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side, ami the ground on which nearly all of the army was encamped. As the eanal cut the peninsula at right angles, the troops were encamped west of it and behind this embankment. On the 8th of March, when the enterprise promised success within a short time, the dam across the mouth of the canal gave way, owing to a rapid rise of the river and the great pressure of the water. When it broke there was a difference of eight feet between the bottom of the canal and the surface of the water in the river. The violence of the torrent as it rushed through swept away all the implements of labor, and the canal was full in a few minutes. The embankment had n t been completed, and the water soon began to pour over. A spectator thus describes the scene: "Some regiments that were in exposed positions had to gather up tents and camp equipage in hot haste and confusion and run for the levee. Several companies on the lower side of the peninsula were cut off and had to be ferried to the main body of the army. The embankment of the Vicksburg and Shreveport railroad, which cut the peninsula longitudinally, prevented the water from flooding the northwest quarter. But that was considered insecure; the troops were all ordered to move their quarters to the levee."
Some delay was caused by the efforts to repair the damages, but it soon became manifest that, with the existing high atage of the water, gome other plan would have to be adopted to get below Vicksburg with the transports.
At the commencement of the work on the canal, Gen. Grant, having more troops than could be employed at Young's Point to advantage, caused a channel to he cut from the Mississippi into Lake Providence on the west side of the Mississippi, and another into Coldwater river by tho way of the Yazoo Pass, on the east side of the Mississippi. From tho former of these routes no great expectations were entertained by Gen. Grant. lie thought possible, however, that a route might bo opened there through which transports might pass into the Mississippi, and enable him to cooperate with Gen. Banks below. By the Yazoo Pass ho expected to get into the Yazoo by way of the Ooldwater and Tallahatchie rivers, with soino light gunboats and a i'cw troops, and destroy some Confederate transports in that stream and some gunboats on the stocks. With such views the work on these channels was-commenced.
While those operations "were pushed forward, other measures for the annoyance of the enemy were also taken. A steamer called the "City of Vicksburg" was daily noticed lying under the batteries of the city, and it was known that farther down the river there was a number of transports rendering great service to the Confederate authorities by bringing supplies to their troops at Vicksburg and at Port Hudson, another strong position below;. A movement was planned to destroy these means of transportation. Orders were therefore given to
Col. Charles E. Ellet to prepare tho ram steamer Queen of the West for running down below the batteries. This steamer was a wooden freight vessel, strengthened so as to carry a prow of iron. To protect her machinery from injury by tho shot and shells of the batteries at Vicksburg, three hundred bales of cotton were placed about it, and her steering wheel was removed and placed behind the bulwarks of her how. Her armament consisted of a large 30pounder rilled Parrott gun on her main deck as a bow gun, one 20-pounder, and three 12pounder brass howitzers on her gun dock. Besides these she had fifty or sixty rifles, carbines, cutlasses, pistols, &c. Her crew consisted of a first, second, and third master, two pilots, three engineers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and deck hands; also a squad of twentysix soldiers. It was planned that she should start before daybreak on the morning of the 2d of February. At the appointed time the steamer was under way, but her steering apparatus in its new position controlled her movements so poorly that it was necessary to replace it in its original position. This was important, as the destruction of the City of Vicksburg would depend in part upon the accuracy of the blow of the Queen of the West. Tho detention which ensued prevented her from passing round the point of the peninsula into view from the Confederate batteries until sunrise, when she was instantly greeted by a shell that passed between her smoke chimneys and struck the water about three hundred yards behind her. After the sound of the first shot broke the stillness of the morning, tho Confederate artillerists sprang to their pieces, and a hundred guns were fired with a wonderful celerity. Only three or four shots had struck her before she reached the front of the city. The first object now to be accomplished was the destruction of tho steamer City of Vicksburg, which was made fast to the bank about tho centre of tho bend of tho river, where the current ran very rapidly. To strike an unerring blow it was necessary for the Qcecn of the West .to round to amid the storm of bulls and shells, and move directly across the river against her victim. As she approached the steamboat and the city, the enemy, thinking .that she had been disabled, and that her commander had concluded to surrender, raised enthusiastic cheers, which ceased r.s the ram struck the steamer. The wide guards of tho Vicksburg, overlapping the deck of tho Queen, even to the barricade of cotton bales, received the force of the blow and prevented the prow of the ram from reaching her hull. At the same time tho current caught tho stern of the Queen and swung her round side by side with tho Vicksburg. this action of the current had been anticipated by Col. Ellet, and tho starboard bow gun had been loaded with incendiary shells. It was now fired into tho "\ icksbtirg. At the same time the shells from the batteries had set on fire tho cotton on tho Qaeen, and it was evident that to repeat the blow would involve the loss of the steamer. The effort was then made to turn her head out toward the stream, which, owing to the action of the wind and current, was, after some delay, accomplished. She then proceeded down the stream with all hands at work to extinguish the fire. Meantime the discharge from tho bitteries became quick and incessant, and she now received most of the dozen shots which hit her from tho artillery and tho sharpshooters on the shore. No material injury, however, was done, and she anchored below the outlet of the canal until one o'clock P.m., when she proceeded down tho river.
