The Naval Fight Near Vicksburg.
The report of the naval fight near Vicksburg, and the running of the rebel iron-clad steamer Arkansas through our fleet, is confirmed. Yesterday's Chicago Journal has a dispatch from Cairo, giving a full account of the affair, as follows:
The dispatch boat, which arrived at Memphis on Saturday evening, from Vicksburg on the 16th, brings the following startling news:
The reported escape of the rebel gunboat Arkansas turns out to be correct. The affair took place on the morning of the 15th inst. Two or three days before this time a reputed refugee came on board the federal fleet and reported that the officers of the Arkansas were planning an attempt to run her past the federal fleet during the night. On the morning of Tuesday, the gunboats Carondelet and Tyler, with the ram Lancaster, started up the Yazoo on a reconnoitering expedition. Between six and seven o'clock in the morning, about eight miles from the mouth of the river, they came suddenly upon the iron-clad rebel gunboat Arkansas, lying hidden under the bank, evidently waiting for evening to make the attempt to get down the river. She had evidently discovered the approach of our boats, by the smoke, before they saw her, for, as they rounded the bend of the river close to her, she suddenly opened upon them with her batteries of twelve rifled 68 pounders. The two Union gunboats immediately returned her fire, and for a short time, a fierce engagement ensued.
Only one of the Union gunboats, the Carondelet, is iron clad, and she is a small one, having only two guns which she was able to bring to bear upon the foe. The Tyler is a wooden boat, and unfit to cope with so terrible an antagonist. Nevertheless, both these boats maintained a gallant fight at close quarters for a time, but, finding that the main channel of the river prevented successful maneuvering, they gradually returned to the mouth, the Arkansas following closely.
At the mouth of the river a small sand-bar had been formed by the action of the meeting currents. Just as the Arkansas, was passing this point the Carondelet made a desperate rush and closed with her, intending to board her. She had succeeded in throwing a grapple aboard her and getting out a plank, when the Arkansas opened a steam pipe and threw a stream of hot water across the plank. The Carondelet replied in the same manner, and at the same moment. Both vessels run hard and fast upon the sand bar. The shock separated the two vessels, and in a few moments, the Arkansas being on the outside, succeeded in getting away. The Carondelet, however, remained fast for nearly an hour before she got off. Her crew gallantly maintained the fight, keeping up a fierce fire on the Arkansas until she had passed beyond the reach of her guns.
The Arkansas, as soon as she was clear from the bar, immediately started down the river. The Tyler seeing this, passed her and preceded her down, maintaining a gallant running fight with her greatly superior adversary.
The distance from the mouth of the Yazoo river to the batteries at Vicksburg, is about ten miles. The fleet of Davis and Farragut, with a number of transports, ammunition boats, mortar boats and wooden rams, were lying scattered over a space of nearly two miles of the river, just above the upper batteries. Unfortunately none of the iron gunboats had steam up, and the entire fleet was so scattered about that few of them could fire at the Arkansas as she passed, without danger of hitting some of our own boats, until she came into close range. As she approached such boats as could safely do so they opened fire upon her, but her heavy iron plating successfully resisted most of the shots.
Spectators describe the appearance of the shots as they struck to have been curious in the extreme. Every time a solid shot struck her plating a cloud of blue blaze seemed to rise from the spot and a streak of brighter fire, caused by the friction, marked the entire course of the shot, until it passed off the vessel into the water. Some of the heavier shot, however, passed entirely through the plating, and penetrated the interior of the vessel. As the Arkansas approached Farragut's gun boat, No. 6, she swerved a little from her course to reply to a shot from one of the other boats. At this instant a solid shot, from the 11-inch columbiad of the No. 6 struck her on the larboard bow, near the forward part, passing through and under her plating, and ripping it off for a considerable distance. What further damage it did is not ascertained, but it is evident that the Arkansas is considerably injured, as at the time our informant left there, she was lying covered over on the bank under the shelter of the batteries, and a large number of men could be seen at work on her.
The injuries to our fleet were much less than at first represented. The Benton received a shot which struck near the edge of her after port, on the larboard side, instantly killing a man who was standing there, passing through the gunner's room and the wood room, and finally landing on the commander's bed. This was the only shot which did any particular damage, and this was form one of the shore batteries, and not from the Arkansas. The Tyler is a wooden boat, which engaged the Arkansas longer than any other, nearly an hour and a half, and received the most damage. She had seven men killed outright and some nine or ten wounded. Among the killed were two wellknown river men — Charley Sebastian, pilot of the Tyler, one of the best known and most popular men on the river, and Mr. Davis, the engineer. David Hiner, another well known pilot, had his arm taken off by a shot. The ram Lancaster received a shot which penetrated the mud receiver underneath the boilers, causing an escape of hot water, by which six men were scalded, three of them fatally.
The entire federal loss, so far as we can ascertain, will amount to about twelve killed and fifteen wounded, of whom five or six will probably die. What the loss of life on board the Arkansas was is not known, but undoubtedly it amounted to considerable, as several shots were seen to pass into her interior, and the hot water streams of the Carondelet, at the time she attempted to board, were thrown directly into her. The Carondelet received no damage from the steam of the Arkansas. The federal ram Queen of the West, which lay directly in the path of the Arkansas as she came down, was the recipient of a large portion of the fire. The bow of the Queen was protected by bales of pressed hay, which proved decidedly a better protection than iron-plating. Not a single shot passed through them, but several large shells were picked out of the hay, in which they had buried themselves, and were extinguished before they burst.
The following is the rebel account, by way of Cairo:
The Memphis-Grenada Appeal of the 16th has the following dispatch:
VICKSBURG, Miss., July 15. — The most brilliant of all naval victories in history has just transpired at Vicksburg. Our iron-clad gunboat Arkansas, commanded by Capt. J. N. Brown, late of the United States frigate Niagara, left the mouth of the Yazoo river this morning at 6 o'clock, having on board the 10th Tennessee regiment. She moved to encounter the federal gunboats between the mouth of the Yazoo and this city. There were thirty boats lying just above Vicksburg, which formed in line to receive her. She ran straight through firing as she came on, and sinking several and damaging others.
The loss of the enemy is not known. Many escaped overboard from one of the exploded federal boats, and were drowned. Thus was indiscriminate destruction visited upon the enemy. The Arkansas lies safe at the landing, where Captain Brown and his gallant crew are being well cared for, and attention paid to the dead and wounded. The enemy have fired on the boat and city since her arrival.
Within the last hour the lower federal fleet has fled, transports and all, the enemy first blowing up the mortar boats. Our loss is ten killed and thirteen wounded. Capt. Brown is slightly wounded. Gen. Van Dorn, Gen. Breckinridge and Gen. Smith are here. There is great rejoicing at so wonderful an achievement.