It soon became clear that the fort could not hold out for long. The group fled to the banks of the Mississippi River, while Fentis vented his spleen against the stupidity of the fort's officer. They found stores of ammunition placed on the river by Major William Bradford before the battle began in earnest. As the group began reloading their weapons, they saw Confederate troops were firing on the USS New Era, a ship that had been providing artillery cover during the battle, and was supposed to be covering the retreat of the garrison. Confederate sharpshooters were not letting the gunners open up their hatches. Finally, the New Era steamed up-river.
Things went from bad to worse for the group, as each were injured in turn, although none were fatally so. Fentis himself was shot in both legs. He survived those wounds, and was among the soldiers evacuated to Mound City general hospital.