War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0540 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LI.

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on transports at once, and proceed up the river to Eastport, and move rapidly out to the line of railroad near Iuka, and break the road and destroy bridges so as to hold any trains that might be east of the break; after doing this to hold Eastport until I heard from him, which would probably be three days. At the same time a squad of thirty disabled cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant McMillin, Twelfth Missouri Cavalry, reported to me. I at once moved my command back to Clifton, and by a forced march reached there, a distance of twenty-three miles, at 8. 30 p. m. same evening. I was unable to get the transports over till 9 a. m. of the 9th instant, on account of the fog; got all on board and steamed up the river at 1 p. m. ; laid up all night at Coffee Landing; got under way at 7. 10 a. m. the 10th instant. On nearing Eastport the gun-boat Key WEST went above the landing, and seemed to be satisfied that there was no enemy near; at least, in a few moments Captain King motioned me to land my troops, which I immediately did, in the order as will be shown by General Orders, No. 3, from these headquarters, October 10, 1864, a copy of which is attached, marked Exhibit A. Lieutenant Lytle and Lieutenant Boals, of my staff, as soon as they could land their horses, started out to reconnoiter, and about 500 yards from the landing came up to the pickets of the enemy, returned shots with the pickets, and in ten minutes after the batteries opened on the transports a masked battery on the hill at Eastport (I think it was a battery of at least six rifled guns), and shortly after a battery of three rifled guns at Chickasaw, opened on us. When the first shot was fired from their batteries I was just leaving the gun-boat Key West, where I had been to have a final consultation with Captain King, before marching for the railroad. I immediately went on shore and had a line of battle formed. At this time the enemy had got a perfect range of the transports, every shot doing more or less execution. One of the gun-boats, the Undine, had become partially disabled and was dropping down the river, and the Key WEST following her, Captain King saying that we must get the transports away at once, he going with them. At this time I made up my mind that to be left there, without any covering from the gun-boats, and in the position I was in, with a superior force of the enemy in my front and a deep river directly in my rear, would be sheer folly, and I told Lieutenant Lytle, of my staff, to have the troops brought on board. I then went on board the transport City of Pekin, and took my station on the hurricane deck, where I could see and control the movements of embarking. Just at this time a shell form the enemy struck a caisson of the battery on board the Kenton, exploding it and setting fire to the boat. Immediately after this a caisson exploded on the Aurora, setting fire to her, and also cutting her steam- pipe. A scene of confusion then began. The boats, in spite of all I could do, backed out, parting their lines, leaving about two- THIRDs of the command on the shore. Fortunately after great exertion the flames on board of the Aurora and Kenton were extinguished. As soon as I could have a boat manned I sent Lieutenant Boals, of my staff, who was with me, on shore, with instructions to the troops to keep along down the river-bank, keep in good order, and they would all be taken on board. I landed twice with the boat I was on, and feel confident that I got all on board that were not badly wounded or were not already in the hands of the enemy. After this I started down the river and laid up all night at Coffee Landing; left there for Clifton at 7. 40 a. m. next morning, the 11th. After consulting with Captain King, whose boats were almost out of fuel, I came to the conclusion to return to Johnsonville, arriving here at 8. 10 p. m. same day.