed) of Brigadier-General in the rebel army, under Forrest He appeared to have been killed by a shell, which exploded as it struck him, and tore his body literally to pieces. It is a remarkable coincidence that he lost his life by war in the tragical manner he did, at the very place where he began his military career. Forrest is said to have been at the house of a prominent citizen here, when he received Colonel Hicks's reply to his demand for a surrender of the Fort, and remarked: “Damn him! I came here to take the place, and, by God! I mean to do it.” So that it is useless for the rebels and their sympathizers to say now, in order to cover over his disastrous defeat, that he came to obtain goods and supplies for his men. and merely made feints or demonstrations on the Fort to keep our men in it, until the rebels could obtain what they wanted and get off with it, and did not care about taking the Fort. They evidently came to take the Fort and town, if they could, and had they succeeded, they would have shot all the colored soldiers and their officers, held the place as long as they could, and stripped it of every thing valuable to them which they could have carried off. I have it, on good authority, that Forrest said his men had been in fifty fights before, but this was the severest and most disastrous repulse he had ever met with. Although he carried off all the horses and mules he could find, stripping the livery-stables without any regard to the loyalty or disloyalty of the owners, and a great deal of plunder, the raid has cost him dearly — far more than any advantages he has gained by it. Some are fearful of another attack by the rebels, but I think there is little danger, and that their dear-bought “experience” will be sufficient to prevent a repetition. They would, no doubt, have plundered the town of a great deal more than they did, perhaps as much again, but the gunboats soon made the place too hot to hold them. As proof of this, the stores of some of the strongest and most ultra Union men in the place were not touched, while they took thousands of dollars' worth of goods from those of men considered rebel sympathizers, and some of them the strongest in the place. I must now speak of our own men. Colonel S. G. Hicks, the commander of this post, whose bravery and skill as an officer had been tested on battle-fields before, and who was wounded at Shiloh, deserves the highest praise for his gallant and heroic defence of the forts with a little handful of men — his whole force, including about two hundred and fifty colored soldiers, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Cunningham, amounting to not more than one thousand men in all, only half of whom fought at a time — and certainly deserves promotion to a brigadiership. Major W. L. Gibson, our Provost-Marshal, who had fought in the war with Mexico with great credit to himself, and who was at Donelson, Shiloh, and on other battle-fields, fought with his usual distinguished coolness, calmness, and bravery; and Colonel Cunningham, with brilliant daring and heroic courage; and the colored soldiers generally with the greatest enthusiasm and bravery, emulating the white soldiers and conducting themselves well all the  time. One of the most mortifying things to Forrest, connected with his terrible defeat here, must be the reflection that his men were whipped in part by “nigger” soldiers, whom he had come to take and shoot, with their officers. Captain H. Bartling, Deputy District Provost-Marshal, under Captain Hall, and once Post Adjutant here, was severely wounded in one of his arms. Sergeant Hays and one or two other officers were also wounded. I must speak now, in the last place, of the injuries sustained by our city, which suffered terribly by the bombardment and conflagration. Nearly all of Front Row, below Broadway street, including the headquarters building, was burnt. Also all the houses in the vicinity of the Fort, by order of Colonel Hicks, to stop the rebel sharp-shooters from getting up into them and picking our men off in the Fort. The gas-works were burnt, through a misunderstanding of the order of Colonel Hicks, who wished them preserved. The rebels burned the large new quartermaster building on Broadway, with the stores in it; and also the railroad depot and cars. There would not have been a single house on Front street fired into by the gunboats had the rebel sharp-shooters kept out of them. As it is, every house in that part of the city next the river bears the marks of shot and shell, and the effects of the bombardment are visible in almost every part of it. The loss of the gas-works is much to be regretted, so that our city is left “in darkness” as well as “in ruins.”
Chicago times account.
