April 20th. The firing of yesterday was kept up all last night, and to appearances with considerable success. As the evening advanced the scene from the mortar boats rapidly increased in interest; as the shells left the gun the track of them through the air was distinctly visible, and the shots were quite accurate. This morning a deserter from Fort Jackson came aboard to visit the Commodore. He was a Pennsylvanian by birth, and had formerly been attached to Dan Rice’s great shows. He stated that many of our shells lodged and bursted within the fort, much defacing it, and killing and wounding several men; also that the large fire reported in that vicinity was really in the fort, and during the excitement of putting out a second one he had escaped through an embrasure created by our firing.
Preparations were made for destroying the rebel chain by dismasting two of our gunboats, in order the more effectually to conceal them from view. At 10 o’clock, P. M., the Itasca got under way and steamed up to the chain in charge of Capt. Henry IT. Bell. They were no sooner there than discovered, and fired upon with spirit, but owing to the darkness of the night no damage was done to them. During this period green, red, and blue lights went the rounds of our fleet, and the mortar boats opened with vigor, firing so fast that six to seven shells could be seen coursing through the air at once.