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.
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.
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.