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shot went through her, killing some of her men. The iron on the port side was much loosened. A flash of fire would indicate the spot at which every shot struck, so close was the range and so terrible the concussion. The Arkansas put holes through the Hartford, the Iroquois, the Richmond, the Benton, and half the gunboats.
The Federal line was forced, and the Arkansas emerged from the volcano of flame and smoke-after an hour's horizontal hail of missiles hurled by a fleet of forty formidable vessels badly injured but triumphant. Only when she was safe under the Confederate batteries did the enemy abandon the chase. Then the Arkansas slowly turned the point and was moored before Vicksburg. A subsequent attempt to destroy the vessel met with conspicuous failure, and this failure practically ended the siege of Vicksburg for the time. Five days later the Federal fleets, with the exception of the Essex and the Sumter, which, under the command of W. D. Porter, remained a short distance below the city, disappeared without having dismounted a gun in the Vicksburg fortifications. The Confederate killed and wounded numbered but twenty-two for the siege of sixty-seven days.
Vicksburg is situated on the east bank of the river at the extreme end of a long bend. General Butler had an idea that by cutting a canal across the peninsula formed by this bend, which is opposite Vicksburg and on the west bank, the river could be diverted into a shorter course, leaving Vicksburg far to the east of the stream. In an order of June 6th, he directed General Williams to send a regiment or two at once from Baton Rouge to cut this neck of land by a trench four feet deep and five feet wide. "The river itself will do the rest. A large supply of spades and shovels have been sent for this purpose.' A month later the cutoff canal was in progress, as a letter of July 6th speaks of General Williams's high hopes of the canal's success. On July 11th, the general grade of the cut-off had been carried a foot and a half below the then level of the Mississippi and in twelve hours would have been ready to let in the
water, when caving suddenly began at several points, and so arrested the excavation still to be made that the rapidly falling river had left the bottom of the cut-off some feet above the river's level.
"Thus I am chagrined to report," he says, "that after the great labor of an average excavation of eighteen feet in width and thirteen feet in depth we have encountered at least a temporary failure. My purpose now is (if not interrupted by the enemy) to collect an additional force of blacks, shovels, scrapers, etc., to my present force of one thousand five hundred blacks, and make a real canal, carrying it, if necessary, to the depth of the greatest fall of the river at this point, say some thirty-five to forty feet; a labor which with sufficient force .. will take three months." But he was interrupted by the enemy and handicapped by the withdrawal of the Federal fleet, as already stated.
As soon as the Federals retreated from Vicksburg, General Van Dorn decided to strike a blow before the enemy had time to organize and mature a new plan of attack. Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, forty miles below the mouth of Red River, was held by a force of three thousand five hundred Federal troops, assisted by four or five gunboats and a number of transports. To keep Red River open as high up as Vicksburg was a vital necessity. Muchneeded supplies were there, and strong military reasons required that the Confederacy should hold the Mississippi at two points to facilitate communication and coöperation between Van Dorn's district and the trans-Mississippi department. To capture Baton Rouge would effect these objects, secure the navigation of Red River, and make the recapture of New Orleans practicable. With 5,000 men from Vicksburg, and the effective force of General Daniel Ruggles from Camp Moore, about 6,000 in all, General Breckinridge was sent against Baton Rouge. The Arkansas was fully repaired and ordered to coöperate by a simultaneous river attack. Within ten days, Breckinridge's force was reduced by epidemic disease to less than 3,000 men,
but having frequent and encouraging reports of the progress of the Arkansas to join with him, he attacked with his entire available force on August 5th. The Federals were forced to flee to their gunboats for protection.
Meantime, Breckinridge waited vainly to hear the guns of the Arkansas; for that vessel never reached the scene of conflict. Within a short distance of Baton Rouge, in ample time for the attack, her machinery suddenly became unmanageable, nor could her engineers repair it. She was moored to the shore, and on the approach of the enemy her commander, Lieutenant Stevens, landed her crew, cut her moorings, fired her, and turned her adrift in the river. Every gun was shotted and the Confederate flag flying, as with not a man on board she made her last advance upon the enemy. As the flames reached her guns they were discharged, and as the last gun fired her magazine exploded and ended her brief career. Unable to fight the enemy's gunboats without her, General Breckinridge was unable to pursue his victory and withdrew his troops. The fight was between most unequal contestants, the Federal forces being larger, better clothed, and better fed; but no troops ever behaved with greater gallantry than the ragged and emaciated Confederates.
As a result of this expedition, General Van Dorn ordered the occupation of Port Hudson, a position easily defended and admirably situated for annoying the Federal forces. Batteries were established and placed in the hands of experienced gunners, and with an adequate supporting force they could hold Baton Rouge in menace. The Federals shortly withdrew from Baton Rouge, leaving the river open from Memphis to New Orleans. The Confederates thus held two important Mississippi River points two hundred miles apart and were for a time unmolested by the enemy.
Early in September, General Grant had two divisions of the Army of the Mississippi stationed at Corinth, Rienzi, Jacinto, and Danville. At Corinth he also had Davies's division, two brigades of McArthur's, and the cavalry and