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FROM 1775 TO 1901 






(U. S. Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789-1791) 







COPYRIGHT, 1893, 1898,' 1901, 


May, 1901. 


OF 1898. 

IN the present edition of this work the second volume 
has undergone important changes. Some new chapters 
have been added, among them, Attack on the Wyo- 
ming, Cruising against Slavers, and Sea Power in the 
Civil War. Many items of minor importance have 
been incorporated in the text, and some of the first 
accounts of naval occurrences have been elaborated. 

The author realizes that the history of our navy is 
a subject of vast and rapidly increasing importance in 
the estimation of the American people, and he would 
be glad to receive any additional suggestions or items 
of interest bearing on it, so that they may be used in 
future editions. Our navy is pre-eminently a growing 
navy, and a comprehensive record of it must neces- 
sarily keep pace with its growth. 

E. S. M. 



May 1, 1S98. 








England's Mediterranean policy Hostility of Algiers Two squadrons 
sail for the Mediterranean Defenses of Algiers Capture of the 
Mashouda and the Estido Decatur brings the Dey to terms 
Off Tripoli and Tunis Sad loss of the pervier0. H. Perry be- 
fore Algiers Our cruisers in the Mediterranean . . . 3-22 



Growth of piracy Death of 0. H. Perry Active operations against the 
pirates Death of Lieutenant Allen Attack on the Fox Young 
Farragut's account Capturing piratical craft The Foxardo 
affair Cutting out the Federal Tattnall off Matamoras The 
Greek pirates Our war ships at Naples 23-43 



Treacherous attack on the Friendship Murder of her crew Her 
recapture The Potomac on the scene Capture of Qualla 
Battoo 44-61 



Audacity of slavers Experience of the Contest Important capture 
by the Cyane M. C. Perry's experience with King Crack The 

Louisa Beaton The Chatsworth 62-71 





Captain Thomas ap C. Jones occupies Monterey Arrival of a British 


squadron Capture of Los Angeles Loss and recapture of that 
town Battle of San Gabriel Battle of Mesa . . . 72-87 



Gallant boat service Capture of Guaymas and Mazatlan Heroic de- 
fense of the mission house The relief of Heywood . . 88-98 



First failures Capture of Frontera and Tabasco At Tampico Cut- 
ting out the Creole Dangers of the climate Bombardment and 
capture of Vera Cruz Second attack on Tabasco . . . 99-118 



First attempts to open up Japan Congress determines on a final at- 
tempt M. C. Perry selected to command the expedition Arrival 
in Japanese waters Perry's splendid diplomacy The President's 
letter delivered Second visit of the American squadron Success 
of the expedition 119-132 



The Wilkes expedition In seas of ice A narrow escape Cruising 
in the Pacific Ocean On the coast of California The Dead Sea 
expedition Search for the Sir John Franklin explorers In the 
Frozen North 133-150 



Tragedy in the Somers The St. Louis and the Hussar At the Bar- 
rier Forts "Blood thicker than water "Attack on Formosa- 
Trouble with Paraguay 151-156 



THE CIVIL WAR 1861-1865. 



Condition of the navy Firing on Suinter Rescue of the Constitution 
Patrolling the Potomac Capture of the Judah The Trent 
affair Cutting out the Royal Yacht The Rhode Island and 
Connecticut Affair of the Jamestown 159-174 



Defenses of Hatteras Inlet Bombardment of Forts Hatteras and 
Clark Race on Hatteras Island Loss of the Fanny The Port 
Royal fleet Off Port Royal Dupont's plan of battle Surrender 
of the enemy 175-197 



Defenses of Roanoke Island The national fleet Capture of Roanoke 
Island Fight between the gunboats Capture of New Berne 
Bombardment of Fort Macon Lieutenant Cushing's narrow es- 
cape 198-217 



Burning of Norfolk navy yard Rebuilding the Merrimae The Con- 
federate squadron enters the Roads Sinking the Cumberland 
The Congress on fire Grounding of the Minnesota Gloom in 
the North 218-235 



First ideas about the Monitor Grave doubts about her worth Im- 
aginary and real objections to the Monitor system Origin of the 
name " Monitor "Compared with the Constitution . . 236-243 



The Monitor nearly founders Arrival in Hampton Roads Battle be- 
tween the two ironclads Ramming attempted Worden disabled 
Victory for the Monitor Fate of the ironclads Preparing for 
the second attack by the Merrimae Loss of the Monitor . 244-266 




Building a Western navy Manning the gunboats Skirmishing at Co- 
lumbusBombardment of Fort Henry Gallant fight of the gun- 
boatsA lively chase up the Tennessee Walke attacks Fort Don- 
elson Bombardment of the fort Its surrender The Tyler and 
the Lexington at Pittsburg Landing Fitch on the Ohio . 267-290 



Defenses of Island No. 10 A night attack The Carondelet runs the 
batteries Battle of Fort Pillow The great fight at Memphis 
The attack on St. Charles 291-305 



The affair at the Head of the Passes The New Orleans expedition- 
David Glascoe Farragut His arrival on the scene of operations 
Defenses of New Orleans The Confederate fleet The bombard- 
ment by the mortar schooners Daring night expeditions . 306-324 



A council of war Farragut's line of battle The ships under fire- 
Fire rafts Great peril of the flagship Between the forts The 
ubiquitous ram Manassas Above the forts Fall of New Or- 
leans 325-349 



Farragut's great task He passes the Vicksburg batteries Walke's 
desperate battle with the ram Arkansas The Arkansas runs the 
gantlet of the national fleet Farragut fights the ram under 
Vicksburg's guns Destruction of the ram The new ironclads 
Attack on Arkansas Post and St. Charles Loss of the Queen 
of the West Loss of the Indianola Repulse at Fort Pember- 
ton '. 350-373 



Farragut passes Port Hudson Sinking of the Lancaster Porter 
passes Vicksburg Attack on Grand Gulf River skirmishing 
Donaldsonville The Red River expedition Bache's spirited at- 



tack Captain S. P. Lee in command Minor occurrences on the 
Western rivers 374-386 



Preparations of the Japanese Land and naval defenses Attacks on 
the French and Dutch McDougal's splendid dash Complete 
victory of the Americans 387-396 



First action off Mobile Building the ironclad Tennessee The Con- 
federate squadron An attempted night attack Defenses of Mo- 
bile Farragut's instructions On the eve of the great battle, 397-407 



The night before the battle The great fleet under way The Hart- 
ford opens fire Lashing Farragut to the rigging Sinking of the 
Tecumseh Craven's nobility Ensign Neilds' gallantry The 
monitor Winnebago in action Commander Thomas Holdup 
Stevens in action Dreadful carnage in the Hartford " Damn 
the torpedoes ! " Confusion in the line The Tennessee in the 
fight Ramming the Confederate ironclad Critical position of 
the Oneida Heroic officers 408-435 



Chase of the Confederate gunboats Jouett takes the Selma A lull 
in the battle " Follow them up, Johnston ! " Preparing for the 
final struggle Buchanan singles out the Hartford Ramming 
the Tennessee The monitors in close action National ships in 
collision Surrender of the Tennessee Losses and injuries- 
Caring for the wounded Gallant officers Attack on Fort Spanish 
Losses from torpedoes 436-456 



Raid of the Palmetto State and the Chicora First and second at- 
tacks on Fort McAllister The defenses of Charleston Ironclads 
attack Charleston The Weehawken- Atlanta fight Attack on 
Fort Wagner A boat expedition against Fort Sumter Loss of 
the Housatonic Surrender of Charleston .... 457-474 




Importance of the North Carolina sounds Building the Albemarle 
The ram's attack on the Southfield and Miami Battle between 
the national gunboats and the ram Roe's splendid dash Lieu- 
tenant William Barker Gushing Attempts to blow up the ram 
Cashing'* daring attack Its complete success Capture of 
Plymouth 475-490 



Difficulties of the blockade Port Royal Island Patrolling Southern 
waters A reverse at Galveston and Saline Pass In Virginia 
waters Fort Fisher Capture of Wilmington . . . 491-507 



Careers of the Sumter and Florida Maffltt's daring Stevens chases 
the Florida Maffitt arms his prizes Catching an Amazon 
Collins captures the Florida English " neutrality "The Hap- 
pahannock Career of the Georgia Narrow escape from burn- 
ing Her capture by the Niagara Great damage inflicted by 
the ShetiandoahThe Stonewall Jackson Other Confederate 
cruisers 508-522 



Fitting out the Alabama Eluding national cruisers The ffatteras 
sunk by the Alabama The Alabama cruises in the South At- 
lantic and in the East Indies Puts into Cherbourg Compared 
with the Kearsarge Winslow waits for the Alabama The 
great battle American gunnery wins English "international" 
law 523-534 



Southern dependence on European markets Effectiveness of torpedo 
warfare Confederate privateering promptly checked Develop- 
ment of blockade running English ports the center Difficulties 
of blockade running" Tricks of the trade " The Charlotte and 
Stag Chase of the Kate Some clever captures Breck's gallant 
exploit British naval officers as blockade runners English sym- 
pathy (and something more) for the South .... 535-548 





Historical review Strategetical importance of the Mississippi River 
system Value of these waters to Northern States If the South 
had sea power Navy indispensable 549-559 



In the Monitor's turret Frontispiece 

Scene of the naval operations in the Mediterranean .... 10 

Scene of the naval operations on the Pacific Coast .... 76 

Scene of the naval operations in the Mexican Gulf . . . 100 

Map of the United States 163 

Scene of the naval operations on the Potomac 167 

Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds 179 

Plan of the battle of Port Royal 191 

Dupont's circle of fire Facing 194 

Scene of operations on Roanoke Island 199 

Diagram of the battle of Hampton Roads 225 

Raking the Congress at every shot Facing 230 

Monitor and Merrimac 250 

Scene of the naval operations on the upper Mississippi . . . 274 

Bombardment of Fort Henry Facing 278 

Ironclads attack Fort Donelson Facing 284 

Island No. 10 292 

Commander Walke runs the batteries at Island No. 10 . Facing 298 

Battle of Memphis Facing 302 

Kennon fires through his own bow Facing 332 

Farragut's fleet passing the forts Facing 346 

Scene of the naval operations on the Western rivers .... 356 

Map of Mobile Bay Facing 398 

Diagram of the battle of Mobile Bay Facing 412 

Farragut's fleet going into action Facing 418 

Battle of Mobile Bay Facing 440 

At close quarters Facing 442 

Diagram showing where the Tennessee was rammed .... 445 
Deck plan of the Tennessee and her appearance after the 

battle Facing 452 

Map of Charleston Harbor and vicinity .... Facing 458 



Ironclads attacking Fort Sumter Facing 466 

The Confederate ironclad Atlanta Facing 4G8 

A typical ferry gunboat ....... Facing 495 

Chasing a blockade runner Facing 508 

The last of the Alabama Facing 52(5 





MENTION has been made of England's Mediterra- 
nean policy, which was to encourage the Barbary 
States in piracy, so that by paying them an annual 
tribute and by the aid of her fleets her commerce was 
freed from molestation while that of weaker maritime 
nations was constantly exposed. In his Observations 
on the Commerce of the American States Lord Shef- 
field said : "The armed neutrality would be as hurtful 
to the great maritime powers as the Barbary States are 
useful. The Americans can not protect themselves 
from the latter ; they can not pretend to a navy." A 
fair interpretation of these diplomatic words is given 
by Smollett in his history when he says: "The exist- 
ence of Algiers and other predatory states which en- 
tirely subsist upon piracy and rapine, petty states of 
barbarous ruffians, maintained, as it were, in the midst 
of powerful nations, which they insult with impunity, 
and of which they exact an annual contribution, is a 
flagrant reproach upon Christendom ; a reproach the 
greater, as it is founded upon a low, selfish, illiberal 
maxim of policy." By means of this policy Great 
Britain secured a monopoly of the Mediterranean car- 
rying trade, at that time the most important in the 

But England was mistaken, as she has been on other 
memorable occasions, as to the ability of the United 
States to defend itself. After three years of bloody 
war (1802-1805) we subdued the Barbary States and 
secured privileges that were denied to European pow- 


ers, and in a short time the Yankee skipper was driv- 
ing, "his diplomatic cousin "from the mercantile marts 
of the world. It was not to be expected that the Eng- 
lish merchant would look upon his American rival with 
any degree of complacency, and he only awaited the 
opportunity to "knife" the dangerous competitor. 
The War of 1812 afforded this opportunity. The 
United States needed all its energies in the struggle for 
independence on the high seas, and, as the British 
merchant rightly conjectured, could not look after its 
interests in the Mediterranean. Immediately upon the 
declaration of war British emissaries informed the Bar- 
bary States that the United States as a maritime na- 
tion would be swept from the face of the earth, that 
its commerce would be annihilated, and that England 
would consent to peace only upon the stipulation that 
the United States forever afterward should build no 
ship of war heavier than a frigate. Stimulated by this 
assurance, and smarting under the punishment the 
United States had given them in 1805, the Barbary 
States assumed a hostile attitude. 

No sooner had the Dey of Algiers learned of the 
declaration of war than he hastened to pick a quarrel 
with the American consul at Algiers, Tobias Lear. He 
suddenly remembered that the Americans measured 
time by the sun, while the Moors reckoned it by the 
moon, and peremptorily demanded the difference in 
tribute, which during the seventeen years the treaty 
had existed amounted to about half a year, or twenty- 
seven thousand dollars, in the Dey's favor. In view of 
the war with England, Mr. Lear acceded to the Dey's 
extortion ; and that potentate, relying upon the assur- 
ance that the United States navy would be annihilated, 
soon found another pretext for dissatisfaction. He 
complained that the stores that were sent by the United 
States in the sailing ship AllegTiany, in lieu of tribute 
money, were of inferior quality, and on the 25th of 
July, 1812, he said that "the consul must depart in 


the AUeghany^ as he would not have a consul in his 
regency who did not cause everything to be brought 
exactly as he had ordered." l About this time two 
large ships laden with powder, shot, cables, anchors 
and naval stores, sufficient to equip the entire Algerian 
fleet, arrived at Algiers under the escort of an English 
man-of-war a present from the British Government. 

The Dey lost no time in sending his corsairs out 
in search of American merchant ships. Fortunately, 
most of our traders, on learning of the probability of a 
war with Great Britain, had sought places of safety, so 
that only one vessel, the brig Edwin, of Salem, com- 
manded by George Smith, was captured. She was 
taken on the 2,5th of August, 1812, while running from 
Malta to Gibraltar, and her commander and crew, ten 
in all, were sold into slavery. The Dey's buccaneers, 
in their eagerness to enslave Americans, even boarded 
a vessel sailing under Spanish colors, and took from 
her a Mr. Pollard, of Virginia, and held him in bond- 
age also. Tripoli and Tunis, on the assurance of British 
agents that the United States navy would be swept 
from the seas in less than six months, allowed four 
prizes of the American privateer Abellino, which had 
been sent into their ports, to be recaptured by British 
cruisers. Our little navy was so occupied with its fight 
against the mistress of the ocean that these outrages 
could not be attended to immediately, but the Govern- 
ment secretly sent an agent to Spain to act in behalf of 
the friends of the captives and offered a ransom of three 
thousand dollars for each of them. The Dey rejected 
the offer, and defiantly expressed his determination of 
increasing the number of captives before entering upon 

English predictions relative to the United States, 
from the 4th of July, 1776, to the present day, have been 
an almost unbroken list of disappointments. The case 

1 Mr. Lear's report to the Secretary of State, July 29, 1812. 


in hand is one of them. When the British agent in- 
formed the Dey of Algiers that "the American flag 
would be swept from the seas, the contemptible navy 
of the United States annihilated and its maritime arse- 
nals reduced to a heap of ruins," he had, apparently, 
good grounds for that belief. That a navy of seven- 
teen efficient vessels, mounting fewer than four hun- 
dred and fifty guns, could exist in the face of a thou- 
sand war ships carrying nearly twenty-eight thousand 
guns, was indeed one of the marvels of naval history. 
But at the close of that struggle the United States navy 
had been increased to sixty-four vessels, mounting 
more than fifteen hundred guns, while the officers and 
crews had been trained in the severe school of war, 
and had developed into as fine a naval personnel as 
ever sailed the sea, They had humiliated the haugh- 
tiest flag on the ocean with overwhelming disasters, 
and, flushed with victory and confident in their prow- 
ess, they were just in the humor for chastising the 
insolent Turks of Algiers. 

Five days after the treaty with England had been 
proclaimed, or February 23, 1815, the President of 
the United States recommended that war be declared 
against Algiers. Two squadrons under the orders of 
Captain William Bainbridge were detailed on this serv- 
ice, the first assembling at Boston, and the second, 
commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur, at New 
York. It was a striking proof of the confidence the 
Government had in Captain Decatur, and how little it 
held him accountable for the loss of the President, 
that he was placed in this important command while 
the court-martial was still investigating the capture of 
his ship. 

The squadron collected at New York was the first 
to get under way, sailing May 20th, and having on 
board William Shaler, consul general to the Barbary 
States, who, with Captains Bainbridge and Decatur, had 
lull power to wage war or negotiate peace. The New 


York squadron consisted of the 44-gun frigate Guer- 
riere, Captain Stephen Decatur; the 38-gun frigate 
Macedonian, Captain Jacob Jones ; the 36-gun frigate 
Constellation, Captain Charles Gordon ; the 18-gun 
sloop of war fipermer, Master -Commandant John 
Downes ; the 18-gun sloop of war Ontario, Master- 
Commandant Jesse D. Elliott ; the 12-gun brig Fire- 
fly, Lieutenant George W. Rodgers ; the 12-gun brig 
Flambeau, Lieutenant John B. Nicholson ; the 12-gun 
brig Spark, Lieutnant Gamble; the 10-gun schooner 
Spitfire, Lieutenant A. J. Dallas ; and the 10-gun 
schooner Torch, Lieutenant Wolcott Chauncey ; total, 
ten vessels, mounting two hundred and ten guns. At 
the request of Captain Decatur, all the surviving offi- 
cers and men who had served under him in the Chesa- 
peake, the United States and the President were per- 
mitted to sail in the Guerriere, and nearly all availed 
themselves of the opportunity. 

