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Doc. 138.-the fight at Port Hudson.

New-York world account.

United States sloop-of-war Richmond, off Prophet Island, Mississippi River, March 15, 1863.
we soon passed the head of Prophet Island, and arrived abreast of the mortar-boats, which were headed by the Essex and the Sachem. Presently their gleaming lights, which had been on our starboard beam, shone on our quarter, and anon they were sparkling astern. And now we were nearing the point of danger. Signal-lights were seen flashing from the direction of the batteries, the entire distance along, and were answered from the opposite shore. Right ahead, too, lights were seen from the rebel boats, as was afterward ascertained. It was evident that the rebels were expecting us, and were prepared to give us a warm reception.

Presently a large fire was seen on the Port Hudson side of the river, a little below the town. This fire was kindled right in front of the most formidable of the fortifications, in order that the gleam thrown across the river should reveal every vessel as it passed. The plan was an admirable one, and succeeded to a charm. But for it, perhaps all the vessels that it was intended should pass the batteries would have got by, and the good old Mississippi would have existed many years more as the pride and glory of the United States steam-navy.

We had left the mortar-boats well astern, when a sulphurous light was seen gleaming on the shore, on our port-side. Flashing up for a moment, a dull explosion followed. It was evidently an imperfect rocket. Another was essayed; but, instead of ascending, it ran along the surface of the river close to the bank. A little further up a third was tried, and with complete success. It ascended high in the air, where it burst in the usual manner. Instantaneously it was answered by a field-piece from the opposite shore, aimed at the Hartford. The Admiral was not slow in returning the compliment. Three or four guns fired from the flag-ship in rapid succession testified to the alacrity with which the wager of battle was accepted.

The return of the rebel fire by the Hartford, was promptly followed up by a hot fire from the artillery pieces of the rebels, and quite a brisk action ensued between them. The scene, as viewed from the Richmond, was both brilliant and spirited. The flashes of the guns, both on shore and afloat, were incessant, while the roar of cannon kept up a deafening and almost incessant sound. Great judgment was here necessary to prevent the Richmond from running into the Hartford, and, in fact, to keep the war vessels generally from running into each other.

And now was heard.a thundering roar, equal in volume to a whole park of artillery. This was followed by a rushing sound, accompanied by a howling noise that beggars description. Again and again was the sound repeated, till the vast [452] expanse of heaven rang with the awful minstrelsy. It was apparent that the mortar-boats had opened fire. Of this I was soon convinced on casting my eyes aloft. Never shall I forget the sight that then met my astonished vision. Shooting upward at an angle of forty-five degrees, with the rapidity of lightning, small globes of golden flame were seen sailing through the pure ether — not a steady, unfading flame, but corruscating like the fitful gleam of a fire-fly — now visible and anon invisible. Like a flying star of the sixth magnitude, the terrible missile — a thirteen-inch shell — nears its zenith, up and still up — higher and higher. Its flight now becomes much slower, till on reaching its utmost altitude, its centrifugal force becomes counteracted by the earth's attraction, it describes a parabolic curve and down, down it comes, bursting, it may be, ere it reaches terra firma, but probably alighting in the rebel works ere it explodes, where it scatters death and destruction around. But while the mortar-boats were at work, the Essex was not idle. Unmanageable as she is, especially in so strong a current, she did not follow the rest of the fleet, but remained at the head of the “bummers,” doing admirable service with her heavy guns.

All this time the Richmond had to hang back, as Admiral Farragut seemed to be so enamored with the sport in which he was engaged as to be in no hurry to pass by. Once or twice, in consequence of the dense column of smoke that now rolled over the river, our bowsprit was almost over the taffrail of the Hartford, and there was an incessant call on the part of Second Lieutenant Terry, who commanded the forward part of the ship, to stop the engines. And here I may as well say that this gallant young officer behaved in the most chivalrous manner throughout the entire engagement, cheering on the men, and encouraging them, by his example, to stand to their guns like men, though little of this they required to induce them to perform their whole duty.

