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The Lexington had been hard at work at them, and had been hulled fifteen times, with only one man killed. The firing above had ceased, and as the channel was very intricate, I could not send her up to the assistance of the vessels without danger of her getting aground. I knew that they were all above the batteries, and was in hopes that the Hindman had silenced them.

Lieutenant Commander Phelps had two vessels in charge, the Juliet and Champion, which he wished to get through safely. He kept them out of range until he could partially repair the Juliet, and then, starting under a heavy fire, he made a push by. Unfortunately the pump-boat was disabled and set fire to, and burnt up. The Hindman had her wheel-ropes cut away, and drifted past, turning round and round, and getting well cut up in going by.

The Juliet was cut to pieces in hull and machinery; had fifteen killed and wounded. Four miles below they met the Neosho going up, too late to cover them. Had she arrived in time, she could likely have cleaned out the batteries, at least diverted the fire of them until the passage of the boats.

I inclose the report of Lieutenant Commanding Phelps, from the time of his first misfortune until his arrival at this place, where I now am with all the fleet, having lost none of the gunboats, but very much surprised that I have any left, considering all the difficulties encountered. When the rebels had followed our army to the point where they could effect no more, all their attention was turned to the little squadron I had escorting the Eastport.

Every man and gun was brought to the river, and we had to contend against such odds that it seemed impossible to escape destruction or very severe handling. No vessels were ever better fought, and none of this class (mere thread-paper vessels) were ever under so hot a fire.

In five minutes the Cricket was struck thirty-eight times, with solid shot and shell, with a loss of twenty-five killed and wounded--half her crew; the Juliet about the same, with fifteen killed and wounded. The Hindman lost three killed and four or five wounded.

I may have lacked judgment in not blowing the Eastport up sooner, when I found that we were a secondary consideration to the army; but as I had staid behind myself to see the last transport through safely, I could not do less with one of my own vessels.

I was unable to keep up communication with the army; as the means of communication were with them, and as they marched along faster than I calculated, (forty miles in one day, when I supposed they would only go twenty,) I was more in their rear than I should have been. This arose from my desire to save the Eastport, and hoping that some signal success on the part of the army, (which I felt confident was able to whip all the rebels in that part of the country,) would dispose of the enemy altogether.

From the beginning of this expedition up to the present time, the officers and men of the squadron have worked with superhuman zeal, and overcome difficulties which seemed insurmountable. The success of the expedition depended entirely on the success of the navy in getting the transports safely to an appointed place — Springfield Landing — which would have put us in communication with the army, and then in possession of all their materials of war.

This we accomplished; and when the army returned, unexpectedly, we fought our way back again without the loss of any kind, excepting men, inflicting a loss of five hundred men on the enemy, killed their best General, Greene, and a number of his officers.

On our way down to Alexandria, obstacles were overcome, enough to appall the stoutest heart. Guns had to be taken out of vessels and then jumped over sand-bars and logs, and the squadron arrived here in time to prevent any attack on our reserve stores.

The difficulty about water is a most unusual one, and we must certainly have a rise of the few feet we want before the end of the season. All the rivers are booming at this time, and it should be so here. I am no more responsible for the failure of water here than I would be if the Mississippi went dry at this season — a thing that never happened yet.

I came up here with the river on the rise, and water enough for our largest vessels; and even on my way up to Shreveport from Grand Ecore the water rose, while it commenced falling where I left the largest gunboats. Falling or not, I could not go back while in charge of the transports and the material on which an army of thirty thousand men depended. Nothing would justify me in doing so.

I have still confidence in a good Providence, which I am sure will not desert us, and confidence that the nation will not permit this fleet to be sacrificed, when it has so well performed its part in what should have been a complete success.

In conclusion, I beg leave to mention the brave, cool, and zealous manner in which Lieutenant Commander Phelps worked to get his vessel out of her difficulties, never losing his faith for a single moment; also the handsome manner in which he brought the two fragile gunboats past those heavy batteries, cheating the enemy of the prize they had promised themselves.

To Acting Volunteer Lieutenant John Pearce, commanding the Fort Hindman, great praise is due for the efforts he made, night and day, to get the Eastport off, working his officers and men until they could hardly stand.

Acting Master George W. Rogers, of the Pittsburgh, deserves great credit for the manner in which he worked at the bulkheads of the Eastport, up to his middle in water, for eight days; to him we intrusted the duty of stopping the leak, which he fairly accomplished under the most trying circumstances.

Acting Master J. S. Watson defended his vessel in the most gallant manner, and never was a vessel more cut up.

Where all do their duty it is hard to discriminate;

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