It was no contemptible foe that the American fleet 
was directed against. The Algerian navy alone con- 
sisted of five frigates, six sloops of war, and one 
schooner ; in all, twelve vessels, carrying three hundred 
and sixty guns more than fifty per cent stronger than 
Decatur' s squadron. Their frigates carried 18- and 12- 
pounders, while their sloops were armed with 12-, 9- 
and 6-pounders. Their vessels were well equipped and 
manned, and their crews were thoroughly trained in 
modern warfare. The Algerian admiral, Rais Hammida, 
was the terror of the Mediterranean. He came from 
the fierce race of Kabyle mountaineers, who routed 
with great slaughter the French army under General 
Trezel, and again defeated the French under General 
Valee. Hammida had risen from the lowest to the 
highest place in the Algerian navy. It was he who 
captured, by boarding in broad daylight, a Portuguese 
frigate within sight of Gibraltar, and again, in 1810, 
with three frigates, boldly offered battle to a Portu- 
guese ship of the line and three frigates off the Rock 



of Lisbon. Soon afterward he captured a Tunisian 
frigate, under the command of an admiral, in single 

ship action. 

Comparative forces. 

American fleet : 10 vessels, mounting 210 guns. 
Algerian fleet : 12 vessels, mounting 360 guns. 

Besides this formidable naval force, the city of Al- 
giers itself was strongly fortified. It was built on the 
slope of a hill in the shape of a triangle, the base of 
which, a mile long, fronted the sea, while the sides rose 
like a pyramid, the apex being crowned by the casbah 
the ancient citadel of the deys-five hundred feet 
above sea level. The harbor, formed by an artificial 
mole, was defended by double and triple rows of heavy 
batteries, mounting two hundred and twenty guns. 
The town was protected by walls of immense thickness 
and mounted heavy guns, so that over five hundred 
pieces of ordnance bore upon the maritime approaches 
of the place. So strong were the defenses of this city 
that in the following year (1816), when England was 
compelled to act against the Barbary States, five ships 
of the line, five frigates, four bomb ketches and five 
gun brigs were deemed by the Lords of the Admiralty 
too small a force to send against it, while Lord Nelson, 
in a conversation with Captain Brisbane, mentioned 
twenty-five ships of the line as a requisite force. 1 

When a few days out Decatur's squadron encoun- 
tered a violent gale, in which the Firefly sprung her 
masts and she was compelled to return to port. After- 
ward she joined Captain Bainbridge's squadron and 
went with it to the Mediterranean. The other vessels 
of Decatur's squadron continued on their course for the 
Azores. As the ships approached the coast of Portu- 
gal a careful lookout was maintained. Every sail was 
spoken to, and every inquiry made that might lead to 
the discovery of the Algerian squadron, which, it was 

1 Life of Lord Exmouth, p. 309. 


thought, might be cruising in the Atlantic for American 
merchantmen. Finding no traces of the enemy, Cap- 
tain Decatur approached Cadiz to ascertain if Rais 
Hammida had passed the Straits of Gibraltar. Not 
wishing to make known the presence of an American 
naval force in these waters, he did not enter the port, 
but communicated with our consul by boat. It was 
learned that an Algerian squadron, consisting of three 
frigates and several smaller vessels, had been cruising 
in the Atlantic, but it was believed that it had passed 
into the Mediterranean. Still being in doubt as to the 
admiral's whereabouts, and wishing to take him by 
surprise, Captain Decatur arrived off Tangier June 
15th, and from our consul at that port learned that 
Rais Hammida but two days before had passed the 
straits in the 46-gun frigate Maskouda, mounting 18- 
and 12-pounders, and was sailing up the Mediterranean 
with the intention of touching at Carthagena. Satisfied 
that he was on the right track, Decatur immediately 
headed for Gibraltar, where he anchored on the same 
day and learned that the Algerian ships had hove to 
off Cape Gata, waiting for a tribute of half a million 
dollars which Spain was to pay for the continuation 
of peace. 

Scarcely had the American squadron arrived at 
Gibraltar when a dispatch boat was observed getting 
under way, and upon inquiry it was found that it was 
making for Cape Gata to notify Rais Hammida of the 
presence of an American squadron. Soon afterward 
other boats were seen making off in the direction of Al- 
giers, evidently for the purpose of warning the Dey. 
Well knowing how easily the Moorish ships could 
elude him by running into some neutral port should 
they be warned of their danger, Captain Decatur 
promptly made sail again, hoping to come upon the 
admiral before the swift dispatch boats could reach 
him, and with a fair breeze the American ships stood 
up the Mediterranean. On the following night (June 




16th) the Macedonian and the brigs were sent in chase 
of several sails that were descried inshore, so that by 
daylight the squadron had become widely scattered. 
In the early dawn of the 17th, when the vessels were 
nearly abreast of Cape Gata, twenty miles from land, 
the Constellation discovered a large ship flying the 
flag of the grand admiral, and Captain Gordon sig- 
naled " An enemy to the southeast." Every precaution 
was taken to conceal the nationality of the American 
ships, as the Algerian had several miles the start and 
was within thirty hours of Algiers. Accordingly the 
Constellation was ordered back to her position on the 
beam of the flagship, while the other vessels quietly 
hauled up toward the unsuspecting Moor. The stranger 
was soon made out to be a frigate headed toward the 
African coast, lying to under her three topsails, with 

Scene of the naval operations in the Mediterranean in 1815. 

the maintopsail to the mast, evidently waiting for some 
communication from the shore. Master-Commandant 
Lewis asked permission to make sail and chase, but 
Decatur rightly conjectured that the news of his arrival 
in the Mediterranean had not reached the Algerian, so 
he gave the signal, "Do nothing to excite suspicion," 
and continued to bear down on the Moor. 

In this manner the ships gradually drew near, care- 
fully concealing all signs of hostility, as it was thought 



that they would be taken for a British squadron. While 
they were still a mile from the chase, the Constellation, 
by some mistake of a quartermaster, hoisted American 
colors. To counteract this the Guerriere and all the 
other vessels showed English flags. But the mischief 
had been done. In an instant the Moor's rigging was 
swarming with men, and in an incredibly short time 
she was under a cloud of canvas and headed for Algiers. 
"Quicker work," remarked a spectator, "was never 
done by better seamen." The rigging of the American 
cruisers was now also alive with activity. Men were 
running up the shrouds and swinging out on the yards 
from dizzy heights ; orders were shouted from the quar- 
ter-deck to be echoed by the shrill piping of the boat- 
swain's whistle ; all was hurry and seeming confusion 
a startling contrast to the quiet that had pervaded the 
squadron but a moment before. Soon the great frigates 
were bowing under mountains of white canvas, the 
noise and confusion had subsided as suddenly as it 
arose, and the silence on their decks was disturbed only 
by the waves which, hurled back from the bows, dashed 
themselves against the sides of the ship. Every sail 
that would hold the wind was set, for Decatur feared 
that the Moor might elude him in the coming night, or 
gain a neutral port. The Constellation, being the south- 
ernmost ship in the squadron and nearest to the enemy, 
soon opened fire at long range, and several of her shot 
were seen to fall aboard the chase. Finding that he 
could not escape on this tack, the Moor suddenly came 
about and headed northeast, with a view of running 
into Carthagena. The pursuing ships promptly fol- 
lowed the mano3uvre, and the change brought the On- 
tario into such a position that she was obliged to cross 
the enemy's course about a quarter of a mile distant. 
But the Guerriere, passing between the Constellation 
and the Epermer, bore down to close. 

As the American flagship came within range the 
Turks opened fire, and the musketry soon became ef- 


fective, wounding a man at the GuerrierJs wheel and 
injuring several others. Decatur, however, reserved 
his fire until his ship just cleared the enemy's yard- 
arms, when he poured in a full broadside. The havoc 
among the Algerians was awful. Their admiral, Rais 
Hammida, who had been wounded by a shot from the 
Constellation and refused to go below, and was resting 
on a couch on the quarter-deck, animating his men, 
was literally cut in two by a 42-pound shot. The Guer- 
riere's men coolly loaded again, and before the smoke 
had cleared away they poured in a second broadside. 
At this second fire one of her main-deck guns burst, 
shattering the spar deck above and killed three men 
and wounded seventeen. 

No signal of surrender had yet been made by the 
Turks, but a few of their men in the tops bravely re- 
mained at their posts and continued the action until 
shot down by American marines. Not wishing to shed 
blood unnecessarily, Decatur passed ahead and took a 
position off the enemy's bow, where he was out of range. 
Availing themselves of this, the Mussulmans put their 
helm up and endeavored to escape. This manoeuvre 
placed the little 18-gun brig Epermer directly in the 
course of the huge Algerian ; but, instead of getting out 
of the way, Master-Commandant Downes boldly opened 
his puny broadsides and took a position under the frig- 
ate's cabin ports, so that by skillfully backing and fill- 
ing away he avoided a collision, and at the same time 
poured in nine broadsides, which compelled the enemy, 
after a running action of twenty-five minutes, to sur- 
render. Decatur afterward remarked that he had 
never seen a vessel more skillfully handled, nor so heavy 
a fire kept up from one so small. The Guerriere now 
took possession, while Master-Commandant Lewis and 
Midshipmen Howell and Hoffman w r ent aboard with 
the prize crew. The Mashouda had been severely cut 
up, and her decks presented a dreadful scene. Splashes 
of blood, fragments of the human body, pieces of torn 


clothing and the general debris of battle were seen on 
all sides. Thirty out of a crew of four hundred and 
thirty-six men were killed or wounded, while four hun- 
dred and six prisoners were taken. The Guerriere's loss 
from the enemy's fire was" three killed and eleven 

In the afternoon after the capture Captain Decatur 
made a signal for all the officers of the squadron to 
come aboard the flagship. On being conducted to his 
cabin they found the table covered with Turkish dag- 
gers, scimiters, yataghans and pistols. Turning to 
Master-Commandant Downes, Captain Decatur said : 
"As you were fortunate in obtaining a favorable posi- 
tion and maintained it so handsomely, you shall have 
the first choice of these weapons." Each of the other 
officers selected some memento of the fight, in the order 
of their rank. The Mashouda was sent to Carthagena 
under the escort of the Macedonian, while the remain- 
der of the squadron, after taking prisoners aboard, set 
out in search of the other Algerian vessels, which were 
thought to be in the vicinity. 

On the 19th of June, while they were approaching 
Cape Palos, a suspicious brig was sighted, and the 
American ships immediately gave chase, while the 
stranger made every effort to get away. After a hard 
run of three hours the brig suddenly ran into shoal 
water, where the frigates could not follow, but the 
Htpervier, the Spar ft, the Torch and the Spitfire con- 
tinued the pursuit and soon opened fire. Upon this 
the brig, still keeping up a running fire, ran ashore be- 
tween the towers of Estacio and Albufera (which had 
been erected on the coast for the purpose of observing 
the approach of Barbary pirates in their kidnaping 
expeditions), and the Moors took to their boats, one of 
which was sunk by shot from the pursuing vessels. 
The Americans took possession and secured eighty- 
three prisoners. The prize proved to be the Algerian 
22-gun brig Estido, with a crew of one hundred and 


eighty men, twenty-three of whom were found dead on 
Sr decks The prize was floated off and sent with the 

gerian vessels would make for Algiers, determined to 
sail for that port in the hope of cutting them off A 
council of the officers was called, which resolved that 
this was the time for securing a treaty with the Dey, 
and it was decided to blockade the squadron and bom- 
bard the town if he failed to come to terms. On the 
28th of June the squadron appeared before Algiers 
and on the following morning the Guerriere displayed 
a white flag at the fore and Swedish colors at the mam- 
a signal for the Swedish consul, Mr. Norderling, to 
come aboard. About noon the consul arrived, accom- 
panied by the Algerian captain of the port. Decatur 
asked the latter what had become of the Algerian 
squadron, to which the port captain replied, "By this 
time it is safe in some neutral port." " Not the whole 
of it," responded Decatur, "for we have captured the 
Mashouda and the Estido." The Moor discredited 
the information, until a lieutenant of the Mashouda, 
emaciated and weak from his wounds, stepped forward 
and confirmed the news. Greatly affected, and trem- 
bling for the remainder of the squadron, the Moor inti- 
mated that peace might be negotiated, and inquired 
what terms were demanded. A letter from the Presi- 
dent of the United States to the Dey was handed to 
him, in which the only conditions of peace were the 
absolute relinquishment of all claim to tribute in the 
future and a guarantee that American commerce would 
not be molested by Algerian corsairs. The captain of 
the port suggested that the commissioners should land 
according to custom, and then enter upon the negoti- 
ations, but as his real object was to gain time this was 
promptly rejected, and Decatur insisted that the treaty 
be negotiated on board the Guerriere or not at all. The 
Moor then went ashore to convey the news to his master. 


On the following day, June 30th, the captain of the 
port boarded the Guerriere with full powers to nego- 
tiate. Decatur had determined to strike a mortal blow 
at their system of piracy, and he gave as the only terms 
that all Americans in the possession of Algiers be given 
up without ransom, all their effects (which long since 
had been distributed) be made good in money, Chris- 
tians escaping to American vessels should not be re- 
turned, the sum of ten thousand dollars should be paid 
to the owners of the Edwin, and from this time the re- 
lations between the two nations be precisely the same 
as those between all civilized nations. The Moor urged 
that it was not the present Dey who had declared war 
against the United States, but Hadji Ali, who for his 
great cruelty had been surnamed the " Tiger," and 
that he had been assassinated March 23d, and his Prime 
Minister, who had succeeded him, had been murdered 
April 18th ; that Omar Pasha, the present Dey, who 
for his great courage had won the title of "Omar the 
Terrible," had no agency in the war and was not ac- 
countable for the acts of his predecessors. But Decatur 
was inexorable. The Algerian captain requested that 
a truce might be declared until he could lay the terms 
before the Dey, but this also was denied. He then 
asked for a truce of three hours, but Decatur replied : 
"Not a minute ! If your squadron appears before the 
treaty is actually signed by the Dey, and before the 
American prisoners are sent aboard, I will capture it." 
In great trepidation the Moor hastened ashore, and it 
was understood that if his boat was observed returning 
to the Guerriere with a white flag in the bow it meant 
that the Dey had acceded to the terms. 

When he had been absent about an hour an Al- 
gerian ship of war was discovered approaching from 
the east. It was filled with Turkish soldiers from Tunis. 
Decatur promptly ordered his vessels to be cleared for 
action, and, laying his Turkish scimiter and pistols on 
the capstan of the Guerriere, he called the men aft and 


addressed them in his usual hearty style. But before 
the vessels could fairly get underway the port captain's 
boat was observed pulling energetically from the shore 
with a white flag in her bow. Somewhat vexed, Decatur 
waited for it, and when it was within hailing distance 
asked if the treaty had been signed and the prisoners 
released. He was answered in the affirmative, and soon 
the boat ran alongside and the captives were brought 
aboard. It was a pitiful sight to see these men, wasted 
and emaciated by their years of bondage, greeting their 
fellow-countrymen. Some of them lovingly kissed the 
American colors, others wept for joy, and some gave 
thanks to the Almighty for the unexpected deliverance. 

In less than sixteen days from the time the squadron 
arrived on the scene of trouble a more advantageous 
treaty than had ever been made with a foreign power 
had been signed by the Dey, and all the demands of 
the American Government were complied with. After 
signing the treaty the Dey's Prime Minister reproach- 
fully said to the British consul : " You told us that the 
Americans would be swept from the seas in six months 
by your navy, and now they make war upon us with 
some of your own vessels which they have taken." The 
vessels referred to were the Macedonian, the fipervier 
and the (new) Guerriere. 

The iipermer^ Lieutenant John Templer Shubrick, 
was now sent to the United States with a copy of the 
treaty and the ten liberated captives. The little brig 
passed the Straits of Gibraltar on the 12th of July and 
never was heard from again. A vessel answering to her 
description was seen by the British West India fleet 
during a heavy gale, and as several of the merchantmen 
foundered in that storm it was thought possible that 
the Bpermer might have been in collision with some of 
them. On board the lost man-of-war were Captain 
Lewis and Lieutenant Neale, who had married sisters 
on the eve of their departure for the Mediterranean and 
were now returning after the successful termination of 


the war. Lieutenant Yarnell (who had distinguished 
himself in the battle of Lake Erie) and Lieutenant 
Drury also were aboard. Midshipman Josiah Tattnall, 
afterward commander of the celebrated Merrimac, was 
in the JSpervier just before she sailed on her fatal voy- 
age, but exchanged places with a brother officer in the 
Constellation who was desirous of returning home. 

Captain Decatur now gave his attention to Tunis 
and Tripoli, which regencies had allowed the prizes of 
the American privateer AbelUno to be seized by British 
cruisers. These towns also were strongly fortified and 
had a considerable naval force. The American squad- 
ron anchored before Tunis on the 26th of July, and 
with his usual promptness Captain Decatur informed 
the Bey that only twelve hours would be allowed him 
in which to pay forty-six thousand dollars for allow- 
ing the seizure of the AbelUno 's prizes by the British 
cruiser Lyra. Mordecai M. Noah, United States con- 
sul at that place, who conveyed the terms of the treaty 
to the Bey, describes the interview: " 'Tell your ad- 
miral to come and see me,' said the Bey. ' He declines 
coming, your Highness, until these disputes are settled, 
which are best done on board the ship.' 'But this is 
not treating me w r ith becoming dignity. Hammuda 
Pasha, of blessed memory, commanded them to land 
and wait at the palace until he was pleased to receive 
them.' 'Very likely, Your Highness, but that was 
twenty years ago.' After a pause the Bey exclaimed : 
4 1 know this admiral ; he is the same one who, in the 
war with Sidi Jusef, of Trablis, burned the frigate ' [the 
Philadelphia]. 'The same.' 'Hum! Why do they 
send wild young men to treat for peace with old pow- 
ers? Then, you Americans do not speak the truth. 
You went to war with England, a nation with a great 
fleet, and said you took her frigates in equal fight. 
Honest people always speak the truth.' ' Well, sir, and 
that was true. Do you see that tall ship in the bay fly- 
ing a blue flag ? It is the Guerriere, taken from the Brit- 



ish. That one near the small island, the Macedonian, 
was also captured by Decatur on equal terms. The 
sloop near Cape Carthage, the Peacock, was also taken 
in battle.' The Bey laid down the telescope, reposed 
on his cushions, and, with a small tortoise-shell comb 
set with diamonds, combed his beard. A small vessel 
got under way and came near the batteries ; a pinnace 
with a few men rowed toward the harbor, and a man 
dressed in the garb of a sailor was taking soundings. 
It was Decatur." 