The Richmond had by this time got within range of the rebel field-batteries, which opened fire on her. I had all along thought that we would open fire from our bow-guns, on the top-gallant forecastle, and that, after discharging a few broadsides from the starboard side, the action would be wound up by a parting compliment from our stern-chasers. To my surprise, however, we opened at once from our broadside guns. The effect was startling, as the sound was unexpected; but beyond this I really experienced no inconvenience from the concussion. There was nothing unpleasant to the ear, and the jar to the ship was really quite unappreciable. It may interest the uninitiated to be informed how a broadside is fired from a vessel-of-war. I was told on board the Richmond that all the guns were sometimes fired off simultaneously, though it is not a very usual course, as it strains the ship. Last night the broadsides were fired by commencing at the forward gun, and firing all the rest off in rapid succession, as fast almost as the ticking of a watch. The effect was grand and terrific; and, if the guns were rightly pointed — a difficult thing in the dark, by the way — they could not fail in carrying death and destruction among the enemy.

Of course we did not have every thing our own way; for the enemy poured in his shot and shell as thick as hail. Over, ahead, astern, all around us flew the death-dealing missiles, the hissing, screaming, whistling, shricking, and howling of which rivalled Pandemonium. It must not be supposed, however, that because our broadside-guns were the tools we principally worked that our bow and stern-chasers were idle. We soon opened with our bow eighty-pounder Dahlgren, which was followed up not long after by the guns astern, giving evidence to the fact that we had passed some of the batteries.

While seated on the “fish-davit,” on the top-gallant forecastle — the Hartford and the Richmond blazing away at the time — a most fearful wail arose from the river, first on our port-bow then on the beam. A man was evidently overboard, probably from the Hartford or the Genesee, then just ahead. The cry was: “Help, oh! Help!” “Help, oh! Help!” “Man overboard,” called out Lieutenant Terry; “throw him a rope.” But, poor fellow, who could assist him in such a strait? We were in action; every man was at his gun; to lower a boat would be folly; in fact, it could not be done with any hope of success. Consequently, although the man was evidently a good swimmer, to judge by his unfailing cries for help for a long time, nothing could be done to rescue him, and he floated astern of us, still sending up that wailing cry for help, but without effect. The terrible current of the Mississippi was too much for him, and he, without doubt, sank beneath the waves of the mighty river.

Just after this fearful incident firing was heard astern of us, and it was soon ascertained that the Monongahela, with her consort, the Kineo, and the Mississippi were in action. The Monongahela carries a couple of two hundred-pounder rifled Parrott guns, beside other ticklers. At first I credited the roar of her amiable two hundred-pounders to the “bummers,” till I was undeceived, when I recalled my experience in front of Yorktown last spring, and the opening of fire from similar guns from Wormley's Creek. All I can say is, the noise was splendid. The action now became general. The roar of cannon was incessant, and the flashes from the guns, together with the flight of the shells from the mortar-boats, made up a combination of sound and sight impossible to describe. To add to the horrors of the night, while it contributed toward the enhancement of a certain terrible beauty, dense clouds of smoke began to envelop the river, shutting out from view the several vessels and confounding them with the batteries. It was very difficult to know how to steer to prevent running ashore, perhaps right under a rebel battery, or into a consort. Upward and upward rolled the smoke, shutting out of view the beautiful stars and obscuring the vision on every side. Then it was that the order was passed: “Boys, don't fire [453] till you see the flash from the enemy's guns.” That was our only guide through the “palpable obscurity.”

But this sole dependence on the flashes was likely to be attended with serious consequences, as the following incident will show:

We had got nearly into the middle of the hornet's nest, when an officer on the top-gallant forecastle called out: “Ready with the port-gun.” The gun was got ready and pointed, and was about to be discharged, when Lieutenant Terry called out: “Hold on; you are about to fire into the Hartford.” And such was the fact; for the flash of the Hartford's guns at that moment revealed the spars and rigging of that vessel. Consequently the gun was not fired, nor was it discharged during the engagement, the fighting being confined entirely to the starboard side.