On this expedition, down the river, her officers capture:!, below Natchez, and burned three small steamers, tho Moro, Berwick Bay, and A. W. Baker; ono of them was laden with pork, and another with molasses and sugar.- Sho ran fifteen miles up the Red river, and returned on the fifth for a supply of coal. During the night a flat-boat loaded with coal was oast loose in the stream, and passing tho batteries safely, floated down to the steamer.
On the night of the 10th of February, this steamer started on another expedition down the Mississippi. Tho first object of the expedition was to capture Confederate steamers. It was also proposed to run up tho Big Black river, which empties into tho Mississippi at Grand Gulf, to visit tho Atchafalaya, and perhaps the Red river, end, if practicable, to pass the batteries at Port Hudson, and etl'ect a junction with tho lleet below under Com. Farragut. A tender was provided for tho Queon of tho West in the steamer De Soto, a small ferry boat once running between De Soto, the termination of the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas railroad, across to Vicksburg. Tho batteries at Warrenton, eight miles below, were passed without molestation. At Taylor's Point, above Natchez, at the plantation once owned the late President Taylor, a short stop was made. It was found to be occupied by friendly owners. Natchez was next passed, and on Wednesday evening the steamer reached the mouth of Old river, into which Red river runs. This was the channel of tho Mississippi before tlio cat-off was formed. Tho Red river extends from the northern side of Old river, first northwesterly, and then nearly west, across tho State of Louisiana, into Texas. At high water it is navigable to Paris, nine hundred and sixty miles from New Orleans.
Passing the night at anchor at the mouth of Old river, on the next morning, tho 12th, leaving the De Soto as a guard neir tho month of Old river, the Queen of tho West entered tho Atchafalaya, which flows north and empties into Red river just above its junction with Old river. A train of eleven army wagons was captured abont five miles up the river, and at Semmes's port, ton miles farther up, seventy five barrels of beef and a mail with despatches was taken, but a Confederate steamer at that
place had escaped. Returning down the river near dark, the steamer was fired on at tho point where the wagons had been captured, and the first master mortally wounded. A landing was not made, but tho steamer returned to tho anchorage of the previous night. On the next morning Col. Ellet, having been informed of the parties who fired on the boat, returned and destroyed the dwellings, mills, and negro quarters on six sugar plantations above tho mouth of the Atchafalaya. During the afternoon the steamers entered the Red river, and moved up as far as the mouth of Black river, at dark, where they anchored for the night. Tho Black river, formed by the junction of tho Washita and Tensas rivers, flows south and empties into tho Red river, a short distance above thojnouth of the Atchafalaya. At daylight on the next morning they were under way up the river. About ten o'clock, the Era, No. 5, a steamer of one hundred tons, was discovered approaching. At the same timo sho discovered tho Queen, and attempted to turn for the purpose of escaping, when a shot from tho former demolished her wheelhouso, and her officers surrendered. Fourteen Texan soldiers and a number of citizens were found on board. The former were paroled and tho latter dismissed, except a quartermaster, having $28,000 in Confederate funds, and two lieutenants. Tho boat was loaded with 4,500 bushels of corn in the ear, destined for tho Confederate forces at Little Rock. Nothing further of importance was discovered during tho passage of the next twenty miles up tho river. In fact tho stream is so crooked in some parts, that a distance of two miles across the land would strike a point to reach which a steamer would bo obliged to go twenty miles. Thus information was easily sent of the approach of hostile vessels. Some twenty miles farther up was located Fort Taylor, a post which was supposed to be manned by about ono hundred and fifty men, with two or three gun-i. It was situated on tho south bank of the river,just above a bend which its guns commanded, that was made by an abrupt turn of the river to the north. From the point opposite this , bend a long bar projected, on which the water is shallow, and it is necessary to "hug "tho south shore to avoid being driven on the bar by a strong eddy.