The Bey decided to accept the terms, and afterward 
received Decatur with every mark of respect. A brother 
of the Prime Minister brought the money, and, turning 
angrily upon the British consul, said: "You see, sir, 
what Tunis is obliged to pay for your insolence. You 
should feel ashamed of the disgrace you have brought 
upon us. I ask you if you think it just, first to violate 
our neutrality and then leave us to be destroyed or pay 
for your aggressions?" 

From this port Decatur proceeded to Tripoli, where 
he dropped anchor on the 5th of August, and with his 
usual straightforwardness came to the object of his 
mission. His terms with the Bashaw were thirty thou- 
sand dollars for the two prizes of the Abellino seized by 
the British cruiser Paulina, a salute of thirty-one guns 
from the Bashaw's castle to the flag at the American 
consulate, and that the negotiations take place in the 
Guerriere. At first the Bashaw put on a bold front, 
and, assembling his twenty thousand Arabs, manned 
his batteries and threatened to declare war ; but when 
he heard of the treatment Algiers and Tunis had re- 
ceived he promptly changed his demeanor, the more 
speedily when he observed the American squadron 
making preparations to renew the scenes of the bom- 
bardment of 1804. The Governor of Tripoli boarded 
the Guerriere with full power to negotiate. On the 
assurance of the American consul that twenty-five 
thousand dollars would cover the loss of the prizes, 

1815. A MOMENT OF PERIL. 19 

Decatur consented to this redaction, provided that 
ten Christians held by the Bashaw as slaves be re- 
leased. "Two of these slaves were Danish youths, 
countrymen of the worthy Mr. Nissen, who had been 
so indefatigable in exercising kind offices toward the 
officers of the Philadelphia while they were captives 
in Tripoli. The others were Sicilians, being a gentle- 
man with his wife and children who had been captured 
together and involved in one common misfortune." 1 
These conditions having been acceded to by the Bashaw 
and the money handed over, the Guerriere's band was 
landed, and treated the natives to a purely American 
rendering of " Hail, Columbia ! " 

Having adjusted the difficulties with the Barbary 
States in true man-of-war style, Decatur sailed for 
Sicily and landed the captives, and the rest of the 
squadron made for Gibraltar. While the Guerriere 
was beating down the coast from Carthagena alone, 
against a moderate breeze, she met the remainder of 
the Algerian squadron, which had put into Malta. 
Fearing that the treacherous Moors might be tempted 
to renew hostilities under such favorable circumstances, 
Captain Decatur cleared for action, and, collecting his 
crew on the quarter-deck, addressed them as follows : 
"My lads, those fellows are approaching us in a threat- 
ening manner. We have whipped them into a treaty, 
and if the treaty is to be broken let them break it. Be 
careful of yourselves. Let any man fire without orders 
at the peril of his life. But let them fire first if they 
will, and we'll take the whole of them." The crew was 
sent back to quarters and all was expectation and 
silence, while care was taken not to approach too near 
the primed and leveled guns, lest they might be ac- 
cidentally discharged. On came the Algerian ships in 
line of battle, seven in all four frigates and three 
sloops. They passed close to the Guerriere in ominous 

1 Mackenzie's Life of Decatur, p. 278. 


silence, until their last ship, the admiral's, drew near 
and hailed, "Dove andante ? " (Where are you going 2) 
To this Decatuf defiantly, replied "Dove mi piace" 
(Where it pleases me). Nothing followed this gruff re- 
tort, and the ships continued on their courses. 

On the 6th of October Captain Decatur's squadron 
assembled at Gibraltar, where it found the vessels 
under Captain Bainbridge : the 74-gun ship of the line 
Independence, the 44-gun frigate United States, the 
36-gun frigate Congress, the 18-gun sloop of war Erie, 
the 16-gun brig Boxer, the 16-gun brig CTiippewa, the 
16-gun brig Saranac, the 12-gun schooner Enterprise, 
the 12-gun brig Firefly and the 5-gun sloop Lynx. 
The imposing appearance presented by the two squad- 
rons united at England's impregnable stronghold so 
soon after the cessation of hostilities occasioned no lit- 
tle chagrin in the British garrison, and caused some 
merriment among the Spanish and foreign residents. 
They took delight in pointing out the Guerriere, the 
Macedonian, the Epermer and the Boxer names long 
associated with Britishnaval supremacy, but now calmly 
flying American colors under the frowning Rock of Gib- 
raltar and before the sullen faces of its garrison. The 
frequent recurrence of such names as Java, Erie, Cham- 
plain, Peacock, Ontario, Penguin, Frolic, Reindeer, 
Avon, Cyane and Levant, gave rise to much ill feeling 
and brought about several duels. English officials had 
circulated a report that the Americans were not allowed 
to build ships of the line, but the appearance of the 
noble Independence contradicted them. 

It was not to be expected that the Dey of Algiers, 
on reflection, would calmly submit to the unusual con- 
ditions of his American treaty without many regrets. 
Some of the consuls of European nations at Algiers also 
were mortified at the affair, and encouraged the Dey in 
the belief that "it was disgraceful to the Faithful to 
humble themselves before Christian dogs" in this man- 
ner. The discontent of the Dey was further increased by 


the treaty that he succeeded in negotiating with Lord 
Exmouth, shortly after Decatur's squadron left Algiers. 
Notwithstanding the fact that the British squadron 
consisted of six line of battle ships, two fiigates, three 
sloops of war, a bomb ship and several transports, he 
consented to pay nearly four hundred thousand dollars 
for twelve thousand Neapolitan and Sardinian captives. 
Encouraged by this "diplomatic victory "over Lord 
Exmouth, the Dey became bolder, and on the departure 
of the English ships, the American consul, William Sha- 
ler, had an audience with the Dey and gave him the 
copy of Decatur's treaty that had been ratified by the 
Senate and was brought out in the/aoa, Captain Oliver 
Hazard Perry. The Dey affected not to understand 
why it was necessary to "ratify" a treaty, and said he 
believed it to be unsatisfactory to the United States 
Government. He was indignant because a brig cap- 
tured by Captain Decatur on the coast of Spain within 
the three-mile limit had been delivered up to the Span- 
ish authorities. The Dey abruptly terminated the con- 
ference by remarking that the Americans "were un- 
worthy of his confidence." The next day he refused 
to hold another audience with Mr. Shaler, and referred 
him to the vizier, who returned the ratified treaty with 
insulting expressions, upon which Mr. Shaler hauled 
down his flag and went aboard the Java. In antici- 
pation of some trouble of this sort a squadron had 
been collected off Algiers : the 44-gun frigate United 
States, Captain John Shaw ; the 36-gun frigate Constel- 
lation Captain Charles Gordon ; the 44-gun frigate Java ; 
the 18-gun sloop of war Erie, Master-Commandant 
William Crane ; the 18-gun sloop of war Ontario, Mas- 
ter Commandant John Downes. This squadron sailed 
from Port Mahon early in April and arrived before Al- 
giers on the 8th of April. When the Americans heard 
of the action of the Dey they drew up their squadron 
in a position to bombard the Algerian war ships at the 
mole. Arrangements also were made for a night at- 

22 "WAR WITH ALGIERS. 1815. 

tack. All the boats in the squadron, with twelve hun- 
dred volunteers, were divided into two flotillas, one of 
which was to attack the water battery and spike the 
guns while the other was to carry the land batteries. 
Ladders were prepared for scaling the walls, and cut- 
lasses and boarding-pikes were sharpened. Captain 
Gordon was to command the expedition, and Captain 
Perry to be second in command. But on the night the 
attack was to be made the commander of a French 
frigate discovered the preparations and informed the 
Dey, who became so alarmed that he quickly came to 
terms, with renewed expressions of friendship, and the 
treaty was formally signed. 

From Algiers the squadron visited Tripoli, Syra- 
cuse, Messina and Palermo. At the latter port it was 
learned that the Bey of Tunis also was dissatisfied 
with the conditions of Decatur's treaty, and on the 18th 
of June the squadron appeared at that port, upon 
which the Bey retracted his warlike utterances. The 
United States, the Constellation, the Erie and the 
Ontario, under the command of Captain Shaw, were 
now detailed for the Mediterranean squadron, while 
the remainder of the American fleet sailed for America 
in October. Shortly afterward the 74-gun ship of the 
line Washington, Captain Isaac Chauncey, arrived at 
Gibraltar and became the flagship of the squadron. 



THE success of the United States in securing its in- 
dependence of Great Britain encouraged the Spanish 
colonies in America to throw off the yoke of the mother 
country, and a long series of bloody wars followed. 
The process of revolutionizing governments, at best, is 
generally attended by acts of violence, and when un- 
dertaken by the ignorant and depraved people of the 
Spanish- American colonies it led to rapine and piracy. 
When the standard of rebellion was raised in these 
provinces adventurers and outlaws from many coun- 
tries flocked to it, ostensibly to serve against Spain, but 
in reality attracted by the prospects of plunder. 

Shortly after the second war between the United 
States and Great Britain the republics of Buenos 
Ayres and Venezuela commissioned swift-sailing ves- 
sels, manned by twenty-five to one hundred men, as 
privateers to prey on Spanish merchantmen. It was 
not long before these ships began to plunder vessels of 
neutral nations, and, as their first acts of violence were 
not promptly checked, piracy soon spread to an alarm- 
ing extent. Like their confreres of the preceding cen- 
tury, who began their depredations with prayer, these 
"patriots afloat" at first went to sea with a religious 
benediction and were denominated "Brethren of the 
Coast." Piracy became so lucrative that the farmers 
and salt-makers living near the sea abandoned their 
calling and took to buccaneering. Concealing their 
boats and schooners in creeks and coves, they attacked 
unsuspecting merchantmen, plundered the vessels, and 



after murdering the crews or setting them adrift, as the 
exigencies of the occasion required, they returned to 
their homes. If a man-of-war visited the scene of out- 
rage, or the civil authorities made an investigation, the 
buccaneers suddenly resumed their original vocation, 
and in this guise gave false information. It was not 
long before the pirates had organized themselves into a 
secret service, by means of which messages as to the 
movements of cruisers and merchantmen were sent 
along the coast in an incredibly short time. The local 
authorities and some of the high officials connived at 
the nefarious practice, while many merchants in the 
large cities boldly announced that they dealt exten- 
sively in goods " at a peculiarly low figure." Although 
not every instance of piracy was attended by murder, 
yet there were many cases of wanton cruelty and cold- 
blooded butchery that the cheap novels have failed to 
exaggerate. A drifting hulk, with strong boxes broken 
open, the hold plundered, and here and there splashes 
of blood on the cabin furniture or bulwarks, and putre- 
fying corpses scattered about the decks covered with 
sea birds feeding on the carrion, were the unmistakable 
evidences of their work. 

The Government of the United States was anxious 
to maintain friendly relations with the republics of 
Buenos Ayres and Venezuela, which it had been the 
first to recognize, but at the same time reports of out- 
rages on American merchantmen continued to come in 
with alarming frequency, and in 1819 Captain Oliver 
Hazard Perry was called upon to perform the delicate 
task of putting a stop to piracy while still retaining the 
good will of these republics. The John Adams, flag- 
ship, the Constellation, Master-Commandant Alexander 
Scammell Wadsworth, and the Nonsuch, Lieutenant 
Alexander Claxton, were detailed for this duty. The 
principal point to be obtained from the Venezuelan 
Government was a complete list and description of all 
the privateers it had commissioned, so that American 


cruisers would have less difficulty in distinguishing the 
miscreants. Captain Perry arrived at the mouth of the 
Orinoco River, July 15, 1819, and as there were only 
sixteen feet of water on the bar he shifted his flag to 
the Nonsuch and began the ascent of the river. He 
describes this journey in his private journal as follows : 
" The sun, as soon as it shows itself in the morning, 
strikes almost through you. Mosquitoes, sand flies and 
gnats cover you, and as the sun gets up higher it be- 
comes entirely calm, and the rays pour down a heat 
that is insufferable. The fever that it creates, together 
with the irritation caused by the insects, produces a 
thirst which is insatiable, to quench which we drink 
water at a temperature of eighty-two degrees. About 
four o'clock in the afternoon a rain squall, accompanied 
by a little wind, generally takes place. It might be 
supposed that this would cool the air, but not so, for 
the steam which arises as soon as the sun comes out 
makes the heat still more intolerable. At length night 
approaches, and we go close inshore and anchor. Myr- 
iads of mosquitoes and gnats come off to the vessel and 
compel us to sit over strong smoke created by burning 
oakum and tar, rather than endure their terrible stings, 
until, wearied and exhausted, we go to bed to endure 
new torments. Shut up in the berth of a small cabin, 
if there is any air stirring not a breath of it can reach 
us. The mosquitoes, more persevering, follow us and 
annoy us the whole night by their noise and bites, un- 
til, almost mad with the heat and pain, we rise to go 
through the same troubles the next day." 

On reaching Angostura, three hundred miles up the 
river, July 26th, Captain Perry asked for the list of 
commissioned privateers, and said that the American 
schooner Brutus, commanded by Nicholas Joly, had 
been illegally condemned and sold in a Venezuelan 
port. President Bolivar being away with the army, 
Vice-President Don Antonio Francisco Zea gave the 
American officer an audience and promised to furnish 


the desired information in a few days. At that time the 
town was afflicted with fever, and two Englishmen, liv- 
ing in the house with Captain Perry, died from it. The 
crew of the Nonsuch became sickly, while the Creoles 
were dying almost every day. The surgeon of the 
Nonsuch also was taken down with the fever. But 
still Perry remained in the plague-stricken place day 
after day, waiting for an answer to his communications. 
The natives of the place were opposed to the Americans 
and friendly to the English, and paragraphs from Eng- 
lish papers hostile to the United States were trans- 
lated and printed. On the llth of August Captain 
Perry received an official reply to his demand, in which 
indemnity was promised. The Vice- President urged 
him to remain until August 14th, in order to attend a 
dinner to be given in his honor in the name of the Gov- 
ernment. In spite of the danger, Captain Perry deemed 
it his duty to remain in the fever-stricken place, as he 
feared a refusal might give offense. 

He sailed from Angostura on the 15th, and on the 
night of the 17th reached the bar, where he was detained 
by a strong southwest breeze. During the night occa- 
sional dashes of spray fell, over the Nonsuch, and, de- 
scending the companionway, fell on Captain Perry, who 
was sleeping in his berth, but did not arouse him. At 
four o'clock in the morning he awoke with a chill, and 
it was not long before he showed all the symptoms of the 
dreaded fever, and on the 24th of August he died aboard 
ship just as the Nonsuch reached Port of Spain, Trini- 
dad. It happened that many of the officers and men of 
the British regiment stationed at this place had served 
in the battle of Lake Erie and entertained the highest 
respect for Captain Perry, and remembered his kind- 
nesses to them when they were his prisoners. When 
it was known that he was about to visit Trinidad, ex- 
tensive preparations were made to give him a cordial 
reception ; and when the dead body of the American 
commander was brought ashore the preparations for 


festivity were changed into mourning. Captain Perry 
was buried with the highest civic and military honors, 
Sir Ralph Woodford, the governor, attending the fune- 
ral with his entire suite. Perry's body afterward was 
removed to Newport, R. I. 1 

It was not until 1821 that piracy became so general 
in the West Indies as to compel the United States Gov- 
ernment to take vigorous measures against it. In the 
autumn of this year the following vessels were detailed 
for service in the West Indies The 18-gun sloop of 
war Hornet, Master-Commandant Robert Henley ; 
the 12-gun brig Enterprise, Lieutenant Lawrence 
Kearny ; the 12-gun brig Spark; the 12-gun schooner 
Shark; the 12-gun schooner Porpoise, Lieutenant 
James Ramage ; the 12-gun schooner Grampus, Lieu- 
tenant Francis Hoyt Gregory ; and three gunboats. 
Considering the extent to which piracy had grown, the 
innumerable hiding places in which the marauders 
could conceal themselves and the facilities offered by 
the officials, it could not be expected that this force 
would accomplish much. Yet great activity was dis- 
played by the commanders of these vessels, and Lieu- 
tenant Kearny, while cruising off Cape Antonio, Octo- 
ber 16th, came upon four piratical craft in the act of 
plundering three American merchantmen. As the ves- 
sels were close inshore, where there was not enough 
water for the Enterprise to follow, Lieutenant Kearny 
promptly manned five boats and sent them to the res- 
cue. On the approach of the Americans the bucca- 
neers, after setting fire to two of the schooners, made 
sail to escape. Two of their schooners and one sloop, 
having about forty men aboard, were captured and 
taken to Charleston. A month later Lieutenant Kearny 
destroyed a resort of the pirates near Cape Antonio, 

1 On November 16, 1825, Thomas Macdonough, the hero of the battle 
of Lake Champlain, died at sea, ten days out from Gibraltar, homeward 
bound. After the War of 1812 he was active in the service, and had just 
been relieved of the command of the Mediterranean squadron when he died. 


and on the 21st of December he captured a piratical 
schooner, but its crew of twenty-five men escaped. 
While in the vicinity of this place the Enterprise, on 
the 6th of March, 1822, captured four barges and 
three launches with one hundred and sixty men. In 
the meantime, October 29, 1821, Master-Commandant 
Eobert Henley, in the Hornet, captured the schooner 
Moscow, which he sent into Norfolk ; and on the 17th of 
January, 1822, a boat party of forty men under Lieuten- 
ant James Freeman Curtis, of the Porpoise, captured 
a piratical schooner. Manning the prize, Curtis pro- 
ceeded some ten miles down the coast and captured in 
handsome style the principal rendezvous of the pirates, 
making three prisoners and destroying five vessels, one 
of them " a beautiful new 60-ton schooner." 

