"I don't care," said I; "he shall not treat you rudely in my cabin, and I was glad of the opportunity of letting him know my sentiments." By this time, General McClernand having bottled up his wrath, or cooled down, I went in to him and we discussed the matter. He consented that Sherman should go in command of the troops, and the interview ended pleasantly enough.
The above extracts from Admiral Porter's journal were sent by the admiral to General Sherman, inclosed in a letter dated "Washington, May 29, 1875," and signed "David D. Porter."
After leaving the Yazoo, the Army of the Mississippi rendezvous was at Milliken's Bend. During the night of January 4th or 5th, General McClernand came on board the Forest Queen, and with General Sherman went to the Black Hawk flag-boat. There an interview took place, during which the expedition to Arkansas Poet took shape. General Sherman having asked leave to take the post, and Admiral Porter having decided to go along, McClernand thought best to go with his entire army, although the enemy were supposed to have only about four or five thousand men, and the fort was little more than a large earthwork commanding the river.
General Sherman's command was then entitled the Second Corps, Army of the Mississippi, and was comprised of the First Division, Blair's, Hovey's, and Thayer's brigades, commanded by Steele; and the Second Division, commanded by David Stuart, with Colonels Giles A. and Kilby Smith commanding brigades.
Our fleet was convoyed by three ironclads and several other gunboats. The weather was bitterly cold for that latitude; we were four days getting into the Arkansas River, which we entered by the White River cut-off; and my recollection is, that our passing the mouth of the main river deceived the enemy as to our destination. The entrance through the cut-off was feasible by reason of high water, and I think made our appearance a surprise to the force at the post. We disembarked on the morning of the 10th of January. Stuart's division first encountered the enemy behind an earthwork about four miles from the fort, running across the solid ground from the river to a swamp. General Sherman in person took Steele's division, and followed a road leading to the rear of the earthwork just mentioned. We had got fairly under way when the rebels fell back to the fort, and McClernand, coming up, ordered us to fall back, and march up the river. It seemed to me then, and afterward, that it would have been better to have marched straight to the rear of the fort, as we started to do. We soon overtook Stuart and closed in, General Sherman on the right, Morgan's force on the left, reaching to the river, where the gunboats were, while Sherman reached from the road which connected the post with the back country, toward where the earthworks reached the river above the fort, and threatened their communications with Little Rock. The night was cold and cloudy, with some snow. There were a good many abandoned huts to our rear, but our forces in position lay on the frozen ground, sheltered as best they could, among the bushes and timber. We were so close that they could have reached us any time during the night with light artillery. The gun-boats threw heavy shells into the fort and behind the earthworks all night, keeping the enemy awake and anxious. The heavy boom of the artillery was followed by the squeak, squeak of Admiral Porter's little tug, as he moved around making his arrangements for the morrow. The sounds were ridiculous by comparison. General Sherman and staff lay on the roots of an old oak-tree, that kept them partly clear of mud. The cold was sharp, my right boot being frozen solid in a puddle in the morning. About half-past two or three o'clock, General Sherman, with another and myself, crept in as close as possible and reconnoitred the position. The general managed to creep in much closer than the rest of us--in fact, so close as to cause us anxiety. The enemy worked hard all night on their abatis and intrenchments, and in the morning we found a ditch and parapet running clear across the point on which the post was situated. This point was cut by a road from the back country, across which was a heavy earthwork and a battery. This road was at the extremity of our left. General McClernand kept his head-quarters on his boat, the Tigress. He came up in the morning to a place in the woods in our rear. One of his staff, a cavalry-officer, climbed a tree to report movements; but from that point there was very little to be seen. Between ten and eleven o'clock the fire opened from the fleet, and we opened along the whole line from infantry and field-guns. Our men soon worked in close enough to keep down the fire of the enemy to a very marked degree.