The Era had been left with tho three prisoners under a guard about twenty miles below. It was about nightfall as the Queen approached the bend of tho river, with the De Soto a considerable distance astern. The pilot of tho captured Era had been forced to assist at the wheel, owing to the intricacies of the channel. Upon turning the point, tho Queon struck upon tho bar and became fast aground in a position in which none of her guns were effective. Tho guns of the fort immediately opened upon her with fearful accuracy and rapidity. Tho shot and shell struck all about her. The lever of the engine was shot away, tho escape pipo broken, and the immediate roar of steam that enveloped the vessel showed that her steam chest had been penetrated. Every thought of saving the steamer was given up, and the exertions of all were made to save themselves. Many threw bales of cotton overboard and floated on them down to the De Soto a mile below, among whom was Col. Ellet. The fort seeing there was no reply to their guns, and conceiving from the rush of steam that something had happened, slackeued their fire and sent boats to reconnoitre. By this force the remainder of the crew were captured, and the boat made a prize.
Meanwhile the De Soto approached as near the point as was safe, and picked up those who were floating, and sent a boat for the crew, which was almost captured by the enemy, who had already reached the Queen. Finding that soldiers were collecting on the shore, the De Soto was turned and slowly floated down the stream. Three miles below she ran aground and unshipped her rudder, and for the next fifteen miles and during three hours she was unmanageable, and moved with tho current. As she reached the Era at eleven o'clock, a second rudder was unshipped, and she became unmanageable again, when Col. Ellet ordered her to be blown up.
It was about twelve o'clock at night before the Era was under way. It was known to Col. Ellet that the swift gunboat Webb was at Alexandria, about sixty miles up the river, and ho was confident that pursuit would be made after him by her. All hands were set to work to throw overboard tho corn with which tho Era was laden, and amid fog, thunder, lightning and rain, she worried her way out of tho Red river into the Mississippi by morning. All that day, which was Sunday, with no fuel but some of the corn with which she had been laden, and cypress found on the banks too wet to make steam enough to give her headway, the fleeing steamer attempted to get up the river. She had mado scarcely forty miles' in twenty-four hours. At Union Point she was run aground and detained three hours in getting off. After passing Ellis's Cliffs, tho black chimney of a passing steamer was discovered over the fog which enveloped her hull. Tho black smoke from her chimney showed that she burned coal, and that it was a Federal steamer. It was the Indianola, and all fear of the Webb was over. Scarcely was the Era well alongside of the Indianola and the fog had lifted a little, when the Webb hove in sight. A brief pursuit of her was mado by the two boats, without success. The Era was then furnished with supplies, and sent up to Admiral Porter.
Tho Indianola, which came so fortunately to the rescue of Col. Ellet, was one of the finest of the ironclad gunboats of tho squadron: she was now, and was 174 feet l>>ng, 50 feet beam, 10 feet from tho top of her deck to the bottom of her keel, or 8 feet 4 inches in the clear. Her bides (of wood) for five feet down were thirty
two inches thick, having bevelled sticks laid outside the hull (proper), and all of oak. Outside of this was three-inch thick plate iron. Her clamps and keelsons were as heavy as the largest ships. Her deck was eight inches solid, with one-inch iron plate, all well bolted. lief casemate stood at an incline of 26^ degrees, and was covered with three-inch iron, as were also her ports. She had a heavy grating on top of the casemate that no shell could penetrate, and every scuttle and hatch was equally well covered. She was ironed all round, except some temporary rooms on deck, and, besides the amount of wood and iron already stated, had coal bunkers seven feet thick alongside of her boilers, the entire machinery being in tho hold. She had seven engines—two for working her side wheels, two for her propellers, two for her capstans, and one for supplying water and working the bilge and fire pumps. She had five large five-flued boilers, and made abundance of steam. Her forward casemate had two 11-inch Dahlgren guns, and her after casemate two 9-inch. Her forward casemate was pierced for two guns in front, one on each side, and two aft, so that she could fire two guns forward, one on each side, and four at an angle sideways and astern. She had also hose for throwing scalding water from the boilers, that would reach from stem to stern, and there .was communication from the casemates to all parts of the vessel without the least exposure. The