columbiad. When the first line had advanced to within 1 3/4 miles their noble gun joined in with me, and I suppose with terrific effect, as it was only necessary that she should strike a boat below the water line to stop her. Thus we continued until they had come nearly half way, when my boat left the line and ran in to the shore-we reverently hoped to sink. All the rest continued the fire, but there was one remarkable circumstance: though the air was full of their projectiles, smoke, and noise, not one man was hurt at our batteries. I am unable to account for so remarkable a circumstance, except that our always prompt and vigorous firing at long ranges had intimidated them and destroyed their capacity to take aim.
I had trained the rifle during the three preliminary bombardments so that I could strike her as well far as near. Her effect was apparently the same, as far as we learned from concurrent and undoubted testimony while prisoners. She penetrated their entire length whenever she struck that way. One of the iron plates, penetrated by a rifle ball, was sent from Saint Louis (we were told while there prisoners) as a curiosity, on to Washington City, with the elongated shell which penetrated it.
When the fleet reached the blockade, the point for which Captain Culbertson had arranged the sights of his 32-pounders, he joined in the cannonade with masterly effect and ability. The bombardment was then at its height; all our guns against all of theirs. This was the first engagement of these artillerists, but the conduct of all was now especially heroic. Coolness and deliberation reigned supreme, increasing with the warmth of the action. Soon the guns of the enemy, one after another, ceased firing, until, when their boats came to within 250 yards of the batteries, their guns had ceased almost to fire. We were told afterwards by their officers that they could not get their men to remain longer at their guns, so many were killed. This was due to the excellent practice of Captain culbertson, whose balls, they said, never failed to enter their ports.
We were busily working our guns, and had gone so far as to conclude how we would resist them when they landed and stormed our batteries, when we discovered that all had fallen back and were retreating-confirmed by loud cheers from all our troops in view. We still continued our work with vigor, when we noticed the three right-hand boats run together, evidently to support their middle one. this afforded us a large mark, and we took due advantage of it. Finally, when they had fallen down about 1 1/2 miles, loud cheering arose from our men on the surrounding heights, and the report that a boat was sinking accompanied.
It was a somber evening, growing late and dark, but I finally distinguished, when the group partially separated, a long, black object nearly crosswise the river, apparently about 3 feet out of the water. Unless it was a sinking boat I am unable to account for its appearance. They were soon out of sight, and thus the bombardment closed.
We afterwards learned in the North that General Grant and Commodore Foote, commanders of land and river forces, held a council of war that night on the flag-ship, in which the latter declined any further co-operation, on the ground that his fleet was completely disabled. This we did not know, but set to work that night to prepare for them on the next day (Saturday). I determined to try to sink whatever boats should come up the next day. For this purpose the artificers were set to work to make what we called disparts-long, triangular pieces of thick plank, which, placed on the line of sight and lashed on the pieces with cord, made the thickness at the muzzle equal to that at the breech, and therefore at short ranges enabled us to aim exactly at the object. Ordnance