Commencement and progress of the bombardment of Fort Jackson.
Sir — We commenced the bombardment of Fort Jackson
on the 16th, which was the earliest day possible after the arrival of coal.
On the first day the citadel was set on fire, and burnt until two o'clock the next morning.
On the 17th we made but little apparent impression on the fort.
On the 18th we dismounted one of their heavy Columbiads and otherwise appeared to damage them, and drove the men from the parapet guns, so that they only appeared occasionally when the gun-boats took part in the bombardment to draw the fire from the bomb vessels.
On the 19th a deserter came to us from the fort, and gave the information that I have stated above, and much other information in relation to the armament of the forts and their general condition.
The wind was blowing from the northwest, and chilly, the current running with great strength, so that the ships, when under way, could scarcely stem it, so that I shall await a change of wind and a consequent less violent current before I attack the forts, as I find great difficulty in avoiding collisions among the vessels.
Two of the gun-boats, Katahdin
have been seriously damaged by getting across-hawse of the ships and running into each other.
We lose a great many anchors and cables, and those articles are very much wanted in the squadron.
is almost the only ship that has not lost both.
On the first day's fire of the enemy they put a shot through one of the mortar vessels and killed one man but did not destroy her efficiency.
The second day they sunk one with a rifle shot, but hurt no one materially.
They have sent down five firerafts; none produced any effect on the fleet except the last, which only caused the collision of the Sciota
, both of which vessels dragged across the bows of the Mississippi
, and carried away the mainmast of the first, and damaged them both very much otherwise; the raft was turned clear of all the vessels of the fleet, but as the wind and strong current were peculiarly favorable, it gave us more trouble than on any former occasion.
I sent up Commander Bell
last evening to destroy the chain and raft across the river, but the current was so strong that he could accomplish but little, in consequence of one of his gun-boats getting on shore, and she was only saved by great exertion, as the enemy was firing on them all the time.
, however, kept up such a tremendous fire on them from the mortars that the enemy's shot did the gunboats no injury, and the cable was separated and their connection broken sufficiently to pass through on the left bank of the river.
The petard operator failed to fire his petards, owing to the breaking of his wires, which prevented the full destruction of the chain and the vessels; but great allowance is to be made for the violence of the current, which exceeds anything we have had to contend with since our arival in the river.
In conclusion, I regret to say that the fleet is in want of all the essentials to carry on our work — shells, fuses (15″ and 20″,) serge and yarn, to make cartridge-bags, grape and canister shot — for all of which I made large requisitions, and the articles may be on their way out.
The medical department is miserably supplied for the care of the wounded.
has offered to share with us, in fact.
everything he has, which will supply many of our wants; but justice to myself requires me to say that I required all these supplies some time before I left Hampton Roads
, and others immediately on my arrival at Key West
or Ship Island
, and I suppose accidental causes have stopped them on their way out here.1
My coal arrived just in time.
All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,