hour, receiving nineteen shots through the Key West, disabling her for further action, when he run the entire fleet to shore and burnt them. There were twenty-five guns on the three boats which were lost. He informed Captain Howland, assistant quartermaster, that he must burn the transports to save the town. Captain Howland reported to me what Lieutenant King, commanding, had said, and asked me if I thought the boats had not better be burned. I told him to have it done. This was after 3 p. m. on the afternoon of the 4th instant. There were guns from three different points bearing on the place. My scouts reported a force of from 400 to 500 men on Yellow Creek, fifteen or twenty mils this side the Tennessee. I had not the men to spare to put on the levee to repel any attack that might be made from either up or down the river, the forces that I had being barely enough to make a line embracing hills east of the railroad embankment, and the hill upon which this fort is situated. None of the troops, except the men of the First Kansas Battery, had ever been under fire; the 400 colored troops were the only ones that were drilled. The levee was covered with quartermaster and commissary stores, which caught fire from the transports. The fire was also conveyed from them to the warehouses, which was also filled with quartermaster and commissary stores. I advised the burning of the transports on Lieutenant King's (commanding) report. I could not see the necessity of burning them at the time it wad done.
Captain James E. Montandon, acting assistant quartermaster, at Johnsonville, reports as follows:
Lieutenant King, commanding, on the 4th instant called to see me and invited me to go down the river on the Key West. I went with him. Six miles below this place we came on the gun-boat Undine, in the hands of the rebels, also the transport Venus, in their hands. As soon as they discovered us they ran around the point and disappeared. We ran down to the point, came in sight, and opened fire on them, capturing the Venus with 2 rifled 20-pounders, and towed her to Johnsonville, the Undine escaping. While running up to Johnsonville a rebel battery opened on the Key West, putting nineteen shots through her before she could be got out of range. She was greatly disabled and returned to Johnsonville. I arrived here at about 2 p. m., and was put in command of 550 Government employes, and directed to put them in the intrenchments. Our battery was firing over the left of the line, where my employes were stationed, one of the 20-pounder guns going off and killing twenty of the mules in the corral near where the employes were stationed, completely demoralizing them, and causing them to stampede immediately. About this time the gun-boats were set on fire, and Captain Howland told me that he had ordered the transports to be burned.
Captain J. E. Chalfant, commissary of subsistence, stated he was at Johnsonville on the 4th and was at the levee about 1 p. m. of the same day. The transports and barges which were burned were lying near the levee; they could not have been burned without burning the stores upon the levee and in the warehouse. I did not see any necessity at all of burning the transports at the time they were burned, as the rebels had made no demonstration whatever to cross, and to my knowledge they had nothing to cross with, and in my judgment they could not have crossed and captured the transports with our 10 guns and 1,200 muskets to defend them. At the time of the burning of the transports the place had not been under fire to exceed one hour and a half. In my judgment the stores could not have been saved after the transports were set on fire.
Captain C. F. Lovelace, commissary of subsistence, states:
I was at Johnsonville on the 4th, and was as the levee in the morning. Some of the transports were burned in dayLight, and in my judgment there was no necessity for burning them at the time they were burned, but I do not think the stores could have been saved after the transports were set on fire.
55 R R - VOL XXXIX, PT I