But, though we did not fire into the Hartford, a story is afloat, and, as it may reach New-York and cause unnecessary comment and excitement, unless authoritatively contradicted, it seems to be my duty to kill it at once. The story goes that the Richmond fired three shots into the Mississippi, and that the shots were returned with interest — each vessel taking the other for an enemy. I say, emphatically, that the story is not true; and in this assertion I am borne out by nearly every officer of the Richmond. The Mississippi was astern of us, and if she had passed us on the way up — which she did not-she must have passed on our port-side, and not on the starboard, which would have brought her between the fire of our broadside guns and that of the rebels. Now, as we (lid not fight our port-guns at all, we could not have paid the delicate attention to the Mississippi that has been attributed to us. True, every object was obscured by the dense masses of smoke that hung over the river; but the flashes from our guns, which were incessant, could not fail to reveal to the Mississippi our starboard from our port-side. The only time when we could have opened on our ill-fated consort was when she got aground and we had rounded on our way back ; but this theory is rendered untenable from the fact that we must have been far down when the Mississippi grounded. Besides, we could hardly have taken her for a rebel battery on the right bank of the river. As conclusive evidence that the Richmond could not have fired into the Mississippi from her port-side, it is sufficient to state that the Genesee was lashed to the port-side of the Richmond.

Still the fight went on, and still the roar of cannon and the screaming, howling, whistling of shot and shell continued to make “night hideous.” Still, too, the pure atmosphere was befouled with the smell of “villainous saltpetre” and obscured with smoke, through the opaque mass of which the stars refused to twinkle. Intermingled with the boom of the cannonade arose the cries of the wounded and the shouts of their friends, suggesting that they should be taken below for treatment. So thick was the smoke that we had to cease firing several times ; and to add to the horrors of the night it was next to impossible to tell whether we were running into the Hartford or going ashore, and, if the latter, on which bank, or whether some of the other vessels were about to run into us or into each other. All this time the fire was kept up on both sides incessantly. It seems, however, that we succeeded in silencing the lower batteries of field-pieces. The men must have been driven from their guns; and no wonder if they were, in that terrific storm of iron.

While a brisk fire was kept up from the decks of the several vessels, the howitzers in the tops were not permitted to remain idle. Intermingled with the more sullen roar of the larger guns, the sharp, short crack of the brass pieces was heard from their elevated positions, adding harmony to the melody of the terrific concert.

The phrase is familiar to most persons who have read accounts of sea-fights that took place about fifty years ago; but it is difficult for the uninitiated to realize all the horrors conveyed in “muzzle to muzzle.” For the first time I had, last night, an opportunity of knowing what the phrase really meant. Let the reader consult the map, and it will be seen that the central battery is situated about the middle of the segment of a circle I have already compared to a horse-shoe in shape, though it may be better understood by the term “crescent.” This battery stands on a bluff so high that a vessel in passing immediately underneath cannot elevate her guns sufficiently to reach those on the battery ; neither can the guns on the battery be sufficiently depressed to bear on the passing ship. In this position the rebel batteries on the two horns of the crescent can enfilade the passing vessel, pouring in a terrible cross-fire, which the vessel can return, though at a great disadvantage, from her bow and stern-chasers.

We fully realized this last night; for, as we got within short-range, the enemy poured into us a terrible fire of grape and canister, which we were not slow to return — our guns being double-shotted, each with a stand of both grape and canister. Every vessel in its turn was exposed to the same fiery ordeal on nearing the centre battery, and right promptly did their gallant tars return the compliment. This was the hottest part of the engagement. We were literally muzzle to muzzle, the distance between us and the enemy's guns being not more than twenty yards, though to me it seemed to be only as many feet. In fact, the battle of Port Hudson has been pronounced by officers and seamen who were engaged in it, and who were present at the passage of Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson, below New-Orleans, and had participated in the fights of Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, Island Number10, Vicksburgh, etc., as the severest in the naval history of the present war.

Shortly after this close engagement we seemed to have passed the worst. The enemy's shot and shell no longer swept our decks like a hail-storm; but the fire from the batteries was kept up in a desultory manner. The starboard bow-gun could no longer be brought to bear. Consequently [454] Lieut. Terry ordered the men on the top-gallant forecastle to leave the guns in that part of the ship, and to descend to the main deck to help work the broadside guns. Our stern-chasers, of course, were still available, for the purpose of giving the enemy a parting blessing. I left my station on the top-gallant forecastle shortly after the men who had been working the bow-guns, and passed under where I had been sitting, taking up my station on the port side, just opposite the forward gun on the starboard side, where but a few minutes before a shell had exploded.