Piracy in the West Indies had become too wide- 
spread to be checked by a few captures, and in the 
spring of 1822 the American squadron was placed 
under the command of Captain James Biddle, and was 
re-enforced by the 38-gun frigate Macedonian, flag- 
ship ; the 36-gun frigate Congress ; the 28-gun cor- 
vette John Adams ; the 18-gun sloop of war Peacock, 
Master-Commandant Stephen Cassin ; and the 12-gun 
schooner Alligator, Lieutenant William Howard Allen. 
One of the first captures made by this squadron was 
effected by the Shark, Lieutenant Matthew Calbraith 
Perry, and the Grampus, Lieutenant Gregory. In 
June these little cruisers overtook and after a sharp 
fight captured the notorious pirate Bandar a D'San- 
gare, and another piratical craft. Meeting the Con- 
gress at sea, July 24th, they put all the prisoners 
aboard the frigate, while the Shark and the Grampus 
continued their cruise, and before the season was over 
Lieutenant Perry captured five buccaneering craft. 
Near St. Croix the Grampus captured the famous 
pirate brig Pandrita, a vessel of superior force. 

While cruising on this station, August 16, 1822, the 
Grampus chased a brigantine that was flying Spanish 


colors, but, believing her to be a pirate, Lieutenant 
Gregory insisted on her surrender. In reply to his 
summons he received a discharge of cannon and mus- 
ketry, which was promptly returned, and in less than 
four minutes the stranger hauled down her flag. On 
boarding, she was found to be the privateer Palmira, 
of Porto Rico, which had recently plundered the 
American schooner Coquette. The prize carried one 
long 18-pounder and eight short 18-pounders, with a 
crew of eighty-eight men, of whom one was killed and 
six were wounded. The Grampus was uninjured. 
The Palmira was one of the many vessels sailing with 
a privateer's commission that had resorted to piracy as 
the shortest road to wealth. On the 28th and 30th of 
September the Peacock, Master-Commandant Stephen 
Cassin, captured five piratical craft. 

This success was followed, November 8th, by a 
spirited attack on three piratical schooners. While 
lying in the harbor of Matanzas, Lieutenant Allen, who 
had distinguished himself in the Argus-Pelican fight, 
in 1813, heard that three schooners flying the black 
flag and manned by about three hundred men were 
forty-five miles up the coast, with five merchantmen in 
their possession. Promptly getting under way, Lieu- 
tenant Allen came upon the buccaneers on the following 
day, and as the shoal water prevented the Alligator 
from closing on them the boats were ordered out. 
The pirates immediately made sail, and at the same 
time opened a heavy fire on the pursuing boats. One of 
their musket shot struck Lieutenant Allen in the head 
while he was standing in his boat (which was in ad- 
vance of the others) animating his men by his example, 
and soon afterward another ball entered his breast, and 
in a few hours he died. The Americans continued the 
chase and captured one of the schooners, besides re- 
capturing the five merchant vessels. The pirates did 
not wait to be boarded, but took to their boats and es- 
caped with their two remaining schooners, not, however, 



without a loss of fourteen killed and a large number of 
wounded. The American loss was three killed, two 
mortally wounded and three injured. The captured 
schooner mounted one long 12-pounder, two long 6- 
pounders, and four light guns. Lieutenant Allen was 
born in Hudson, N. Y., on the 8th of November, 1790, 
and entered the navy as a midshipman January 1, 1808. 
He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant July 24, 
1817, and displayed great gallantry in the Argus-Peli- 
can fight. Halleck wrote a poem on his death. In 
the night of November 19th the Alligator was lost on 
Carysford Reef, but her officers and crew were saved. 

The service in which the American squadron was 
engaged was peculiarly hazardous and exhausting. 
Much of the work was done in open boats, so that the 
men were not only exposed to the enemy's bullets but 
to the fierce rays of the sun, while the cruisers were 
continually in danger of hurricanes and wreck on the 
treacherous shoals. From the proximity to swamps and 
sickly localities, fever and malaria were not the least 
dangerous of their foes. The connivance of the local 
authorities enabled many pirates to escape when 
chased to shore, and it was only with considerable di- 
plomacy that Captain Biddle secured permission to 
land and pursue them into their haunts. It became 
more and more apparent to the Government that a 
larger number of small craft was necessary for this 
service, because of the shoal waters and narrow creeks 
in which the marauders took refuge. Early in 1823 
Captain David Porter was appointed commander of the 
West India forces, but before sailing from the United 
States he secured five barges fitted with twenty oars 
each for the service. They were appropriately styled 
the mosquito fleet, and were named the Mosquito, the 
Gnat, the Midge, the Sandfiy and the Gallinipper 
insects with which their crews were destined to be un- 
pleasantly familiar. To this force were added eight 
small schooners armed with three guns each, named 


the Greyhound, the Jackal, the Fox, the Wildcat, the 
Beagle, the Ferret, the TFeaseZ and the Terrier. A 
New York steam ferryboat, about one third of the size 
of the present vessels, was fitted up for the service and 
named the Seagull. The store vessel Decoy, mounting 
six guns also was purchased. Captain Porter's flag- 
ship was the Peacock, and the other cruisers under his 
orders were the John Adams, the Hornet, the Spark, 
the Grampus and the Shark. The entire force under 
his command was not equal to three first-rate frigates. 

Arriving off Porto Rico in March. 1823, Captain 
Porter made it his first object to secure the co-operation 
of the local authorities, and with that end in view he 
dispatched the Greyhound, Master-Commandant John 
Porter, March 3d, with a letter to the Governor of Porto 
Rico. Not getting a prompt reply, he sent the Fox, 
Lieutenant W. H. Cocke, into the harbor to inquire 
about the governor's answer. As the Fox was standing 
into the port a shot was fired over her from the fort, 
and as she did not immediately heave to another shot 
was fired, which killed Lieutenant Cocke. The fort 
followed this up with four other shot, when the Fox 
came to anchor under its guns. On making an in- 
quiry, Captain Porter was informed that the governor 
was absent and had left orders to the commander of 
the fort to allow no suspicious vessels to enter, and it 
was in pursuance of this order that the Fox had been 
fired upon. It was the general belief of the American 
officers that the act was a retaliation for the capture of 
the Palmira. The matter was reported to the Govern- 
ment, but nothing further was done. 

The American naval force was now divided so as to 
scour the northern and southern coasts of St. Domingo 
and Cuba, after which the vessels were to rendezvous 
at Key West, where Captain Porter intended to build 
hospitals and storehouses and to make it his headquar- 
ters. In carrying out this programme, the Greyhound, 
Lieutenant Lawrence Kearny, and the Beagle, Lieuten- 


ant J. T. Newton, came upon a nest of pirates at Cape 
Cruz and destroyed eight of their boats, besides a bat- 
tery mounting a 4-pounder and two swivels. This was 
not done without a fierce struggle, and the wife of the 
pirate chief fought with desperate ferocity before she 
was overpowered, while her children kindled fires to 
warn other piratical resorts in the neighborhood. 
Many human bones and quantities of stolen merchan- 
dise were found in a cave near by. Midshipman David 
Glasgow Farragut, who commanded the landing party, 
gives a graphic description of this attack in his Jour- 
nal as follows : 

"Cruising all through the Jardines and around the 
Isle of Pines we kept a watchful eye on the coast, but 
nothing occurred until one day when we were anchored 
off Cape Cruz in company with the Beagle. Kearny 
and Newton went on shore in one of the boats to see if 
there was any game in the neighborhood. The boat's 
crew was armed as usual, and had been on shore but 
a short time when a man suddenly crossed the path. 1 
From his suspicious appearance one of the sailors, 
named McCabe, leveled his gun at the stranger and 
was about to pull the trigger, when his arm was arrested 
by Kearny, who asked what he was aiming at. 'A 

d d pirate, sir,' was the response. 'How do you 

know?' 'By his rig,' said the man promptly. By 
this time the fellow had disappeared ; but our men 
had scarcely taken their seats in the boat in readiness 
to shove oil, when they received a full volley of mus- 
ketry from the dense woods or chaparral. The fire 
was returned as soon as possible, but with no effect as 
far as could be ascertained, the pirates being well con- 
cealed behind the bushes. On board the Greyhound 
we could hear the firing, but could render no assist- 
ance, as Lieutenant Kearny had the only available boat 
belonging to the vessel. Kearny reached us at dark, re- 
lated his adventure, and ordered me to be in readiness 
to land with a party at three o'clock the next morning. 

1823. A LAND ATTACK. 33 

"The schooner was to warp up inside the rocks to 
cover the attacking party. I landed, accompanied by 
Mr. Harrison, of the Beagle, the marines of both ves- 
sels, numbering twelve men, and the stewards and 
boys, making in all a force of seventeen. We had or- 
ders to keep back from the beach, that we might not be 
mistaken for pirates and receive the fire of the vessels. 
We were all ignorant of the topography of the coast, 
and when we landed found ourselves on a narrow 
strip of land covered with a thick and almost impass- 
able chaparral, separated from the mainland by a la- 
goon. With great difficulty we made our way through 
marsh and bramble, clearing a passage with cutlasses, 
till we reached the mouth of the lagoon. We were 
compelled to show ourselves on the beach at this point, 
and narrowly escaped being fired upon from the Grey- 
Ttound, but luckily, covered with mud as I was, Lieu- 
tenant Kearny with his glass made out my epaulet and 
immediately sent boats to transport us across to the 
eastern shore. We found the country there very 
rocky, and the rock was honeycombed and had the 
appearance of iron, with sharp edges. The men from 
the Beagle joined us, which increased my force to 
about thirty men. The captain, in the meantime, 
wishing to be certain as to the character of the men 
who had fired on him the previous evening, pulled 
boldly up again in his boat with a flag flying. Scarce- 
ly was he within musket range when from under the 
bluffs of the cape he received a volley of musketry 
and a discharge from a 4-pound swivel. There was no 
longer any doubt in the matter, and, considering that 
the enemy had too large a force to imperil his whole 
command on shore, Kearny decided to re-embark all 
but my original detachment, and I was ordered to 
attack the pirates in the rear while the schooners at- 
tacked them in front. The pirates had no idea that 
our schooners could get near enough to reach them, 
but in this they were mistaken, for, by pulling along 


among the rocks, our people were soon able to bring 
their guns to bear on the bluffs, which caused a scat- 
tering among the miscreants. My party all this time 
was struggling through the thicket that covered the 
rocks, the long, sharp thorns of the cactus giving us a 
great deal of trouble. Then there was a scrubby thorn 
bush, so thick as almost to shut out the air, rendering 
it next to impossible to get along any faster than we 
could hew our way with the cutlasses. The heat had 
become so intense that Lieutenant Somerville, who had 
accompanied us, fainted. Our progress was so slow 
that by the time the beach was reached the pirates 
were out of sight. Now and then a fellow would be 
seen in full run, and apparently fall down and dis- 
appear from view. We caught one old man in this 
difficult chase. 

" Our surprise was very great, on returning to make 
an examination of the place lately vacated by the pi- 
rates, to find that they had several houses, from fifty 
to one hundred feet long, concealed from view, and a 
dozen boats and all the necessary apparatus for tur- 
tling and fishing as well as for pirating. An immense 
cave was discovered, filled with plunder of various 
kinds, including many articles marked with English 
labels, with saddles and costumes worn by the higher 
classes of Spanish peasants. In the vicinity were 
found several of these caves, in which a thousand men 
might have concealed themselves and held the strong 
position against a largely superior force. We con- 
tented ourselves with burning their houses and carry- 
ing off the plunder, cannon etc., and returned to the 
vessel. The only man we captured, who had every ap- 
pearance of being a leper, was allowed to go. 

"My only prize on this occasion was a large black 
monkey, which I took in single combat. He bit me 
through the arm, but had to surrender at discretion. 
In our first march through the swamp our shoes be- 
came much softened, and in the last many were com- 

1823. MARCHING IN MUD. 35 

pletely cut from the feet of the men. Fortunately for 
myself, I had put on a pair of pegged negro brogans 
and got along pretty well, while some of my comrades 
suffered severely. One of the officers lost his shoe in 
the swamp, and one of the men, in endeavoring to re- 
cover it, was mired in a most ludicrous manner one 
arm and one leg in the mud and one arm and one leg 
in the air. Nothing could exceed the ridiculous appear- 
ance we made when we got to the shore. My panta- 
loons were glued to my legs, my jacket was torn to 
shreds, and I was loaded with mud. The men under 
Somerville saluted me as their commander, but the 
sight was too much for all hands and there was a gen- 
eral burst of laughter. Another ridiculous incident of 
the expedition may as well be mentioned. When we 
had advanced about half a mile into the thicket I or- 
dered a halt, to await the preconcerted signal gun from 
the schooner to push forward as rapidly as possible. 
At this moment I heard a great noise in our rear, and 
it occurred to me that the pirates might be behind us 
in force. In forming my men to receive the attack 
from that direction, I made a most animated speech, 
encouraging them to fight bravely, but had scarcely 
concluded my harangue when, to my great relief, it 
was discovered that the noise proceeded from about 
ten thousand land crabs making their way through the 
briers." 1 

About the 1st of April the Fox, the Jackal, the Gal- 
linipper and the Mosquito, under the orders of Master- 
Commandant Cassin, kept guard on the northwestern 
coast of Cuba and gave convoy to a large fleet of mer- 
chantmen. Hearing that a suspicious-looking vessel 
was in the neighborhood, Master-Commandant Cassin 
dispatched the Gallinipper, Lieutenant Cornelius Kin- 
chiloe Stribling, in search of it. In the early dawn of 
April 8th Lieutenant Stribling discovered a strange 

1 Farragut's Journal. 


craft working close inshore, and opened fire on her with 
musketry for the purpose of bringing her to. The 
stranger responded with a discharge of round shot, 
grape and small arms, at the same time making stren- 
uous efforts to escape, but finally she was compelled to 
run ashore, and all her men, except two who escaped, 
were killed. The prize was the fast-sailing schooner 
Pilot, of Norfolk, armed with a long 12-pounder, and 
had been captured by the pirates only eight days be- 
fore. The leader of the pirates was the notorious 
Domingo, who showed a "nice sense of honor" by 
forwarding to Captain Porter and his officers letters 
that he had found in the Pilot, remarking that he did 
not "wish to deprive them of the pleasure of hearing 
from their friends." 

About the same time that Master-Commandant Cas- 
sin captured the Pilot, he destroyed several resorts of 
the pirates and three of their schooners. Entering a 
bay noted as a rendezvous for pirates, he discovered 
a felucca standing out, which, on being chased, ran 
ashore and her crew escaped into the woods. It was a 
newly coppered boat propelled by sixteen oars, and 
evidently was just setting out on its first marauding 

Lieutenant Newell, while cruising with the Ferret 
in the vicinity of Matanzas, discovered a heavily armed 
barge in a bay and sent his only boat to reconnoiter. 
Scarcely had the boat got within musket shot when a 
number of pirates on shore ran down to the water's 
edge and opened a brisk fire on the Americans, and 
some of their shot took effect at the water line of the 
boat, so the party was compelled to return to the Fer- 
ret. Lieutenant Newell then stood inshore and opened 
fire on the barge and seven boats that were seen on the 
beach ; but as it was blowing a heavy gale, and the 
Ferret could fire only when staying, she soon desisted 
and made sail for Matanzas to secure another boat. On 
his way to that port Lieutenant Newell fell in with an 


English brig, and, obtaining a boat from her, he imme- 
diately returned to the attack. But the pirates had 
retreated to a lagoon some miles inland, taking with 
them all but two of their boats. 

About three months after Captain Porter arrived at 
Havana several acts of piracy were reported, and he or- 
dered the Gall/nipper, Lieutenant William II. Watson, 
and the Mosquito, Lieutenant William Inman, having 
aboard five officers and twenty-six men in all, to cruise 
around the island and keep a careful lookout for the 
buccaneers. In carrying out these instructions Lieuten- 
ant Watson had reached the bay where Lieutenant Allen 
had been killed the year before, when a large topsail 
schooner, and a launch filled with men, were discovered 
working along the shore toward the anchorage of sev- 
eral merchant vessels. The Galli nipper and the Mos- 
quito showed their colors and bore down on the stran- 
gers, upon which the schooner hoisted the Spanish flag 
and opened a rapid fire, and at the same time made sail 
to escape. In the long chase that followed the Amer- 
ican barges were exposed to the pirates' fire. Having 
run close inshore, the schooner and the launch anchored 
with springs on their cables, and made preparations for 
an obstinate defense. Although there were from sev- 
enty to eighty of the pirates, and the entire force of the 
Americans was only thirty-one men, Lieutenant Watson 
gave the order to attack, and in spite of a hot fire the 
Americans, shouting "Hurrah for Allen!" dashed at 
the buccaneers and drove them into the sea. Not wait- 
ing to take possession of the prizes, the Gallinipper 
and the Mosquito sailed past, and were soon in the 
midst of the swimmers, and, laying about right and 
left, exterminated several dozens of them. With the 
aid of the local authorities, nearly all the miscreants 
were either killed or captured. None of the Americans 
were injured. The schooner proved to be the Catalina, 
mounting one long 9-pounder and three 6-pounders, 
commanded by Diabolito, or Little Devil, a notorious 


pirate of the West Indies, who, on refusing to surren- 
der, was killed in the water. The Catalina had been 
taken recently from the Spaniards, and was on her first 
piratical cruise. Lieutenant Watson took five prison- 
ers, whom he handed over to the authorities when he 
arrived at Havana. Taken altogether, this was one of 
the most brilliant aifairs of the year. Lieutenant 
Watson died shortly afterward from yellow fever. 

Driven from the sea by the activity of the American 
naval force, many of the freebooters continued their 
depredations on land, and soon became as great a terror 
to the inhabitants of the towns and villages as they had 
been to merchantmen on the high seas. Several estates 
near Matanzas were plundered, and so many atrocities 
were committed on the outskirts of the cities that finally 
it became necessary to send the cavalry and infantry 
after them. 

Further operations against the pirates was inter- 
rupted by the yellow fever that broke out at Key West 
in August, 1823. Several of the men died, and Captain 
Porter and some of the officers were taken down. Find- 
ing that there was little chance of overcoming the dis- 
ease in this malarious place, Captain Porter sailed for 
the North with most of his vessels, and after the men 
had recovered in the pure air he returned to the scene 
of action. 

