Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/558

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77
CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

was across our way ahead," says Brown in an account of this wonderful fight. "As I gave the order, ‘Go through him, Brady,’ his steam went into the air and his crew into the river. A shot from one of our bow guns had gone through his boiler and saved the collision. We passed by and through the brave fellows struggling in the water under a shower of missiles intended for us." When near the end of this ordeal, a large ironclad was seen square in front, which escaped ramming by steaming ahead, receiving the Arkansas’ last shots in the fight, which must have gone through the vessel from rudder to prow.

As the ram approached Vicksburg the lower fleet was seen, one vessel aground and in flames. But the Arkansas had no desire to engage them immediately. Her smokestack was cut to pieces, a section of plating torn from the side, and her dead and wounded demanded attention. Amid enthusiastic cheers, the ram made a landing opposite City Hall, and dropping down to the coal depot began coaling and repairing under the fire of the lower fleet.

This movement of Brown’s compelled part of the fleet above the city to drop down again below Vicksburg, which was begun that evening. The Arkansas, notwithstanding her crippled condition, gallantly put out into the stream, but was immediately still more disabled by a 160-pound iron bolt which crashed through her engine room, injuring the engine and killing, among others, Pilot Gilmore, and knocking overboard the heroic steersman Brady. It also destroyed all the medical supplies and broke a very serious leak. Nevertheless, the indomitable gunners stood to their work, sending broadside after broadside into the Federal boats as they dropped past. A few days later, as the Arkansas lay at anchor with only enough men on board to man two guns, and engine disabled, the ironclad Essex and ram Queen of the West endeavored to cut her out or run her down under the guns