War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0134 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN.,N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

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island, about 1 1/3 miles below our batteries; another soon followed, then a third and a fourth, all coming as nearly abreast as the width of the river would permit. As soon as this line was formed a rapid fire was opened upon our works about 12.30 o'clock, which was returned with spirit by our gunners, who were all at their places eager for the contest. In a short time after the rifled cannon burst, killing 3 of the men at the piece and disabling a number of others. The effect of this explosion was very serious upon our artillerists; first, because it made them doubt the strength of these large guns to resist the shock of full charges, and, secondly, because much was expected from the long range of rifled cannon against the gunboats. Still, all stood firmly to their work, under a most terrific fire from the advancing foe, whose approach was steady and constant.

From the rear of their lines a fifth gunboat was observed to be firing curvated shot, many of which fell within the work, but to the rear of our guns. Many shot and shell were lodged in the parapet, making deep penetrations, but in no case passing through, unless they struck the check of an embrasure. One of the 32-pounder guns was struck by a heavy shell passing through the embrasure. All the gunners at this piece were disabled and the gun rendered unfit for service.

About the same moment a premature discharge occurred at one of the 42-pounder guns, causing the death of 3 men and seriously injuring the chief of the piece and others.

Not many moments later it was observed that the 10-inch columbiad was silent, the cause of which was at once examined into by General Tilghman, and it was found that the priming wire had been jammed and broken in the went. A blacksmith [I regret I cannot recall the name of the gallant soldier] was sent for, and he labored with great coolness for a long time exposed to the warmest fire of the enemy, but in spite of his faithful and earnest to the warmest fire of the enemy, but in spite of his faithful and earnest efforts the broken wire remained in the vent, making this important gun unserviceable for the continued contest. By this time the gunboats, by a steady advance, had reached positions not over 600 or 700 yards from the fort. Our artillerists became very much discouraged when they saw the two heavy guns disabled, the enemy's boats apparently uninjured, and still drawing nearer and nearer. Some of them even ceased to work the 32-pounder guns, under the belief that such shot were too light to produce any effect upon the iron-clad sides of the enemy's boats.

Seeing this, General Tilghman did everything that it was possible to do to encourage and urge his men to further efforts. He assisted to serve one of the pieces himself for at least fifteen minutes; but his men were exhausted, had lost all hope, and there were none others to replace them at the guns. Finally, after the firing had continued about an hour and five minutes, but two guns from our batteries responded to the rapid firing of the enemy, whose shots were telling with effect upon our parapets. It was then suggested to the general that all was lost, unless he could replace the men at the guns by others who were not exhausted. He replied, "I shall not give up the work," and then made an effort to get men from the outer lines to continue the struggle. Failing in this, he sent instructions to the commanders of the troops in the exterior lines to withdraw their forces. As soon as this movement was commenced confusion among the retiring troops followed, many thinking it intended for a rapid retreat to escape from the enemy's forces, expected to approach from the point of landing below. A few moments later the flag was lowered.

From information received the strength of the enemy was estimated