I was not long in this position when there came a blinding flash through the very port I was opposite to, revealing a high bank right opposite, so close that a biscuit might have been tossed from the summit on board the Richmond. Simultaneously there came a loud roar, and I thought the shot had passed through the port I was opposite to. Indeed, so close were we to the battery that the flash, the report, and the arrival of the shot, crashing and tearing through our bulwarks, were instantaneous, there not being the intermission of a second between.

It must have been about this time that Lieut. Commander Cummings, the executive officer of the Richmond, was standing on the bridge that connects the starboard with the port gangway, with his speaking-trumpet in his hand, cheering the men. Near him stood Capt. Alden, when a conical shot of large calibre passed through the hammocks, over the starboard gangway, taking off the left leg of the Lieutenant just above the ankle, battering his speaking-trumpet (a prize) flat, and knocking Capt. Alden down with the windage, and went through the smoke-stack. It has been said that the Captain was knocked down by a hammock which the shot had displaced; but this is not the fact. I am happy to say that the gallant Captain sustained no injury. Mr. Cummings was immediately taken below, where his wound was promptly attended to by Dr. Henderson, the ship's surgeon, but not before the brave young man had lost a large quantity of blood on his way down. On being carried below he used the following patriotic words, which are worthy of becoming historical: “I would willingly give my other leg so that we could but pass the batteries.”

The Rev. Dr. Bacon, the loyal rector of Christ Church, New-Orleans, who was acting as chaplain on board the Richmond, was on the bridge when Mr. Cummings received his terrible wound. He fortunately escaped unhurt, though he had been all over the ship, in the thickest of the fight, carrying messages and exhorting and encouraging the men.

It was no easy matter in the midst of such a dense cloud of smoke to know where to point our guns. Even the flashes of the enemy's guns shone dimly through the thick gloom. Several times the order was given to cease fire, so as to allow the smoke to clear away; but, as there was scarcely a breath of wind stirring, this was a very slow process; still the order was necessary, to prevent the several vessels from running into each other. In this respect the rebels had a decided advantage over us; for while they did not stand in danger of collision, neither was there any apprehension of firing into their friends. The wide river was before them, and if they did not hit our vessels at each discharge, they could but miss at the worst.

And now the turmoil arose high and loud. Denser and denser became the dark volume of smoke, rendering it next to impossible for the pilot to know where to put the vessel's head. Lieutenant Terry, therefore, stationed himself at the head of the ship, where there was a better chance of penetrating the gloom than on the bridge. Loud rose his voice, even amidst the roar of cannon and the shrieking of shot and shell, directing how the vessel's head should be placed. The order was taken from him by the men all along the deck, and by them conveyed to the quartermasters at the wheel. At times this was a difficult matter; for the noise of battle would sometimes drown the necessary orders thus conveyed. As it was, it seemed to me that a great deal of the manoeuvring was sheer guess-work. It could scarcely be otherwise. This was the moment of peril for the Richmond; for had she gone on shore under the batteries, it would have been all up with her, and many a gallant heart that then beat in her would have ceased to throb.

Matters had gone on this way for nearly an hour and a half--the first gun having been fired at about half-past 11 o'clock-when, to my astonishment, I heard some shells whistling over our port side. Did the rebels have batteries on the right bank of the river? was the query that naturally suggested itself to me. To this the response was given that we had turned back. I soon discovered that it was too true. Our return was, of course, more rapid than our passage up. The rebels did not molest us much, and I do not believe one of their shots took effect while we were running down rapidly with the current. It was a melancholy affair, for we did not know but what the whole expedition was a failure; neither could we tell whether any of our vessels had been destroyed, nor how many. We had the satisfaction of learning soon afterward, however, that the Hartford and the Albatross had succeeded in rounding the point above the batteries. All the rest were compelled to return. We soon came to an anchor on the west side of Prophet Island, so near to the shore that the poop-deck was strewn with the blossoms and leaves of the budding trees that we brushed back.

