War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0480 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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did not deem it policy to receive them on board, not knowing what might transpire as we advanced.

After proceeding some miles farther we found a plantation on fire, on which place there were large lots of cotton and naval stores being consumed by the devouring element. The only persons to be seen were a few colored people, and a white man and a colored boy in a boat endeavoring to escape through the swamp, whom we arrested and took on board. It by this time having become dark, and seeing no signs of the U. S. steamer Eolus, we determined to push forward with all dispatch possible.

On arriving at the point where the Chickamauga was sunk, we found her lying on the left bank of the river with ample room to pass.

Some few miles above this point was a chain stretched across the river, which we were fortunate enough to pass safely over; and it is our belief that the said chain was let down by the negroes in the vicinity. Above this place many trees had been felled so as to throw them across the stream, but the tide had fortunately swept them clear of the channel.

Proceeding, we came to a point called Indian Mills, where we found a battery covering the chain. It had been reported that said battery was garrisoned by Confederate troops. After consultation with Captain Reifle (commanding a detachment of the Thirteenth Indiana Regiment composed of sharpshooters) we came to the conclusion if fired upon to land the troops and endeavor to take the battery by an assault; but as we were not molested we proceeded on our way.

Nothing further of interest occurred until we arrived in the city of Elizabethtown, where we perceived large fires upon the banks of the river. On our arriving off the town we found it in a general conflagration; also boats in the river completely enveloped in flames as well. The heat from the flames was intense, and the dense clouds of smoke made it almost an impossibility to proceed; but still we pushed forward and managed to geme ten miles farther, we met a mass of burning timber floating down the river, which our colored pilots informed us were portions of the bridge which crossed the river at Fayetteville. By the skill of said pilots we evaded the burning mass with the loss of one boat which was towing astern.

After proceeding some few miles farther bodies of cavalry were seen along the right bank of the river, which immediately galloped away. From this point the banks of the river were strongly picketed.

Previous orders had been given to extinguish all lights and for all to retain silence on board. A white mist occasionally enveloped the boat, our only marks then to steer by being the branches of the trees along the banks.

On arriving about twelve miles below Fayetteville the Confederates opened fire upon us, which was promptly returned by the troops on board, as well as from the guns on board the launch under the command of Mr. Pool, in charge of the obstruction party. Fortunately no one was hurt on board, although a number of shots struck the pilot-house. This fire was kept up at intervals for several miles.

At 6 a.m. we arrived at our destination. On our arrival we found the place occupied by the troops of General Sherman's command, and sharp skirmishing with the enemy across the river. We proceeded immediately to General Sherman's headquarters and reported March 12 at 7 a.m. The general was much pleased to see us and congratulated us upon our safe arrival.