Cairo, March 27, 1865.Last Friday night, information reached us that Forrest had made his appearance at Paducah at two P. M., with two thousand men, and had begun an attack on that city. Colonel Hicks, commander of the post, withdrew all his men, some eight hundred, into the fort, and sent the citizens across the river to the Illinois side. The telegraph operator at Mound City said he could see a great light in the direction of Paducah, and supposed the city was in flames. General Brayman, being notified of this, sent up the Twenty-fifth Wisconsin to reinforce the garrison. Saturday morning, the steamer Iatan came down, having passed Paducah at five o'clock, at which time the buildings occupied as headquarters, quartermaster's and commissary's offices, and ammunition depot, had been destroyed; also, many other houses, and the steamer Arizona, which was on the ways. The enemy appeared to have possession of the town, and the Fort and three gunboats had been shelling them vigorously. When the fight began, two hundred men occupied the Fort, and had three days rations, but soon after, six hundred other troops were thrown in, and the rations were quickly used up. The Iatan was ordered to load at Cairo with provisions, and go to the relief of the garrison. Your correspondent went aboard of this steamer, and proceeded to the scene of action, to ascertain what damage had been done. Before we left, however, the Tycoon came down with a report that firing had ceased, and the rebels had gone. In the mean time, the Fourth division, Sixteenth army corps, which had been here for about a week, under command of General Veatch, embarked on several steamers for Paducah, hoping to catch Forrest before he could get out of the way. It is said that four thousand cavalry, sent out by General Grierson from Memphis, are in his rear. An order was issued from Headquarters, Friday night, prohibiting the landing of steamboats on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, between Cairo and Paducah, and the crossing of skiffs from one side of the river to the other without a permit from some military officer. We arrived at Metropolis at seven P. M., where we found a number of women and children, who had escaped from Paducah the day before. They were seated around a fire on the bank of the river, and apparently making the best of their condition. Here we were told that shelling had again commenced at three o'clock, but it was supposed that the gunboats were trying to drive the enemy out of the woods. At twelve M., it was said, a flag of truce had been sent in by Forrest. Friday evening, a rebel, who tried to cut the telegraph, was shot dead. Captain Bawkman and Captain Crutchfield, of the Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry, were wounded in the head, and Captain Bartley, in the arm. Sergeant T. Hays, of the Fifteenth Kentucky cavalry, was killed. Four white men and seven negroes in the Fort were killed. Twenty-five houses around the Fort were destroyed by the Federals, because they afforded shelter for sharp-shooters, who could fire directly into the fortification. At Metropolis, we learned that just before the enemy came into the city, all the citizens returned to the Fort, and remained there until Colonel Hicks informed them that he could not furnish arms for all, and those who desired to cross the river could do so. Accordingly, many got aboard of the wharf-boat, which was towed by a ferry-boat to the opposite side of the river. As we approached Paducah, we saw the camp-fires of these people illuminating the river. Provisions were scarce among them, but Colonel Hicks had just sent over a supply which had come from Cairo, with instructions to give to the poor, but sell to those who were able to pay. It was after dark when we landed at Paducah, but we walked up toward the Fort through the smouldering ruins of the once beautiful city. The warehouses and dwellings exhibited prominent marks of the recent struggle. In many places, nothing but bare walls and chimneys were standing. Scarcely a building escaped the terrific fire of the gunboats, and many of them were completely riddled by shrapnel and solid shot. The gunboats Peosta and Paw Paw fired, in all, about five hundred rounds, and had two men slightly wounded. The commander of the latter vessel received a slight scratch on his cheek, and a Minie ball passed through his pantaloons. The cabins of the boats were perforated with shot. It was the  fire of the gunboats that did so much damage to the town. Had it not been for the navy, Colonel Hicks would have had a much more severe contest. Upon arriving within the Fort, we learned that when Forrest first came in, he formed a line of battle about two and a half miles in length, after which, he sent a flag of truce to Colonel Hicks, stating that he had enough men to storm and capture the Fort, but desiring to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, he demanded a surrender, promising to treat his captives as prisoners of war, and threatening, in case of refusal, to give ho quarter. Colonel Hicks replied that he had been placed there to defend the Fort; that he was obliged to obey orders, and could not, as an honest soldier, comply with the demand. While this parley was going on, Forrrest advanced his sharp-shooters, and placed them in houses where they could pick off men in the Fort and on the gunboats. The battle soon began, and for several hours, raged with great fury. The gunboats poured their broadsides into the city, demolishing buildings, and killing and wounding many of the enemy. The guns from the Fort thundered forth into the rebel ranks, and as the confederates rushed up to their breastworks, mowed them down like grass. Forrest put his best regiments in front, and, notwithstanding they exhibited great courage, some of the men marching up to the very mouths of the guns, they were repulsed four or five times. Their commanding general said they had never faltered before. There were about eight hundred men within the fortifications, but only about one