I had now time to look around me. The war of cannon had ceased; the hissing, whizzing, whistling, howling of shot and shell were no longer heard; the glorious stars once more shone forth — the sky no longer being obscured by the opaque smoke that had hovered over the river — and the pale moon now waning to a crescent, rose and shed its mild rays over the recent scene of carnage; the celestial orbs ran their courses in their respective orbits — all the same as if man had not just been imbruing his hands in the blood of his fellow-man. Nothing of these sanguinary transactions did these bright stars or that pale [455] moon take cognizance of; but who shall say that the angels of heaven did not drop a pitying tear on the work of destruction being carried on by beings created but a little lower than themselves?

All this time I was not aware that Lieut. Commanding Cummings had been wounded. When the firing had finally ceased, however, I proceeded aft, where I was made acquainted with the sad event. A warrant officer kindly volunteered to pilot me down to the place where the wounded officer lay-namely, in the cockpit-telling me that as he was under the influence of chloroform my presence would not disturb him. As we passed the machinery of the vessel, on our way forward, I was shown a large hole that had been made by an eighty-pounder solid conical shot, which had passed through the hull of the ship, damaging the machinery so as to compel us to return. But of this, more anon. On reaching the cockpit, the approaches to which were drenched in blood, the surgeon was performing the terrible operation on Mr. Cummings, rendered necessary by the loss of his leg. As the patient was under the influence of chloroform, he did not move a muscle. I did not wait long, but quickly made my way to the upper regions.

On regaining the gun-deck the first objects that struck my attention were two dead bodies, lying stark and stiff under the front part of the poop-deck; and this reminds me of the narrow escape I had, to which I have alluded in an earlier part of this letter. The two men were marines who had been stationed at gun No. 10, just opposite the after-gun on the port side, at the breech of which I had thought of taking up my station. It is well that I had altered my mind; for, though a shot did not come through the port opposite, one of those interesting pieces of iron loaded with powder, and called a shell, passed through the bulwark in a diagonal direction a few feet forward of gun No. 10, instantly killing the two marines, taking off the head and an arm at the elbow of one man, carrying off half of the head of the other, and wounding some twelve or thirteen more marines by splinters, in spite of the splinter nettings with which the inside of the bulwark was protected.

The shell, a twelve-pounder, exploded in passing through the bulwark. The largest piece struck the deck, which it ploughed up; glancing upward, it then struck the brass rods that protect the sky-light of the lower cabin, twisting some of them in a curious manner. Again glancing off, it shivered a staunchion that supports the front of the poop-deck, after which it finished its devious course by punching a hole through the captain's office, into which it passed, and dropped on the floor with-out perpetrating further mischief. The entire front of the captain's office was bespattered with blood, though at a distance of about twenty feet from where the men fell. Had your correspondent taken his station where he originally intended, he could scarcely have failed to receive some of the fragments of the shell, or, at least, of being struck by some of the splinters that proved so destructive.

The first gun was fired, as already stated, at about half-past 11, and the whole affair was over by one o'clock this morning. We were quietly at anchor, and were busy discussing the events of the fight, exchanging congratulations and comparing notes, when the look-out man in the main-top hailed the deck as follows:

On deck there?


“A large fire ahead!”

“Where away?”

“Just above the bend.”

“What is it like?”

“Like a fire-raft.”

On this Captain Alden, to whom the circumstance was duly reported by the officer of the deck, sings out:

Keep a good look-out. Man the bow-guns, and stand by to slip the cable.

Shortly after this a small steamer came down, the master of which informed Captain Alden that the Mississippi was on fire, upon which Captain Alden ordered the hawsers that connected the Genesee with the Richmond to be cast loose, and the former vessel to go to the assistance of the Mississippi. In a very few moments the Genesee was steaming up the river on her errand of humanity. In this she was ably seconded by the Essex and Sachem. The little Reliance, too, though an unarmed boat, did good service on the occasion, which seems to be worthy of special mention.

It is now necessary to state in what manner the Mississippi happened to be on fire. That she alone should have grounded is a subject of astonishment. It is as strange as it is providential that all the vessels did not run ashore in the dense smoke that prevailed. I am told that the Richmond actually touched at one time right under the most formidable of the batteries, but that she soon got off. I cannot vouch for the fact, however. But it is true that just as we were turning round a torpedo exploded under our stern, throwing the water up nearly as high as our mizzen-mast head. The gallant ship quivered in every timber from the concussion; but I am happy to say she did not sustain the slightest injury.

