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