third actively participated in the fight. Colonel Hicks calmly directed all the operations, and showed such bravery and skill as entitle him to the highest praise. Around the Fort lay heaps of unburied rebels, and the blackened remains of many beautiful dwellings. While the battle was raging, parties of the enemy scouted through the city, plundering stores and robbing stables. A large amount of goods was carried away, and many horses stolen; none of the latter belonging to the Government were taken, as the rebels were told they were the property of a prominent secessionist. The fight lasted all the afternoon, and resulted in a Federal loss of as stated below, and about thirty prisoners. These were convalescents, and were taken from the hospital. The names of some of them are as follows: Thomas S. Wakefield, Corporal, company K, Twenty-fifth Wisconsin infantry; George W. Babb, company A, Thirteenth Tennessee cavalry; Thomas Daniels, company C, Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry; Hiram Smith, Sergeant, company B, Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry; Z. Booth, Sergeant, company B, Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry; John Mullin, company E, Thirteenth Illinois infantry; G. T. Sharp, Corporal, company K, Sixty-third Ohio; John S. Howard, Corporal, company K, One Hundred and twenty-seventh Illinois; Samuel Loder, company I, Thirty-first Iowa infantry; John Morehead, company E, Ninth Illinois infantry; Hanson Hart, Acting Assistant-Surgeon; Simon A. Murphy, citizen; John Jordan, company K, One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois; M. R. Waller, company C, Sixteenth Kentucky; J. A. Sadford, company B, Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry; R. J. Martz, First Ohio battery; G. W. Farley, company D, Sixteenth Kentucky cavalry; Isaac Austin, company G, Twenty-fifth Wisconsin; W. J. Bridges, company F, One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois; P. Byerly, company I, Twenty-ninth Missouri; Thomas Pollard, company A, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois; James Park, company E, Seventh Tennessee cavalry; W. Waldeman, company F, Thirty-first Iowa; Henry Nabors, company E, Seventh Tennessee cavalry; A. Irwin, S. Hamilton, and Robert Barnes. These, with the four hundred taken a day or two before at Union City, Forrest offered to exchange for confederate prisoners, man for man; but Colonel Hicks replied that he was not authorized to make any such arrangement. The number of white Federals killed, is fourteen; wounded, forty-six. Eleven negroes were killed and wounded, all shot in the head. The rebels had three hundred killed, and about one thousand wounded. The latter they took to Mayfield by railroad; the former, they left unburied. Among the confederate officers slain was Brigadier-General A. P. Thompson, a former resident of Paducah. The enemy remained about the city until three P. M., on Saturday, when they moved off in the direction of Columbus, where it was supposed the next fight would take place. Learning that that place was threatened, your correspondent hurried aboard the despatch-boat Volunteer, and returned to Cairo this morning.
Paducah. For a long time past, our town has been threatened with a rebel attack and raid; but we thought that they would hardly have the temerity to make one, knowing, as no doubt they did, that we had one of the best fortified forts (Fort Anderson) in the country, sufficiently garrisoned and supplied with guns and ammunition; and that it was the determination of our commanders, if the place was attacked by the rebels, that it should be shelled until made too hot to hold them. But we found, recently, that we were mistaken, and it became too plain that they intended an attack, and that very shortly. We had information a few days before, that the rebel General Forrest, with seven thousand men, had attacked Union City, Tennessee; then that it had surrendered; then that the rebels were at Wingo Station, in Graves County, Kentucky, advancing toward Mayfield; then that they were on this side, advancing on Paducah; and then, on Friday  last, that their advance-guard were just outside our town; then, at one o'clock. P. M., that they were entering it. They started a flag of truce in, but our men fired ont it, and it was stopped. They were said to be about three thousand strong, with a reserve force of some four thousand or five thousand behind. Part of them formed a line of battle beyond and behind the Fort; and the balance came rushing into town, and immediately commenced robbing and pillaging the livery stables, stores, and houses — showing that the plundering of goods and stock was their main object, and that they probably anticipated bombardment of the place. In the mean time, as Colonel S. G. Hicks, the commander of the post, had issued an order for non-combatants, women, and children, in case of an attack, to retire to the wharf, long lines of them came pouring down, (among them your correspondent,) and as it had been arranged for the wharf-boat and steam ferry-boat to take them across the river, these were soon densely crowded. While waiting to get all on board, and for the ferry-boat to get up steam, the battle at the Fort began. Colonel Hicks and Major W. L. Gibson, our Provost-Marshal, and other officers had retired to the Fort, where we had about one thousand men, some two hundred or three hundred of whom were colored soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Cunningham. Opposed to this handful of men, the rebels had, taking their whole force, seven to one, and their attacking force, three to one. Fearful odds! Three times did the rebels charge the Fort, and were as often repulsed, with fearful slaughter, our guns mowing them down in heaps, besides the execution done by the musketry — as many as thirty being counted in one heap, and nineteen in another!