The principal feature of the naval operations of 
1824 was the celebrated Foxardo affair. On the 26th 
of October Lieutenant Charles T. Platt, of the Beagle, 
learned that the storehouse of the American consul at 
St. Thomas had been broken into and goods valued at 
five thousand dollars taken from it. It was believed 
that the stolen property had been carried to Foxardo, 
a small port on the eastern end of Porto Rico. Lieu- 
tenant Platt anchored off that port, and, waiting upon 
the civil authorities, informed them of his mission and 
asked their assistance in recovering the plunder and 
apprehending the robbers. The town officers treated 


him with great incivility, and as the American lieuten- 
ant had landed without his uniform they demanded his 
commission. On his producing that paper it was pro- 
nounced a forgery, and Lieutenant Platt was arrested 
on the charge of being a pirate. He and Midshipman 
Robert Ritchie, who accompanied him, were placed 
under arrest, and were only released and allowed to re- 
turn to their vessel after being subjected to great in- 
dignities. On hearing of this affair, Captain Porter, 
having his flag on the John Adams, anchored off the 
port with the Beagle and the Grampus, and the boats 
of the John Adams, under the command of Master- 
Commandant Alexander James Dallas, ran into the 
harbor. In a letter dated November 12th, addressed 
to the alcalde, Captain Porter demanded an explana- 
tion of the treatment the American officers had re- 
ceived, giving that magistrate one hour for an answer. 
The letter was sent by a lieutenant under a flag of 
truce. While waiting for an answer, Captain Porter 
noticed that preparations were being made in a shore 
battery to fire on him, whereupon he detailed a detach- 
ment of seamen and marines, who captured the bat- 
tery and spiked the guns. Captain Porter now landed, 
and, after spiking a 2-gun battery that commanded 
the road, he reached the town in half an hour. Find- 
ing that the people were prepared to defend them- 
selves, he halted to await the flag of truce. In a 
short time the alcalde and the captain of the port 
appeared and offered ample apology to Lieutenant 
Platt for the indignities to which they had subjected 
him, and expressed regret at the whole occurrence, 
upon w r hich the Americans returned to their ships. 

This affair incurred the displeasure of the United 
States Government, and, in an order dated December 
27, 1824, Captain Porter was ordered home, and on 
being tried by court-martial he was sentenced to be 
suspended from the service for six months. Believing 
that he had been wronged, Captain Porter resigned, and 



entered the Mexican navy, where he remained until 
1829, when he was appointed by President Jackson as 
United States consul-general at Algiers. Afterward he 
became the Minister to Turkey, and he died at Pera, 
March 28, 1843. His body was brought home, and is 
buried in the grounds of the Naval Asylum at Phila- 

The only other naval operations in the West Indies 
in 1824 were the capture, by the Porpoise, Lieutenant 
Skinner, of a schooner which had been deserted by its 
crew, and the recapture of a French vessel from the 
pirates by the Terrier, Lieutenant Paine, the pirate 
crew escaping to the shore. On the 4th of February, 
1825, the Ferret was capsized in a squall off Cuba and 
five of her men were lost, the rest of her crew being 
rescued by the Seagull and the Jackal. 

Captain Porter was succeeded by Captain Lewis 
Warrington, who followed out much the same plan of 
operations that had been adopted by his predecessors. 
Such a vigilant watch was maintained that from this 
time but few instances of piracy were reported. Hear- 
ing that a piratical sloop was in the neighborhood of 
St. Thomas, Lieutenant John Drake Sloat, of the 
Grampus, who was cruising in that vicinity, March, 
1825, secured a trading sloop, and, disguising her as a 
merchantman, placed in her two lieutenants and twen- 
ty-three men. The ruse proved successful, and the 
piratical craft running alongside opened fire, which the 
sloop promptly returned, and after an action of forty- 
five minutes the pirates ran their vessel ashore and es- 
caped in the woods. Ten of them were taken prisoners 
by Spanish soldiers, and two were killed. All the pris- 
oners were executed by the Government of Porto Rico, 
among them being the notorious pirate Colfrecinas. In 
the same month the Seagull, Lieutenant McKeever, and 
the Gallinipper, fell in with the British frigate Dart- 
mouth and two English armed schooners. Believing 
that they were in the vicinity of a nest of pirates, Lieu- 


tenant McKeever entered into an arrangement for the 
co-operation of the boats of the frigate, on condition 
that he should command the party. While they were 
approaching a bay on the afternoon of March 25th, the 
masts of a vessel concealed by bushes were discovered, 
and on being hailed the stranger showed Spanish colors 
and trained her guns on the advancing boats. Leaving 
one boat on guard and landing with the rest of his men, 
so as to cut off the retreat of the pirates on land, Lieu- 
tenant McKeever ordered the commander of the vessel 
to come ashore. After much hesitation the leader of 
the pirates complied, but immediately attempted to 
run away. In the meantime the men in the boat on 
guard had boarded the piratical vessel, and after a 
stubborn resistance overpowered the pirates, their loss 
being eight killed and nineteen taken prisoners. The 
prize carried two 6- pounders and four swivels, and was 
manned by thirty-live men. Numerous bales of Amer- 
ican merchandise were found concealed in the bushes 
on shore and also in the hold of the vessel. The 
schooner was sailing under a forged Spanish commis- 
sion. On the following day Lieutenant McKeever 
chased a fore-and-aft rigged boat on shore, the crew 
escaping to the woods. 

This practically ended the active operations in the 
West Indies, but, in order to impress the lesson on the 
minds of evil doers, a squadron was maintained in those 
waters for several years, and in December, 1828, oc- 
curred an incident that showed the necessity for it. In 
this year the 18-gun sloop of war Erie, Master-Com- 
mandant Daniel Turner, was ordered to convey General 
William Henry Harrison, minister to the United States 
of Colombia, to that country. Touching at the island 
of St. Bartholomew, Master-Commandant Turner met 
the privateer Federal, belonging to Buenos Ay res, and 
learned that she had recently captured an American 
vessel under the plea that she had Spanish property 
aboard. The governor of the island was asked to sur- 



render the Federal, which had run under the guns of 
the fort, and on his refusing to do so a boat party, led 
by First-Lieutenant Josiah Tattnall, of the Erie, was 
sent against the privateer. Setting out on a dark night, 
and favored by occasional rain squalls, the Americans 
pulled with muffled oars into the harbor unobserved 
and carried the Federal with little opposition. Some 
difficulty was experienced in tripping the anchor, and 
during the delay the fort opened a heavy but ill-directed 
fire. The privateer was finally got under way, and in 
a few minutes was brought safely out of the harbor. 
No loss was sustained on either side. The Federal was 
sent to Pensacola. 

Four years after this (August 10, 1832) while cruis- 
ing off Matamoros in command of the Grampus, Lieu- 
tenant Tattnall learned that the merchant vessel Wil- 
liam A. Turner, of New York, had been plundered 
the day before by the Mexican war schooner Monte- 
zuma. Meeting the Montezuma off the bar of Tam- 
pico a few days later, Lieutenant Tattnall captured 
her within sight of the Mexican forts and several of 
their cruisers, and secured seventy-six prisoners. The 
prize carried three guns, one of them mounted on a 
pivot. As cholera broke out in the Grampus about 
this time, Lieutenant Tattnall landed his prisoners and 
made for Pensacola, where his ship was thoroughly 
cleaned. Returning to Tampico, he heard that the 
Mexicans were detaining in that port an American 
vessel laden with two hundred thousand dollars in 
specie, and, being anxious to secure the money, the 
Mexicans got up a pretext for detaining her, and held 
her under the guns of the fort. Availing himself of a 
favorable night, the American commander headed a 
boat attack and succeeded in bringing the merchant- 
man out of the harbor. 

Not only was the navy active in suppressing piracy 
in the West Indies, but in the Mediterranean also our 
cruisers gave material assistance in running down the 


buccaneers. During the struggle of Greece for inde- 
pendence from Turkey several of the Greek war ves- 
sels perpetrated outrages on merchantmen of neutral 
nations, and on May 29, 1825, an American vessel from 
Boston was seized by one of their privateers. In 1827 
Lieutenant Louis M. Goldsborough (afterward rear- 
admiral), while in command of four boats and thirty- 
five men of the United States sloop of war Porpoise, 
recaptured after a desperate struggle the English brig 
Comet, which was in the possession of Greek pirates. 
Lieutenant John A. Carr singled out the pirate chief 
and killed him with his own hand. One of the Ameri- 
cans was killed in this attack, while many of the 
pirates were exterminated. Several of the Mediterra- 
nean powers thanked Lieutenant Goldsborough for 
this affair. 

During the reign of Joseph Bonaparte and Murat 
in Naples (1809-'12) a number of American vessels 
were confiscated by the Neapolitans, and shortly after 
the War of 1812 Captain Daniel Patterson was or- 
dered to assist the American consul at Naples, John 
Nelson, in collecting two million dollars indemnity 
money. The first demand of the consul was haugh- 
tily rejected. A few days afterward the 44-gun frig- 
ate Brandywine sailed into the beautiful harbor of 
Naples. The demand for indemnity was then renewed, 
but only to be treated as the first. In a few days the 
44-gun frigate United States joined the Brandywine 
at Naples, and four days afterward the Concord, also 
dropped anchor in that harbor. The Bourbon Govern- 
ment now began drilling troops, and made great prep- 
arations for resisting the expected bombardment, but 
it still refused to pay the claim. Two days after the 
Concord's arrival the John Adams appeared in the 
harbor and greatly added to the excitement in the 
town. Finally, on the appearance of two more Ameri- 
can war ships the Neapolitans yielded. 



Ox the 7th of February, 1831, the American mer- 
chant vessel Friendship, of Salem, Mass., commanded 
by Mr. Endicott and manned by fourteen men, was 
lying at anchor off the Malay town of Qualla Battoo, 
on the northwestern coast of Sumatra, taking in a cargo 
of pepper. As the place was about four degrees north 
of the equator, the weather was hot and sultry, and 
the Americans found that the least physical exertion 
was attended with great exhaustion. On the day in 
question there was scarcely any breeze, and the sun 
beat down on the deck of the Friendship with over- 
powering force, seeming to cause the planks to warp 
and the oil to ooze from the seams and the rigging. 
Even the natives employed in loading the ship per- 
formed their tasks with more than ordinary indolence 
and listlessness. As there was no harbor at this place, 
the Friendship lay about half a mile off the town, ex- 
posed to the open sea, and carried on trade with the 
natives by means of boats. At this part of the coast 
the island rises abruptly out of the water in bold head- 
lands and precipitous ridges, which culminate, a few 
miles inland, in the lofty Bukit Barisan mountain 
range, seven thousand to ten thousand feet high, while 
within sight of Qnalla Battoo the peak of Mount Be- 
rapi holds its proud crest twelve thousand feet above 
the sea. Luxuriant vegetation and dense forests come 
down to the water's edge in many-hued verdure, and, 
extending along the coast in both directions as far as 



the eye can reach, present a scene of enchanting tropical 

For many miles along the coast a tremendous surf 
beats unceasingly upon the beach. Assuming form a 
great distance from the shore, it gradually increases in 
volume, and moving rapidly landward until it attains a 
height of fifteen to twenty feet, it falls like a cascade, 
nearly perpendicularly, on the shore with a tremendous 
roar, which on a still night can be heard many miles 
up the country. None but the most experienced na- 
tive boatmen dared to venture in it, and when trading 
vessels stopped at Qnalla Battoo they invariably sent 
their boats ashore in charge of Malays. Even then a 
landing could be effected only at the entrance of the 
swift mountain streams that made their way to the sea, 
breaking gaps here and there in the line of foam that 
girded the western coast of Sumatra. At Qnalla Bat- 
too a turbulent stream tumbled through the town, and 
meeting the surf it melted a comparatively smooth pas- 
sage through the breakers to the open sea. The pepper, 
which was the chief article of commerce at this place, 
was grown on the high table-lands some miles from 
the coast, and was brought down to the sea on bamboo 
rafts, the navigation of which along the tortuous moun- 
tain streams and dangerous rapids was a feat requiring 
no little skill and hardihood. 

On the day the Friendship lay off Qualla Battoo a 
light haze rendered the beach somewhat indistinct, but 
well knowing the treacherous and warlike disposition 
of the natives the Americans in the ship maintained 
an unusually sharp lookout. According to custom, 
the boats of the Friendship had been placed in charge 
of Malays to be navigated through the surf. A large 
quantity of pepper had been purchased, and Mr. En- 
dicott, with his second mate, John Barry, and four sea- 
men, were on shore at the trading depot, a short distance 
up the river, superintending the weighing of the pep- 
per and seeing that it was properly stowed away in the 

46 QUALLA BATTOO. 1831. 

boats so that the salt water could not reach it. The 
first mate and the remainder of the crew were aboard 
the Friendship ready to receive the boats and take 
aboard their cargoes. After the first boat had received 
its freight at the trading post it was manned by na- 
tive seamen and rowed to the mouth of the river, but 
instead of putting directly to sea, as it should have 
done, Mr. Endicott who had remained at the trading 
post, keeping a careful eye on all that was going on 
noticed that the boat had run ashore and had taken 
aboard more men. Supposing that the Malays in 
charge of the boat required additional help to get 
through the unexpectedly heavy surf, Mr. Endicott 
did not feel alarmed, and continued weighing out pep- 
per for the second boat load. He was sufficiently on 
the alert, however, to detail two of his men to watch 
the progress of the boat toward the Friendship and 
order them to report anything that was out of the 
usual course. 

As a matter of fact, the Malays in the first boat, in- 
stead of taking aboard additional seamen to help them 
through the surf, as the Americans at the trading sta- 
tion had supposed, exchanged places with an armed 
body of warriors, double the number of the boat's 
crew. Then, standing boldly to the surf, the warriors 
concealed their weapons while the boat continued on 
its way toward the unsuspecting merchantman. The 
first mate of the Friendship noticed an unusual num- 
ber of men in the boat, but he, like Mr. Endicott, sup- 
posed that the surf had increased in violence, and that 
an additional number was necessary to pull through it. 
Consequently the Malays were allowed to come along- 
side, and when they had made fast to the Friendship's 
gangway the larger part of them clambered over the 
side and gained the deck, concealing their short dag- 
gers in their clothing. Ever fearful of treachery, the 
first mate of the Friendship endeavored to prevent so 
many Malays from coming aboard, but, affecting not 


to understand his words or gestures, they continued to 
press over the side until more than twenty of them 
were on deck. In keeping with their treacherous in- 
stincts, they, instead of beginning an attack on the 
Americans, whom they outnumbered three to one, im- 
mediately scattered to different parts of the vessel and 
pretended to be absorbed with wonderment at her 
guns, rigging and equipment. Somewhat relieved by 
their apparently harmless curiosity, the mate allowed 
them to remain, while he and his men devoted their at- 
tention to getting the boat load of pepper aboard and 
stowing it in the hold. 

While he was thus busily engaged several of the 
Malays drew near and affected interest in the process. 
Seizing a favorable moment, they, with a swift, catlike 
motion for which they were celebrated, drove their 
daggers hilt deep into the mate's back. He turned 
quickly around and attempted to defend himself, but 
he had been mortally wounded, and falling, upon him 
with the fierceness of tigers, the Malays soon dis- 
patched him. Observing the treacherous deed, five of 
the American sailors made a rush to assist the mate, 
but they were set upon by the other Malays in the ship 
and two were instantly killed, while the other three 
were made prisoners and reserved for a horrible fate. 
The remaining four sailors in the Friendship, seeing 
that it would be useless to contend against such num- 
bers, jumped overboard and struck out for the land. 
They soon discovered, however, that the attack was a 
widespread conspiracy, for whenever they were raised 
on the crest of a wave and caught glimpses of the beach 
they saw that it was lined with armed warriors, who 
were shouting and brandishing their weapons. Seeing 
that it was worse than useless to attempt to land, the 
four swimmers held a brief consultation and then 
changed their course to a promontory, where the na- 
tives could not follow them, and after a swim of sev- 
eral miles they reached a place of comparative safety. 

4g QUALLA BATTOO. 1831. 

As soon as the treacherous Malays got complete pos- 
session of the ship they clambered up the bulwarks 
and rigging, and by gesticulating with their arms and 
weapons conveyed the news of the capture to their 
confederates on shore, and in a short time several 
boat loads of the miscreants had put off through the 
surf, and on gaining the decks of the merchant vessel 
began to rifle her of every article of value. Having 
taken everything out of her, even to the copper bolts 
in the timbers, they cut her cables and attempted to 
run her ashore, hoping to break her up and secure the 
iron in her. 

In the meantime the two seamen who had been de- 
tailed by Mr. Endicott to watch the boat, observing the 
excitement on board the Friendship and the men 
plunging into the sea, reported the matter to their 
commander, who immediately inferred that a treacher- 
ous assault had been made on his ship. Hastily order- 
ing his men into the second boat, which was waiting 
at the trading depot, he hurriedly pulled down the 
river in hopes of getting through the surf and possibly 
regaining possession of the ship before his retreat was 
cut off. He left the trading post not a minute too 
soon, for the natives on shore rushed for the boat and 
endeavored to intercept it; but by dint of hard row- 
ing, and after running a gantlet of missiles from both 
banks, the Americans managed to reach the mouth of 
the river. Although Mr. Endicott had escaped the 
savage foe on land, he found that he was confronted 
with the probability of perishing in the surf. At this 
critical moment a friendly Malay named Po Adam, 
rajah of the neighboring tribe of Pulu Kio, who had 
come to Qualla Battoo in his armed coasting schooner, 
deserted his vessel, as he feared the attack might be 
extended to him, and swam to the American boat. 
When Mr. Endicott saw him he exclaimed, "What, 
Adam, you come too?" to which the Malay replied in 
broken English. "Yes, captain. If they kill you they 


must kill me first." By the aid of Po Adam the 
American boat managed to get through the breakers, 
but just as it had cleared the line of surf it was met by 
several Malay war canoes filled with warriors, who en- 
deavored to cut off her retreat. So precipitate had 
been the flight of the Americans that they forgot to 
bring their firearms with them, and were now defense- 
less. Po Adam, however, had a saber, and by put- 
ting on a bold front and by a valorous flourishing of 
the sword he kept the warriors at a distance, and the 
boat got to sea unmolested. 