In the dense smoke that prevailed, excluding every object from view, the glorious old Mississippi went ashore right opposite the centre and worst battery. She was soon discovered by the enemy. Up to this time she had not sustained any serious injury. She now became a standing target for the whole range of rebel batteries. The rebels began to pour into her a perfect shower of shot and shell, which was promptly returned by the Mississippi. This murderous work continued for half an hour. Finding it impossible to escape, Captain Smith judiciously but reluctantly gave orders to set the ship on fire to prevent her falling into the hands of the rebels. Accordingly her after-part was fired, the rebels all the time continuing to pour in their shot and shell as fast as they could bring their guns to bear. During this part of the contest no fewer than two hundred and fifty rounds were fired from the Mississippi. The artillery practice of the rebels would [456] have been worthy of a better cause. The Mississippi was riddled through and through. Four men were known to have been killed ere the ship was abandoned. Among them was Acting Master Kelly, the whole of whose abdomen was shot away. Three were ascertained to have been wounded. There may have been some more casualties, but it is impossible to tell to what extent at present, though a great many exaggerated stories are afloat on the subject. Several were known to have jumped overboard soon after the ship was set on fire, and there can be no doubt that some of them were drowned.

Soon after the vessel had been fired two shells came crashing through her, exploding and setting fire to some turpentine and oil which they upset. This caused the flames to spread, whereupon a master's mate hurried on to the gun-deck and reported that the flames had reached the entrance to the magazine. The ship was then at once abandoned, and all hands on board, including the wounded men, were put on shore on the bank of the river opposite Port Hudson. This was accompanied by a deafening yell of exultation from the rebels on perceiving the blazing up of the fire. The Mississippi burned till she became lightened, to which the removal of nearly three hundred men contributed, when she swung off into deep water. She had grounded with her head upstream; but on swinging off she turned completely round, presenting her head down the river, which position she retained till she blew up.

At length it was reported on board the Richmond that the Mississippi was coming down, and we all turned out on the poop-deck to see the sight. It was a most magnificent spectacle. From the midships to the stern the noble vessel was enveloped in a sheet of flame, while fire-wreaths ran up the shrouds, played around the mainmast, twisted and writhed like fiery serpents. Onward she came, keeping near to the right bank, still bow foremost, as regularly as if she was steered by a pilot. It was, indeed, a wonderful sight. Captain Smith, her recent commander, and several of her officers, who had by this time arrived on board the Richmond, assembled on the poop-deck, their emotion almost too great for words. Next to his wife, children or sweetheart, there is nothing that a sailor loves more than his ship — nothing that he regrets the loss of so much; and, in the absence of the above-mentioned domestic ties, his ship is to him wife, child, and sweetheart. The feeling of regret at the loss of his ship is enhanced when, as in the case of the Mississippi, the gallant craft has achieved historical renown. No wonder, then, that the officers of the Mississippi should feel a sinking at the heart on witnessing the destruction of their floating home, while they were powerless to save her.

As she arrived opposite the port side of the Richmond, some apprehension was entertained that her port broadsides might give us a parting salute of not a very agreeable nature. Captain Smith assured Captain Alden, however, that her port guns had all been discharged. Just as she had cleared us, her starboard guns began to go off. This was accompanied by the explosion of the shells she had on deck, ready for use. These exploded at short intervals. The flames now began to increase in volume from amidships to the stern, and the howitzer on the maintop was discharged with the heat. Majestically the gallant craft — gallant even in its last moments — moved down the stream, till, turning the bend at the lower part of Prophet Island, she was hidden from our view, and nothing more was seen but a bright glare, shooting up skyward. Shell after shell still exploded at intervals, and thus a couple of hours passed away, till the Mississippi was some eight or ten miles below the Richmond. The shells now begin to explode more rapidly, indicating that the fire had reached the shell-room, and cannot be far from the powder magazine. This proves to be the fact; for presently a sudden glare of bright flame shoots upward toward the zenith, spreading skyward, in the form of an inverted cone; an interval of a few seconds elapses; then comes a stunning roar, causing the Richmond to tremble from truck to keelson, and the gallant Mississippi, that so long “has braved the battle and the breeze,” is no more; all that remains of her is sunk in the bosom of the mighty river from which she derived her name.

