CHAPTER XXVI
UNDER FIRE

TALK began to run upon the war now, for we were getting down into the upper edge of the former battle-stretch by this time. Columbus was just behind us, so there was a good deal said about the famous battle of Belmont. Several of the boat's officers had seen active service in the Mississippi war-fleet. I gathered that they found themselves sadly out of their element in that kind of business at first, but afterward got accustomed to it, reconciled to it, and more or less at home in it. One of our pilots had his first war experience in the Belmont fight, as a pilot on a boat in the Confederate service. I had often had a curiosity to know how a green hand might feel, in his maiden battle, perched all solitary and alone on high in a pilot-house, a target for Tom, Dick, and Harry, and nobody at his elbow to shame him from showing the white feather when matters grew hot and perilous around him; so to me his story was valuable--it filled a gap for me which all histories had left till that time empty.


THE PILOT'S FIRST BATTLE

He said:

"It was the 7th of November. The fight began at seven in the morning. I was on the R. H. W.

-216-

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