Finding that it was impossible to recapture his ves- 
sel, Mr. Endicott, after picking up the four seamen 
who had jumped overboard, steered for Muckie, a 
small town twenty miles to the south, in search of as- 
sistance. He reached the place late at night and found 
three American merchant vessels a ship and two brigs- 
anchored there, the commanders of which, on hearing 
of the treacherous attack on Mr. Endicott's vessel, re- 
solved to attempt her recapture. On hundreds of occa- 
sions, which the historian has failed to record, the 
American merchant tar has proved himself to be a 
brave and daring sailor, and the case in hand was no 
exception. On hearing of the dastardly murder of 
their fellow-countrymen, the commanders of the three 
American merchant vessels promptly got under way, 
and appeared before Qualla Battoo on the following 
day. To the demand for the restoration of the Friend- 
ship the rajah of Qualla Battoo insolently replied, 
"Take her if you can," upon which the American 
vessels ran as close to the land as the shoal would 
allow, and opened a brisk fire with what guns they 
could bring to bear. In those days of piracy and 
outrage on the high seas all well-equipped merchant 
vessels carried a considerable armament, and their 
crews were as carefully trained in the use of fire- 
arms as in the handling of sails. The fire opened by 
the three American merchantmen was no child's play, 

50 QtJALLA BATTOO. 1831-1832. 

as the Malays in the Friendship soon found out, and 
notwithstanding that they returned it with consider- 
able spirit and the forts at Qualla Battoo (which 
mounted several heavy guns) opened with effect, they 
soon discovered that they were at a disadvantage. Im- 
patient at the prospect of a protracted bombardment, 
the three American commanders determined on the 
more expeditious method of a boat attack, although 
none of them had a crew that numbered over fifteen 
men, and the Malays had re-enforced their comrades 
in the Friendship. Accordingly, three boat loads of 
armed men put off from the merchant vessels and 
made a dash for the Friendship in gallant style. The 
Malays at first opened an ill-directed fire, but they 
soon became panic-stricken at the steady advance of 
the American boats, and plunged into the sea and 
made for the beach, where they were assisted ashore 
by their friends. On regaining possession of the ship 
Captain Endicott found that she had been rifled of 
everything of value, including twelve thousand dollars 
in specie, and this compelled him to abandon the voy- 
age. The total loss to the owners of the ship was 
forty thousand dollars. 

When the news of the outrage on the Friendship 
reached the United States, the 44-gun frigate Potomac, 
Captain John Downes, lay in New York harbor wait- 
ing to convey Martin Van Buren, the newly ap- 
pointed minister to the court of St. James, to England; 
but hearing of the affair on the coast of Sumatra, Pres- 
ident Jackson promptly ordered the Potomac to sail 
for the scene of violence and visit summary vengeance 
on the piratical Malays. Captain Downes got under 
way in August, and arrived off the coast of Sumatra 
early in February, 1832. f When the Potomac drew 
near the scene of the outrage Captain Downes dis- 
guised his ship, as he was anxious to attack the Qualla 
Battooans before they knew of the arrival of an Ameri- 
can war ship in that part of the world. The guns of 


the frigate were run in, the ports closed, the topmasts 
housed, the sails rigged in a slovenly manner, and 
every precaution taken to give the frigate the appear- 
ance of a merchant craft. In this guise the Potomac, 
under Danish -colors, appeared off Qualla Battoo, Feb- 
ruary 6, 1832, just a year after the treacherous attack 
on the Friendship. Scarcely had she dropped anchor 
when a sailboat rounded a point of land and made for 
her. When it came alongside it was found to be laden 
with fish and manned by four Malays from a friendly 
tribe, who desired to sell their cargo. Fearing that 
these men, if allowed to depart, might announce the 
arrival of the frigate to the Qualla Battooans, Captain 
Downes detained them on board until after the at- 

At half past two o'clock the whaleboat was sent 
toward the shore under the command of Lieutenant 
Shubrick to take soundings. The men in the boat 
were dressed as the boat crew of an Indiaman, and in 
case they came to a parley with the natives Lieuten- 
ants Shubrick and Edson were to impersonate the cap- 
tain and supercargo of a trading vessel. As the natives 
lined the shore in great numbers and assumed a hostile 
attitude, no attempt was made to land, and having sat- 
isfied himself with the situation of the river, Lieuten- 
ant Shubrick returned to the ship at half past four 
o'clock. Everything now being in readiness, Captain 
Downes announced that the boats would leave the ship 
at midnight, and from five o'clock to that time the men 
selected for the expedition were at liberty to employ 
their time as they pleased. As the attack was likely 
to keep them late on the following day, many of the 
men improved the opportunity to sleep, using gun 
carriages, coils of rope and sails for pillows. Some of 
the more restless, however, in the face of the impend- 
ing conflict, found it impossible to sleep. They were 
scattered about the ship conversing in low tones with 
their messmates, placing in trusty hands some token 

5 2 QUALLA BATTOO. 1832. 

of affection, such as a watch or a Bible, to be delivered 
to relatives or friends in case they fell. 

Promptly at midnight all hands were summoned to 
quarters, and in an instant the gun deck was swarming 
with men, some with weapons in their* hands, others 
girding on cutlasses, and all hurrying to their stations, 
while the boats were lowered and brought along the 
gangway on the off side of the ship, so that the natives 
on shore could not discover what was going on, even if 
they had been on the watch. The men silently and 
rapidly descended the frigate's side and took their 
places, and as each boat received its load it dropped 
astern or was pulled ahead and made fast to the lee 
boom to make room for others. The debarkation was 
made with the greatest secrecy, nothing breaking the 
silence of the hour except the splashing of the waves 
against the dark hull of the frigate, the chafing of the 
cables in the hawse holes, the whispered command of 
the officers as the boats came to and from the gang- 
way, or the muffled rattle of the oars in the oarlocks as 
the boats shoved off to take their prescribed positions. 
So much care in maintaining silence, however, seemed 
unnecessary ; for the roaring surf, which even at the 
distance of three miles could be distinctly heard 
aboard the ship, would have drowned all noise. 

The light of the morning star was just discernible 
through a dense mass of dark clouds resting on the 
eastern horizon when the order was given to shove off 
and make for the land. The boats formed in line, and 
with measured stroke stretched out for the beach. 
When they had covered about a third of the distance 
"a meteor of the most brilliant hue and splendid 
rays," wrote an officer of the Potomac, "shot across 
the heaven immediately above us, lighting the broad 
expanse with its beams from west to east. We hailed 
it as an earnest of the victory and the bright augury of 
future fame." The bright star in the east had shone 
fully two hours before the boats gained the landing 


place, and as the keels of the boats grated on the beach 
the men jumped out and hastened to their positions, 
each division forming by itself. The boats, with enough 
men to man them, were directed to remain together just 
outside of the surf until further orders. 

No delay was allowed in beginning the march. 
Lieutenant Edson and Lieutenant Tenett led the van 
with their company of marines. John Barry, second 
mate of the Friendship^ who had come out in the Poto- 
mac as a master's mate, now acted as a guide. Lieu- 
tenant Ingersoll followed the van with the first division 
of seamen, Lieutenant Hoff's division of musketeers and 
pikemen then came, and after this Lieutenant Pinkham 
with the third division, while Acting Sailing- Master 
Totten and a few men brought up the rear with the 
6-pounder, called "Betsy Baker." After marching 
along the beach some distance the column turned 
abruptly inland and struck into the dense jungle. The 
fusileers, "a company of fine, stout and daring fel- 
lows," 1 now distributed themselves in advance and on 
each flank of the little army, to guard against ambus- 

Lieutenant Hoff and three midshipmen, with the 
second division of musketeers and pikemen, then 
wheeled off to the left with his division and were soon 
lost to view in the thick foliage. He had been ordered 
to attack the fort on the northern edge of the town. 
As soon as he came in sight of this stronghold the 
Malays opened a sharp fusillade with cannon, muskets, 
spears, javelins, and arrows. The Americans returned 
the fire and then made a rush for the gate of the stock- 
ade, and, bursting it open, engaged the enemy in a 
short but fierce hand-to-hand encounter, in which the 
pikes and cutlasses of the seamen were employed to 
advantage. The open space within the palisade was 
soon cleared, but the Malays retreated to their citadel 

1 Journal of one of the Potomac's officers. 

54 QUALLA BATTOO. 1832. 

on the high platform, hauling up the ladder leading to 
it, and for two hours fought with great bravery. Im- 
patient at the delay, Lieutenant Hoff directed his men 
to tear up some of the poles forming the stockade and 
improvise ladders with them. Having done this, the 
men made a rush for the citadel from opposite direc- 
tions, and, placing their ladders against the high plat- 
form, clambered up and made short work of the des- 
perate defenders. 

Eajah Maley Mohammed, one of the most influen- 
tial chiefs on the western coast of Sumatra, com- 
manded this fort, and fought with the ferocity of a 
tiger. After receiving numerous bayonet thrusts and 
musket balls he fell, but even in his death throes he 
continued to brandish his saber and to inflict injuries 
on the Americans around him, until a marine finally 
dispatched him. But as soon as the rajah fell, a 
woman, who from the richness of her dress was sup- 
posed to be his wife, seized his saber and wielded it 
with such energy that the Americans fell back, loath 
to make war against a female. She rushed at them 
and severely wounded a sailor on the head with a 
blow of her saber, and with catlike dexterity she 
aimed another blow at him which nearly severed the 
thumb from his left hand. Before she could repeat 
the stroke she fainted from loss of blood from a 
wound previously received, and, falling upon the 
hard pavement, soon died. At this fort twelve of the 
Malays were killed and many times that number were 

While this fight had been going on at the northern 
fort, Lieutenants Edson and Tenett, with the marines 
and the first division of musketeers and pikemen under 
Lieutenant Ingersoll, had discovered the fort in the 
middle of the town, and after a short and bloody con- 
flict carried it by storm and put the enemy to the 
sword. In this attack one of the marines was killed, 
one dangerously wounded, and several slightly wound- 


ed. The Malays sustained greater loss here than at 
the first fort. It was now daylight. 

The first division, under Lieutenant Pinkham, had 
been ordered to attack the fort in the rear of the town, 
but it had been so skillfully concealed in the jungle 
that Mr. Barry was unable to find it, and the division 
retraced its steps and joined the fusileers under Lieu- 
tenant Shubrick and the 6-pounder commanded by 
Acting Sailing-Master Totten, in an attack upon the 
most formidable fort of the town, which was on the 
bank of the river near the beach. Here the principal 
rajah of Qualla Bat too had collected his bravest war- 
riors, who announced their determination to die rather 
than surrender ; and they kept their word. The entire 
force of the division advancing to attack this strong- 
hold was eighty-five men. As soon as the Americans 
came in sight the Malays opened a hot fire of musketry, 
and followed it up with a rapid discharge of their swiv- 
els, which, as usual, were mounted in a commanding 
position on the high platform. "The natives were 
brave, and fought with a fierceness bordering on desper- 
ation," wrote one of the Potomac's officers who was in 
the division. "They would not yield while a drop of 
their savage blood warmed their bosoms or while they 
had strength to wield a weapon, fighting with that 
undaunted firmness which is the characteristic of bold 
and determined spirits, and displaying such an utter 
carelessness of life as would have been honored in a 
better cause. Instances of the bravery of these people 
were numerous, so much so that were I to give you a 
detail of each event my description would probably 
become tiresome." 

The Americans returned the enemy's fire with a 
brisk discharge of their muskets, and a sharp fusillade 
was maintained for some time, but with little effect 
upon the stout barricades. Anxious to complete the 
work of destruction as soon as possible, Lieutenant 
Shubrick left a body of men in front of the fort to en- 

5 g QUALLA BATTOO. 1832. 

gage the attention of the Malays, while he, with the fu- 
slleers and the "Betsy Baker," made a detour through 
the woods to gain the rear of the fort unobserved. The 
manoeuvre was successful, and in a few minutes the 
flanking party reached the river bank behind the cita- 
del. Here three large, heavily armed schooners (the 
largest being the boat they had captured from Po 
Adam the year before), employed by the Malays in 
their piratical excursions, were discovered anchored 
in the river and filled with warriors awaiting a favor- 
able opportunity to take a hand in the fray, and acting 
as a cover to the rear of the fort. Before the pirates 
realized it Lieutenant Shubrick had opened on them 
with his 6-pounder and raked the schooners fore and 
aft. This was followed up with a well-directed fire of 
musketry from the fusileers, which killed or wounded 
a great number and caused the surviving Malays to 
jump overboard and escape to the woods. The natives, 
however, succeeded in getting sail on the largest of the 
schooners, and in a short time they ran her up the 
river, where she was out of gunshot. 

Unknown to the Americans, Po Adam had sighted 
the Potomac some days before, and believing her to be 
an American frigate, he had collected a band of his 
warriors, and, stealing along the coast, concealed him- 
self in the woods on the outskirts of Qualla Battoo. 
When he saw the marines and seamen land and attack 
the town he drew nearer and lay in ambush with his 
men on the south bank of the river, awaiting an oppor- 
tunity to attack. Po Adam noticed the Malays in the 
schooner, and when they moored her to the south bank 
so as to be safe from further attack by the Americans, 
he rushed from his place of concealment with his men, 
boarded the schooner, killed five of the Qualla Bat- 
tooans, and put the remainder to flight. By this time 
it was broad daylight. 

Having completed the circumvallation of the rajah's 
citadel, Lieutenant Shubrick gave the signal for a 


simultaneous assault on front and rear, when the 
Americans attacked the outer stockade, and by hack- 
ing with axes succeeded in wrenching the massive gate 
from its place. The Malays were prepared for the at- 
tack, and the first American who exposed himself was 
shot through the brain, and three others fell, wounded. 
Unmindful of this, the hardy sailors rushed into the 
large open space within the palisades and drove the 
Malays to the high platform, where they made their 
final stand. To add to the confusion, the stockade 
that had been captured by the division under Lieuten- 
ants Hoff and Edson had been set on fire in pursuance 
of orders, and by this time the flames had spread and 
now threatened to ingulf both the Americans and the 
Malays. Great columns of smoke rolled up while the 
fire and blazing sun rendered the heat almost unen- 
durable. Scores of Malays were fleeing through the 
secret passages in the jungle, carrying such articles as 
they esteemed valuable, while beasts and reptiles, dis- 
turbed by the heat, were making their way through 
the forest in all directions. Finding that they were 
firing at a disadvantage, the men in charge of the 
"Betsy Baker" seized the little gun, carried it to an 
elevation on the upper side of the fort, and reopened 
with a steady and well-directed fire of grape and can- 
ister. Many Malays were laid low ; but so rapid was 
the fire that the ammunition was soon exhausted, 
and it was necessary to send to the boats for another 

In the meantime Lieutenants Hoff and Edson, hav- 
ing performed the task allotted to them, came up with 
their divisions and joined in the attack on the principal 
fort. They were ordered to take a position between 
the fort and the water, where they poured in an effect- 
ive cross fire upon the doomed pirates. But the Ma- 
lays kept up a brave and spirited defense, and were 
still shouting to the Americans in broken English " to 
come and take them." The men who had been sent to 

58 QUALLA BATTOO. 1832. 

the boats for more ammunition for the "Betsy Baker" 
now returned with ten bags containing forty musket 
balls each. So eager were the crew of this gun that it 
was now overloaded, and at the third discharge it was 
dismounted and the carriage rendered useless for the 
remainder of the action. At this moment the flames 
in the central fort, which had been captured by Lieu- 
tenant Edson, reached the magazine, and it blew up 
with tremendous force. Seeing that further service 
could not be derived from the 6-pounder, Lieutenant 
Shubrick ordered a general assault on the citadel, and 
at the word the men sprang from cover, made a rush 
for the stockade, and, clambering up the platform in 
any way they could, overpowered the few remaining 
Malays and put them to the sword, and soon the 
American flag waved from the platform in triumph. 

The victorious Americans now turned their atten- 
tion to the fort on the opposite side of the river, which 
had kept up an annoying fire from its 12-pounder, but 
it was found to be impracticable to ford the deep and 
rapid stream, and as the surf was growing heavier 
every minute, Lieutenant Shubrick caused the bugle 
to sound the retreat. While they were returning to 
the beach a sharp and well-sustained fire was unex- 
pectedly opened on the Americans from a jungle. It 
proved to be the fort for which the division under 
Lieutenant Pinkham had searched in vain. The 
Americans promptly returned the fire and then ad- 
vanced to carry the fort by storm, and one of the hot- 
test fights of the day ensued. The Malays fought 
with the energy of despair, but in a short time were 
overpowered, and were either put to the sword or es- 
caped in the jungle, leaving many a bloody trail on the 
grass as evidence of their punishment. 

The Americans then reassembled on the beach and 
began the roll-call, to ascertain their casualties and to 
discover if any had been left in the jungle. It was 
found that two men had been killed and eleven were 


wounded. The bodies of the dead and wounded were 
carefully lifted into the boats, and the entire expedi- 
re-embarked, and pushing off through the surf pulled 
for the frigate. Of the Malays, over one hundred were 
killed and two hundred wounded. 

Learning that a number of Malays had gathered in 
the rear of the town, Captain Downes, at noon on the 
following day (February 7th), weighed anchor and 
stood in about a mile from the shore and opened a 
heavy fire on the fort on the south bank of the river. 
Another object of this second day's attack was to con- 
vince the Qualla Battooans that the United States did 
possess "ships with big guns" and knew how to use 
them. The rapid discharge of the Potomac's long 32- 
pounders appalled the natives, for they had never be- 
fore heard such a terrible noise. For more than an 
hour the heavy shot from the frigate plowed their way 
into the wooden stockades, carrying death and destruc- 
tion in their path. 

