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A BOLD ADVENTURE.
thein action. In this state of things, an expedition was got up under Colonel Roberts, consisting of fifty men in five launches, who were to steal on this battery in the darkness, and spike it.
The night of the first of April was selected for carrying it out. It was dark and threatening, and the wind blew in fierce and fitful gusts, while up from the western horizon, below which the moon had just sunk, heavy thunder clouds were pushing their corrugated edges, and incessant flashes of lightning and the low mutterings of distant thunder gave ominous warnings of an approaching storm. Nothing daunted, the little party pushed off from shore, and keeping under the shadow of the bank, dropped noiselessly down stream, and disappeared in the darkness. The most perfect silence was enjoined, and even the commands were passed along in whispers. They paused a moment as they neared the battery, to ascertain its exact locality, and on discovering the recess in which it was placed, a low "give way," passed from boat to bout, and with Roberts leading, they shot like arrows to the shore. Quickly leaping out, the party formed in line, and with fixed bayonets started for the battery, about two hundred yards distant. The low bank was overflowed with water two feet deep, through which they had to flounder in the darkness. Not a word was spoken, and the only sounā that broke the stillness, was the plashing of their feet in the water. The roar of the coming storm was now terrific, but they pushed rapidly on till they canıe to the ditch in irund of the works, when a sudden flash in front, followed hy the crack of a musket, told them they were discovereä. Sill they neither halted nor spoke, but kept right on, skirting the ditch to find the entrance, when a second shot whistled past them. The affrighted rebel who fired it, immediately turned and fled, while two of our men dashed after him in the darkness. The next moment, a third ilash lit the gloom,
SPIRING A BATTERY.
but the bullet flew wide of its mark. · Says an eye witness, " Just as our men had gained the entrance of the fortification, there came a terrific, blinding flash of lightning, illuminating as with the blaze of noon-day the works before them. In a twinkling all was dark as Erebus. The vivid sheet of lightning blinded them, and the crack and roar of the thunder that followed, stunned their hearing. It was a moment when the bravest might have faltered. The flash that pointed the way to the guns in battery also disclosed to the enemy a foe in their midst. Whatever was done, must be done quickly, or the whole enterprise was a failure. While the echoes of the thunder were rumbling away in the distant hills, the deed was done—ten minutes sufficed to execute what the cannonading of a fortnight had failed to accomplish. With rocket and files in hand, the Colonel passed around the works spiking five guns, one of which was knocked down and in process of re-erection. The last was the crowning piece of the affair, a magnificent ten-inch columbiad in the center of the work, on a pivot. A rat-tail file was driven in tight, and broken off close to the top of the vent.” A more dashing, gallant exploit was never performed.
But now movements of grander proportions were about to ve set on foot. The arrival of transports at New Madrid rendered it necessary to get one or two gun boats down to proiect that is moving troops to the opposite shore. So two days afts this daring feat of Colonel Roberts, the Carcndelat was put in the best possible trim to run the gauntlet of the baiteries. Hawsers and chains were coiled around the pilot house and the vulnerable parts--the guns run in and ports closed-cord wood piled up round the boilers, and the hose connected wiin them to repel boarders. Twenty sharp shooters were added to the crew who were all armed to the teeth. A boat loaded with pressed hay. was lashed to the side exposed to the batteries, while to balance thia
RUNNING THE BATTERIES,
and at the same time fürnish the steamer with fuel, should she get through safely, a barge freighted with coal was fastened to the other side. Every thing being ready, she was cast loose about ten o'clock at night and started on her perilous voyage. . As if on purpose to give success to the undertaking by affording more perfect concealment, a terrific thunder storm burst over the river and shores at this moment, making the night one of Cimmerian gloom. The rain came down, not in a pouring shower, but in solid masses of water. Not at intervals, but every instant, the invisible clouds gaped and shot forth flames that swept in one vast, broad sheet over heaven and earth, while the rapidly succeeding claps, following and blending with each other, sounded along the lordly Mississippi like the explosion of a thousand cannon.
