The Story of the Arkansas. 1 65
finally, when he saw his object in line, his voice rose as clear as a bell, and his "ready! fire!" rang out like a bugle note. The last vessel which passed us was that commanded by Nichols (" Hricktop"; and she got one of our shots in her out-board delivery. He pivoted his eleven inch gun to starboard, heeled his vessel to keep the leak above water, and drifted past the batteries without further damage.
We had more dead and wounded, another hole through our armor and heaps of splinters and rubbish Three separate battles had been fought and we retired to anything but easy repose. One of our mess- mates in the ward-room (a pilot) had asserted at supper that he would not again pass through the ordeal of the morning for the whole world. His mangled body, collected in pieces was now on the gun- deck ; another had been sent away to the hospital with a mortal hurt. The steerage mess was short four or five members, whilst on the berth deck many poor fellows would never again range themselves about the mess-cloth. However, amidst all this blood and damage this thought zvould come up : If there had been two or three more of us — or even our consort, which was burned on the stocks — what a difference there would have been. As sure as the sun rose on that bright July morning we would have captured every vessel opposed to us. Why were there not more? We will explain that before we get through. Our next battle occurred a week later.
The enemy now had a fleet above and below us, and though foiled and angry he made no immediate active effort to do us more harm, other than to shell us incessantly by day, and once by night, with mortar shells. Half a dozen or more thirteen inch mortars kept mis- siles continually in the air, directed at us. We were twice struck by fragments — otherwise the business was very harmless. Some days after our arrival a package of letters were received at General \"an Dorn's headquarters, which had been taken from a captured steamer. Those from navy officers were sent down to us, and a number were selected and sent to the Appeal, then being published at Grenada. As the files are yet preserved I am able to lay them before my readers. A very long letter from the paymaster of the Richmond to his wife, described the attack of the Arkansas, and was unsparing on Far- ragut and Davis, accusing them of incapacity and negligence, remark- ing that Porter was the only man present who had brains as well as courage. I recollect the following letters well and can vouch for their being genuine :