Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Operations of Commodore Foote’s Flotilla

CAIRO, April 18.

A man of known veracity from our fleet before Fort Pillow says the same strategic movement is to be acted on there as at No. 10. Gen. Pope is there, 5 miles above, with an army of 30,000 men. A canal is to be cut through the timber so as to come in below Pillow on the Arkansas side, large enough to take transports, etc., etc., through – then cross over and attack in the rear.

There are only 16 heavy guns at Fort Pillow, one 128-pounder – the water batteries mounting light cast-iron guns, overflowed. The mortars have already been playing away on the Fort.

When our gunboats got down near Fort Pillow they saw five rebel gunboats. The Benton gave chase, and went on with great speed – bore down on them, and opened. The rebels fired only one gun and then broke and run; being light, they got out of our way. A shell from the Benton burst over one of them tearing away her upper rigging, and cleaning off loose trash generally.

The rebel gunboats are the awfulest, scalyest looking things you ever saw. They are old river steamers with the upper decks torn off, there being only so much left of them as is needed to support the chimneys &c. Railroad iron is placed over the tops like the roof of a house. The guns stand on the lower deck without any sort of protection. They look as forlorn and God-forsaken as the Southern Confederacy will next 4th of July.

The steamer Imperial went to St. Louis to-night with 450 wounded, including 80 secesh – five of them surgeons.

Governor Kirkwood, of Iowa, has been here several days, trying to arrange from sending the Iowa sick to river towns, and has succeeded pretty well. Two hundred went up to-day from St. Louis (per order of Gen. Strong) to Keokuk. The Iowa folks have a Sanitary Commission of their own, and if their friends could be got to their cities their relatives could come down and take care of them.

A gentleman just up from Arkansas represents a strong Union feeling in that State, and says if Corinth goes in our favor Arkansas will wheel back into the Union.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Tuesday Morning, April 22, 1862, p. 2

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