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[108] in iron casemates. As a hawk in the barnyard, she swooped down upon our little river boats.

It was now that Dick Taylor caught Major Brent's idea. Quickly seizing the outline, he filled up the details. Among our river boats we had a small but very sturdy gunboat, which had been converted out of a tugboat near New Orleans. To her equipment we had added a ram, and called her the Webb. From the day New Orleans fell, the Webb had been hidden away in Red river. There Taylor had seen her, and her transfer to this debatable ground was the result. Up to that day of transfer the Webb had been unplated. Major Brent commanded the Webb and Captain McCloskey, another aide-de-camp, the Queen of the West, which had been captured by the land battery at Fort De Russy. The Queen had, four or five days before, been strengthened with an improvised ram. It was a service of danger. Volunteers were called to form the crews. More offered than were needed. Two steamers protected by cotton bales were added. These boats, with the Webb and the Queen, formed the expedition.

The Indianola was enjoying her pre-eminence on these waters. Nothing could be more lordly than her way of stopping here and there. One day she halted before Grand Bluff and gave its defenders a touch of her 11-inch guns. On February 24th the expedition was approaching its prey. Major Brent heard, when ascending the Mississippi some sixty miles below Vicksburg, that the Indianola was a short way ahead, with a coal barge lashed on either side. Brent decided to wait until the night, being certain that, if struck by her guns, either of his vessels would be destroyed. The little fleet found the Indianola about 9:30 p. m. lying ‘quartering down’ with head toward the Louisiana shore. McCloskey, testing the improvised ram of the Queen, attempted to run her down, aiming at her wheel-house. The Indianola was no true hawk, only a kestrel. On seeing the Confederate ram approach,

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