Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/174

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164 Southern Historical Society Papers.

compelled to cast off and take our chances in the stream against both fleets. About that time things looked prettty blue. It is true that we were under the batteries of Vicksburg, but practically we had as well have been a hundred miles from there. The guns were perched on the high hills; they were not provided with sights, and if ever they hit anything it was an accident or the work of one of Brooke's rifles.* This we well knew, and stripped this time for what we sup- posed would be a death struggle. The sea-going fleet of Farragut was to pass down, drag out and literally mob us ; whilst the iron-clad squadron of Davis was to keep the batteries engaged. Down they came, steaming slowly and steadily, and seemed to be on the look- out for us. But they had miscalculated their time. The darkness- which partially shrouded them from the view of the army gunners completely shut us out from their sight, inasmuch as our sides were the color of rust and we lay under a red bank; consequently, the first notice they had of our whereabouts came from our guns as they crossed our line of fire, and then it was too late to attempt to check up and undertake to grapple with us. They came by singly, each to get punished, as our men were again feeling in excellent spirits. The Hartford stood close in to the bank, and as we spit out our broadside at her, she thundered back with an immense salvo. Our bad luck had not left us. An eleven-inch shot pierced our side a few inches above the water-line, and passed through the engine-room, killing two men outright (cutting them both in two) and wounding six or eight others. The medicines of the ship were dashed into the engine-room, and the debris from the bulkheads and splinters from the side enveloped the machinery. The shot bedded itself so far in the opposite side that its position could be told by the bulging pro- tuberance outside. On account of my disabled arm I had turned over my division to Scales, and remained with Captain Brown on the platform. To be a spectator of such a scene was intensely interest- ing and exciting. The great ships with their towering spars came sweeping by, pouring out broadside after broadside, whilst the bat- teries from the hills, the mortars from above and below, and the iron- clads, kept the air alive with hurtling missiles and the darkpess lighted up by burning fuses and bursting shells. On our gun-deck every man and ofiicer worked as though the fate of the nation hung on his individual efforts. Scales was very near, and I could hear his clear voice continually. He coaxed and bullied alternately, and

  • Not then in position at Vicksburg.