Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/16

This page needs to be proofread.

12 Southern Historical Society Papers.

could join it, as the "Arkansas" was not ready for action. * * Lieut. Stevens referred the matter for his decision to Capt. Will- iam F. Lynch, the senior officer of the Confederate States navy in the West. Ignorant or regardless of the condition of the 'Arkans- as,' Capt. Lynch ordered Lieut. Stevens to disobey the instructions of commander Brown and comply with the request of Van Dorn. It this way the 'Arkansas' was placed under the command of Lieut. Stevens, with orders to run 300 miles against time." (.Note in Scharf^ s History.*}

A long run with engines, that had already been broken down off Vicksburg, imposed a great responsibility on the new commander. But with unflinching spirit and utmost confidence in his officers and crew, if he could not have the same in his engines and machinery, Lieut. Commander Stevens left Vicksburg on the 3rd of August, at 2 A. M.

Quoting from Wilson's narrative (Official Records Vol. 19, p. I 35-) " The ' Arkansas ' proceeded down the river until within 22 miles off Baton Rouge, when, near midnight, her starboard engine broke down. She was made fast to the bank and repairs begun, which were finished about 8 A. M. the next morning under the superintendence of Third Assistant Engineer E. H. Brown, of Norfork, Va , the senior naval engineer at that time aboard. We again started, and coming in sight of the enemy's fleet, consisting of the iron-clad ' Essex,' three gunboats, and some transports, all hands were beat to quarters and the guns cleared for action. Almost immediately afterwards the engine broke down and the ship drifted ashore, where she was secured and repairs again commenced, By night the ship was afloat and the engine arranged. We started a short distance up the river to secure some coal lying on the river bank, and had scarcely reached the place when the unfortunate engine became disabled a third time. Another night was spent in making repairs and taking coal aboard.

"Gen Breckinridge, having awaited our coming until long after the appointed time, attacked the enemy on the morning of the 4th, drove him from Baton Rouge to the shelter of the lower fleet. On the morning of the 5th, Engineer Brown reported the engine repaired, but unreliable. A consultation was held between Lieut. Stevens and his officers, and at 9 A. M., 6th August, we started from the bank to attack the enemy's fleet, which now had been