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ARRANGEMENT OF THE FLEET.
as to engage the rebel ram, Tennessee, waiting to pounce down on the fleet.
The wooden vessels were lashed two abreast. The Brook lyn, Captain James Alden, led the fleet, with the Octorara, Lieutenant-Commander C. H. Greene, on the port sidenext came the flag-ship Hartford, Captain Percival Drayton, with the Metacomet, Lieutenant-Commander J. E. Jouett; followed by the Richmond, Captain T. A. Jenkins, with the Port Royal, Lieutenant-Commander, B. Gherardi ; Lackawanna, Captain J. B. Marchand, with the Seminole, Comman. der E. Donaldson; Monongaliela, Commander J. H. Strong, with the Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander W. P. McCann; Ossipee, Commander W. E. LeRoy, with the Itasca, Lieutenant-Commander George Brown; Oneida, Commander J. R. M. Mullany, with the Galena, Lieutenant-Commander C. H. Welles.
The Brooklyn, with her consort, took the lead, much against Farragut's wishes. He yielded, however, to this arrangement at the earnest request of the Commanders, who represented that the Brooklyn had four chase guns to the Hartford's one; and also an ingenious machine for picking up torpedoes with which they believed the channel to be lined. They stated, moreover, that in their judgment, the flag-ship, on whose movements and signals, everything depended, ought not to be so much exposed as she would be at the head of the fleet.
Although Farragut yielded to their united petitions, he demurred, saying that “exposure was one of the penalties of rank in the navy," and, moreover, that it made but little difference where the flag-ship was, as it would always be the main target of the enemy's fire.
The fleet steamed slowly on, and at a quarter to seven, the Tecumseh fired the first gun. Twenty minutes later, the fort opened her fire, to which the Brooklyn replied with her
two one hundred-pounder Parrott rifles, on the bow-and the battle commenced. The rebel ram and iron-clads lying under the protection of the fort; added their fire to the guns of the latter, all playing, almost exclusively, on the wooden vessels. Farragut stood lashed in the main-top, so that he could overlook the fleet, and have a clear view of the whole field of action.
The Brooklyn, for a while, gallantly led the fleet, but as she entered the narrow channel, some suspicious looking buoys ahead, indicating torpedoes, caused her to stop, which of course, at once brought to a halt, the vessels that were crowding after. Farragut, from his high perch, saw with alarm this unexpected arrest of the onward movement right under the terrible fire that was raining on the advance vessels, and looking anxiously around, saw, with amazement, the turrets of the Tecumseh disappearing under the water, as she went down with her gallant crew. In an instant, his determination was taken, and regretting that he had not originally followed his own judgment and led the fleet, he steamed rapidly ahead, and his glorious signal flew where he wanted it, in advance. Ordering the Metacomet to send a boat to save any of the survivors of the ill-fated Tecumseh, who might be struggling in the water, he swept fearlessly onward.
Wrapped in the smoke of his own guns, he pressed on into the fire, followed by the ships, “their officers,” he heroically says, “believing they were going to a noble death, with their Commander-in-Chief.” Shot and shell crashed through the wooden sides of his vessel yet his flag still flew, and those astern ever and anon caught glimpses of his sig. nal through the rifts of smoke, still beckoning them on. He too saw the buoys that had caused the Brooklyn to hesitate and back water, and knew that torpedoes were lining
PASSAGE OF THE FORTS.
the bottom of the channel beneath him, but this was no time to hesitate.
He "determined,” he says, “ to take the chances of their explosion,” and still kept on, his gallant crew expecting every moment to feel the vessel lift beneath them, yet working their guns as coolly as though standing on solid ground, and, meanwhile, pouring in such terrific broadsides that the rebel batteries fired wildly, or were silent. At ten minutes before eight, he was past the fort, when suddenly the rebel ram dashed out to run his vessel down, firing as it came on. Taking no notice of the monster, except to return the fire, he steamed ahead toward the rebel gun-boats, Morgan, Gaines and Selma, which poured a raking fire into him. The latter especially cut down his crew fearfully, and spread ruin and destruction over his deck.
