War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0105 Chapter XXV. OPERATIONS IN WHITE RIVER, ARK.

Search Civil War Official Records

of fallen timber on the river bank commenced murdering those who wee struggling in the water, and also firing upon those in our boats sent to pick them up. At the same time another party of the enemy concealed in the timber on the opposite side of the river pursued the same barbarous course.

So strongly marked was the contrast between this conduct on their part and that of our sailors and soldiers at Memphis, who risked their lives to save those of the enemy who had been driven into the river by steam or flames, as to excite an intense desire upon the part of the land forces to end the scene and punish the barbarity, and aside from this desire well-grounded fears were entertained that other of the gunboats, Saint Louis, Conestoga, and Lexington (the two latter wooden), might be disabled, and the expedition thus deprived of its main support. The gunboats were therefore signaled to cease firing, that the troops might storm the batteries. The skirmishers were again advanced, and ordered to pay peculiar attention to such of the enemy as had been shooting our men in the river. The main body of the regiment followed in line at 300 yards. On reaching the top of the bluff the line right-half wheeled to take the batteries flank and rear, and were put upon double-quick. The enemy had stationed one piece to the right of their lower battery in the direction of our approach, but withdraw it to cover the rear of the battery. It was overtaken and captured near what was to have been its new position, and the capture of the battery quickly followed.

The loss of the enemy is not accurately known. We have buried 8 or 9 of their dead. Others, skirmishers, are known to have been killed and wounded by our skirmishers in a corn field at the edge of the timber, but the necessity of moving on up the river as soon as possible and the fatigue of the men (weather very warm) compelled us to leave them to the care of citizens and surgeons of the vicinity, who promised and doubtless will bestow every attention. Among the dead buried was an officer we failed to identify. Their commander, Colonel Joseph Fry, an old officer of the U. S. Navy, was wounded and captured, and about 30 prisoners taken. Four of the guns captured have been sent to Memphis. The others, for want of transportation, were thrown in the river or otherwise rendered useless. The land troops lost none killed and the injuries were few and simple. The loss from steam on the Mound City is great, nearly all her crew of more than a hundred being disabled, among them Captain Kilty. Half or more of them are dead. The injury to the ship is slight. I placed on board of her a new crew of infantry and mortar-boat men, all of whom had been serving with my command as gunners. The ship is under charge of a master. One of the wounded of the enemy, since dead, stated that Colonel Fry ordered the firing upon the crew of the Mound City while in the water. It is but just to him, however, to say that he denies the charge. Opposite the upper battery the enemy had sunk their gunboat Maurepas and two transports to obstruct the channel, but failed to accomplish their object. Every officer and man of the Forty-sixth did his duty.

Very respectfully, yours,

G. N. FITCH,

Colonel, Commanding Forty-sixth Indiana Volunteers.

Brigadier-General QUINBY,

Commanding District Mississippi.