After reporting to General Sherman, and while explaining the position of the fleet, the smoke-stacks and flags appeared above the fort. What firing was going on in our immediate front ceased. A good many rebels were in plain sight, running away from the fort and scattering. While we were still surprised, the cry was raised that a white flag was hung out. I did not see it, but in a few minutes saw others along the line, and just as the general started for the fort I saw the flag not far from the white house, near the parapet. Orders were given to cease firing. Captain Dayton was sent to the fort where the first flag was raised. Some shots were fired and some men hurt after this. The first rebel officer we encountered was Colonel or General Garland, commanding brigade, who was ordered to put his men in line and stack arms, which was done. I was directed to pass along the line to the right, and cause the prisoners to stack arms and form our men in line, just outside the work. This I did till I reached Deshler's brigade, on our extreme right, or nearly so, and who was opposed to the right of Steele's force. Steele's men had rushed up to the very foot of the parapet, and some were on it, though they did not fire. The commander of the enemy (Deshler) refused to obey my orders to stack arms, and asked a good many questions as to "how it happened;" said he was not whipped, but held us in check, etc. I told him there were eight or nine thousand men right there, that a shot from me, or a call, would bring down on him, and that we had entire possession of the place. After sending two officers from the nearest troops to explain the condition to Steele, and to warn every officer they met to pass the word for everybody to be on the sharp lookout, I arranged with Deshler to keep quiet until I could bring his own commander, or orders from him. Returning to General Sherman, I found a party of young rebel officers, including Robert Johnston's son (rebel Senate) and Captain Wolf, quartermaster, of New Orleans, who declined to surrender except to gentlemen. Some German Missouri soldiers didn't relish the distinction, and were about clubbing them over the head, when I interfered and received their surrender. Hurrying back to the general, I reported the dangerous condition of things. He and General Churchill, commanding officer of the enemy, started for Deshler's brigade; meeting Garland, a quarrel and some recrimination followed between him and Churchill, as to where the fault of the surrender belonged, which was rather promptly silenced by General Sherman, who hurried to the scene of trouble. There, after some ill-natured talk, Deshler ordered his men to lay down their arms. I rode into the fort, and found the parapet badly torn up by the fire from the fleet. On going to the embrasure where I had seen the gun while on the river-bank talking to Captain Shirk, the piece was found split back about eighteen inches, and the lower half of the muzzle dropped out. A battered but unexploded shell lying with the piece explained that it must have struck the gun in the muzz1e, almost squarely. On passing along the inside I saw from the torn condition of the earthworks how tremendous our fire was, and how the fire of the enemy was kept down. The fire of the navy had partly torn down the side of the fort next the river. A good many sailors were in the fort. General A. J. Smith, Admiral Porter, and General Burbridge were there--all in high spirits, but in some contention as to who got in first. Toward dark, or nearly so, an Arkansas regiment came in as reenforcements, but surrendered without any trouble. About the same time General Sherman received orders to put General A. J. Smith in charge of the fort, and stay outside with his men. As his troops were nearly all inside, and had four-fifths of the prisoners in charge, these orders were not very clear, and the general left for headquarters to find out what was meant. I went on collecting arms, and as our men were scattering a good deal and were greatly excited, I took the precaution to pass along the line and march the prisoners far enough from the stacked arms to be out of temptation. I was especially urged to this by hearing several rebel officers speak of their guns being still loaded. It was dark before all the prisoners were collected and under guard, including the regiment that arrived after the fight. I am confident that all the prisoners were under guard by General Sherman's troops.
Everything being secure, the staff-officers, all of whom had been busily engaged, scattered to compare notes and enjoy the victory. I found my way onboard the Tigress, where every one was greatly excited, and in high feather regarding our victory, the biggest thing since Donelson. I also obtained some food and small comforts for a few rebel officers, including young Johnston, Wolfe, and the Colonel Deshler already mentioned. Then hunted up General Sherman, whom I found sitting on a cracker-boa in the white house already mentioned, near where the white flag first appeared. Garland was with him, and slept with him that night, while the rest of us laid around wherever we could. It was a gloomy, bloody house, and suggestive of war. Garland was blamed by the other Confederate officers for the white flag, and remained with us for safety. Next day was very cold. We worked hard at the lists of prisoners-- nearly five thousand in number--all of whom were sent to St. Louis, in charge of our inspector-general, Major Sanger. Our loss was less than one hundred. The enemy, although behind intrenchments, lost more than double what we did. Their wounded were much worse hurt than ours, who were mostly hit around the head and arms.
The losses were nearly all in General Sherman's wing of the army. The loss in the fleet amounted to little, but their service was very valuable, and deserved great credit, though they received little. There was a good deal of sympathy between our part of the forces and the fleet people, and I then thought, and still think, if we had been on the left next the river, that in connection with the tremendous fire from the navy, we could have carried the work in an hour after we opened on it. Their missiles traversed the whole fortification, clear through to the hospitals at the upper end, and I stood five minutes in rifle-range of the fort next the river--not hit, and but seldom shot at, and no one hit near me.