Not being able to return the fire, he cast off the Metacomet, with orders to go after these boats. Seeing the vessel approaching, the latter retreated up the bay, firing as they fied. The Gaines soon took refuge under the guns of the fort, but was so injured that she had to be run ashore and burned—the Morgan hauled off and left the Selma to her fate, which soon after struck her flag:
The other vessels gallantly following in the wake of their noble Commander, one after another swept past the hostile batteries and passed
up the bay, their crews loudly cheering, and were signaled by Farragut to come to anchor. But the officers had hardly commenced clearing their decks, and caring for the wounded, when the rebel ram was seen boldly standing out from under the guns of the fort, and bearing down, with the evident intention of engaging the whole fleet. If she had waited till dark this would not have been such an act of temerity, for with her perfect knowledge of the bay, and in the confusion that would have prevailed in the fleet in a nocturnal fight, she might have run down
THE RAM TENNESSEE.
many vessels--at least, made sad havoc before her progress could have been arrested.
The moment it was reported to Farragut that the ram was standing toward the fleet, he signaled the vessels to run her down, and ordered up the anchor of his own ship, and directed the pilot, with a full head of steam on, to carry the Hartford straight against the iron-clad structure, hoping, by the concussion, though his own bows should be crushed in the shock, to stave in its mailed sides. The Monongahela, Commander Strong, first struck the ram, carrying away her iron prow and cut-water. The Lackawanna came next and struck with such force that her stern was cut and crushed for the distance of three feet above the water's edge, to five feet below. The only effect on the ram, however, of this tremendous blow, was to give her a heavy list. As the Hartford came down, the ram sheered so that it was a glancing blow.
Deadened in her headway, as she rasped along the ironplating, the flag-ship fell along side, and at once poured in, at a distance of not more than eight or ten feet, her broadside of nine-inch solid balls, sent with a charge of thirteen pounds of powder. The heavy shot, hurled with this awful force, and in such close proximity, feil on tre mailed siães of the ram with a power that seemed irresistible, and yet, apparently, had no more effect than if they had been mere India-rubber balls.
On the other hand, the shot and shell from the Tennessee pierced the Hartford as though her sides were mere pasteboard-one one-hundred-and-fifty pound shell, fired with the muzzle of the monster gun almost touching the sides of the ship, exploded inside, killing and wounding several menthe fragments going through the spar and berth-decks, "even going through the launch and into the hold where were the wounded."
CAPTURE OF THE RAM,
The Hartford now stood off, and though her bow was badly crushed, began to make a circuit, in order to come down again on the ram, when the Lackawanna, which was driving, with a full head of steam, straight on the monster, struck the flag-ship instead, a little forward of the mizzenmast, and cut her down to within two feet of the water.
The monitors, in the meantime, poured in their fire—the Chickasaw got under the monster's stern, while the Manhattan sent a fifteen-inch shell through the iron plating.
“At this time,” says Farragut, “she was sore beset-the Chickasáw was pounding away at her stern, the Ossipee was approaching her at full speed, and the Monongahela and Lackawanna, and this ship, were bearing down on her, determined on her destruction. Her smoke-stack had been shot away, her steering chains were gone, compelling a resort to her relieving tackles, and several of her port shutters were jammed. Indeed, from the time the Hartford struck her, until her surrender, she never fired a gun. As the Ossipee, Commander LeRoy, was about to strike her, she hoisted the white flag, and that vessel immediately stopped her engine, though not in time to avoid a glancing blow.”
This ended the fight, and at ten minutes past ten Farragut again brought his shattered vessels to anchor, within four miles of Fort Morgan. Admiral Buchanan, the Commander of the ram, was wounded in the leg, which afterward had to be amputated; and some eight or ten of his crew were killed or wounded.
The killed and wounded on board the fleet, amounted to two hundred and twenty-two. Only fifty-two were killed, of which number twenty-five, or nearly half, were killed on board the flag-ship-showing that the enemy's fire was concentrated on this vessel, and that she bore the brunt of the conflict.
The loss of the Tecumseh, with her gallant Commander