The Federal boat Carondelet was lying nearest us, guarding a mortar boat, that was shelling the fort. The General Bragg, Captain W. H. H. Leonard, dashed at her; the Carondelet, firing her heavy guns, retreated toward a bar where the depth of water would not be sufficient for our boats to follow. The Bragg continued boldly on under fire of nearly the whole fleet, and struck her a violent blow that stopped her further flight, then rounded down the river under a broadside fire and drifted until her tiller rope, that had got out of order, could be readjusted. A few moments after the Bragg struck her blow the General Sterling Price, First Officer J. E. Henthorne, ran into the same stern-post, and a large piece of her stern. This threw the Carondelet's stern to the Sumter, Captain W. W. Lamb, who struck her, running at the utmost speed of his boat.
The General Earl Van Dorn, Captain Isaac D. Fulkerson, running according to orders, in the rear of the Price and Sumter, directed his attention to the Mound City, at the time pouring broadsides into the Price Sumter. As the Van Dorn proceeded, by skillful shots from her 32-pounder, W. G. Kendall, gunner, silenced a mortar boat that was filling the air with its terrible missiles. The Van Dorn, still holding on the Mound City's midship, in the act of striking, the Mound City sheered, and the Van Dorn struck her a glancing blow, making a hole 4 feed deep in her starboard forward quarter, evidenced by splinters left of the iron bow of the Van Dorn. At this juncture the Van Dorn was above four of the enemy's boats.
As our remaining boats, the General M. Jeff. Thompson, Captain J. H. Burke; the Colonel Lovell, Captain J. C. Delancy, and the General Beauregard, Captain J. H. Hurt, were entering boldly into the contest in their prescribed order, I perceived from the flag-boat that the enemy's boats were taking positions where the water was too shallow for our boats in number and size, I signaled our boats to fall back, which was accomplished with a coolness that deserves the highest commendation.
I am happy to inform you, while exposed to close quarters to a most terrific fire for thirty minutes, our boats, although struck repeatedly, sustained no serious injuries.
Our casualties were 2 killed and 1 wounded-arm broken.
General M. Jeff. Thompson was on the General Bragg; his officers and men were divided among the boats. They were all at their posts, ready to do good service should an occasion offer.
To my officers and men I am highly indebted for their courage and promptness in executing all orders.
On the 11th instant I went on the Little Rebel in full view of the enemy's fleet. Saw the Carondelet sunk near the shore and the Mound City sunk on the bar.
The position occupied by the enemy's gunboats above Fort Pillow offers more obstacles to our mode of attack than any other between Cairo and New Orleans. But of this you may rest assured, if we can get fuel, unless the enemy greatly increase their force, they will, never penetrate farther down the Mississippi.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
J. E. MONTGOMERY,
Senior Captain, Commanding River Defense Service.
General G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Comdg. C. S. Army of the West.