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[524] she was safe within our lines, or blown up, to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy.

On two occasions I had given the Commander preparatory instructions relative to her destruction, thinking her time had come; but, still hopeful and persistent, he stuck to the work, and deserved to have met with greater success.

Every effort was made to get the Eastport off from what proved to be her final resting-place.

The gunboat Fort Hindman (whose commander has worked to save the Eastport with a zeal I never saw surpassed) succeeded, with her steam capstan, in moving her bow, but only enough to get into a worse position right across the channel, with a bed of logs under her, and from that place it seemed that no human power could move her. The Commander having admitted there seemed no hope of getting her off, unless we had time, and our rear protected, I gave the order to destroy her.

One ton of powder was placed in her in various positions, she was filled with such combustibles as we could procure, and at forty-five minutes past one P. M., April twenty-sixth, the Eastport was blown up, Lieutenant Commander Phelps applying the match, and being the last one to leave the vessel. He had barely time to reach the boat when the Eastport blew up, covering the boat with fragments of wood. Seven different explosions followed, and then the flames burst forth in every direction.

The vessel was completely destroyed — as perfect a wreck as ever was made by powder. She remains a troublesome obstruction, to block up the channel for some time to come. All stores, etc., were removed, and such parts of the machinery as could be made available by the rebels.

There was nothing but the iron plates left behind, which finally fell inside the hull. Some fell out-board, as the fire burnt away the wood to which they were attached, and will soon disappear under the sands.

I would have brought away every piece of iron, had I not been warned that I had over-staid my time.

Gangs of guerrillas began to hover on the left bank of the river, and just previous to blowing up the Eastport we were attacked by a heavy force on the right bank.

This vessel was lying tied to the bank, and I was backing out from the Eastport in the Hindman, to give the former a chance to blow up without injury to any one. The rebels selected this moment to make their attack, and rising suddenly from the bank opened on our little squadron with one thousand two hundred muskets, and then made a rush to board the Cricket.

The enemy, however, were properly met and repelled, and the Cricket, dropping out from the bank, opened on them with grape and canister; and with a heavy cross-fire from the two other vessels, the rebels were routed in five minutes. After this, we blew the Eastport up, and proceeded down the river.

We were not molested until we had gone about wenty miles, at a point above Cane River. When rounding the point, the vessels in close order, and ready for action, we descried a party of the enemy with artillery, on the right bank, and we immediately opened fire with our bow-guns. The enemy immediately returned it with a large number of cannon, eighteen in all, every shot of which struck this vessel.

The Captain (Acting Master H. H. Gorringe) gave orders to stop the engines, for the purpose of fighting the battery and covering the boats astern; I corrected this mistake, and got headway on the vessel again, but not soon enough to avoid the pelting shower of shot and shell which the enemy poured into us, every shot going through and through us, clearing all our decks in a moment.

Finding the guns not firing rapidly, I stepped on the gun-deck to see what was the matter. As I stepped down, the after-gun was struck with a shell and disabled, and every man at the gun killed and wounded. At the same moment the crew from the forward gun were swept away by a shell exploding, and the men were wounded in the fire-room, leaving only one man to fire up.

I made up a gun's crew from the contrabands, who fought the gun to the last moment. Finding that the engine did not move, I went into the engine-room and found the chief engineer killed, whose place was soon supplied by an assistant. I then went to the pilot-house, and found that a shot had gone through it and wounded one of the pilots. I took charge of the vessel, and as the battery was a very heavy one, I determined to pass it, which was done under the heaviest fire I ever witnessed.

I attempted to turn her head up-stream, to attack with our two bow-guns, the only guns left; but as this was impracticable, I let her drift down around the point, and shelled the enemy's batteries in the rear. This disturbed them for a moment, and enabled the light-draught Juliet and pump-boat Champion, lashed together, to escape from under the bank, where they had drifted.

The Juliet had her steam-pipe cut and became disabled, having drifted clear from under the guns of the enemy and close into the bank, where the guns could not be depressed to reach them, and from whence the Champion towed her in safety, when the Hindman opened her batteries, and this vessel was firing into the rear of the enemy's batteries.

Seeing that the Hindman did not pass the batteries, the Juliet disabled, and that one of the pump-boats had her boiler exploded by a shot, I ran down to a point three or four miles below, where I had ordered two irod-clads to be ready to meet me in case of emergency.

Unfortunately, I ran on shore a short time after passing the batteries, and remained there three hours, took fire in the mean time from the explosion of some cartridges, the box containing which had been struck by the enemy's shot. It was after dark when I reached the appointed place, where I found the Osage lying opposite a field-battery of the enemy, which they had been shelling throughout the day.

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