At a quarter past one o'clock white flags began to 
appear at different points along the beach, and the 
Potomac ceased firing, and about six o'clock in the 
evening a native boat was seen making its way through 
the surf, with a white flag at the bow, pulling for the 
frigate. By seven o'clock it came alongside, and it was 
learned that it contained messengers from the surviv- 
ing rajahs with overtures for peace. On being taken 
aboard they were conducted to Captain Downes, and, 
bowing themselves to the deck in humble submission, 
they pleaded for peace on any terms "if only the big 
guns might cease their lightning and thunder." Cap- 
tain Downes impressed upon the envoys the enormity 
of the offense of the Qualla Battooans in attacking 
American seamen, and assured them that the full 
power of the United States Government was behind the 
humblest of its citizens in any part of the globe, and 
that any future misconduct on the part of the Malays 
toward an American citizen would be met with even 

gO QUALLA BATTOO. 1833-1838. 

greater punishment than has just been meted out to 
them. 1 

Although this summary vengeance on the Qualla 
Battooans had a salutary effect on the natives of this 
coast, yet it required another bombardment before the 
lesson was fully impressed upon their minds. On the 
night of August 26, 1838, while the American trading 
ship Eclipse, Captain Wilkins, was loading with pep- 
per at a village called Trabagan, twelve miles from 
Muckie, two canoes came alongside with the commod- 
ity. The Malays asked for permission to come aboard, 
and as their spokesman, named Ousso, was recognized 
by the second mate as being an old trader, the request 
was granted. In pursuance with the customary cau- 
tion exercised by Americans doing business with these 
natives, their arms were taken from them as they came 
over the side of the ship and locked up. The work of 
weighing the pepper then went on, when Ousso re- 
proached the Americans for locking up their arms as 
being a breach of good faith among old acquaintances, 
and the mate very foolishly returned the weapons. 

Scarcely had this been done when one of the natives 
approached Captain Wilkins and mortally wounded 
him in the back. About the same time the too good- 
natured mate was dangerously injured in the loins, 
while some of the crew scrambled up the rigging and 
others jumped overboard. The cook, who had been 
placed in irons for insubordination, begged for his life, 
promising to reveal where the specie and a quantity of 
opium were kept. Having secured this plunder the 

1 In the following year (July 28, 1833) Captain William Bainbridge, 
the hero of the Constitution- Java action, died at Philadelphia. After the 
War of 1812 he was twice sent to the Mediterranean as the commanding 
officer of that squadron, having for his flagship the 74-gun ship of the 
line Independence the first time, and the 74-gun ship of the line Columbus 
when he assumed command in 1819. On his deathbed his mind dwelt on 
the sea. and shortly before he died he called for his sword and pistols. As 
they were not given to him, he raised himself up by a great effort and 
shouted for all hands to " board the enemy ! " 


specie amounting to eighteen thousand dollars the 
natives fled with the cook. 

At this time the American 44-gun frigate Columbia 
and the corvette John Adams, under the orders of 
Commodore George C. Reid, were making a cruise 
around the world. Hearing of the outrage on the 
Eclipse, Reid appeared off Qualla Battoo December 20, 
1838, and through our old friend, Po Adam, learned that 
the chief of the Qualla Battooans, Po Chute Abdullah, 
had received two thousand dollars of the stolen money, 
and that one of the murderers was harbored there. On 
the failure of the natives to deliver the money or the 
man, Reid bombarded the place. He then proceeded to 
Muckie, where more of the money and the murderers 
were. As the natives here also failed to give satisfaction, 
that place was bombarded, a detachment of men was 
landed and the place destroyed. Satisfied with meting 
out this punishment, Reid sailed away without attack- 
ing Trabagan, the scene of the outrage. Returning to 
Qualla Battoo, the Americans again demanded the 
money. Po Chute Abdullah, terrified by the fate of 
Muckie, confessed that he had received the specie, but 
declared that it had been distributed among his peo- 
ple and he could not get it back. To avoid having his 
settlement destroyed, he promised to return the money 
at a specified time. Treaties were then made with a 
number of chiefs along this coast, whereby they bound 
themselves to protect traders sailing under the Amer- 
ican flag. 



EARLY in the century the United States entered into 
an arrangement with Great Britain for the suppression 
of the slave trade on the west coast of Africa. It 
would be difficult to overestimate the hardships and 
dangers to which our officers were exposed while en- 
gaged in this service. The fever-laden coast made it 
hazardous for white men to approach. To be assigned 
to this station meant death to many a gallant tar, the 
sick lists sometimes including half the ship's company. 
Many of the slave ships also were heavily armed, and 
being manned by unusually large crews they were 
prepared to make a good defense, as was demonstrated 
on more than one occasion. In fact, some of these 
slavers became out-and-out pirates, and were quite as 
dangerous to merchantmen as to negroes. 

After the War of 1812 some of the swift-sailing 
privateers which had done good service in that struggle 
were turned into slavers, as their great speed and heavy 
armaments gave them every advantage. It was cus- 
tomary for these vessels to sail from home ports, hav- 
ing on board alleged Brazilian, Spanish, French or 
Italian passengers, and when on the slave coast the 
crew went ashore and the "passengers" took posses- 
sion of the ship under a foreign flag, a double set of 
ship's papers being made out in some instances to ac- 
commodate this "lightning change." In this way 
American cruisers were foiled by the display of foreign 
colors and papers, while English war vessels found 


themselves barred by the Stars and Stripes. As the 
vigilance of American and English war ships increased, 
the slavers diminished the size of their vessels so as 
more readily to elude detection. 

A good illustration of the audacity of these sea- 
pests is given in Commodore Edward Trenchard's 
journal. A trading vessel on this coast, showing 
American colors, had aroused the suspicions of the 
commander of the British gunboat Contest. The Eng- 
lish refrained from making a search of the trader, con- 
tenting themselves with keeping close to her so she 
could do no mischief. Day after day the vessels sailed 
in company, until the Yankee skipper, finding that he 
could not ship his cargo of slaves for in truth he was 
a slave trader challenged the British commander to a 
friendly sailing match to last twenty-four hours. The 
challenge was accepted, for the Englishmen could not 
restrain their desire to " win a race." This they easily 
did, as the crafty Yankee purposely retarded the prog- 
ress of his boat so as to allow the gunboat to get as far 
ahead as possible, and under cover of night, when the , 
cruiser was out of sight, the Americans ran inshore 
where the slaves had been following the boat for days 
took on the human freight and before daylight were 
fairly homeward bound, and not the faintest suggestion 
of the Contest anywhere to be seen. 

One of the first American cruisers to be sent to the 
slave coast was the 20-gun sloop of war Cyane, Com- 
mander Edward Trenchard. Her officers were Lieuten- 
ants Matthew Calbraith Perry, Silas H. Stringham, 
William Mervine, Voorhees and Hosack, Midshipmen 
Montgomery, H. C. Newton, Sanderson and William 
Hudson, and Acting- Master's Mate Jacob Morris. The 
Cyane had not been long on this station when early 
in April, 1820, Captain Trenchard received secret 
information that there was a group of slavers at 
a certain point along the coast whose capture would 
prove a heavy blow to the iniquitous traffic. His in- 


formant told him that seven slavers were at that mo- 
ment at the mouth of the Gallinos River waiting for 
a gang of several thousand slaves to arrive from the 

Commander Trenchard resolved to come upon the 
slavers unannounced and if possible seize them all 
an exceedingly hazardous and difficult undertaking for 
one cruiser to attempt, for, as has been said, the 
slavers usually were heavily armed and manned, and 
their combined force undoubtedly was several times 
greater than that of the little Cyane. As Trenchard 
drew near the mouth of the Gallinos he shortened sail, 
intending to enter the river under cover of night and 
come upon the slavers unawares and before they could 
get to sea and escape. The plan was successful. 
When day was about to break, the sloop of war was in 
the mouth of the river, and in the gray light of dawn 
the masts and spars of two brigs and six schooners at 
anchor close inshore were made out. That the slavers 
were keeping a sharp lookout is attested by the fact 
that they discovered the sloop of war almost as soon as 
they were made out by the cruiser, and in an incredi- 
bly short time they were under sail endeavoring to 
escape, excepting one of the brigs and one schooner, 
which seemed to be unmoved by the apparition of the 
massive spars and heavy rigging of the cruiser, and re- 
mained quietly at anchor as if undisturbed by a guilty 

At the first intimation that the slavers were endeavor- 
ing to escape Trenchard gave orders to put about in 
chase, and for a few minutes there was the liveliest 
kind of bustle and seeming confusion in the cruiser as 
the men sprang up the shrouds and scrambled out on 
the yards to make sail. The broad entrance to the 
river gave the chase a fair opportunity to escape, and 
realizing this the Americans crowded on every stitch 
of canvas that would hold wind. As there was a fresh 
breeze at the time all the vessels were soon bowling 

1820. IN FULL CHASE. 65 

along at a smart rate, heeling over under clouds of can- 
vas on the port tack. 

It was here that Trenchard displayed great bravery 
in approaching the enemy. He took advantage of the 
formation of the coast so that the fleeing craft could 
sail in one direction only, thereby preventing them 
from scattering and enabling the Cyane to come up 
with all. In this the intrepid Trenchard courted a 
serious danger, for it kept the six slavers in a bunch 
and enabled them to combine their forces on the little 

After an exciting chase of an hour the Cyane had 
gained sufficiently on the slavers to head off the fore- 
most, whereupon Trenchard tacked about and stood 
inshore so as to come to close quarters. About this 
time, 7 A. M., the wind failed, leaving the vessels be- 
calmed and just out of gunshot. Observing that some 
of the schooners were getting out their boats with a 
view of towing to a place of safety, Trenchard ordered 
the Cyane's boats to be manned and prepared for a 
boat attack. The order was carried out in gallant 
style. The launch, first cutter and starboard quarter 
boat were lowered and manned, and at 8 A. M. dashed 
toward the nearest schooner, notwithstanding the om- 
inous pointing of heavy guns at them and the loud 
threats of the slavers to blow the boats out of water 
if they persisted in coming nearer. Several shots were 
fired. Unmindful of this the Americans nerved them- 
selves for a dash, and after a strong pull boarded 
the first vessel. She proved to be the American 
schooner Endymion, commanded by Alexander Mc- 
Kim Andrew. When Mr. Andrew saw that his threats 
to blow the boats out of water were unavailing, he 
hastily got into one of his boats and pulled toward the 
land. Noticing this from the deck of the Cyane, 
Trenchard ordered his quarter boat, under Lieuten- 
ant Montgomery, in pursuit, and after an exciting 
race the fugitive was captured. Midshipman New- 



ton and a prize crew were placed aboard the En- 

At this moment a fresh breeze sprang up, and the 
launch and cutter, which were then pulling toward the 
second schooner with a view of boarding her also, soon 
found that they were losing ground instead of gaining, 
for the schooner, having all her sails set, was gradually 
drawing away from them. Upon discovering this the 
two boats returned to the Cyane, and that vessel set 
sail and resumed the chase. At 8.30 A. M. the Endym- 
ion picked up the quarter boat which had captured 
Mr. Andrew and followed the Cyane. But the breeze, 
although quite fresh for a time, began to fail again, 
and at noon Trenchard sent Lieutenant Stringham in 
the first cutter, Lieutenant Voorhees in the launch, 
and Lieutenant Mervine in the second gig to make a 
second boat attack on the slavers. This time the boats 
succeeded in getting alongside the chase, and took 
successively the brig Annita, commanded by Pedro 
Pushe ; the schooner Esperanza, Luis Montefort ; the 
schooner Dasher, Thomas Munro ; the schooner Eliza, 
Constant Hastings ; and the schooner Louise, Francis 

An examination of these vessels showed that they 
were all "deeply engaged in the traffic of slaves. 
There is but one, however, of those under foreign flags 
that we can ascertain is acting in contravention to the 
above law. This is the schooner Esperanza (formerly 
the United States revenue cutter Alert), now under 
Spanish colors. She sailed last from Charleston, S. C., 
without a clearance, at which place she enlisted the 
major part of her crew of American citizens. Her ap- 
parent captain is a Spaniard by the name of Monte- 
fort, but her real captain and probable owner is a Mr. 
Ratcliffe, an American, and who is now on shore col- 
lecting his complement of negroes." 

Having captured six of the slavers by one bold 
stroke, Trenchard hastened back to the mouth of the 


Gallinos, where a brig and a schooner had remained 
apparently indifferent to the fate that awaited them. 
These vessels were taken without opposition, and one 
was found to be the schooner Science or Dechosa, and 
the other was called the Plattsburg or Maria Gat- 
tlireust. After a search they were reported upon by 
the examining officers as follows: "The DecJiosa or 
Science, of New York, is owned in New York ; sailed 
from that port in January last and touched at Porto 
Rico, where she changed her name and came imme- 
diately to this coast, landed her cargo and made 
arrangements for receiving her slaves. There is little 
doubt of her being American property, and conse- 
quently we are of opinion that she is violating the 
laws of the United States. We can only learn that 
the Maria Gatthreust or Plattsburg, of Baltimore, 
sailed from Baltimore in December last, where she 
shipped her crew and cargo of goods ; she touched at 
Cuba, at which place she changed her character and 
proceeded to this coast in quest of slaves. The num- 
ber of men and her strong armament induces us to be- 
lieve that she is not only a vessel engaged in the traffic 
of slaves, but she is fully prepared to commit pirat- 
ical aggressions on the flag of any nation." All of 
these prisoners were sent to the United States in the 
Eliza for trial. By this daring act Trenchard cap- 
tured seven slavers and probably one pirate. The 
blow was a severe one and did much toward checking 
the traffic. 

Shortly after this affair the Cyane put into Port 
Praya. As she entered the port the Americans fired 
the customary salute of seventeen guns. As the shore 
batteries replied with only fifteen, Trenchard promptly 
sent Lieutenant Voorhees ashore to demand an ex- 
planation. The officials apologized for the slight and 
caused two more guns to be discharged. 1 We get some 

1 Private Journal of Captain Trenchard. 



idea of the danger of cruising on the African coast by 
the fact that while the Cyane was on this station the 
English war brig Snapper in eight months lost eleven 
officers and twenty men in a crew of about fifty all 
told. In April, 1820, Trenchard reported to the Secre- 
tary of the Navy that thirty-six of his men were pros- 
trated by the malady. In consequence of this alarm- 
ing condition the Cyane was ordered home and the 
Hornet took her place. 

By the provisions of the Webster- Ashburton treaty 
the United States agreed to maintain a squadron 
mounting not less than eighty guns on the coast of 
Africa, for the suppression of the slave trade ; and in 
carrying out this section of the treaty Captain Matthew 
Calbraith Perry, on the 20th of February, 1843, was 
ordered to the African coast in command of the 20-gun 
sloop of war Saratoga, flagship, the 38-gun frigate 
Macedonian, and the brigs of war Decatur and Por- 
poise. Prior to the arrival of this squadron on its 
station the American trading vessel Mary Carver had 
been seized by the natives, and her commander, Mr. 
Carver, was tied to a post, and for three hours the 
women and children tortured him by sticking thorns 
into his flesh. The Edward Barley also was seized by 
the Africans, and her master, Mr. Burke, her mate and 
cook were murdered. 

When Captain Perry heard of these outrages he 
sent the Porpoise, Lieutenant Stellwagen, disguised as 
a merchantman, to the Berribee Coast, where the mur- 
ders had been committed. As soon as the Porpoise 
dropped anchor a number of natives came aboard, and 
evidently would have murdered the crew had the vessel 
been a merchant craft, as they supposed. This was all 
the American commander wanted to know, and, sailing 
away without injuring the natives or revealing the 
character of his vessel, Lieutenant Stellwagen made 
his report to Captain Perry. On the 29th of Novem- 
ber, 1843, the squadron anchored off Berribee and de- 

1820. DEATH OP KING CRACK 0. 69 

raanded the restoration of the Mary Carver's cargo 
and the surrender of the murderers. After a number 
of "palavers" Captain Perry agreed to land and hold 
a conference with King Crack O within the stockades. 
This negro was a giant, and Captain Perry had been 
warned of treachery, but in spite of the danger the 
intrepid American attended the conference with a small 
guard. In the middle of the interview King Crack O 
suddenly seized Perry with one hand and attempted to 
reach his iron spear (the handle of which had twelve 
notches in it, indicating the number of men he had 
slain) with the other. The sergeant of marines 
promptly shot the king and then bayoneted him 
twice ; but the gigantic negro, frothing at the mouth, 
continued to fight with the ferocity of a demon, and 
it took three men to control him. The other blacks 
retreated to the camwood and opened a fire on the 
Americans, using the copper bolts of the Mary Carver 
as bullets. They were soon put to flight, however, 
and their town burned, King Crack O dying the 
next day. 

On the 15th of December, while the squadron was at 
a point fifteen miles down the coast, the woods sudden- 
ly resounded with war horns, bells, gongs, etc., and a 
fire was opened on the American boats pulling toward 
the shore. A detachment of men was landed and four 
towns were destroyed. The good effects of these se- 
vere measures were felt many years afterward. Swift 
runners carried the news a thousand miles along the 
coast, and on the 16th of December a treaty was con- 
cluded at Great Berribee. 

When Lieutenant Andrew Hull Foote reached the 
slave coast in December, 1849, in the brig of war Perry, 
he found that the American brigantine Louisa Beaton 
had been overhauled by the British cruiser Dolphin 
under suspicion of being engaged in the slave trade. 
The people in the brigantine expressed great indig- 
nation over this proceeding, and so far asserted their 


innocence that the English commander made a dis- 
avowal of the act and offered an indemnity. As 
showing the extreme delicacy of this service, it will be 
added that the Louisa Beaton was in truth a slaver, 
and after being released by the authorities got away 
with a cargo of human freight. 

In the following year (June 7, 1850) Foote over- 
hauled a large ship showing American colors off the 
coast between Ambriz and Loanda. As the American 
boarding officer came aboard to search, he noticed that 
her name on the stern was " Martha, of New York," 
yet as soon as her master recognized the uniform of the 
American officers he hauled down his colors and claimed 
the protection of the Brazilian flag. He then threw 
overboard his writing desk, and boldly declared that the 
ship was a Brazilian and that the Americans had no 
right to search. Unfortunately for this man his writ- 
ing desk floated, and, on being recovered and searched, 
papers were found showing that he was a citizen of the 
United States, and that three fifths of the ship belonged 
to an American living at Rio Janeiro. 