--the colored soldiers fighting bravely, clubbing their muskets and beating the rebels back as they would mount the walls of the Fort. After an hour or more of hard fighting, the rebels were finally repulsed and routed, when a loud shout went up from the Fort, which was echoed back from the wharf-boat and those on shore. Two of our gunboats were fortunately present, and participated in the fight, shelling the rebels while they were assailing the Fort. After a while, the wharf-boat, lashed to the ferry-boat, was towed out into the stream and across the river to a place of security. One of the gunboats then went up and took position opposite Broadway street, and the other above her, and began shelling the town with fearful effect, now full of rebels engaged in robbing and sacking the houses. A flag of truce was sent in the Fort, demanding a surrender, when the reply of Colonel Hicks was: “If you want the Fort, take it.” Major Gibson, Colonel Cunningham, and all our officers, as well as men, fought with distinguished courage and gallantry. Colonel Hicks is entitled to the greatest praise for the heroic manner in which he and his gallant little band defended the Fort against such overwhelming numbers opposed to them, and certainly deserves a brigadiership. Major Gibson distinguished himself by his coolness and undaunted courage, and Colonel Cunningham by his bold daring and bravery. Our casualties were twelve white killed, and seven colored soldiers; how many wounded I have not learned. As these were killed by rebel sharp-shooters from the upper parts of the houses in the vicinity, Colonel Hicks ordered the burning of these houses. As the rebels carried off many of their dead and wounded, their exact loss cannot be ascertained, but it must have been two hundred or three hundred killed. The rebel General (formerly Colonel) Albert G. Thompson, ( “Bert Thompson,” ) while leading on a charge, was killed by the explosion of a shell, within forty feet of the fort, and his body so badly mangled that it could not be carried off by the rebels, one arm not being found at all. Before the breaking out of the rebellion, he was a prominent lawyer of Paducah, and district-attorney, but joined the rebels here; and it is a singular coincidence that, after serving in the rebel army, being wounded at the battle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and promoted to a Brigadier-General, he was killed in the very town where he began his military career. There has been great destruction of property by the rebels and the bombardment, upward of a hundred houses having been burned, embracing all the lower part of Front street, below Broadway, including the headquarters building, the new and large quartermaster's building on Broadway, hospital No. 1, the railroad depot and cars, half the square between Market-House square and Front street, etc. Almost everywhere are to be seen the marks of the shells; the gunboats and guns of the Fort, which, after the rebels were repulsed, were turned on the town, doing fearful execution! On Saturday evening, the rebels forming line of battle at a “respectful distance” from the Fort, again sent in a flag of truce demanding, a surrender, and giving until four o'clock to answer, threatening to destroy the town in case of refusal. Colonel Hicks returned his old answer: “If you want the. Fort, take it.” But they took care to “keep their distance,” and retired without destroying the town. It was no doubt a ruse to cover their retreat, and enable them to get off with their plunder and stock as far as possible before being pursued by our forces. Yesterday (Monday) evening a flag of truce came from Mayfield, where Forrest is said to have his headquarters, accompanied by thirty men, demanding a surrender of the town and Fort, and stating that he had twelve thousand men, and in case of refusal, they would come and take them. Colonel Hicks told them that if Forrest had one hundred thousand men it made no difference with him — he intended to hold them. There is no surrender in him! The word does not belong to his vocabulary. Whether Forrest will come or not, remains to be seen. We are now largely reinforced, and can bid him defiance. Our flag has waved all the time over the Fort,  and still waves proudly in triumph over its walls.
Indianapolis Journal account.We have not seen any account of the fight at Paducah from an eye-witness, and the following letter from George Vance of our city, who is an officer on the gunboat which did such good service there, and saw all that occurred, will be read with interest. It is not only an intelligent and graphic description, written with all a boy's vivacity and earnestness of feeling, but it is perfectly trustworthy in all it states of the writer's own knowledge. It is dated U. S. S. Piosta, off Paducah, Monday afternoon last. It says: Well, our big fight is over, at least for the present. The rebels have not made their appearance, except with “flags of truce,” since I dropped you the note of Saturday night, and I believe they will keep away from here for the future. The lesson they received has been a pretty severe one for them, and I think they will not be in a hurry to try our mettle soon again. The rebs under General Forrest were six thousand strong, with eight pieces of artillery. We arrived off Paducah at noon on Friday, and found the town full of rumors, of course, but having had so many scares of the kind we paid little attention to it. However, we remained at our anchorage, instead of going on to Cairo, as we intended. Captain Shirk went down to Cairo on a steamboat, thinking that thing was one of the usual false alarms. But at about three o'clock in the afternoon the town bells began tolling and the women and children came pouring down the levee. Shortly after our pickets were driven in. Then we began to think we were in for it, sure enough. The fort, which stands about five hundred yards down the river from the centre of the town, and about a hundred from the river-bank, is a good earth-work defence, with a ditch around it, mounts six guns, and during the fight was defended by four hundred men, half of them negro soldiers, and a part of them citizens