115 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
THE BATTLE OF MEMPHIS.
GREAT NAVAL ENGAGEMENT – OCCUPATION OF THE CITY.
The following is a true and life-like description of the battle at the city of Memphis, which will be of interest to every soldier, and especially to the Seventy-Eighth Ohio:
Events in this quarter have crowded upon each other so rapidly during the past thirty-six hours, that sufficient time has hardly elapsed to record one before another followed upon its heels. Yesterday Fort Pillow was taken possession of by our forces and the river opened to within five miles of Memphis; to-day a great battle has been already fought and won, and the city occupied by national troops.
Yes, Memphis, the commercial metropolis of Tennessee and a hotbed of the rebellion in the South-west - Memphis, the city of lying newspapers and fire-eating editors - Memphis, the rival of Richmond and Charleston in all that is dishonorable, treasonable and damnable, has fallen at last. With the dust of its streets clinging to my feet, and surrounded by an atmosphere tainted with disloyalty - with the magnificent spectacle still before my eyes, of its entire population huddled together in one dense mass upon bluffs, anxiously watching the progress of a desperate naval combat, upon which the fall of the city hung - with the crashing discharges of artillery, the rattle of small arms and the explosion of shells still ringing in my ears, I seat myself to write an account of the events of this morning, among the most important that have occurred since the war began.
THE BATTLE OF MEMPHIS.
No one believed yesterday that any opposition would be made to our entry into Memphis, and when Flag-Officer Davis brought his vessels to anchor five miles above the city between eight and nine o'clock in the evening, the wonder was expressed that he did not advance and seize his prize at once. The gas-lights certainly gleamed triumphantly in the distance, as if beckoning him on, and two or three times during the night a rosy flash lit up the back-ground of the sky, giving rise to the fear that the town had been fired.
No move was made, however, till about five o'clock this morning, when the Benton and Louisville weighed anchor and leisurely drifted down with the current to within a mile of the mouth of Wolf river, which it will be remembered empties into the Mississippi just above Memphis. Here the rebel fleet, composed of General Van Dorn, Jeff. Thompson, General Beauregard, General Bragg, General Lovell, General Price, Sumter and Little Rebel - eight vessels in all, under command of Captain Edward Montgomery - was discovered lying close to the Arkansas shore, directly in front of Memphis. Believing that men fight better on full than on empty stomachs, Flag-Officer Davis did not desire to bring on an engagement until the crews of his boats had taken their usual morning meal, and he therefore retired. This retrograde movement was construed by the enemy into an ignominious flight, and immediately the whole rebel fleet formed in line of battle and started in pursuit.
Finding that the enemy were determined to have a fight immediately, the Flag-Officer, unwilling to check the enthusiasm of his men, who were not half so hungry for breakfast as for battle, signaled his three remaining boats, the St. Louis, Carondolet and Cairo, to join him at once. They promptly weighed anchor, and in a few minutes reached the vicinity of the Benton and Louisville. By this time the enemy were nearly opposite the mouth of Wolf river, and our boats were perhaps a mile and a half above, with heads up stream, and drifting down on the strong current toward the foe.
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