pilot house was also thoroughly ironclad, and instant communication could be had with the gunners and engineers, enabling the pilot to place the vessel in just such position as might bo required for effective action. She left her anchorage at tho mouth of the Yazoo, about ten o'clock on the night of February 13th, to run below the batteries at. Vicksburg. The night was hazy and cloudy, and thus exceedingly dark. After passing entirely through the fleet, and reaching tho vicinity of the upper end of the canal, she shut off steam entirely, and suffered the current to bear her along. Its rate was about four miles an hour. In perfect obscurity she rounded tho point, and drifted fairly beneath the formidable batteries. Tho tide bore her down directly toward the levee of tho city. Lights were everywhere numerous, and tho voices of citizens and soldiers sounded as if they were close alongside. Still the black and noiseless mass drifted along, almost rubbing tho bank, yet undiscovered. The whole levee was patrolled by sentinels, and nt one spnt a camp fire was dimly burning. As the drifting vessel approached this point, a soldier stooping down gathered some faggots and threw them into the fire. A bright blazo flashed up for a moment, exposing everything within its sphere. The Indianola was seen by a soldier, who discharged his musket at her. At that discharge the soldiers everywhere along the bluff sprang to arms. A battery near the centre of tho city fired a gun, rockets were sent oil', soldiers on the bauk discharged their maskets into the darkness, and indications of excitement were manifest everywhere. The boat had been discovered running the blockade, but no one knew where she was. Five minutes passed after the first gun was fired, and another had not followed. At last it became necessary to start the wheels in order to get steerage way on the steamer. The noise of the steam drew forth a second and third gun, and a discharge of musketry, and again all was still. The boat drifted on a few moments in silence, when the steam was again let on, and she dashed down the river, regardless of any noise that might be made. Battery after battery now opened upon her until twenty shots were fired, and she had passed uninjured beyond their reach. The steamer was under the command of Lieut.Com. Brown, and continued on down the river, until she met the Era as above stated. After pursuing the Webb, in vain, as far as the mouth of Red river, the Indianola proceeded up that stream in search of Confederate transports, and kept up a watch off the mouth of the Atchafai&ya river. Here her commander learned that the Queen of the West had been repaired and might soon be down. As the narrowness of tbe Red river made it difficult to manoeuvre a long boat like the Indianola, while the Queen was much shorter, Commander Brown determined to return to the mouth of the Big Black river, and attempt to pass up that stream, and reach if possible the bridge of the Vieksburg and Jackson railroad. Tins had been one of the objects fur which the steamers had run the blockade. The Big Black river empties into the Mississippi at Grand Gu'f, forty miles below Vicksburg. It rises in the northern part of the State of Mississippi, and flows southwesterly, passing about fifteen miles east of Vicksburg.
On Tuesday morning, Feb. 21th, the Indianola reached tbe mouth of the Big Black, and in the afternoon made preparations to move up the river, when two steamers were descried approaching. These proved to be the Confederate gunboat Webb and the Queen of the West. The Webb was a powerful boat and one of the swiftest on the river. They immediately attacked the Indianola, and, chiefly by striking her with their rams, so shattered her as to endanger her sinking, when she was surrendered and immediately run ashore.
A few days afterward a flatboat was fitted up by Admiral Porter to appear like a gunboat, and s;t adrift in the river without a pilot or crew. As it passed the batteries at Vicksburg, it was supposed to bo a formidable ram, aid they fired fiercely. It escaped uninjured however, and floated on down the river. Information of its approach was sent to the Queen of the West, lying under the batteries at Warrenton, eight miles below Vicksburg, and she immediately fled down stream. The Indianola was undergoing repairs near where she was taken, and the authorities at Vicksburg, thinking that she would be recaptured by the ram,
issued an order to burn her up. This order was sent down by a courier to the officer in charge of the boat. A few hours later, and another order was sent down countermanding the first, it having been ascertained that the monstrous craft was nothing else than a coalboat. But before it reached the Indianola she had been blown to atoms: not even a gun was saved.
Meanwhile, the work of cutting channels from the Mississippi to Providence Lake, on the west side, and to Moon Lake, on the east side, was progressing rapidly.
