War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0280 OPERATIONS IN KY.,TENN., N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

less had quite a number killed and wounded, but owing to the continued fighting which followed it was impossible to get any official report of the casualties of the day.

On the same day our battery on the river was engaged with one of the enemy's gunboats, which occasioned quite a lively cannonading for more than an hour, in which the gallant Captain Joseph Dixon, of the Engineer Corps, was killed instantly at the battery. This officer had been on duty for some months at the post, and had shown great energy and professional skill, and by his gallant bearing on that day, while directing the operations of the day, under my orders, had justly earned for himself high distinction. His death was a serious loss to the service and was a source of no little embarrassment in our after operations.

On the 12th [13th] we had quiet, but we saw the smoke of a large number of gunboats and steamboats a short distance below. We also received reliable information of the arrival of a large number of new troops, greatly increasing the strength of the enemy's forces, already said to be from 20,000 to 30,000 strong.

BATTLE WITH THE GUNBOATS.

On the 13th [14th] these re-enforcements were seen advancing to their position in the line of investment, and while this was being done six of the enemy's iron-caused gunboats were seen advancing up the river, five of which were abreast and in line of battle and the sixth some distance to the rear. When these gunboats arrived within a mile and a half of our battery they opened fire on it.

My orders to the officers (Captains Shuster and Standewitz [Stankiewitz or Starkovitch],* who commanded the lower battery of eight guns, and Captain Ross, who commanded the upper battery of four guns), were to hold their fire until the enemy's boats should come within point-blank range of their guns. This they did, though the ordeal of holding their fire while the enemy's shot and shell fell thick around their position was a severe restraint to their patriotic impulses; but, nevertheless, our batteries made no response until the enemy's gunboats got within range of their guns. Our entire line of batteries then opened fire. The guns of both parties were well served, the enemy constantly advancing, delivering direct fire against our batteries from his line of five gunboats, while the sixth boat, moving up in rear of the line, kept the air filled with shells, which fell thick and close around the position of our batteries.

The fight continued, the enemy steadily advancing slowly up the river, the shot and shell from fifteen heavy rifled guns tearing our parapets and plunging deep into the earth around and over our batteries for nearly two hours and until his boats had reached within the distance of 150 yards of our batteries. Having come in such close conflict, I could distinctly see the effects of our shot upon his iron-cased boats. We had given two or three well-directed shots from the heavy guns to one of his boats, when she instantly shrank back and rifled helpless below the line. Several shot struck another boat, tearing her iron case and splintering her timbers and making her metal ring and her timbers crack, when the whole line gave way and fell rapidly back from our fire until they passed out of range.

Thus ended the first severe and close conflict of our heavy guns with the enemy's gunboats, testing their strength and the power of our heavy guns to resist them. The shot from our 32-pounder guns produced but

---------------

*Probably Stankieuriz.

---------------