June 20, 1863: Taking out Whistling Dick

Whistling Dick, ca. 1863

The gunboat Sterling Price takes action against “Whistling Dick“.

Official Records (Navy):


U. S. S. STERLING PRICE, Below Vicksburg, June 20. SIR:

Agreeable to your instructions contained in your order of this morning, proceeded with the Mound City to the point designated, but was unable to open fire on account of the hazy atmosphere which hung over the Vicksburg shore, completely hiding it from view. After 7 oclock, was able to distinguish somewhat the location of the batteries. Opened fire on Whistling Dick battery, which was soon silenced; it fired twice, but not in our direction. We also bom- barded the other hill batteries as far up as the Hospital Battery, driving everyone from them, so much that not a single gun was fired after the silencing of Whistling Dick. We also shelled the lower line of works of the enemy, running from the water to the crest of the hill, until there was no longer an appearance of an enemy to fire at. Our army batteries ceased firing about 10 a. in.; we continued to fire at intervals until 11 a. m., whenever the sign of an enemy would make its appearance within our range. About the time we were retiring from action, a rifle gun from the other side of Youngs Point commenced firing at a battery occupied by General Herrons command, from which was flying an Amerlcan flag. Sent a courier across the point to notify them of the fact.

Having been engaged for three and one-half hours, and General Grant’s lines being perfectly silent, we retired from action, leaving the Bentom in her old position at the head of the towhead, and will send the Mound City back to Warrenton as soon as I obtain Captain Wilsons report. Enclosed,

I forward the reports of Captains Greer and Wilson, containing expenditure of ammunition, together with the gunners report of this vessel. The Escumbia, Mound City, and Price are destitute of fuel, the Mound City having barely sufficient to take her back to her position, but she will cut wood enough to prepare herself for any brief emergency; the Price likewise. As soon as the harness comes to hand, will be prepared to send teams for supplies for this lower fleet.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, SELIM E. WOODWORTH,
Commanding Price.
Acting Rear-Admiral D. D. PORTER.
Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

[Subenclosures..] U. S. S. BENTON, Below Vicksburg, June 20, 18q3.

SIR:

I have respectfully to report that, in obedience to your order of this date, this vessel got underway at 5:40 a. m. and stood up to the canal. It was so thick and hazy that I could not see the batteries or any landmarks. I threw a few shells into the woods to the north- ward of Whistling Dick. At 8 :30 it cleared away a little and I fired at Whistling Dick and a little to the northward of it, also at some cattle which I saw on the lowlands. Whilst lying above the canal, a rifle gun from over the point fired, its shell bursting in the neighborhood of the position held by our troops. Seeing a soldier on horseback on the bank, I ran in and sent him over to the officer commanding the rifle, to state where the shells were falling. We were not fired on, although in good range of Whistling Dick for a long time. We fired five 9-inch 15-second shell and seventeen 10-second 9-inch shell. At 10:55 stood down river to our old anchorage.

I have also to report that last night I received a letter from Major General Herron, asking for some more ammunition for the 32-pounders, which he has belonging to this vessel. I supplied him with all I could spare. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, JAS. A. GREER, Lieutenant- Commander.

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