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Battle of New Orleans
June 14, 1862 Harper's Weekly Article

The Flag-ship "Hartford" attacked by the ram "Manassas"

and a fire-raft in the Mississippi.

The "Harford" in the Mississippi

          On page 369 (above) we present a picture of the flag-ship Hartford in the Mississippi, running the gauntlet of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and attacked simultaneously by a fire-raft and a ram - the Manassas. She was set on fire and narrowly escaped destruction. The following account of the transaction will explain it:

          In the midst of this awful scene down came a tremendous fire-raft, and the Ram shoved her under our port quarter. The flames caught our rigging and side, and for a moment it seemed we must fall a prey to the ravages of fire. A fire was also burning on the berth-deck. The fire hose was on hand, and we soon subdued the flames, and gave the Ram a dose  of rifle shell. She, however, came up for us again, but some other vessel tackled her and she hauled off. During this stage of affairs we grounded, and our fate seemed sealed; but our men worked like beavers, and the engineers soon got the shop astern and afloat. It defies the powers of my brain to describe the scene at this time. The river and its banks were one sheet of flame, and the messengers of death were moving with lightning swiftness in all directions. Steadily we plied shell and grape, interspersed with shrapnel. Rebeldom began to quake; her boats were fast being riddled by well-directed broadsides, and they who were able made for the shore to run them on, so that they could save their lives. Some were on fire and others were sinking. Our boys were cheering with a hearty good-will; and well they might, for we had almost won the day, and we were nearly past the forts. Our ship had been on fire three times, and she was riddled from stem to stern. The cabin was completely gutted, the starboard steerage all torn up, and the armory all knocked into "pi." My clothing was strwn abaft decks, and I was obliged to pick it up piece by piece. The manuscript of the bombardment came near to destruction by a rifle shell, which tore up my room and killed one man.

          After being under a terrific fire for one hour and twenty minutes we were past the forts, badly cut up; a shot hole through mainmast, two in stern, and several through us. I frankly confess I am unable to describe the scene. Words can not express any adequate idea of the engagement. Wrapped up in smoke, firing and being fired at, shot and shell whistling like locomotive demons around, above, before, and in the rear of you; flames from fire-rafts encircling you, splinters flying in all directions, and shells bursting overhead! Can you imagine this scene? If you can, it is more than I can describe as I would wish to.

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