of Paducah. The “fun” commenced with an attack on the Fort by three thousand men and four pieces of artillery. At the same time a large force was in the town plundering the houses and stores. The first time the rebs charged up to the very ditch, but fell back, having suffered severely. Our boat lay off abreast of the Fort, and we poured in a steady steam of shells. We worked seven guns, and I tell you we worked with a will. While the fighting was going on the women and children were being ferried across the river. I was really sorry to see the women driven around like so many sheep, but we could not stop to help them any. While the banks were crowded, and in our firing over the crowd, a piece of lead riven off of one of our rifle-shots struck a little girl and killed her. After driving the rebs back at the Fort, we ran up and commenced on the thieves in town; and they gave it back to us from every window, hole, and corner on the levee, and it was just like a hail-storm for about half an hour. We of course could not work the guns on our upper deck, and it was dangerous loading even the guns behind the casemates, as we were so close to the buildings that the sharp-shooters could hit a port almost every time. We directed our shots at the buildings to drive them out; but actually the buildings would have to begin to crumble and fall before they would slacken their fire. Their fire was so accurate that I am minus a new pair of boots by it, and came near being minus a leg. The rebs made another attack on the Fort early in the evening, and another at nine o'clock that night, in both of which they were repulsed with heavy loss. The fight at night was grand; the burning houses lit the whole arrangement up so we could see just where to put our shots. The rebel sharp-shooters, who occupied the houses around the Fort, did more damage than all the rest put together. They could look right into the Fort, and so pick our men off. During this attack we upset one of the rebel pieces of artillery, and kept them from getting any of their guns in position. We also claim to have killed rebel General Thompson, who was struck by a shell and torn all to pieces. He fell about forty yards from the Fort, where he lay with the rest of the killed all day Saturday. I saw several trophies that were taken from his body, among them his pistols, the stars off his collar, etc. During Friday night we lay “off and on,” throwing shells into the town to keep the rebs from ransacking the place. About twelve o'clock that night we heard that all the rebel officers were taking supper at the St. Francis Hotel, a large building about one hundred and fifty yards from the river. So for a while we landed the shell into it quite lively, and, as we have since found out, a shrapnel went square into the dining-room and exploded, spattering every thing with its load of bullets. A thirty-two pounder shell took a range of rooms from one end of the building to the other, and bursted in the last one. But our firing into this house was unnecessary, for there were no rebs in it at the time, and even when they did go in they received cold hospitality from the landlord and lady, who were strong Union people and spunky as rats. They, with several others stopping in the house, witnessed the whole fight. Summing the whole thing up, the few soldiers who defended the Fort and the gunboat Piosta have covered themselves with glory. This is no bragging, for the soldiers did fight with desperation, the negroes as well as the whites; and as for the Piosta, I leave it to the soldiers and to the citizens of Paducah whether we have not gained a reputation (even among the rebs and Forrest himself) worth having.
New-York Tribune account.
Paducah, Ky., March 29, 1864.Few who have had occasion to pass up or down the Ohio River have failed to notice and admire this place, which is noted for the beauty of its situation, its fine wharf, commodious business houses, tasteful residences, and above all, the evident enterprise of its people. Before the war,  it had a population of about ten thousand, and was considered the most flourishing little city below Louisville, it being the principal depot for that portion of Kentucky known as “Jackson's purchase.” Upon the breaking out of the rebellion, the secession mania took deep root in the minds of its citizens, and when, in September, 1861, General Grant occupied it for the first time, the streets and houses were found decorated with rebel flags in anticipation of the arrival of Polk's army. Of its original population, not more than one third is now remaining, those who make up the four or five thousand inhabitants which it possessed up to the time of Forrest's attack being recent arrivals from other States. Positive information was received by Colonel Hicks on [he twenty-fourth, of the arrival of Forrest at Mayfield, twenty-two miles south from Paducah, and an attack was not unlooked for. Your correspondent was on that day at Columbus, having come up to that point from Memphis in anticipation of an attack upon the former place, and it was there considered certain that Forrest would attempt to capture either Columbus or Paducah, but most probably Paducah. In fact, his occupation of Mayfield indicated this place as his objective point. The forces under Colonel Hicks's command were five companies of the Sixteenth Kentucky, three hundred and eleven strong; three companies of the One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois, numbering one hundred and twenty-four men, and a detachment of the First Kentucky artillery, (colored,) two hundred and fifty men — in all six hundred and eighty-five. Any information of the strength and position of the fortifications, and number of guns, beyond what the enemy has already learned to his sorrow, cannot be given with propriety. It will be sufficient to say that the works occupied by Colonel Hicks are toward the lower end of the city, and cover the roads from the interior. Next morning, (twenty-fifth,) scouts reported that Forrest was only eight or ten