War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0490 OPERATIONS IN W. FLA.,S. ALA.,S. MISS.,AND LA. Chapter XVI.

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warning. His first shot were directed principally upon the navy-yard and Fort McRee, the former known to be occupied by women and children and non-combatants, and used by us for defensive purposes only. In less than half an hour we were responding, and the enemy distributed his fire on our whole line.

Soon after Fort Pickens opened two large naval steamers, supposed to be the Niagara and Hartford [Richmond], took position due west from Fort McRee and within good range, from whence they poured in broadsides of the heaviest metal throughout the day. From the defective structure of Fort McRee it was unable to return this terrific fire with any effect.

Assailed at the same time from the south by Fort Pickens and its outer batteries, the devoted garrison of this confined work, under the gallant Colonel Villepigue, Georgia and Mississippi regiments, seemed to be destined to destruction. Three times was the wood work of the fort on fire, threatening to expel its occupants, and as often extinguished.

The magazines were laid bare to the enemy's shells, which constantly exploded around them, and a wooden building to the windward, on the outside of the fort, taking fire, showers of five cinders were constantly driven through the broken doors of on magazine, threatening destruction to the whole garrison.

In the midst of this terrible ordeal the coolness and self-possession of the commander inspired all with confidence, and enabled him to hold a position which seemed to others utterly untenable.

Towards evening our sand batteries appeared to have crippled the Hartford [Richmond], and she draw off, and did not again join in the combat. Darkness closed the contest, which had lasted for more than eight hours without an intermission. For the number and caliber of guns and weight of metal brought into action it will rank with the heaviest bombardment in the world. It was grand and sublime. The houses in Pensacola, 10 miles off, trembled from the effect, and immense quantities of dead fish floated to the surface in the bay and lagoon, stunned by the concussion. Our troops behaved with the greatest coolness and gallantry, and surprised me by the regularity and accuracy of their firing, a result which would have been creditable to veterans.

A dark could, accompanied by rain and wind, at 6 o'clock so obscured the night as to enable us to withdraw in safety our transport steamers, which has been caught at the navy-yard. The gunboat Nelms, Lieutenant Manston, Louisiana infantry, commanding, was also a the yard when the firing commenced; but she was gallantly backed out, and proceeded to Pensacola unharmed. The fire of the enemy, though terrific in sound and fury, proved to have bee only slightly damaging, except to McRee. From Fort Pickens and the sand batteries we sustained very little injury. From the shipping, which fired with much greater accuracy, the fort and garrison of McRee suffered more.

Our loss from the enemy's shot was 21 wounded-1 mortally, who died that night; 12 of the others so slightly as not to take them from duty. By an unfortunate accident-the caving in of a defective magazine, badly planned and constructed-we had 6 other gallant men smothered, who died calling on their comrades never to give up the fort. Our women and children escaped, through a shower of balls, without an accident.

The reports brought in during the night by my staff officers, dispatched to every point, were very satisfactory and encouraging, except from Fort McRee. Exposed in front, flank, and reserve, with half its armament disabled and magazines exposed, without the ability to return