War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0478 Chapter XXXVI. Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

named officers have passed the batteries at Vicksburg. The damage to the Switzerland's boilers is considerable, but will be repaired in a few days by the machinists now on board; her engines and hull are in good condition. Her loss comprises only 3 negroes badly scalded; 1 man on the Lancaster was drowned, another severely scalded, and Pilot T. W. L. Kitson lost a foot. The very limited loss of life on both boats is due to the extremely small number of men who were selected to run the boats through. The remainder of the crews were sent across by land.

I inclose Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet's report of the Lancaster.

Very respectfully,


Colonel, Commanding.

Brigadier General ALFRED W. ELLET,

Commanding Mississippi Marine Brigade.

Numbers 3.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel John A. Ellet, U. S. Army, commanding U. S. steam ram Lancaster.


Above Vicksburg, March 25, 1863.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your instructions, I left my anchorage above the mouth of the canal at 4. 30 o'clock this morning on board the U. S. steam ram Lancaster, for the purpose of running the enemy's batteries at Vicksburg. The lights were all extinguished, and every precaution taken to prevent giving any knowledge of our approach. I endeavored to conduct the movements of my vessel as silently as possible, allowing her to float part of the time, and occasionally righting her up by going ahead on the slow bell. Unfortunately the escape of steam from her smoke-stacks was very loud. In addition to this, the night was clear, calm, and Starlight, with a slight breeze setting from us directly toward the rebel batteries. From the character of the night and the warmth of our reception, I am led to believe that our very first movements were heard by the enemy. Keeping the distance of about 200 yards between my vessel and the Switzerland, I approached within about half a mile of the point of the peninsula very slowly, when the sudden flashes of signals along the whole line of the enemy's works gave unmistakable evidence that our movements were apprehended. I then ordered on a full head of steam expecting every moment to receive the enemy's fire. When within about 400 yards of the point of the peninsula, the enemy opened upon me with a brisk fire from the upper batteries, but the shot fell wide of the mark.

Rounding the point, I ordered the pilot to steer well to the starboard to prevent following immediately in the wake of the Switzerland. When just abreast of the upper batteries, the first shot struck my vessel, passing through both smoke-stacks. The fire continued almost incessantly, but without serious damage, for about five minutes after this time, when a heavy shot passed through the vessel immediately under the pilot-house, carrying away the steps which led from the cabin into the pilot-house, and wounding Mr. W. L. Kitson, steersman, whom I had placed at the foot of the steps to be in readiness to take the wheel should my