same day by Colonel Buford, in command of some 1,200 troops, I reached Hickman that evening with the flotilla and transports, where the Louisville, Commander Dove, was found leaking in her boilers, and was sent back to Columbus for repairs.
On the 15th instant, at daylight, the flotilla and transports moved down the river, arriving in the vicinity of Island Numbers 10 at 9 a. m. the rain and fog prevented our getting the vessels in position other than two mortar boats for the purpose of ascertaining their range. Early on the morning of the 16th instant I place the mortars in as good position as the circumstances would admit, when they shelled several regiments out of their encampment, and at extreme range reached the batteries at Numbers 10, the floating battery, and the five batteries on the Tennessee shore. The mortar boats are in charge of Captain Maynadier, U. S. Army, as ordnance officer, assisted by Acting Lieutenant-Commander Sanford, U. S. Navy, who volunteered his services.
This morning, the 17th, some time after daylight, the mortar boats being in position, I had the Benton lashed between two other steamers, Cincinnati and St. Louis, and with the remaining three iron-clad steamers made an attack on the forts at the distance of 2,000 yards or more, on account of the rapid current rendering the boats too unmanageable to come within a shorter range without endangering their being carried under the enemy's guns. We opened upon the upper fort on the Tennessee shore at meridian, and continued quite a brisk fire until darkness obscured the forts from view. The ten mortars in the means time shelled the troops out of range, excepting those in the forts manning the batteries. The upper fort was badly cut up by the Benton and the other boats with her, and the men at times ran from their guns. Colonel Buford has been busy and, I trust, profitably engaged in making reconnaissances, and is preparing to mount his siege guns.
In the attack of to-day this vessel received five shots, while a rifled gun burst aboard the St. Louis and killed and wounded 14 officers and men, and the Cincinnati has had her engine injured by a shot, which may render it necessary for me to send her to Cairo for repairs. I hope to be able to silence the upper battery to-morrow; after which we can plant the mortars in a position where we except to be able to shell the rebels out of their batteries.
This place is stronger and even better adapted for defense than Columbus ever was. Each fortification
commands the one above it. We can count forty-nine guns in the different batteries, where there are probably double the number, with 10,000 troops. Exhaustion, arising from continuous service and want of sleep, will excuse this incoherent, discursive report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. H. FOOTE,
Flag-Officer, Commanding U. S. Naval Forces Western Waters.
P. S.-Our shells bursting prematurely, I have had to drown them before loading the guns; the fuses, many of which I am told wee made before the Mexican war, ought to have been condemned.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTHWEST,
Camp Stevens, Ark., March 17, 1862.
Captain N. H. MCLEAN:
CAPTAIN: I am glad to hear troops are expected through Kansas. If quartermasters would furnish supplies or competent men with means