as I can remember now, before the attack on the fort. My company had at that time never drilled in heavy artillery nor knew anything about it, and I myself had never directed my attention to that branch of the service; but, with the assistance of yourself, Captain Dixon, and Lieutenants Martin and McDaniel, I was enabled to arrive at a tolerable degree of proficiency for myself and company by the time of the attack on the fort.
On Wednesday, February 12, the boats first made their appearance below the fort; but one boat came above the point below, fired several rounds, and retired without any reply from our batteries. I remained all night at my guns, four 32-pounders, to which I had been assigned. The suffering from severe cold was intense. I had to carry several of the men to the quarters next morning so nearly frozen that they were unable to walk.
Some time in the forenoon on Thursday the gunboat appeared again above the point below and opened fire upon the battery, which was continued some time before I received an order from Captain Dixon to open fire. I ordered it immediately, and opened with my guns at the highest possible elevation. I soon found, however, that I could do no good, as they were beyond my range, and, the boat falling below the point, I ceased firing. Just as Captain Dixon gave the order to open fire he passed from the first gun of my battery to the second and was killed immediately. He was stooping, when a screw-tap struck him in the left temple, killing him instantly. The ball was descending when it struck the inner base of the embrasure, and turned upwards to the left, striking and shattering the right cheek of my second gun. The gun was never fired, but was loaded when disabled.
Several of my men were slightly stunned, but were not sufficiently injured to keep them from duty. Captain Shuster was also slightly injured by negligently standing too near the muzzle of one of my guns.
I spent another very disagreeable night, sleepless and severely cold. The enemy appeared again about 1 o'clock and attacked our battery with more vigor than on any other day. They came up four abreast in line of battle; two more some distance behind. They threw shells, while the boats threw shot, shell, and grape. They came within 200 yards of my guns, when the action grew terrible for about one hour and a half, without any damage to us.
There were no casualties, I believe, in nay of the 32-pounders. The boats fired steadily, but with little effect, except to the earthworks, which were damaged considerably. I fired about 500 rounds to each gun, which were tolerably well directed, and with effect. I saw several shots enter port-holes and do other damage to the boats. I am confident that the 32-pounders did almost all the damage to the boats, although I have seen it stated otherwise by distinguished officers. The right center boat was first injured and fell back; next the left center boat. About that time the right boat, a large, long boat, floated around against the bank of the river, but turned her bow straight across the river, ran to the middle, fired several shots, and retired down the river.
Nothing of interest occurred again until Saturday evening late. One boat came above the point and fired several shots, but did no damage.
I was ordered by Colonel Head to leave my battery at 2 o'clock Sunday morning and rejoin the regiment, which I did, and never returned to the guns again.
B. G. BIDWELL,