After rounding heavily to with her cumbersome barges, the Carondelet put her bow down stream, and steering straight for the batteries, disappeared in the gloom. It was a hazardous task those bold men had undertaken, and those left behind, held their breath to hear the first explosion of cannon that should announce that the enemy had discovered their approach. In the mean time, the boat, wrapped in the thunder storm, moved on and was rapidly approaching the batteries, and those on board began to discuss the probability of their passing unobserved, when the soot in the chimneys caught fire, and a blaze five feet high leaped out from their tops, lighting brightly the upper deck of the vessel and every thing around
The word was instantly passed to the engineers to open
when the flames subsided, but not till the rebels had the fairest opportunity to discover our approach. This was a fearful mishap, for no signal, even if arranged beforehand could more completely disclose our purpose. Those on board expected to hear the drum beat loudly to quarters, and see the signals flash from battery to battery along the hights, but strange to say, the blaze was
A TERILLING SCENE.
not seen either on account of the blinding storm, or its sudden appearance and disappearance in the darkness so bewildered the guard, that he did not know whether it was near or distant. They were congratulating themselves on their almost miraculous escape, and had got just abreast of the upper fort, when, as if on purpose to secure their destruction, the treacherous chimneys caught fire again, and blazed like a flaming torch, right in the face of the foe. This time they could not escape detection,
.. Suddenly the report of the muskets of the guard broke the stillness, signal rockets from the island and main land shot into the heavens—the rapid roll of drums was heard, and then came the loud explosion of a cannon, shaking the shore. Concealment was at an end, and but one hope was left for the Carondelet, and putting on a full head of steam, she swept silently on. A man stcod forward, heaving the lead and line, and as he coolly called out the soundings, a second man on deck sent them on to the captain, who stood near the pilot. A moment's silence followed the first fierce preparations, and then came a crash, louder than the thunder that shook the heavens. From shore and bluff, cannon and musketry opened on the devoted boat. The island was ablaze with the flashes, before which the lightning paled. The rain fell in a tropical thunder shower, amid which the artillery of heaven and earth played in wild response; yet not a sound broke the stillness that enveloped that daring beat, as the darkness opened and shut upon it from the flaming heavens and the flaming earth, save the steady call of the man at the lead and line, or the short, quick order of the captain to the pilot, as he stood amid the raining balls. There was great danger in the pitchy darkness of getting out of the channel and running aground within range of the enemy's guns, when their destruction would have been cer
Hence the entire attention of the officers had to bo
POPE CROSSES WITH HIS ARMY. ,
given to navigating the vessel, forgetting for the time, that they were the target of a hundred cannon. Once, in a longer interval of the flashes of lightning, the current had swung the boat so that she was heading straight for shoal water. The next flash, however, revealed the danger, and "Hard aport” fell from the captain's lips as calmly as though they were running into a harbor instead of rushing on destruction, and the boat swung back to the channel. All this time the heavy shot were shrieking through the gloom and plunging into the water on every side, but not one hit the Carondelet. The captain had taken his vessel close under the enemy's guns, on purpose to deceive him, and render it difficult to depress them so as to cover his vessel.
At length she passed out of range, when the ports were thrown open, and the guns run out, to fire the signals agreed upon, both to notify those above the island of their safety, and those at New Madrid, that friends and not enemies were coming. The dull echoes, as they rolled over the distant fleet, caused cheer after cheer to go up from the crowded decks, while the shore at New Madrid fairly rocked under the wild hurras of the army, as they saw the gun
boat come up, unharmed, to the wharf. Rushing down, the soldiers seized the sailors in their arms, and bearing them upon
their shoulders, carried them up the bank to the nearest hotel.
Sunday night, the Pittsburg, following the example of the Carondelet, run the same gauntlet of fire unscathed.
This settled the fate of Island Number Ten. The gun boats easily silenced the batteries that had been placed on the Kentucky shore, where Pope wished to cross, and the army was safely carried over. The rebel army, finding their way blocked from below, scattered into the woods and along the by-ways, though they were eventually taken, to the number of five thousand. McCall, the rebel commander on the island, then surrendered the garrison of five hundred men