Page images



and crew, nearly all of whom went to the bottom with her, chastened somewhat the joy of this great victory. Craven was in the turret when the torpedo exploded beneath his ship. He saw, the buoys that marked the line along which the torpedoes lay, and endeavored to carry the vessel be. tween two, but just as it got in range, the explosion took place, almost lifting the iron-clad from the water, and blowing a great opening in the bottom, through which the water rushed in such a deluge that she went down before those below had time to get on deck.

Acting-Ensign Henry C. Nields had charge of the boat, sent by Farragut to rescue any survivors that might be struggling in the water, and right gallantly did this noble, young officer perform the perilous duty, with which he was intrusted. Sitting in the stern of the open boat, he gave his orders as coolly as his great Commander could have done, and the rowers bent steadily to their oars, while shot were striking and shells bursting momentarily, on every side of them.

A boat was never carried through a more terrible fire, and it rained an iron tempest on the spot where the ill-fated monitor had gone down; but the fearless ensign rowed calmly through it, picking up the few swimmers that were struggling in the water, and succeeded in rescuing ten within six hundred yards of the fort. Farragut, from the main-top, saw with pride how steadily he entered the horrible fire, and afterward asked that he might be promoted.

The only other vessel lost was the steamer Philippi, which followed the fleet in against orders, and being struck by a shot, was run ashore by her Commander and deserted, when the rebels burnt her.

There were many cases of individual heroism-indeed, all were heroes—there was no flinching any where, although every captain knew that the probabilities were against hit




[ocr errors]


being able to save his ship. Of his Flag-Lieutenant, J. Crit. tenden Watson, who stood on the poop during the entire action, attending to the signals, Farragut says, “He is a scion worthy the noble stock he sprung

from. “ The last of my Staff,” he says, “to whom I would call the attention of the Department, is not the least in importI mean Pilot Martin Freeman.

He has been my great reliance in all difficulties, in his line of duty. During the action, he was in the maintop, piloting the ships into the bay. He was cool and brave throughout, never losing his self-possession. This man was captured early in the war, in a fine fishing smack, which he owned, and though he protested that he had no interest in the war, and only asked for the privilege of fishing for the fleet, yet his services were too valuable to the captors, as a pilot, not to be secured. He was appointed a first-class pilot, and has served us with zeal and fidelity, and has lost his vessel, which went to pieces on Ship Island. I commend him to the Department."

Indeed, every man on the flag-ship was worthy of his Commander. Drayton, the Flag-Captain, says:

“Of the crew, I can hardly say too much. They were, most of them, persons who had never been in action, and yet I cannot hear of a case where any one attempted to leave his quarters, or showed anything but the sternest determination to fight it out. There might, perhaps, have been a little excuse, had such a disposition been exhibited, when it is considered that a great part of four guns' crews were, at different times, swept away almost entirely by as many shells. In every case however the killed and wounded were quietly removed; the injury at the guns made good, and in a few moments, except from the traces of blood, nothing could lead one to suppose that any thing out of the ordinary routine had happened."



Kimberly, the executive officer of the ship, said, “nothing could be more noble than the spirit displayed by our wounded and dying, who cheered and smiled, in their agony, seemingly contented at the sacrifice of their lives for the victory vouchsafed to their country, Such men are heroes."

No higher commendation could be passed on a ship’s crew, and yet all the Commanders spoke in the same strain of their

own crews.

They pre

In one case, a rifle-shell burst between two guns on the Hartford, killing and wounding fifteen men. sented a terrific sight, as they lay scattered, mangled and bleeding on deck. One of them, Charles Melville, was taken down to the surgeon, but almost immediately appeared on deck again, and though scarcely able to stand, refused to go below, and bravely worked at his gun till the close of the action.

“ Thomas Fitzpatrick, Captain of Number One gun, was struck several times in the face by splinters, and had his gun disabled by a shell. In a few minutes he had his


in working order again, with new truck breeching, side-tackle, &c., his wounded below, the deck clear, and was fighting his

gun as before, setting a splendid example to the remainder of the crew."

James R. Garrison, coal-heaver, had his great toe shot off, but dressing the wound himself, returned to his station, and remained there till struck in the breast, when he was carried below. Thomas O'Connel, though sick, and scarcely able to stand, took his station and kept it till his right hand was shot away. James E. Sterling, coal-heaver on board the Brooklyn, continued to pass shell after he was wounded, and until hit a second time and completely disabled. Alexander Mack, Captain of top, was wounded and sent below, but immediately returned and took charge of his gun, working

[ocr errors]



it until he received two more wounds. Others left a sick. bed to fight, and each seemed to vie with the other to set an example of gallant daring.

The Hartford was struck twenty times, and fired nearly two hundred and fifty shot and shell. The Brooklyn picked out eleven hundred pounds of iron from her wood-work after the battle was over.

Farragut exhibited great foresight in the plan he adopted in passing the fort. By lashing two ships together, he saw if one got disabled, she would not drift about and disorder the line, for her consort could take her along-neither would any vessel be left helpless under the fire of the batteries.

The night after the battle Fort Powell was evacuated, the rebels blowing it up, but all the guns fell into our hands. The next afternoon, the Chickasaw went down and shelled Fort Gaines, and the following morning, Colonel Anderson, the Commander, sent a note to Farragut, stating that he knew he could not hold the fort, if the fleet opened upon it, and offered to surrender it--asking for terms. Farragut, after communicating with General Granger, on Dauphin Island, replied,

“ First, The unconditional surrender of yourself and the garrison of Fort Gaines, with all of the public property within its limits.

“Second, The treatment which is in conformity with the custom of the most civilized nations toward prisoners of war.

Third, Private property, with the exception of arms, will be respected.”

These terms were accepted, and at a quarter to ten, the rebel flag came down and the Stars and Stripes went up, amid the prolonged and vociferous cheering of the fleet.

Fort Morgan, however, still held out, and Granger at once commenced his siege operations against it landward, and on Sunday evening, the 21st, announced to Farragut that he



was ready to open with his batteries upon it. The latter immediately ordered the monitors and vessels to move up, and be ready next morning at daylight, to commence the bombardment, in conjunction with the land batteries, and at the same time, landed four nine-inch guns, and placed them in battery under the Commanding-Lieutenant, H. B. Tyson.

Everything being ready at daylight the signal was given, and from land and water, the bombardment commenced. As the sun rose in the East, his beams fell on a scene as terrific as that which they lighted up on the morning of the 8th, when Farragut steamed boldly into Mobile Bay. Gun answered gun, and shell crossed shell in their fiery tracks, mingling their explosions with the roar of cannon, and combining to make that summer morning one long to be remembered.

As Farragut said, “a more magnificent fire has rarely been kept up." All day long it rained a steady, horrible tempest of iron, on that solitary fort. As the beams of the rising sun fell on a tossing, sulphurous cloud-covering land and water-so now his departing rays cast a lurid light on the heaving masses of vapor, that shut out half the terrors of the scene.

Just as twilight began to creep over the deep, the citadel of the fort took fire, and Granger seeing the flames burst forth, ordered all the batteries to re-double their fire to prevent their extinguishment. The enemy finding that the fire had got under uncontrollable headway, flooded the magazine, and threw large quantities of powder into the wells to prevent an explosion.

A fierce bombardment was kept up all night, ribbing the darkness with ghastly seams of light, as shell after shell, with scarcely a moment's intermission, dropped inside the rebel works. At six in the morning, a dull, heavy explo

« PreviousContinue »