« PreviousContinue »
RUNNING THE BATTERIES.
terns were hoisted from the Hartford's mizzen peak, and soon the boatswain's call, “Up all hammocks," rang over the water. It was known the evening before, that the desperate conflict would come off in the morning, and there was but little sleep in the fleet that night. Thé 'scene, the hour, and the momentous issues at stake made every man thoughtful. Not a breeze ruffled the surface of the river--the forts were silent aboven-the stars looked serenely down--while the deep tranquility that rested on shore and stream was broken only by the heavy boom, every ten minutes, of a gun from the boats on watch. But the moment those two signal lanterns were run up on the flag-ship, all this was changed. The rattling of chains, the heaving of anchors and commands of officers, transformed the scene of quietness into one of bustle and stern preparation. In an hour and a half every thing was ready, and the flag-ship, followed by the Richmond and Brooklyn and six gun boats, turned their prows up the river, steering straight for fort Jackson. The Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, and Varina, under Captain Bailey, with four gun boats came next, and were to engage fort St. Philip. The Harriet Lane, Westfield, Owasco, Miami, Clifton, and Jackson, under Porter, came last, and were to take position where they could pour an enfilading fire of grape and shrapnel into fort Jackson while Parragut lurled his heavy broadsides into it in front. As soon as the fleet started on its terrible mission, all the mortar boats opened their fire, and canopied by the blazing shells, "that crossing and recrossing in every direction, wove their fiery net work over the sky and dropped with a thunderors sound into the doomed works--the flag-ship, accompanied by her consorts steamed swiftly forward through the gloom. As soon as they came within rangé, signal rockets darted up from the low fortifications, and the next instant the volcano opened. Taking the awful storm in perfect si!ence, Farragut kept steadily on, till he was close abreast,
*****, **rrior ONLXL mart VEHHINK"
VARUNA, CAPT. BOGGS.
FLAGSHIP HARTI ORD IN COLLISION WITH FIRERIN.
MISSISSIPPI DESTROYING HOLLINS'S RAM
FORT SI PHILLIP.
and the ships seemed to be fighting literally anidst trames and smoku."
when his broadsides opened. As each ship came up, it delivered its broadside, and on both sides of the river, it was one continuous stream of fire, and thunder peal, that shook the shores like an earthquake. For half an hour, it seemed as if all the explosive elements of earth and air were collected there. The vessels did not stop to engage the forts, but delivering their broadsides swept on towards the gun boats beyond. Fire rasts now came drifting down the tide, lighting up the pandemonium with a fiercer glare, and making that early morning wild and awful as the last day of time. The shot and shell from nearly five hundred cannon filled all the air, and it seemed as if nothing made with human hands could survive such a storm. The Ithaca, with a shot through her, was compelled to drop out of the fight, in doing which, she came under the close fire of the fort, and was completely riddled, yet strange to say only two of her crew were struck. Exploding shells filled the air, hot shot crashed through the hulls, yet the gallant flcet, wrapped in the smoke of its own broadsides, moved on in its pathway of flame, while the river ahead was filled with fire rafts and iron clad
boats, whose terrible fire crossing that of the fort, swept the whole bosom of the stream. Sharp shooters crowded the rigging, dropping their bullets incessantly upon our decks, yet still the commander's signal for close action streamed in the morning breeze, and still that fleet kept on its determined way. An immense iron-clad vessel, the Louisiana, lay moored near fort Jackson, armed with heavy rifled guns, which sent the shot through and through our vessels, while ours rattled like peas on her mailed sides. . The famous ram Manassas came down on the flag-ship, pushing a fire raft before her. In attempting to avoid the collision, Farragut got aground, when the raft came plump along side. The flames instantly leaped through the rigging, and ran along the sides of his vessel, and for a moment he thought it was all up with him.
But ordering the hose to turn a stream of water upon the fire, he succeeded in extinguishing it, and backing off, again poured in his broadsides.
The Varuna, Captain Boggs, attacked the rebel gun boats with such fury, that he sunk five in succession, their dark hulls disappearing with awful rapidity, under the turbid waters. Even then, his work was not done, for a ram came driving full upon him. He saw at once that he could not avoid the collision, and knew that his fate was sealed. But instead of hauling down his flag, he resolved since he could not save his ship, to carry his adversary down with him, and bidding the pilot throw the vessel so that her broadsides would bear on the vulnerable part of the rebel, he sternly received the blow. The sides of the Varuna were crushed by it as though made of egg shells. As the ram backed off, the water poured in like a torrent, and he ordered the pilot to run her with all steam on, ashore. In the mean time, his broadsides—fired at such close range---made fearful openings in the enemy's hull, and she too began to settle in the water, and attempted to haul off. But those terrible broadsides were too swift for her, and they were poured in till the gun-carriages were under the water. The last shot just skimmed the surface as the hissing guns became submerged, and the gallant vessel went down with her flag flying, carrying her dead with her. A more fitting tomb for them could not be found than the hull of that immortal boat.
A boy, named Oscar, only thirteen years old, was on board, and during the hottest of the fire was busily engaged in passing ammunition to the gunners, and narrowly escaped death when one of the terrific broadsides of the enemy was poured in. Covered with dirt and begrimed with powder, he was met by Captain Boggs, who asked where he was going in such a hurry: "To get a passing box, Sir, the other was smashed by a ball.” When the Varuna went down Boggs missed the boy and