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of the vessels that composed it, though freighted with human beings, were small and never designed for the open sea. Even ferry boats figured in the imposing display. Wreck and ruin had strewed the land, and how could these frail things outride the storm?, It seemed as if the heavens were frowning on the enterprise. The south so regarded it, and fervent thanksgivings were offered to God for his providential interference in their behalf.
The fleet was scattered by it like sea foam, and had it not been of short duration, the loss of life and of vessels would have been terrible-probably great enough to have broken up the expedition altogether. Dupont saw the gathering tempest with the deepest anxiety, and every thing was got as snug as possible. The gale, at first moderate, rapidly increased, till it became a hurricane, sweeping the sea with a wildness and power that was appalling. The scene on Friday night on board the ships baffles description. Scattered in every direction, each had to ride out the fearful night of the first of November as it best could. When the gloomy morning dawned, Dupont, from the deck of his flag-ship, the Wabash, anxiously surveyed with his glass the wildly heaving sea. But one solitary sail of all his vast fleet could be
The crew of the transport Peerless were taken from the ship in a sinking condition, while the steamer Governor, with the marine battalion on board, was left a helpless wreck on the sea. All night long she labored in the billows-the smoke-stack went overboard, the steam-pipe burst, chains and ropes snapped like threads, the water poured through her opened seams, and it was feared she must go down with all on board before morning. As daylight slowly broke over the angry waste, she saw a steamer in the distance, rolling on the billows, and sent up rockets as signals of distress. To the great joy of those on board, an answering rocket streamed through the misty air. The vessel was the Isaac Smith,
WRECK OF THE GOVERNOR
which immediately stood down towards her. Approaching cautiously, she was able to fling a hawser on board, but it soon had to be cast loose. Another with great difficulty was got on board, but soon snapped under the strain of the rolling wreck, and she was once more adrift. The Rover now approached, and the captain hailing said he would stand by them to the last. A loud cheer from those grouped on the drenched deck of the Governor, came over the sea, announcing their heartfelt gratitude. Still later in the day, the Sabine hove in sight, and seeing the signals of distress, bore down, and three vessels now hovered around the sinking consort. Night came on, increasing the danger, but by eight o'clock, the stern of the Sabine was brought close to her bow, when spars were rigged out, and about thirty were thus "whipped” on board. But hawsers and cables soon gave way under the heavy strain, as the two vessels rolled on the heavy seas, and they parted. The Governor had now three feet of water in her hold, and was fast settling in the
The Sabine then made the hazardous experiment to get alongside, though it was feared the disabled vessel would go to pieces if she struck; but by careful management she was brought up, and forty more got on board the frigate, though one was crushed to death in attempting to pass over. At length she struck the vessel, carrying away a part of her own bow, when the former was dropped astern, and it was determined to wait till daylight. It was doubtful if the Governor could be kept afloat so long, but by throwing everything overboard, and keeping the men at the pumps and bailing, she weathered the night, and at daybreak ihe frigate launched her boats: but they dared not approach the rolling wreck, and the men had to jump overboard and be picked up. In this manner, all but six were saved, who in their fright left their ranks, and leaped over before they were ordered to. In a short time the ill-fated ship gave a heavy
THE FLEET AT BEAUFORT.
lurch and went to the bottom. At length the gale abated, and the scattered vessels one after another came up, and the voyage was resumed. In passing Charleston, Dupont sent in for the Susquehannah, which was on blockading duty, to join him, and on Monday morning anchored off Port Royal. This was the entrance to Beaufort, the port for the finest cotton section of South Carolina. Every thing to indicate the course of the channel had been removed, and it was necessary to buoy it out anew. By night this was accomplished, and the vessels began to pass over the bar. The next day was spent in reconnoitering and getting the vessels in their proper places. The two islands, Hilton Head and Bay Point, lay nearly opposite each other, and on their extreme points, two forts, Beauregard and Walker, guarded the entrance,—the former mounting twenty-three and the latter six guns, some of them of the largest caliber. It was thought no vessels could succeed in passing these. Inside, was a rebel fleet of eight steamers, ready to render such assistance as circumstances might require.
By Thursday, all the preparations were completed. The elements, as if satisfied with their useless rage, were at rest. The bay slept like a summer lake, and a bright, genial sun lighted up sea and land. The fleet presented a magnificent spectacle as it moved slowly up toward the forts. Inside the island, little steamers were crowded with spectators, who haä come down from Charleston to witness the defeat of the Yankee ships.
The large war steamers, thirteen in number, formed in single file--the Wabash leading the van. Every thing had been made snug and the decks sanded; and with ports thrown open, the noble ships came steadily on towards the
VANDALIA. SUSQUEHANNA. SEMINOLE. WABASA. BIENVILLE. FORT BEAUREGARD. BOMBARDMENT AND CIPTURE OF FORTS WALKER AND BEAUREGARD, PORT ROYAL, S. C., NOV. 7, 1861.