Passing through the starboard side of the Richmond, amidships, a conical eighty-pounder passed through a pile of cordage on the berth-deck, narrowly missing some powder-boys who were handing up ammunition. Thence it entered the machinery-room, passing through and smashing the steam-drum, and damaging both safety-valves, so as to prevent them from closing. Taking its course under the steam-chest, the shot came out on the other side, when it broke in two, and both pieces dropped below. Here I may take this opportunity of mentioning that confederate iron, in these regions, is a very inferior metal. It is not half smelted, but right in the centre are large stones.

Early this morning the decks of the Richmond presented a melancholy spectacle. Where the two men fell there was a great pool of clotted gore, which I saw a seaman tossing overboard with a shovel. The whitewashed decks, too, were any thing but tidy; but, hey! presto! as if by magic, the stalwart arms of some two or three hundred men, with the aid of a plentiful supply of Mississippi water, have made every thing as clean and neat as a lady's boudoir. The bodies of the two men who were killed have been removed forward, and to them has been added the body of the boatswain's mate, who lost both legs and an arm, and who has since died. The three bodies have been neatly sewed up in their hammocks, and they are to be put into coffins for interment on shore. Headboards, with their names inscribed on them, will be placed at the heads of their graves, so that the bodies may be reclaimed at any time by their friends or relatives.

Memphis appeal account.

A correspondent of the Appeal, writing on the fifteenth, furnishes the subjoined details of the [457] engagement at Port Hudson, between the batteries and Admiral Farragut's fleet.

Yesterday, (Sunday, fourteenth,) a number of the enemy's vessels came within sight and anchored off the point at the head of Prophet's Island, about four miles down the river. The iron-clad battery Essex and a number of mortarboats anchored close up behind the point. Having calculated the range of our batteries, as accurately as might be under the circumstances, about three o'clock in the afternoon the mortarboats and the Essex commenced practice, throwing shells for an hour and a half, but without any damage or alarm on our side. All was then quiet, and the fleet awaited the hour of midniglit for their surprise visit.

. . . . . . . . .

Shortly before midnight, the boats having formed the line of battle as described, their decks cleared for action, and the men at their quarters, the Hartford led the way and the others promptly followed her direction. At the moment of their discovery a rocket was to be sent up from the Admiral's flag-ship, as the signal for the Essex and her accompanying mortar-boats to commence work.

Although there has been no indication of such a determined night-attack by Farragut, the usual vigilant precautions were in force at our batteries. Every gun was ready for action, and around each piece slept a detachment of gunners. So dark was the night, however, and so silently had the armed craft nosed their way up, that the flag-ship had passed some of our guns and all the fleet were within easy range before their approach was known. Almost at the same time a rocket from our signal corps, and the discharge of muskets by an infantry picket, aroused the line. Quick as a flash, while the falling fire of our alarm rocket was yet unextinguished, there shot up into the sky from the Hartford's deck another.

Then came one grand, long, deafening roar that rent the atmosphere with its mighty thunder, shaking both land and water, and causing the high battery-crowned cliffs to tremble as if with fear and wonder. Every gun on the fleet, and every mortar at the point joined in one simultaneous discharge. . . . . . . The batteries on the long line of bluff, but a moment before silent as the churchyard, now resound to the hurrying tread of men, while the quick, stern tones of command are heard above the awful din, and the furtively glancing rays of light from the battle-lanterns, reveal the huge instruments of death and destruction, and show the half-covered way to magazines.

. . . The sheets of flame that poured from the sides of the sloops at each discharge lit up nearly the whole stretch of river, placing each craft in strong relief against the black sky. The noise was stunning to the ear, but they knew not yet the position of our batteries, and the shot and shell, fired at random, had no material effect.

