Report of Captain Edwin W. Sutherland, commanding the Queen of the West, of operations December 23-27, 1862.
U. S. RAM QUEEN OF THE WEST,
Mississippi River, January 4, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by this boat in the late expedition up the Yazoo River:
On the morning of December 23 I got under way, in obedience to orders of Flag-Officer Captain Henry Walke. This boat was preceded in order by a tug and the gunboat Signal, with the gunboat Baron de Kalb bringing up the rear, the object of the expedition being to clear the river of torpedoes and other obstructions and secure a landing for the army.
Upon arriving at Johnson's plantation I commenced shelling the woods to protect the tug. Proceeding half a mile farther the tug suddenly received a volley of musketry, followed by successive discharges at this and the other boat. I immediately advanced with this boat, covering the tug with the rifled gun and throwing canister from the port batteries. The enemy appearing on both sides of the river the firing was brisk until 3 o'clock in the evening, when, a large part of the fleet coming up, the action was discontinued. Captain Gwin, of the Benton, now assumed command, and by the courtesy of that gallant officer this boat was permitted to lead the advance, for which favor I am the more indebted, inasmuch as he took upon himself the responsibility of deviating from the instructions of Admiral Porter, the purport of which were that the rams should remain in the rear.
Early on the morning of the 24th I reconnoitered with this boat up to the wreck f the Cairo and found the river clear. The fleet moved up and this boat crossed the line of a torpedo before I discovered it. I reported it to Captain Gwin, when we sent out several boats to remove it. While so doing the enemy fired into them such a volley as to plainly indicate the impracticability of ever destroying the torpedoes by that means. The enemy now opened a galling and severe fire on all the boats and especially on this. My men gave three hearty cheers and returned their fire with such spirit and accuracy as to elicit repeated cheers from the flag-ship. I remained at this point to engage the enemy, and the firing was heavy and incessant on both sides during the entire day. The other boats, at some distance in the rear, confined their efforts to the earthworks at the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou and below.
The events of the 24th clearly foreshadowed the danger, in fact demonstrated the imposibility, of removing the torpedoes by sending out men for that purpose in open boats. The enemy were effectually sheltered in rifle-pits, which extended in almost unbroken continuity to the fort at the bluffs.
The morning of the 25th clearly foreshadowed the danger, in fact demonstrated the imposibility, of removing the torpedoes by sending out men for that purpose in open boats. The enemy were effectually sheltered in rifle-pits, which extended in almost unbroken continuity to the fort at the bluffs.
The morning of the 25th I patrolled the river from 12 o'clock until daylight with this boat, and then took the position I had the day before and continued the fire up to the morning of the 27th, but could not succeed in driving the rebels from their works.
On the 27th the command of General Steele moved up to enfilade the levees. I then advanced with this boat, the iron-clad vessels, two abreast, following at a distance of 400 yards nd other boats f the fleet bringing up the rear. My instructions were to cover the small boats engaged in taking up the torpedoes and to unmask a battery supposed