other pilot be disabled. We were now just opposite the water batteries and they poured a very active fire upon us, striking the vessel in every part but a vital one. At this time I entertained the most sanguine expectations of getting my vessel past in safety. This thought, however, was speedily dispelled by a heavy shot, which exploded the steam-drum, and enveloped the entire vessel in a terrible cloud of steam, driving the engineers and firemen from their posts, and compelling every one upon the lower and gun deck to seek the bow of the boat outside of the wooden bulkhead, when a friendly breeze shielded them from the excruciating tortures of the hot steam
About this time a heavy plunging shot struck her in the frailest part of her stern, passing longitudinally through her, and piercing the hull in the center near the bow, causing an enormous leak in the vessel. The pilot, Mr. Andrew J. Dennis, remained at the wheel, giving direction to the helpless vessel, until the wheel was demolished by a shot, from the effects of which he miraculously escaped. He reported the damage to me, and I sent him below to control the tiller-ropes by hand, and then went down myself to ascertain the condition of the hull. I found her sinking very fast, and partly turned around by an eddy, so that her starboard side was subjected to the hottest fire. I therefore ordered the two yawls to be brought from the starboard side to the larboard quarter of the bow, where the hull of the vessel afforded them the greatest protection, and then ordered my men to take to their boats, first providing for the wounded and scalded.
The water was by this time running over the decks, and I found it would be impossible to secure her to the shore. I therefore set her upper works on fire, by discharging my pistols into the cotton. This was superfluous, however, for in a few minutes afterward she plunged into the flood, bow foremost.
I had and abundance of room in my two yawls for every soul on board, but, unfortunately, some of my men attempted to swim ashore. In so doing, Orderly Sergt. William [H.] McDonald was drowned. While in our yawls, making our escape from the sinking wreck, we were subjected to a galling fire of shot and shell. As soon as the yawls reached the shore, the men sought shelter in the neighboring woods. I expressed my determination to go to the Switzerland, and two faithful negroes rowed me to her.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
My officers, soldiers, and boatmen behaved with the utmost coolness and courage.
There are some instances of heroic daring which deserve special mention. Among these were George W. Lindsey, first master; Henry S. Brown, chief engineer; Andrew J. Dennis, pilot; T. W. L. Kitson, steersman; George W. Andrews, carpenter, and Samuel Weaver, engineer. The two gentlemen passed the Vicksburg batteries on a former occasion on board the Queen of the WEST. It is extremely difficult to designate individuals when all did so nobly, without doing injustice, but these men came under my own personal observation and challenged my admiration by their great gallantry.
very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. ELLET,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Lancaster.
Colonel CHARLES RIVERS ELLET,
Commanding Ram Fleet.