Lake Providence is a few miles south of the boundary line between Arkansas and Louisiana. It is situated in Carroll parish, Louisiana, about one mile west of the Mississippi river, and about seventy-five miles above Vicksburg. It is about six miles in length. Two streams flow out of the lake to the south, Moon bayou and Tensas river. The former, after running about a hundred miles, unites with the latter. The two continue south, and unito with the Washita, and are called after the junction Black river, which empties into the Red river, as is stated on a preceding page. By cutting a channel from the Mississippi to Lake Providence, Gen. Grant thought a communication might bo had through that lake down the Tensas and Black into the Red river, and thenco through the Atchafalaya, with Gen. Banks at New Orleans. This route avoided the batteries at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. The canal to the lake was finished so as to let in the water on the ICth of March. The flood was so groat as to inundate a large district of country, some of which was fino land for growing cotton. Some boats passed into Lake Providence, but the uncertainty of the channel of the Tensas river, and the interest which was now excited by tho Yazoo Pass expedition, together with the unimportant results to bo anticipated by removing a largo force to tho Red river or below, caused a diversion from this route to others presenting more certain prospects of success against Vicksburg.
• Eight miles below Helena, in Arkansas, and on the opposite side of the river, is a little lake, known as Moon Lake. The passage from tho Mississippi across the lake to the mouth of the Yazoo Pass is about eight miles; thence through tho Pass proper to the Coldwatcr river, twelve miles. The Coldwater. a narrow stream, runs south,-empties into tho Tallahatchie, which continues to flow south, and unites with the Yallobusha, forming the Yazoo river, which empties into the Mississippi, a fow miles abovo Vicksburg. By opening a wider channel from the Mississippi into Moon Lake, it was the opinion that the inner streams would bo rendered more easily navigable, in consequence of an increase of water, so that some smaller gunboats and a few troops could destroy the enemy's transports in the Yazoo, and their gunboats which were building. In ordinary stages of water, steamboats could ascend the
crooked passage it was necessary to resist the force of tho current by the back revolution of the wheels of the boats, and by lines fastened from tree to tree as they moved along. Three days were thus passed in making a distance of about twelve miles, and reaching the Coldwater. Smokestacks were swept away, and much of the light upper works of several of the boats. The principal difficulty in the Pass arose from the activity of the enemy, who would close one end while tho Federal force was opening the other. In this manner time was gained to prepare to resist the progress of the expedition by fortifying at the mouth of the Tallahatchie.
On the 2d of April the expedition proceeded down the Coldwater. This stream was a little wider than the Pass, so that the branches of tho trees seldom met over head, but its current was more sluggish, and its channel equally tortuous. Two mortar boats now joined the expedition, adding their force to the heavy guns on tho other boats. As it advanced it was further recnt'oreed, until it consisted of eighteen transports, five small gunboats, and two of a large size, the Chillicothe and the De Kalb. The advance consisted of one division of Gen. McClcrnand's corps, which had been stationed nt Helena, under command of Brig.-Gen. L. F. Ross, and the 12th and 17th Missouri regiments from Gen. Sherman's corps, as sharpshooters, on the gunboats. Tho mouth of the Coldwater was reached with only some damage to the light work, wheels, and rudders of the transports.
Proceeding down the Tallaliatchie, the expedition arrived within ten miles of Greenwood on the 11th. Greenwood is a small village on the Yazoo river, just below the junction of the Tallahatchie with the Yallobusha, forming the Yazoo. Just below the position of the Federal transports, the Tallahatchie turns to the eastward, bending in the form of a horseshoe, and resumes its southerly course at a point nearly south of that where the transports were. The base of the peninsula formed by this bend, being the narrowo-t part, and nearly a mile across, was occupied by a Confederate fortification. It consisted of a single line of breastworks facing westerly, and composeel of cotton bales and earth, and flanked on the right by a battery of three heavy guns fronting the river. Other field pieces were in position on the works. On the right Hank of the line, a defence or raft of logs had been constructed, to serve as a blockade of the river. Directly in front of the breastworks was a deep slough, extending acr< ss the peninsula, and admirably serving the purpose of a ditch. The slough was close to the base of the works at the upper end, but gradually receded from them at the lower, where it was several hundred yards distant. Beyond the slough there was an almost impenetrable canebrake, backed by an extensive forest. Below this fortification on the river, and in the arc of the bend, tho Yallobusha flows in from the northeast, and forms its junction with the Tal