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Doc. 79.-fight near New Orleans, La.

A rebel account.

On Thursday last, the 4th of July, Captain Higgins, formerly of the United States navy, and now of the Confederate army, and aide-decamp to Major-General Twiggs, fitted out the steamer Oregon, commanded by Captain A. L. Myers, and also the steamer Swaim, Lieutenant Warley, C. S. N., commanding, for the purpose of driving the enemy out of the Mississippi Sound. The steamers sailed on Friday last, both well armed and manned, and proceeded as far as Bay St. Louis, where they filled up the bags which they had provided themselves with, with sand. They left the bay at 9 o'clock Saturday morning for the cruising ground of the enemy, the Swaim taking the main land, or side passage, and the Oregon the outside, and proceeded to Ship Island Pass.

Finding no enemy in sight, the Oregon proceeded to sea from Ship Island, and soon saw two vessels, and gave chase. They proved to be two fishing smacks of our own. The Oregon then returned to Ship Island, and Capt. Higgins, who was in command of the expedition, deemed it advisable to take possession of Ship Island. Accordingly he signalized the Swaim to come to and go alongside of the island. The Oregon then came alongside the Swaim, and both proceeded to disembark the men and munitions of war, provisions, &c., which was done in very short time considering they had no derrick for hoisting out the guns.

After the disembarkation, the guns on the boats were put in battery, protected by sandbags. The Swaim was left at the island while the Oregon proceeded to New Orleans, via Pass Christian, for the purpose of sending a despatch to Gen. Twiggs to send forward reinforcements of ammunition and men. The Oregon then proceeded to New Orleans, where she arrived on Sunday morning, and was immediately ordered to take on board guns, gun carriages, and munitions to reinforce Ship Island, Major-General Twiggs, and Captain Higgins, and Major Smith using every possible effort to get every thing in readiness. The steamer Gray Cloud was also taken into requisition, and was loaded and got under way on Monday morning, at 11 o'clock, also well armed. The Oregon followed the same night, at 11 o'clock with provisions, and proceeded directly to Ship Island.

At 6 o'clock on Tuesday morning, when within eight miles of the fort on Ship Island, Capt. Myers saw a large United States steamer and a tender lying off about two miles outside the island. At this moment our troops at the sand batteries opened fire on the steamer, which was immediately returned, and the battle commenced in good earnest. The Gray Cloud coming up slowly, the Oregon took off her ammunition, and proceeded at once to the scene of action, Major Smith directing the Gray Cloud to follow at a safe distance. [274]

Having arrived at the island, Captain Myers proceeded at once in his yawl, with Major Smith, with a load of shell and powder, being received with cheers by Captain Thom, of the C. S. marines, and the sailors and soldiers, who at once carried the supplies to the batteries. The enemy had fired some thirty odd rounds of shell and round shot, which sank in the sand, and were used by our gallant sailors in returning fire. The explosion of the enemy's shells did no other damage than slightly to injure one man in the leg.

The steamers immediately commenced landing their guns and provisions, during which time the enemy again opened fire, the shot falling short, but being returned with great effect. It is supposed the attacking steamer, the Massachusetts, was hulled three times, and a shell was seen to explode over her decks, which, it is presumed, did great damage, as she immediately hauled off, and put for the Chandeleur Islands, a distance of twelve miles from our batteries. Great credit is due to Major-General Twiggs and Captain Higgins for the expeditious and prompt manner in which this island has been fortified and defended.

The following is a list of the officers who were attached to this expedition: Captain E. Higgins, commanding; Lieutenants Warley, Thom, and Dunnington; Surgeon Lynch; Purser Semple; Midshipmen Reid, Stone, Comstock, Dalton, and Robey, with 65 sailors and 85 marines.

After taking possession of the island, Captain Higgins detailed the following officers, with the marines and sailors, to hold and defend it: Lieutenant Warley, commanding; Lieutenant Thom, of the marines; Surgeon Lynch, and the midshipmen. After the enemy had retired, the steamer Swaim arrived with Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Allen, of the Fourth Regiment, from Mississippi City, with three companies. Major Smith is now in command, fortifying the island, and a larger force may shortly be expected. So much for our first naval brush with the enemy, in which it is but just to say that our officers and men all acted with the greatest spirit and gallantry.--N. O. Picayune, July 10.

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