Doc. 70.-capture of the “Clara Dolsen.”
U. S. Gunboat Lexington, White River cut off, Ark., Saturday, June 14, 6 P. M., 1862.On Thursday, twelfth inst., by invitation of Lieut. J. W. Shirk, U. S.N., commanding, we boarded this gunboat off Hopefield, Ark., opposite Memphis, Tenn. On Friday, thirteenth, at ten minutes past five A. M., we got under way down the Mississippi, in company with the U. S. gunboat Mound City, Capt. Kelty, U. S.N.; St. Louis, Capt. W. McGunnegle, U. S.N., commanding, and the tug Spitfire. One howitzer was placed on board of the tug. The Mound City, under Capt. Kelty, U. S.N., was the flag-ship for the expedition. Weather clear and very hot. At forty-five minutes past eleven, the flag-ship Mound City signalled the commanding officers of the St. Louis and Lexington to come on board. At ten minutes past one P. M., passed the mouth of the St. Francis River. At fifteen minutes past one P. M. the flag-ship made a general signal; answered it, rounded too, and stood up the river, and at forty-five minutes past one came to off the St. Francis River. The tug Spitfire then went a short distance up that stream, and returning at fifteen minutes past two, the Mound City rounded to, followed by the St. Louis and Lexington,  when the fleet stood down the river again. At three P. M., discovered the large rebel transport steamer Clara Dolsen lying at Helena, Ark. At twenty minutes past three a small boat from the Mound City came alongside, with orders to give a coal-barge we have in tow to the St. Louis, and give chase to the Dolsen, which had started down the Mississippi. The flag-ship Mound City fired several shots at the Dolsen, but they all fell short. At fifty minutes past three we passed the flag-ship, being in pursuit of the Dolsen, together with the Spitfire, which was some distance ahead. At a quarter-past eight P. M. we came to anchor off the foot of Island No.69, to await the arrival of the other boats. At half-past 12 P. M. we weighed anchor and stood up the Mississippi, arriving where the Mound City and St. Louis were anchored at four A. M. this Saturday. We took our coal-barge in tow again, and stood down the Mississippi. At half-past 4 P. M. the flag-ship signalled to follow her motions. At forty minutes past eight A. M. our fleet arrived off and ascended the mouth of White River. At ten A. M. we came to off the Arkansas River cut off, in company with the other boats. In the mean time the tug Spitfire was sent up the river to reconnoitre. At two P. M. the tug returned to where we all lay anchored, from up White River, followed by the Clara Dolsen, which she found hid in a slough, all but the tops of her chimneys being out of sight. The Clara Dolsen is a capital prize, being one of the largest and best business steamers on our waters. She was built at Cincinnati, fifteen months ago, and has capacity for over sixteen hundred tons. She is worth forty thousand dollars, being in excellent condition. Her officers state that the Clara had been detained at Helena — the authorities fearing that her crew intended to run her to Memphis and there deliver her to the Federal authorities. She had been secreted up White River, but was on her way to a new hiding-place up St. Francis River — so her officers state. Capt. J. Riley Jones, who purchased the A. W. Quarrier and Gen. Pike in Cincinnati, before the rebellion, is in command of the Clara Dolsen. A man named Nixon (who has a brother piloting one of our gunboats) is one of the Clara's pilots. Rees Townsend, of St. Louis, who run the blockade from that city, is the chief engineer. The Dolsen is partially owned in Cincinnati, where the bulk of her building bills, we understand, remain unpaid. The Clara now lies alongside of us. She has a large supply of wood on board, a portion of which is being transferred to our gunboats. She will be sent to Commodore Davis, at Memphis, this evening, or to-morrow morning. The gunboat Conestoga is expected down from Memphis with the mail, and will convey back the prize. The Mississippi and White Rivers are in fine navigable order, more particularly the latter stream. Two hundred bales of cotton were found on the Clara Dolsen.