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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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Seven Steamers Pass the Rebel Batteries in Safety.


March and April 1863

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, April 22, 1863.


Seven Steamers Pass the Rebel Batteries in Safety.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

MEMPHIS, April 20. – Thomas H. Yeatman, special agent treasury department, for Memphis, has received the appointment of agent for the collection of abandoned property in the district.

The Crescent City has arrived, bringing up the pilot John Taylor, of the transport Henry Clay. He reports that on Thursday evening seven gunboats, one ram – the one taken from the Confederates sometime since – and three transports left the vicinity of Vicksburg to run the blockade.

All went well till fully two thirds the way down, when the hills back of the Vicksburg batteries were lit up with a large number of fires, lighting the country for miles. The Forest Queen, one of the transports, at once returned.

The Henry Clay was then compelled stop. As soon as she was still, several shots struck her, some below the waterline, others passing clear through her. The captain called to the pilot to come down, saying she was in a sinking condition.

Before he got to the deck, he saw all hands on board a flatboat, which was the last he saw them, and believes they were all lost. The pilot floated on a plank nine miles, and was picked up nearly opposite Warrenton by some Federal soldiers.

The Forest Queen was considerably damaged, having her steam drum shot away. She was taken in tow by a gunboat. The flagship Benton received a shot in her portholes, killing one man and wounding two others.

All of them were got through except the Henry Clay.

When the Crescent City left the mouth of the cut-off, heavy firing was heard in the vicinity of Warrenton, supposed to be the gunboats shelling the batteries at that point.

The gunboats below the Vicksburg batteries are now eleven, including three under Admiral Farragut.

The government is now occupying and running trains over the Memphis and Ohio Railroad.

[To the Associated Press.]

CHICAGO, April 21. – A special from Memphis, 19th, so the steamer from Vicksburg on Friday, brings news that on the night before the gunboats Benton, Tuscumbia, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Carondelet and Gen. Price and three transports, ran the batteries at Vicksburg. All got through safely accept the transport Henry Clay, which was burned opposite the city.

The Benton was the only boat struck. She had one man killed and two wounded.

The transport Forest Queen was injured by coming in contact with the gunboat, but can be easily repaired. From the time of starting until the first shot was heard from the rebels was nearly an hour and a quarter, by which time nearly all got past.

Official account of Adm. Porter’s exploit.

WASHINGTON, April 21. – The following information has been received here from Milliken’s bend, on the Mississippi, near Vicksburg:

On the night of the 16th, and reporter success succeeded in running the Vicksburg batteries with seven fine gunboats of his squadron and three transports.

The Benton, his flag ship, got opposite the upper battery, leading the line of vessels before the rebels opened fire. The rebels and continued firing from 11 PM, until 2 A. M., upon each succeeding vessel as it passed. The only damage done was the firing of the Henry Clay, one of the transports, the temporary disabling of the Forrest city, another transport, and also a shot through the buttons all.

Our loss was but one man killed in two or three wounded. The rebels fire was far less effective than was anticipated. They burned two or three houses in the town as our squadron was passing to like the River, so as to enable there are killers to get good views of our steamers as they went down within range of their guns. On reaching Warrenton Adm. Porter bombarded that village, but with what effect is unknown.