quarters District of Western Louisiana, I proceeded to Fort De Russy on the night of the 1st instant. I immediately made a full examination upon my arrival at the fort of the works and the position of the submerged guns. This examination was made after night and the report transmitted immediately . I found nothing to amend upon a renewed examination in the morning.
In twenty-four hours the submerged 32-pounder gun, and all the undamaged public property, excepting some pieces of railroad iron, was recovered and placed on board the barge ready to be towed to Alexandria, La. Just as this work was completed, an advance of the enemy's gunboats (three in number) was reported by the pickets under command of Lieutenant [H. A.] Frederic, of the signal corps. Captain George Hite, of the steamer Countess, was immediately ordered by me to take the barge in tow. This he did, and steamed out of sight and danger up the river. In ten minutes, the enemy made their appearance. The leading ship proved to be a steam propeller with two masts, mounting four guns on a side, and a pivot gun of heavy metal of [on] bow and stern. From the best information procurable, and the report of the pieces, the broadside guns were 32-pounder rifled cannon. This vessel took a position at about 500 yards from us. The remaining vessels of the enemy's fleet took position in favorable and shelling distances behind the woods farther down the river. We fired on the leading vessel twice before she replied.
The engagement now became general, and for one hour the contest was hotly disputed. In twenty minutes after the action commenced the Cotton, under the command of Lieutenant E. T. King, was disabled by the cutting of her steam-pipe. Lieutenant King, however, continued to fight his boat with unflinching coolness. In a very short time after, it was reported to me that all the steering apparatus of the flag-ship was shot away. In fact, all the mechanical contrivances by which communications is conveyed from one part the boat to another, bell-ropes, speaking tube, &c., were shot to pieces. Captain White reported to me at the same time that he thought his boat unmanageable. The fight continued, however, with unabated energy until the leading gunboat of the enemy withdrew, apparently uninjured. This gave me the impression, and it was equally the impression of Lieutenant King, that, having divined our crippled condition, the enemy were drifting down the river in order to secure a position, the enemy were drifting down the river divined our crippled condition, the enemy were drifting down the river in order to secure a position from which they could deliver the fire upon our unprotected flank. I therefore directed an examination to be made of our condition. This resulted in ascertaining that, by passing the word from man to man, the boat might be handled exclusively through the engines. Upon a brief consultation with my officers, I determined to run up the river a short distance, repair damages, and return. It seeming to me clear that should the three boats select their positions - as was practicable with them, owing to our damaged condition - that our destruction would be probable. We therefore ran up the river, repaired damages as rapidly as possible, and returned to the fort.
In the midst of the fight I observed with indignation and regret that the barge had been cast off from the Countess and had floated down against the raft. The Cotton, it was ascertained, could not be repaired at the fort, and it was absolutely necessary to save the barge and her valuable freight. I therefore took the Cotton and the barge in tow, and proceeded slowly toward Alexandria, La. The Countess made her appearance subsequently, and relieved us of the barge.
The Grand Duke was set on fire five times, but owing to the coolness