« PrejšnjaNaprej »
ATTACK BY THE FLEET.
to make a joint attack the same day firing more frequently than we, and with upon the enemy's works. The reinforce- great accuracy. Our fleet used twelve ments which had followed the gunboats, guns, each iron-clad boat working its brought up General Wallace's division three bow pieces. The Conestoga and to an equality with the others, and the Taylor kept about 1,500 yards in our whole military force to some twenty-five rear, firing shell at long range. The thousand men. With such an array, Conestoga fired thirty-six 8-inch shells success might be expensive, but could during the action ; the Taylor sixty-one. hardly be doubtful. At a quarter to Their distance from the fort was too two the signal was given from the St. great for effective working, but they kept Louis, and the fleet proceeded up the a couple of the enemy's guns engaged river in line of battle, the flag-ship on during a greater part of the action, and the extreme right, with the other iron- thus diverted many shots that otherwise clad vessels, the Louisville, Pittsburg, would have been aimed at the iron-clad and Carondelet, abreast. The Conestoga vessels. and Tyler, not being iron-clad, were kept “About three-quarters of an hour afin the rear. A correspondent of the ter the commencement of the engageCincinnati Gazette, an eye witness of the ment, the boats had steamed within three scene from the flag-ship, writing immedi- hundred yards of the fort, and the hotately after the bombardment, furnishes test of the battle took place. Our guns an interesting account of the progress of had by this time got the range of the the action : “At twenty-two minutes to rebel batteries much better than at first, three,” says he, “the first shot was fired and their shot and shell were made to hy the rebels from the water battery. fall within the breastworks and intrenchWe were then a mile and a half from the ments with great effect. The water batfort. The ball struck the water about a tery was silenced, and the guns deserted hundred yards ahead of us. Two min- by the enemy. From the deck of the utes later another ball-a 64-pounder gunboats the rebel soldiers could be seen from the same battery—was fired at us, running up the hill to seek shelter in the but dropped ahead about a hundred and intrenchments of the upper batteries. fifty yards. Several shots were directed Just as this occurred, an officer was obtoward us, but without effect, before we served to emerge from a redoubt and opened fire. At seven minutes to three, wave a sword above his head. I could the St. Louis opened the battle for our not tell whether he was cheering his men fleet by the discharge of her 8-inch shell to victory or driving them back to their gun. The shot fell into the water with guns. The only flag we could discover in a few yards of the lowest battery of on the fort was one which appeared to the fort. Our fleet fired slowly at first, us to be plain red. This, however, can but with good effect-a great number of be accounted for by the fact that the red our shell bursting within the enemy's predominates so largely in the colors fortifications.
composing the rebel flag. Some of our “We advanced on the fort slowly, but men thought the enemy desired to signisteadily--the four gunboats maintaining fy that he meant 'blood. Whatever he their line of battle admirably. At quar- meant, he displayed considerable foreter past three the firing increased in ra- sight in placing the flag at a good dispidity on both sides. Shell after shell tance from his guns, thereby removing was sent from our boats at intervals of what is usually an excellent mark to less than five seconds. The enemy's fire shoot at. At half-past three a shell from
a had by this time become terrific. They one of our boats struck the rebel flagwere using 32-pound ball principally, and staff, breaking it off close to the ground.
with a rope.
An officer of the fort immediately ran dore, fearing lest the ship should turn a
A few moments after this, leak very rapidly. These two latter the flag-staff of the Louisville was car accidents happening almost simultaneried off ; that of the Carondelet went ously with the injury to the flag-ship, next, and that of the Pittsburg followed rendered a withdrawal absolutely necessoon after.
