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Illustrations of the Civil War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1149, p. 607.

June 14, 1862


Our Special Artist communicates a few particulars respecting the engagement off Fort Pillow, Mississippi River, between Federal and Confederate gun-boats:—"Early on the morning of the 10th (he says) we were aroused by three or four shots in rapid succession from one of our gun-boats, and, hastening on deck, saw the Southern fleet rounding the point that divides us from Fort Pillow. Four of their vessels came swiftly on under a full head of steam, two of them making direct for the Cincinnati that had advanced to meet them. They were iron-prowed, and handled as rams. In a few minutes they were both on to her, striking her with crushing force on her port quarter; but before they could get clear she gave them the contents of those of her 10-inch guns that could be trained to bear, both of them drifting down stream, disabled, towards Fort Pillow. The Cincinnati, whose timbers were completely crushed in, was towed to the shores and grounded to preserve her from sinking; while the Benton (flag-boat) advanced to meet the two remaining rams, supported by the Carondelet. she gave all her guns in succession to one of them and blew up her boilers, which caused her to drift after her consorts, the other making tracks at full speed. The balance of the Confederate fleet, which held off, then retired. In addition to the damage done to our boats, the Captain of the Cincinnati was mortally wounded and the Master killed. Three of the Confederate steamers are reported to have sunk after rounding the point. The Federal gun-boats have iron-plated sides placed in perpendicular bars on the timbers, and when in action no one appears on deck bu the signalmen, the vessels being steered from a shotproof pilot-house forwards. The Cincinnati was struck on an exposed portion of her frame. The Confederate boats had their guns on the spar-deck sheltered by cotton-bales.

On the first page we have an Engraving showing "Jeff Thompson's Guerrillas Shooting at Government Boats on the Mississippi," from a Sketch by our Special Artist, who writes regarding it as follows;—"This incident happened to the boat on which I have established my head-quarters, and the attempt was made on her from the Arkansas shore just above the first Chickasaw Bluff. We distinctly saw the rascals, and a strong party was put on shore to capture them, if possible, but they were too well acquainted with the woods, and escaped. We risk at any moment being fired into from the bank; and the unfortunate individual who would attempt to land alone and unarmed on a foraging expedition is almost certain to fall into the hands of the these ruffians, for such they should be called from their acts. The chivalrous Southern Confederacy does not appear particular as to the means it employs to attain its ends."

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