miles distant, and was moving in this direction with a heavy column, which rumor broadly stated to be from five thousand to fifteen thousand strong. Immediately upon learning that we were to be attacked, Colonel Hicks notified the inhabitants of that fact by special order, and commenced moving them to the other side of the river. The anxiety of the citizens for the two preceding days, consequent upon the rumored approach of the enemy, now found expression in the wildest excitement, and men, women, and children rushed through the streets and down to the wharf in dread of the approaching conflict. Fortunately, means were at hand to transfer them to the opposite shore with despatch, and when the first attack was made, but few were remaining in the city. Knowing the great numerical superiority of the enemy, Colonel Hicks ordered his whole command to the Fort, and awaited his appearance. The gunboats, Paw-Paw and Peosta, which were anchored out in the river, weighed and moored toward the upper end of the wharf — the one to the mouth of the Tennessee, the other a little below. These boats have a light armament, and are known on the river as “tin-clads,” their plating being only sufficiently thick to resist the missiles of small arms, and perhaps grape-shot. Nearly all of the woods back of the city have been cleared away, either by the hand of improvement or from military necessity, and there is an almost unobstructed view for half a mile, and in some places much further. The ground intervening between the city and the timber is some-what undulating, but not sufficiently so to afford any considerable advantage to an advancing line of battle. A little before one o'clock, the enemy's advance came in sight, and in a moment afterward the main body appeared in the act of forming line — his right extending toward the Tennessee and being nearest to town, while the left was partially concealed by timber at long cannon range. The men on either flank were mounted, while the bodies of dismounted men, who at that distance seemed to be a little in advance of the others, appeared in occasional intervals in the line which was little less than two miles long. The enemy seems to have entered on his campaign with an accurate knowledge of what was to be done, and was evidently posted, as to the strength of our garrison here as well as at Union City. There was no delay in the advance. He pushed his line forward rapidly and steadily, while at the same time a detachment from the right flank several hundred strong, dashed into the now deserted city, and down Market street, and the other streets back of it, until, coming within rifle-range of the Fort, they opened a galling fire from the houses upon. the garrison. But before this detachment had succeeded in getting in town, several shots had been exchanged between the enemy's artillery and ours. The gunboats had also begun to play upon them, when, upon finding the city being rapidly occupied by a continually increasing force, the fire of the gunboats, as previously concerted, was turned upon the houses occupied by the rebels, the vessels dropping down the river until proper range could be had. It seems that Colonel Hicks, prudently, did not strain his men at the commencement of the action, and although his fire was accurate, it was delivered slowly — the range being different at almost every discharge. The necessity he was under of turning some of his guns upon the town so slackened our fire that the enemy was enabled to make a charge upon the Fort. But the movement was perceived and prepared for, and the first signs of an advance were greeted with a heavy and well-directed fire, which created some confusion. The rebels continued to advance, however, and a part of them, by veering to the right, threw themselves partially under cover of the uneven ground and the suburban buildings. On they came, with loud cheers that sounded distinctly through the now increasing roar of battle, and which were defiantly answered by our men, who now, reeking with perspiration,  plied their rammers with accelerated rapidity and hurled destruction through the advancing lines. As soon as they came within good rifle-range, a terribly destructive fire was opened upon them, and men toppled, reeled, and fell to the ground by scores. Although the overwhelming force continued to close upon the Fort, it was now evident that there was much disorder among them, and. presently a portion of the line gave way, when the whole force broke in confusion and retreated precipitately, leaving the ground strewn with not less than two hundred killed and wounded. The discomfited rebels were then re-formed upon their original line. As the smoke began to clear up, it was discovered that the city was on fire in several places. The railroad depot was already completely wrapped in flames, having been fired by the rebels. The shelling of the gunboats had dislodged the sharp-shooters from the buildings nearest the Fort, and their fire was just being directed toward: other portions of the town, when a flag of truce was observed coming from the enemy's lines. The flag of truce was borne by Lieutenant McKnight, aid to Forrest, and was met by the Post Adjutant. McKnight presented a note from Forrest to Colonel Hicks, demanding the immediate and unconditional surrender of the Fort and garrison, and saying that in the event of a refusal to accede to the demand, he would take the Fort by storm and grant no quarter. Colonel Hicks promptly replied that he was sent there with orders to defend the post, and intended to obey, as any honorable officer should. An hour was consumed during this parley, immediately after which the enemy advanced. The houses near the Fort were again occupied by sharp-shooters, and the rebels moved rapidly up with increased numbers and apparently a full determination to succeed. They dashed forward from behind buildings and such other objects as served to cover their advance, while the main column rushed upon the Fort despite the murderous fire that opposed them. But their efforts