sary. The order was then given for the " As we neared the fort the enemy com- entire fleet to drop beyond the range of menced pouring 'plunging shot’into us the fort. Though feeling that the conwith great rapidity. Their guns were dition of our boats demanded this movewell pointed, and did great execution. ment, it was with great reluctance that A 32-pound ball struck the pilot-house the Commodore reconciled himself to it. of our vessel, piercing the inch and a The enemy bad almost ceased firing, half iron and the fifteen-inch oak. In having been driven from the lower forts striking the iron plate it was broken. and compelled to seek refuge behind A number of large fragments scattered guns that bore but poorly upon us. within the pilot-house, mortally wound- Quick, however, to notice our disabled ing one of the pilots, F. A. Riley of Cin-condition, we had no sooner commenced cinnati, striking the flag-officer, Commo- to retire than they again ran to the lowdore Foote, in the ankle, and slightly er batteries, and opened a brisk and efinjuring two other men. Immediately fective fire. The first of these shots
. after this, a shot entered our deck in the entered the port-bow of the Carondelet, starboard side, and passing through it, cutting off two men's heads, and woundglanced downward to the shell-room, ing two other men. striking the ship's cook, Charles W. Ba- “The boats retired slowly to the point ker, of Philadelphia, in the head, liter- whence they started for the scene of acally tearing the skull off. Several beavy tion, about two miles from the fort. The balls now passed over the pilot-house, fire of the enemy kept pouring in upon piercing the chimneys, and carrying us from thirteen guns, while our posiaway the chimney-guys. These were tion in the river prevented us from usfollowed by a couple of shots which ing more than half that number. As we struck our vessel just above water floated slowly down the current, the remark. It was now discovered that the bels took courage and boldly sallied wheel had been injured by the shot forth from their intrenchments. Hithwhich killed the pilot. Two of the erto the entire space within the fort apspokes were broken, and the vessel did peared one sheet of untrodden snow ; not respond well to her helm. An at- but fifteen minutes did not elapse, after tempt was made to steer her by the re- the stoppage of our engines, when the lieving tackle, but it was found that the whole scene was changed, as if a whirlcurrent was too strong. The Commo- . wind had swept over the hill and removed
ACCIDENTS TO THE FLEET.
nearly every trace of the storm of Thurs- superintending the care of the wounded. day-the enemy's forces, with wild en- As I have said before, nothing but the thusiasm, had rushed down to the lower pilot's assurance that our vessel could batteries in such numbers.
not be managed with her broken wheel “The battle lasted one hour and sev- induced him to consent to a withdrawal. enteen minutes. The last shot was fired The captain of the St. Louis displayed by the St. Louis. It fell within a few great courage and coolness also, and too feet of the river battery, causing earth much commendation cannot be bestowed and water to fly into the fort. At this, on him. The same may be said of every about a hundred of the rebels started as captain in the fleet. On board of the if to run up the hill; they soon found, St. Louis were a number of Cincinnati however, that we had withdrawn, and officers, of whose heroic deeds the Queen returned to open an ineffectual fire upon City may well be proud. First Master, our disabled fleet. It took about half an John J. Johnson, and Second Master, hour for our fleet to retire beyond the Kendrick, both long identified with the range of the guns. The withdrawal was steamboat interests of the West, won managed with great skill. We permitted many laurels by their prompt response our boats to float gently down the stream to duty's call. Frank A. Riley, the pilot in the exact line of battle, and, although who was killed on the St. Louis, and the steaming apparatus of the St. Louis William Hinton, who met a similar fate and the Louisville was powerless, no col- on the Carondelet, were well known and lision or accident of any kind happened. highly respected gentlemen.” The casuWe dropped anchor in good order. It alties of the engagement on the four gunwas found that the Pittsburg was leaking boats were eleven killed and forty-three very rapidly, and she was ordered to tie wounded. up on the left bank of the river. The The coöperating land attack from the St. Louis was struck sixty-one times in rear, which was expected to be made, the engagement, the Pittsburg forty-sev- was not ordered,—the reinforcements of en, the Carondelet fifty-four, and the General Wallace not reaching the main Louisville about forty. The enemy fired army in season. After the mishaps on about five hundred shots. Our fleet fired the river, General Grant tells us that a little more than three hundred, about "he concluded to make the investment seventy-five of which were 8-inch shells. of Fort Donelson as perfect as possible,
“The Commodore's demeanor during and await repairs to the gunboats.” This the engagement is the subject of admira- plan, however, was frustrated by a movetion on the part of every man in the ment of the enemy, which precipitated fleet. His countenance was as placid the final conflict aad resulted in the imand his voice as mild in the heat of the mediate capture of the position. The action as if he were engaged in a social rebel officers saw their force in danger conversation. He stood in the pilot- of being surrounded, and determined house for a long time, watching the effect upon a bold effort at escape. “On the of every shot from our ships. When he 4th inst.," says General Pillow in his resaw a shell burst inside of the fort he port, “ the enemy was busy throwing his instantly commended the deliberate aim forces at every arm around us, extendof the marksman, by a message through ing his line of investment around our bis speaking tube. When the balls fell position, and completely enveloping us. short he expressed his dissatisfaction in On the evening of this day we ascersuch words as, “a little further, man ; tained that the enemy had received adyou are falling too short.' During a part ditional reinforcements by steamboat. of the action he was on the gun deck We were now surrounded by immense