the volunteers, every man of them a sharpshooter, attacked the Cotton
, shooting down every one in sight, and so, one by one, silencing her guns.
The east bank was equally busy wreaking vengeance.
From the main road on that side, back of the high bank, burst an enfilading fire; from plantation roads, farther back and running parallel to the main road, batteries en echelon were pouring shell into her broadside.
All this time the air was filled with shrieking canister.
As fast as possible the gunners in the gunboats were doing their share of punishing, at a safe distance, the plucky little vessel which, in more equal days, had faced four of them alone and unsupported.
In history often runs a thread of cynicism.
With these varied odds against her, the Cotton
had become almost incapable of retreat.
Fortunately a champion appeared on the bank.
The left section (two 12-pounder bronze field howitzers) of Capt. T. A. Faries
' artillery had got into battery just in time to protect the Cotton
, whose gunners and pilots had already left, owing to the hot fire of the sharpshooters.
The Cotton had in fact become unmanageable, and was able to retreat only through the efforts of the battery in dispersing the Federals
She retreated slowly, proudly, avoiding haste.
After getting out of range the boat staggered back, as though blinded, but resolved again to defy shell and spherical case.
The next morning Nemesis
had prepared a dramatic end for the Cotton
—such as she had prepared for each of the Confederate guards of the interior waters of our State.
Before daybreak; even before the eager forces could begin to remove obstructions in the bayou, a cry was heard forward.
It passed clearly from man to man. ‘The Cotton is on fire!’
The report was well founded.
The gunboat had; in some blind way, swung across the bayou.
There, as though faithful beyond her life, the Teche
's heroic defender had placed herself as a still more difficult obstruction to the enemy's entrance into those lovely waters, so rich in natural beauties and so idolized