The Queen of the West attempted to perform her part of the work, but the current was so strong where the Arkansas lay that it was impossible to deal an effective blow. The upper flotilla did not open fire to engage the attention of the enemy, and thus the unfortunate Queen of the West was obliged to receive all the fire from the Rebel batteries. She was repeatedly perforated, but fortunately escaped without damage to her machinery. The Arkansas was not seriously injured in the encounter, though the completion of her repairs was somewhat delayed.
On the 25th of July the first siege of Vicksburg was raised. The upper flotilla of gun-boats, mortar-rafts, and transports, returned to Memphis and Helena. Admiral Farragut took his fleet to New Orleans. General Williams went, with his land forces, to Baton Rouge. That city was soon after attacked by General Breckinridge, with six thousand men. The Rebels were repulsed with heavy loss. In our own ranks the killed and wounded were not less than those of the enemy. General Williams was among the slain, and at one period our chances, of making a successful defense were very doubtful.
The Arkansas had been ordered to proceed from Vicksburg to take part in this attack, the Rebels being confident she could overpower our three gun-boats at Baton Rouge. On the way down the river her machinery became deranged, and she was tied up to the bank for repairs. Seeing our gun-boats approaching, and knowing he was helpless against them; her commander ordered the Arkansas to be abandoned and blown up. The order was obeyed, and this much-praised and really formidable gun-boat closed her brief but brilliant career.
The Rebels were greatly chagrined at her loss, as they had expected she would accomplish much toward driving the National fleet from the Mississippi. The joy with which they hailed her appearance was far less than the sorrow her destruction evoked.
THE MARCH THROUGH ARKANSAS.—THE SIEGE OF CINCINNATI.
General Curtis’s Army reaching Helena.—Its
Arkansas Navy.—Troops and their Supplies “miss
Connection.”—Rebel Reports.—Memphis in Midsummer.—“A Journey due
North.”—Chicago.—Bragg’s Advance into Kentucky.—Kirby Smith in
Front of Cincinnati.—The City under Martial Law.—The Squirrel
Hunters.—War Correspondents in Comfortable Quarters.—Improvising an
Army.—Raising the Siege.—Bragg’s Retreat.
About the middle of July, General Curtis’s army arrived at Helena, Arkansas, ninety miles below Memphis. After the battle of Pea Ridge, this army commenced its wanderings, moving first to Batesville, on the White River, where it lay for several weeks. Then it went to Jacksonport, further down that stream, and remained a short time. The guerrillas were in such strong force on General Curtis’s line of communications that they greatly restricted the receipt of supplies, and placed the army on very short rations. For nearly a month the public had no positive information concerning Curtis’s whereabouts. The Rebels were continually circulating stories that he had surrendered, or was terribly defeated.