the distance between us and the enemy, short at first, became dangerously small, the two rebel boats, apparently quailing before the approaching collision, began first to back water and then to turn, thus presenting their broadsides to my attack. It was impossible to choose between these boats which to attack, for there was still a third ram within supporting distance to which I would be exposed if I struck the second, while the second would be sure to reach me if I selected the first. My speed was high, time was short, and the forward rebel presented rather the fairer mark, I selected her. The pilots, now animated by the deep interest of the scene, brought the prepared bow of the Queen of the West against the broadside of the rebel ram just forward of the wheel-house. The crash was terrific. Everything loose about the Queen-some tables, pantry ware, and a half-eaten breakfast-were overthrown and broken by the shock. The hull of the rebel steamer was crushed in, her chimneys surged over as if they were going to fall over on the bow of the Queen. Many of her crew, I have been told, leaned overboard, yet the rebel wreck, in consequence of the continued motion of the Queen, still clung to her bow. Before the collision the rebel made a feeble effort to use her guns, and succeeded in firing a charge of grape and canister, which was lost in the water. In less than half a minute from the moment of collision and before the Queen could clear herself from the wreck she was herself struck by another rebel steamer on her larboard wheel-house. This blow broke her tiller-rope, crushed in her wheel and a portion of her bull, and left her nearly helpless.
All this, from the time of leaving the shore and passing the gunboats to the sinking of the rebel gunboat and the disabling of my flat-ship, I do not think occupied over seven or eight minutes. The moment the Queen was herself struck I left the pilot-house and went out on deck, when I was instantly disabled by one of a number of shots from a rebel steamer which seemed to have come into accidental collision with the Queen and was at that moment drifting by her but still in contact with her. From the moment of the collision of the Queen with the rebel steamer to the time when I was brought to her deck could not have exceeded one minute, yet I saw from her deck the surface of the Mississippi strewn with the fragments of the rebel vessel.
While these things were occurring the Monarch, Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet commanding, and Captain Dryden, master, having followed the Queen and passed below our own gunboats, directed her shock upon the rebel ram immediately following the one that struck the Queen and sank her. The blow of the Monarch was so severe that piles of furniture were precipitated from the rebel steamer upon the forecastle of the Monarch and were found there in large quantities after the action.
Many versions, differing from each other entirely, have been given by eye-witnesses of these occurrences, who stood in plain view on the levee at Memphis, in our own gunboats, and on the Arkansas shore. These discrepancies are attributable to the fact there were three rebel rams and two of our own mingled together and crashing against each other and that other rebel steamers were coming up and close at hand. In this confusion the different boats were mistaken for others, and the steamer struck by the Queen disappeared from view beneath the surface of the river. This uncertainty of view was doubtless increased by the accumulation of smoke from the chimneys of so many boats and the fire from our own gunboats. The general impression was that it was the Queen that went down and not the boat she struck.
After being disabled the Queen worked herself to the Arkansas shore with only one wheel and without a rudder. The disabled rebel which