Minute after minute passed away, each driven to eternity distracted by the maddening roar of so many cannon, and the fleet kept its unchecked course up the stream. Amazement seized the Yankee officers and men. Where were the long talked of batteries the rebels had been constructing with which to hold the Mississippi? Had they been abandoned in a panic caused by the bombardment of the fleets? The marine officer of the Mississippi, now a prisoner, tells me the query was seriously propounded whether the rebels had not evacuated their stronghold and thus cheated the brave Yankee tars out of the glory they were expecting to reap. Only too soon did the enemy discover that we were but waiting to bring the whole fleet irretrievably under our guns before we went to work. For fifteen minutes had they plied at their monster cannon, and now they were commencing to relax, from sheer vexation, when a flash of light from the crest of the cliff lights the way for a shell to go plunging through the hartford's deck. This was the monitor, and once the enemy saw a cordon of vivid light as long as their own.

Now commenced the battle in all its terrible earnestness. Outntumbered in guns and out-weighed in metal, our volleys were as quickly repeated, and the majority of them unerring in their aim. As soon as the enemy thus discovered our batteries, they opened on them with grape and canister, which was more accurately thrown than their shells, and threw clouds of dirt upon the guns and gunners. The shells went over them in every conceivable direction but the right one. The Hartford, a very fast ship, now made straight for up the river, making her best time, and trying to divert the aim of our gunners by her incessant and deafening broadsides. She soon outstripped the balance of the fleet. Shot after shot struck her, riddling her through and through, but still she kept on her way.

Every craft now looking out for itself and bound to make its very best time to get by the fleet, lost its orderly line of battle, and got so mixed up it was difficult, and sometimes impossible, to distinguish one from another. It was speedily apparent to the enemy that the fire was a great deal hotter than had been expected, and the Captains of the two gunboats and of the Monongahela, doubtless resolved quickly that it would be madness to attempt to run such a terrible gauntlet of iron hail. Whether the commanders of the Richmond and Mississippi had already arrived at the same determination, or come to it soon after, is not known, but they all, except the Hartford, undertook to put about and return the way they caine.

For this purpose the Richmond sheered in to the left bank, under the batteries, and then circled round, her course reaching nearly up to the opposite point. In executing this manoeuvre she gave our batteries, successively, a raking position, and they took excellent advantage of it, ripping her from stern to stem. From the crashing of timbers, plainly heard during every brief interval of the din, and from the view had of shots that struck her, it was evident that her doom was sealed. Instead of making a run for it down tho [458] river, hugging the opposite shore, she again turned her prow toward our batteries, and ran right in under them.

As she got this position, a voice from on board of her cried out: “Now let me see you strike me from those hills, G — d d — n you.” As if in answer to his blasphemous appeals, a battery above and below got his range, and while a shell crashed through his forecastle, a double charge of grape swept his decks from the mizzen-mast forward. It must have done fearful execution, and the same voice, which just before rung out an oath and a defiance, now exclaimed in piteous accents: “For God's sake, don't shoot any more! We are sinking!”

It was reported among a crowd of observers on the bluff, that a voice from her deck had called out: “We surrender! We surrender!” If this was said, it was not probably spoken by her commander, who, however, appealed to our batteries to cease firing upon her, as the ship was sinking. . . . . .

Whether she sank I do not as yet know. Her commander may have used a Yankee artifice to escape by the mistaken humanity of the victors, but if she is not seriously disabled, then many experienced eyes were greatly deceived.

The Mississippi undertook to execute the same manoeuvre of turning round and making her escape back to the point she started from. She had rounded and just turned down-stream, when one of our shots tore off her rudder, and another went crashing through her machinery. Immediately after came the rushing sound of steam escaping from some broken pipe, and the now unmanageable vessel drifted aground directly opposite our crescent line of batteries. Her range was quickly gained, and she was being rapidly torn to pieces by our missiles, when the commander gave the order for all hands to save themselves the best way they could. At the same time fire broke out in two places.

The prisoners we have taken were of opinion she was set on fire by her own officers, but it is as likely that it was caused by our red-hot shot, which was being poured into her uninterruptedly. At this time her decks were strewn with the dead and wounded, according to one of her crew with whom I have conversed, who thought that one half of her complement of men were included in the list of casualties. . . . . .

Such are the particulars of this morning's fight at Port Hudson. For the time it lasted it was one of the most desperately contested engagements of the war.

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