War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0160 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter XVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

morning, thus effectually preventing the passage of the enemy through that channel.

Sunday morning, the 16th, I observed, as soon as it was light, that the enemy had in position four mortar boats, with which they kept up a slow but constant fire on my battery.

About 9 o'clock this morning, as a signal was being made to headquarters, a small tug-boats, bearing a flag of truce, came down to the battery from the gunboats. The officer, a captain in the Federal Navy, without landing, inquired if we desired to communicate with the fleet, as he had observed a white flag. I answered him, "No." I would here state I had not noticed till then the signal flag to be a white one. At this moment General Trudeau came up and said to the officer it was a signal to headquarters, and that the flag should be changed to one of anther color. I did not fire to-day, though the enemy kept up the bombardment from their gun and mortar boats at intervals during the twenty-four hours.

On Monday morning, the 17th, the enemy having placed two gun-boats alongside their four mortar boats on the Missouri side, were observed to move closer to us and fix three large gunboats, apparently lashed together, very near the Tennessee shore, and abut 1 mile off, evidently, if possible, to enfilade the battery. They moved down very slowly, keeping up an incessant fire from the rifled guns. I was prepared to open fire on them when a little nearer, but I received orders from General Trudeau, at headquarters, through Colonel Steedman, to return the enemy's fire immediately.

The contest now became general from five gunboats and four mortar boats. This was at 11 a. m., the 17th. Our batteries, from Numbers 1 to the island, inclusive, now engaged also in the defense. From their greater distance they ceased to fire after a while, when the enemy turned their whole force on my little forts, pouring an incessant fire from the mortars and broadsides from rifled cannon of the heavies caliber. This terrible commanding lasted until 7 o'clock in the evening, when the enemy hauled off, evidently having the appearance of being crippled.

During this engagement only three guns (8-inch columbiads) were used by me. They were mounted upon iron carriages, constructed at New Orleans for the Navy, and were situated in the principal salient angles of the fort. Three others, smooth-bore 32s which I did not fire, make the complement of six guns in Battery Numbers 1.

At about 4 o'clock on the 17th I had the sad misfortune to lose my second lieutenant (William M. Clark) while nobly standing to his gun, which he had so skillfully served. Lieutenant Clark died immediately, and the country and our cause has sustained a loss in the death of so gallant and excellent and officer.

Seven of my men, including Sergeant Postlethwaite, were wounded, but, fortunately, not severely. The result of our shot from the columbiads could not be told with precision; but the coolness of the cannoneers and officers, the accuracy of aim, and excellence of the guns must have had a telling effect on the enemy. The effect of the enemy's fire upon our little fort was very severe by the continuous discharge of broadsides from so many guns of heavy caliber. The enemy fired 42-pounder rifled cannon, 8 and 10 inch columbiads, with 13 and 15 inch shell from their mortars. The parapet, which was originally 24 feet thick, had been very much washed by the freshet in the river now existing, the water being within 1 inch of the top of the platform inside the fort. Many shot and shell fell immediately in the rear of our guns, while