the law; and with reference to the second that, if the bridge were away, we could ascend no higher, and that it could possess, so far as I saw, no military importance, as it simply connected Florence itself with the railroad on the south side of the river. We had seized three of their steamers, one the half-finished gunboat, and had forced the rebels to burn six others loaded with supplies, and their loss, with that of the freight, is a heavy blow to the enemy. Two boats are still known to be on the river, and are doubtless hidden in some of the creeks, where we shall be able to find them when there is time for the search.
We returned on the night of the 8th to where the Eastport lay. The crew of the Tyler had already gotten on board of the prize an immense amount of lamer, &c. The crews of the three boats set to work to finish the job immediately, and we have brought away probably 250,000 feet of the best quality of ship and building timber, all the iron machinery spikes, plating, nails, &c., belonging to the rebel gunboat, and I caused the mill to be destroyed where the lumber had been sawed.
Lieutenant-Commander Gwin, in our absence, had enlisted some 25 Tennesseeans, who gave information of the encampment of Colonel Drew's rebel regiment at Savannah, Tenn. A portion of the 600 or 700 men were known to be "pressed" men, and all were badly armed. After consultation with Lieutenant-Commanders Gwin and Shirk, I determined to make a land attack upon the encampment. Lieutenant-Commander Shirk, with 30 riflemen, came on board the Conestoga. Leaving his vessel to guard the Eastport, and accompanied by the Tyler, we proceeded up to that place, prepared to land 130 riflemen and a 12-pounder rifled howitzer. Lieutenant-Commander Gwin took command of this force when landed, but had the modification to find the encampment deserted. The rebels had fled at 1 o'clock at night, leaving considerable quintets of arms, clothing, shoes, camp utensils, provisions, implements, &vc., all of which we secured or destroyed, and their winter quarters of log huts were burned. I seized also a large mail-bag, and send you the letters giving military information. The gunboats were then dropped down to a point where arms gathered under the rebel press law had been stored, and an armed party, under Second Master Gowdy, of the Tyler, succeeded in seizing about 70 rifles and fowling-pieces.
Returning to Cerro Gordo, we took the Eastport, Sallie Wood, and Muscle in tow, and came down the river to the railroad crossing. The Muscle sprang apeak, and, all efforts failing to prevent her sinking, we were forced to abandon her, and with her a considerable quantity of fine lumber. We are having trouble in getting through the draw of the bridge here.
I now come to the most interesting portion of the report, one which has already become lengthy, but I trust you will find some excuse for this in the fact that it embraces a history of labors and movements day and night from the 6th to the 10th of the month, all of which details I deem it proper to give you. We have met with the most affecting instances greeted us almost hourly. Men, women, and children several times gathered in crowds of hundreds, shouted their welcome, and hailed their national flag with an enthusiasm there was no mistaking. It was genuine and heartfelt. These people braved everything to go to the river bank where a sight of their flag might once more by enjoyed, and they have experienced, as they related, every possible form of persecution. Tears flowed freely down the cheeks of men as well as of women, and there