were futile. The indomitable “six hundred” had no idea. of being overpowered, and amid the answering thunders from Fort and gunboats, and the unbroken rattle of small-arms, the enemy was again repulsed, and fled from the field disordered and whipped. Not less than five hundred men, dead or wounded, covered the field within rifle-range of the Fort. A more gallant defence was never made. But the fighting did not cease with this repulse. The rebels swarmed thicker and thicker in the buildings, and an unintermitting storm of lead was poured from roofs and windows, notwithstanding the houses were being perforated by shot and shell from all our guns. Every gun in the Fort was now turned upon the town, while the gunboats took an active part in sweeping the streets and shelling the houses. The enemy, finding that our force was not strong enough to risk leaving the works, did not re-form his whole line again, but sent his men by detachments, several hundred strong, into the city, some to burn and pillage, and others to reinforce those who were yet firing upon the garrison. Now was the hardest trial our brave fellows had to bear. In spite of the shells that were sent crashing through the buildings, the sharp-shooters, who by this time must have numbered nearly one thousand, held their positions, or else falling back for a few minutes, again came forward and delivered their fire. It was now nearly night. The battle had continued from ten o'clock to after five, and yet the fate of the day remained undecided. The heroic garrison, headed by their resolute commander, still stood unfalteringly to their posts, while the enemy, conscious of the strength of his over whelming numbers, seemed loth, although signally repulsed, to yield to the fact of his undeniable defeat. Four hours had passed, during three of which there was an almost unbroken roar of artillery and small arms. In the mean time, the rebels had occupied every part of the town. The Headquarters and quartermaster's buildings, which were in the most compactly built part of the city, bad been sacked and fired. The marine ways had also been fired, and the steamer Dacotah, which was on the stocks for repairs, was boarded, the crew robbed of every thing, and the boat burned. Almost every store in the place was broken open and its contents damaged, destroyed, or carried off. Clothing, and especially boots and shoes, seemed to have been chiefly sought for, although an exceedingly large quantity of all styles and qualities of dry goods, groceries, and provisions was carried off. Every horse that could be found was taken, and in fact nothing that could suit taste or convenience was overlooked. As the sun began to sink, the slackened fire from the buildings told that our shelling had not been without effect, and the rebels could be seen from the Fort as they left the houses by hundreds and moved back toward the upper end of the town, bearing — their dead and wounded. Many, however, remained behind, and although the firing was now light, it was continuous. By this time the ammunition in the Fort was well-nigh exhausted, and it was barely possible that if the enemy had again attempted to storm the works, the small garrison might have been overpowered by sheer stress of overwhelming numbers. But his disastrous experience of that day deterred him, and his offensive operations were confined to sharp-shooting from the buildings. This was kept up until nearly midnight, when the firing ceased entirely, and the rebels left the town. Colonel Hicks's announcement to the garrison that their ammunition had almost given out, but that they would defend themselves with the bayonet, was received with loud cheers, and showed a determination to fight to the last. That was an anxious night to the occupants of the Fort. The knowledge that their means of defence would not, if attacked, last much longer, that the enemy was still within gun-shot of them  with a force outnumbering them nearly ten to one, and that it was very probable that a night attack would be made, disinclined all to sleep, and the peremptory order of Colonel Hicks that every man should remain broad awake and stand to his post was scarcely necessary. So the night passed, every man awaiting expectantly the anticipated attack, and determined to win or die. Next morning, twenty-sixth, the enemy was found to be still in our front, but some hundred yards in rear of his original line of the day before. Every thing pointed to another attack, and another day of trial for our gallant garrison. In view of this, Colonel Hicks sent out several detachments with orders to burn all the buildings which had been occupied by the enemy's sharp-shooters on the previous day, or that could afford them a similar protection in the event of an attack on this day. This order was promptly executed, and in less than fifteen minutes that part of the town below Broadway and between Market street and the river, together with many other buildings outside of those limits, was in flames. Many of the finest business houses and dwellings were thus destroyed, and none who have formerly been acquainted with this once beautiful city can help regretting the sad but imperative necessity that called for its partial destruction. About nine o'clock a flag of truce emerged from their lines, and approached the Fort. It covered a proposal for an exchange of prisoners, Forrest having about five hundred of our men who were surrendered at Union City, and fifty or sixty captured in hospital the day before. Colonel Hicks having no power to exchange prisoners, replied in accordance with that fact, and the confederate officer departed. Again we waited in anticipation of an attack momentarily, when a verbal communication was sent in by Forrest, asking for a private interview in case further fighting could be obviated by negotiation. Colonel Hicks, with his characteristic pluck, replied verbally that he, accompanied by two officers of a designated rank, would meet General Forrest and two officers of corresponding rank, with or without arms, at any mutually convenient spot. This occurred after noon. No reply was received, and no attack was made, and so the day wore away — the enemy yet threatening, but apparently afraid to advance. In the mean time assistance had arrived from Cairo, seventy miles below, and our men felt encouraged but apprehensive. The night passed much in the same way as the one preceding, the greatest vigilance being exercised, and the men resting at or near their posts. The next day, twenty-seventh, the rebels had entirely disappeared from view, but a scouting party, sent out for the purpose, found them still near, and demonstrating threateningly. On this day, many of the citizens and merchants who had any thing left, commenced packing their effects for the purpose of leaving the place, as it was confidently expected that the rebels would return and complete the work of pillage and destruction. Another anxious night wore wearily away, and the morning of the twenty-eighth dawned. Our scouts found the country filled with bodies of men varying from fifty to one hundred, but the main body had moved back toward Mayfield. This seemed encouraging, until another report, which was apparently trustworthy, became current in town, that Forrest's army had formed a junction at Mayfield with a large force of rebels, and was again coming in this direction. A scene of excitement now ensued similar to that of the morning of the twenty-fifth. Every thing that could, under the circumstances, be removed, (for but few draft animals were remaining) was carried down to the levee preparatory to shipping. Much of this property was carried by hand, some of the heaviest boxes of goods being thus brought from stores some several squares distant. The excitement lasted all night, and every boat that passed made large additions to her cargo and passenger-list. This morning the excitement and exodus still continued, and the attack was hourly expected up till noon, when it became generally known that the military authorities had learned that the enemy was at or near Mayfield, and was threatening Columbus, and that there were no demonstrations at all making toward Paducah. So ends thus much of the history of one of the most adventurous raids made during the war. Whether the rebels, will try their strength on any other Union post remains to be seen. It is known that they are showing a threatening front in the direction of Columbus. A detail of the loss of property during the fight cannot be obtained, though even if it could it would be uninteresting in connection with the story of the battle. It will be sufficient to say that the value of the property carried away and destroyed by the rebels exceeds, at a moderate estimate, half a million of dollars. The value of the houses burned, by order of Colonel Hicks, must be as much if not more. The enemy's loss in men cannot be accurately ascertained, but in killed and wounded will not fall short of one thousand. It is rumored that several citizens, who imprudently did not leave the city with the bulk of the inhabitants, were. killed or injured.
Official rebel reports.
General Forrest has just been received.
L. Polk, Lieutenant-General.
Jackson on the twenty-third ultimo, and captured Union City on the twenty-fourth, with four hundred and fifty prisoners, among them the renegade, Hankins, and most of his regiment;  about two hundred horses, and five hundred small-arms. I also took possession of Hickman, the enemy having passed it. I moved north with Buford's division, marching direct fiom Jackson to Paducah in fifty hours; attacked it on the evening of the twenty-sixth, drove the enemy to their gunboats and forts, held the town for ten hours, and could have held it longer, but found the small-pox raging, and evacuated the place. We captured many stores and horses, burned up sixty bales of cotton, one steamer in the dry-dock, and brought out fifty prisoners. My loss at Union City and Paducah, as far as known, is twenty-five killed and wounded--among them Colonel Thompson, commanding the Kentucky brigade, killed; Lieutenant-Colonel Lanhum, of the Faulkner regiment, mortally wounded; and Colonel Crosslin, of the Ninth Kentucky, and Lieutenant-Colonel Morton, of the Second Tennessee, slightly wounded. The enemy's loss at Paducah was fifty killed and wounded. The prisoners, in all, five hundred.
Kentucky. The hardships you bore upon a march almost unprecedented, from Tibbie Station, Mississippi, to Paducah, in a week; the devotion you have exhibited to the cause of freedom, and the valor our skirmishers displayed in their attack upon the fort at Paducah, call for the highest admiration and praise of your commander. At the very doors of their homes some of your comrades laid down their lives to rescue Kentucky from the iron heel of abolition despotism, and the rule of the negro. Among those whose faces are gone from us for ever, we are forced to pay a lasting regret to the memory of one brave, courteous, and beloved, and whose merits as a citizen, as a friend, and as a soldier, we all felt and appreciated. He fell as a soldier desires to fall, at the head of his command, a hero regretted by all. Colonel A. P. Thompson, Third Kentucky regiment, and commanding the Third brigade, will long be remembered by all who knew his noble deeds and heroic death. With a force less than that of the enemy within the stockade, you, in an exposed condition, with your skirmishers, silenced his guns; caused one of his gunboats to withdraw from action, fearful of the accuracy of your fire; captured and destroyed immense stores — quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance; and inflicted upon him a loss of twenty-seven killed, and from seventy to eighty wounded, besides capturing. sixty-four prisoners; your own loss being ten killed and forty wounded. The General Commanding feels proud of the division, and relies upon your courage, your fortitude, and your discipline, to hold this portion of the State of Kentucky, aided as you will be by your friends now flocking to your ranks.