A further search showed that there were twenty -six 
thousand gallons of water aboard and sufficient quan- 
tities of farina and rice the common food of negroes 
to feed two thousand men. Besides this there were 
wooden spoons, iron boilers for cooking purposes, man- 
acles used for securing slaves, and the ship was fitted 
with what was known as a u slave deck." As the 
proofs were too strong against him the master con- 
fessed that he expected to take on a full cargo of ne- 
groes that night. He was seized and sent with his 
men to New York and his ship was condemned as a 

Not long after this the Perry seized the American 
brigantine CTiatsworth and held her for adjudication, 
but she was released by the court as not having suffi- 
cient evidence against her to establish her character as 
a slaver. Afterward the Chatsworth was again seized 


and this time two sets of papers were found aboard 
her. Again she was sent home and this time was 

These energetic measures, together with the vigi- 
lance exercised by the American and British cruisers 
on the slave coast, gradually stamped out the ne- 
farious traffic, so that in a few years after the seizure 
of the Chatsworth the slave trade virtually was 



ON the night of September 6, 1842, while the Pacific 
squadron, under the command of Captain Thomas ap C. 
Jones consisting of the 44-gun frigate United States, 
flagship, the 20-gun sloop of war Cyane, Commander 
Cornelius Kinchiloe Stribling, the 16-gun brig of war 
Dale, Commander Thomas Aloysius Dornin, and the 
12-gun schooner Shark was at anchor in the harbor of 
Callao, the British frigate Dublin, bearing the flag of 
Rear- Admiral Thomas, suddenly appeared off the port, 
took a look at the American cruisers, and put to sea 
again without giving information as to her destination. 
Under ordinary circumstances the action of the British 
admiral would not have excited more than passing 
comment for the Dublin had been on the western coast 
of South America fifteen years, and was constantly 
running from one port to another. But her behavior on 
this particular occasion aroused Captain Jones' sus- 
picions. For some time it had been rumored that 
England and France were in secret negotiation with 
Mexico for the cession of enormous tracts of land on 
the Pacific slope. These rumors were particularly ap- 
plicable to Great Britain, as it was well known that 
Mexico was heavily in debt to British merchants, and 
there seemed to be no other way of meeting the obliga- 

England had never lost sight of France's first proj- 
ect of founding a Western empire. It has been shown 
that the French ministry caused a chain of trading 
posts in reality fortresses to be erected along the 



Great Lakes and down the Ohio and Mississippi Eivers 
to New Orleans, with the view of uniting the Canadas 
and Louisiana into one vast domain, which would cut 
off the English colonies on the Atlantic seaboard from 
the Great West. When the Canadas passed under 
British rule the English endeavored to carry out this 
plan for the purpose of confining the United States 
east of the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi 
Rivers ; but the naval victories on Lake Champlain 
and Lake Erie, and the battle of the Thames, in the 
War of 1812, frustrated this, and as a last resort the 
British ministers projected the most formidable expe- 
dition of the war against New Orleans, at a time when 
negotiations for peace were pending, hoping to secure 
a footing at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and 
thus establish a claim on the vast territory drained by 
its confluents. This was in keeping with England's 
policy of occupying strategic positions on the coasts 
of other nations in all parts of the world. By fortify- 
ing the little island of Heligoland, at the mouth of the 
Elbe, England for many years exercised a controlling 
influence over the German states, and by holding the 
Channel Islands she was a constant menace to France. 
Her impregnable strongholds at Gibraltar and Malta 
gave her a dominating influence over Spain, Portugal, 
Italy and other Mediterranean nations, and the occu- 
pation of Hong- Kong on the island of Victoria, near 
the mouth of several large rivers in China, put her in a 
threatening attitude toward that country. This "hold- 
ing the clinched fist " close to the aquiline nose of Uncle 
Sam, so far as the Mississippi River was concerned, 
was prevented by the American naval forces at Lake 
Borgne and by General Jackson. But England was 
always on the watch to secure more strategic points. 

Captain Jones had been put on his guard by the 
Government, and had recently read in a Mexican 
paper that war was likely to be declared between the 
United States and Mexico, if indeed hostilities had not 


already begun. All these circumstances made the 
American commander suspect that the Dublin was 
bound for California for the purpose of occupying 
towns along the coast, and knowing that the policy 
of the United States was to extend its territory to the 
Pacific Ocean, he promptly got to sea with his entire 
squadron on the 7th of September. As soon as the ves- 
sels had gained an offing he called a council of his offi- 
cers and laid the facts before them, and they came to 
the conclusion unanimously that it was their duty, at 
all hazards, to prevent the British from obtaining a 
foothold in California. The United States and the Cy- 
ane hastened northward, while the Shark returned to 
Callao and the Dale made for Panama with dispatches 
for the Government. Captain Jones reached Monterey 
on the afternoon of October 19th, but saw nothing of 
the Dublin. He heard enough, however, to convince 
him that his suspicions were well founded, and he in- 
sisted on the surrender of the place ; but on the follow- 
ing day he learned that war did not exist between the 
United States and Mexico, and he promptly made 
amends for his hasty action. That the Government 
was not displeased with the vigilance of this officer is 
shown by the fact that he was not censured for the 
part he had played ; but, as some action was necessary 
to conciliate Mexico, he was removed from the com- 
mand of the squadron. 

War was not declared between the United States 
and Mexico until May, 1846, and, learning of the bat- 
tles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Captain 
John Drake Sloat, who had succeeded to the command 
of the Pacific squadron, sailed from Mazatlan on the 
8th of June in the 44-gun frigate Savannah, Captain 
William Mervine, and arrived at Monterey July 2d, 
where he found the Warren, the Cyane and the Le- 
vant. Landing two hundred and fifty seamen and ma- 
rines, under Captain Mervine, he took possession of 
the place, and a week later the Portsmouth, Com- 


mander John Berrien Montgomery, took formal pos- 
session of the magnificent bay of San Francisco and 
the adjoining territory. Sutler's Fort, on Sacramento 
River, Bodega and Sonoma also were occupied. On the 
16th of July the 80-gun ship of the line Collingwood^ 
Admiral Sir George F. Seymour, arrived at Monterey, 
and on the 19th of July Major John Charles Fremont, 
who was exploring California at the head of a company 
of topographical engineers, reached the same place with 
one hundred and sixty mounted riflemen, and placed 
himself under the orders of Captain Sloat. In his 
Four Years in the Pacific in H. M. S. Collingwood, 
Lieutenant Walpole of the royal navy says : " Fremont 
and his party were true trappers. They had passed 
years in the wilds, living upon their own resources. 
Many of them were blacker than the Indians. Their 
dress was principally a long, loose coat of deer skin, 
tied with thongs in front ; trousers of the same, of 
their own manufacture. They are allowed no liquor 
tea and sugar only." u lt was a day of excitement 
when we entered Monterey," says Major Fremont in 
his Memoirs. "Four of our men-of-war were lying in 
the harbor, and also the Collingwood. Looking out 
over the bay, the dark hulls of the war vessels and the 
slumbering cannon still looked ominous and threaten- 
ing. There lay the pieces on the great chess-board 
before me with which the game for an empire had been 
played." No doubt Admiral Seymour would gladly 
have had a pretext for seizing the territory, and inci- 
dentally recapturing the Cyane and Levant, which 
had been taken from the English in 1815, but he was 
checkmated by the superior force that Captain Sloat 
had collected at Monterey, and after an exchange of 
civilities he sailed on the 23d of July for the Sand- 
wich Islands. 

Anxious to interrupt communications between Gen- 
eral Jose M. Castro, commander of the Mexican forces 
in California, and Mexico, Captain Sloat sent Major 




Los Angeles , 

San Luis Key 
San Diego 

Fremont with one hundred and fifty riflemen in the 
Cyane, Commander Samuel Francis Dupont, to San 
Diego. The Cyane arrived off that port on the 25th of 

July. Landing on 
the afternoon of the 
same day, Lieuten- 
ant Stephen Clegg 
Rowan hoisted the 
American colors and 
placed a garrison 
there under the com- 
mand of Lieutenant 
George Minor. On 
the 30th of July the 
Congress took pos- 
session of San Pedro, 
seaport of Los Ange- 
les and the seat of 
the Mexican Govern- 
ment in California. 
Desiring to return 
to the United States 
on account of his 
health,Captain Sloat, 
on the 23d of July, 
1840, turned over the command of the squadron to Cap- 
tain Robert Field Stockton (who had recently arrived 
in Monterey) and sailed for Panama in the Levant. 

Finding that all the seaports on the Californian 
coast were in the possession of the Americans, Captain 
Stockton planned an expedition against Los Angeles. 
Leaving the Savannah on guard at Monterey, the 
Portsmouth at San Francisco, the Warren at Mazatlan 
and the Erie at the Sandwich Islands, Captain Stock- 
ton, on the 1st of August, sailed from Monterey in the 
Congress. Stationing a small force at Santa Barbara, 
he appeared off San Pedro August 6th, and, landing 
three hundred and fifty sailors and marines, estab- 

Scene of the naval operations on the 
Pacific coast. 


lished a camp and began the arduous task of drilling 
the sailors in military tactics. "There were only 
about ninety muskets in the whole corps. Some of 
the men were armed with carbines, others had only 
pistols, swords or boarding-pikes. They presented a 
motley and peculiar appearance, with great variety of 
costume. Owing to their protracted absence from 
home the supplies of shoes and clothing had fallen 
short, and the ragged and diversified colors of their 
garments, as well as the want of uniformity in their 
arms and accoutrements, made them altogether a spec- 
tacle both singular and amusing." 1 Captain Stockton 
fully realized the importance of securing the strategic 
places in California before the several thousand well- 
armed and well- mounted soldiers then scattered in dif- 
ferent parts of the State could come together. The 
many narrow passes, mountain ranges, and undula- 
tions of the land favorable for resisting invaders gave 
the Mexicans a great advantage. Their forces at Los 
Angeles also outnumbered the Americans three to one, 
and it was only by putting on a bold front that Captain 
Stockton had hopes of conquering them. 

Several days after the camp at San Pedro had been 
established a flag of truce appeared on the hills, and 
Captain Stockton determined on a stratagem to deceive 
the enemy as to his force. "He ordered all his men 
under arms and directed them to march three or four 
abreast, with intervals of considerable space between 
each squad, directly in the line of vision of the ap- 
proaching messengers, to the rear of some buildings on 
the beach, and thence to return in a circle and con- 
tinue their march until the strangers had arrived. 
Part of the circle described in the march was con- 
cealed from view, so that to the strangers it would ap- 
pear that a force ten times greater than the actual 
number was defiling before them. When the two 

1 Life of Captain Robert F. Stockton, p. 119. 



bearers of the flag of truce had arrived, he ordered 
them to be led up to him alongside of the artillery, 
which consisted of several 6-pounders and one 32- 
pound carronade. The guns were all covered with 
skins in such a manner as to conceal their dimensions 
excepting the huge mouth of the 32-pounder, at which 
the captain was posted to receive his guests. He sup- 
posed that in all probability neither of them had ever 
before seen such an instrument of war, and that the 
large and gaping aperture of the gun, into the very 
mouth of which they were compelled to look, would 
be likely to disturb their nerves. As his purpose was 
that of intimidation, he received them with sternness, 
calculated to co-operate with the impression produced 
by the artillery. . . . The messengers brought over- 
tures for a truce, but, as this was merely a ruse to gain 
time, Captain Stockton ordered them to tell General 
Castro that he would not negotiate with him on any 
other terms than those of absolute submission to the 
authority of the United States. Having delivered this 
message in the most fierce and offensive manner, and 
in a tone significant of the most implacable and hostile 
determination, Captain Stockton imperiously waved 
them from his presence with the insulting imperative 
Vamose ! The Mexicans made haste to escape from 
the presence of an enemy apparently so ferocious and 
formidable, and their ominous retiring glances at the 
terrific gun showed but too plainly that the work of 
intimidation was effectual. When they were beyond 
hearing Captain Stockton expressed the opinion to his 
officers that these messengers would carry to General 
Castro's camp such an account of their observations as 
would supersede the necessity of any very desperate 
battle." 1 

Forming his little army into a hollow square, with 
his baggage and provisions in the center, Captain 

1 Life of Captain Robert F. Stockton, p. 120. 


Stockton, on the llth of August, began his tedious 
march to Los Angeles. Having only a few horses, the 
sailors seized the ropes attached to the heavy artillery 
and ammunition carts and dragged them over hills and 
valleys of sand under the burning rays of a semitrop- 
ical sun. On the 12th he met a courier from General 
Castro with a pompous message informing Captain 
Stockton that u if he marched upon the town he would 
find it the grave of his men." The American com- 
mander replied : "Then tell your general to have the 
bells ready to toll in the morning at eight o'clock. I 
shall be there at that time." Stockton was as good as 
his word, and on the 13th of August he met Major 
Fremont's detachment, which had come up from San 
Diego, and entered Los Angeles unopposed. The 
Mexican general, having dispersed the bulk of his 
army, mounted his best men on his swiftest horses and 
made all speed for Sonora. The following day, August 
14th, Andres Pico (the former governor) and General 
Jose Maria Flores surrendered and were liberated on 
parole. The news of the capture was sent overland to 
Washington by the celebrated scout Kit Carson. Or- 
ganizing a civil government for the entire State, with 
Major Fremont as the head of it, Captain Stockton 
sailed northward on the 5th of September, leaving a 
garrison under the command of Lieutenant Archibald 
H. Gillespie, of the marines. Major Fremont also re- 
turned north for the purpose of enlisting men at Sacra- 
mento to take part in an expedition that Captain 
Stockton was planning against Acapulco. 

While these operations were taking place along the 
coast of California, the Warren, Commander Joseph 
Bartine Hull, and the Cyane, Commander Dupont, were 
active in cruising along the western coast of Mexico and 
capturing hostile vessels. Thirteen or fourteen prizes 
were taken by them. Captain Stockton, in his official 
report, said Commanders Hull and Dupont "deserve 
praise for the manner in which they have blockaded 


and watched the Mexican coasts during the most in- 
clement season of the year." A spirited affair was 
undertaken by the boats of the Warren under Com- 
mander Hull. The celebrated privateer MaleJc Adhel 
had run into the harbor of Mazatlan, and Lieutenant 
Hull manned his boats and, pulling directly into the 
harbor, captured the vessel and brought her out. 

Early in October a courier from Los Angeles arrived 
at San Francisco with the startling announcement that 
both Pico and General Flores, regardless of their parole, 
had secretly collected the remnants of their army and 
were besieging the American garrison in the Govern- 
ment house at Los Angeles. It was also learned that 
the Mexicans were attacking the garrison at Santa 
Barbara, and were advancing upon the little force under 
Lieutenant Minor at San Diego. Captain Stockton 
immediately dispatched the Savannah to the scene of 
trouble. Arriving at San Pedro, Captain Mervine 
found that the American garrison at Los Angeles had 
been forced to capitulate, and was awaiting the arrival 
of an American cruiser. Captain Mervine landed a 
detachment of seamen and marines, and began the 
march to the capital ; but he had not advanced more 
than twelve miles when he came upon the Mexicans 
and a field piece intrenched in a commanding position. 
Unfortunately, the Americans were destitute of artil- 
lery, but, gallantly charging, they drove the enemy 
from cover. The Mexicans, being well mounted, car- 
ried off their field piece and, after retreating a short 
distance, formed another line. The Americans charged 
again, but Captain Mervine, finding that he was losing 
valuable men and that the enemy could repeat these 
tactics with comparative impunity, retired to San Pe- 
dro, closely followed by General Flores with eighteen 
hundred soldiers. In this affair the Americans had 
several men killed or wounded. 

Captain Stockton sailed from San Francisco on the 
12th of October in the Congress, having in company 


the transport Sterling, with Major Fremont's corps, 
consisting "of one hundred and seventy good men" 1 
aboard. On the way down the coast the vessels be- 
came separated in a fog, and as the weather was clear- 
ing up the Congress met the merchant vessel Barnsta- 
ble and learned that the American garrison at Monterey, 
under the command of Lieutenant W. A. T. Maddox, 
of the marines, was threatened by an uprising of the 
people. Running into the bay, Captain Stockton 
landed fifty men and three pieces of artillery, under 
Midshipmen Baldwin and Johnston, and then contin- 
ued his course southward. Arriving at San Pedro on 
the 23d of October, he landed three hundred men and 
established a camp. Hearing that the garrison at San 
Diego under Lieutenant Minor was besieged, and find- 
ing that the harbor at San Pedro was too exposed, 
Captain Stockton, after a few skirmishes with the ene- 
my, changed his base of operations to the former place. 
In attempting to cross the bar at San Diego the Con- 
gress grounded. A second attempt to get the ship 
over was successful, but she grounded in the bay, and 
heeled over so much that it became necessary to shore 
her up with spars. While she was in this condition 
the Mexicans made a furious attack on the town. As 
many men as could be spared were landed under Lieu- 
tenant Minor and Captain Gillespie, and they drove 
the enemy back. 

Being greatly in need of horses and live stock, Cap- 
tain Stockton sent Captain Hensley and Captain Gib- 
son with a detachment of men into Lower California 
for a supply, and these officers soon returned with 
ninety horses and two hundred head of cattle. Another 
expedition under Captain Gillespie was planned against 
the enemy's camp at San Bernardino, but before it got 
under way Captain Stockton received word from Brig- 
adier-General Stephen W. Kearny that he had crossed 

1 Memoirs of John Charles Fremont, p. 577. 


the mountains from Santa Fe with one hundred dra- 
goons, and desired to open communication with the 
American naval forces. Captain Gillespie, with Lieu- 
tenant Beale, Midshipman James M. Duncan and ten 
carbineers, together with a force of twenty-five volun- 
teers under Captain Gibson and a field gun, were or- 
dered to march immediately and effect a junction with 
him, which was done early in December. Early on the 
morning of December 6th General Kearny attacked the 
Mexican forces at San Pasqual, commanded by Cap- 
tain Pio Pico, but was repelled with the loss of one 
of his guns and eighteen men killed and fifteen 
wounded, among the latter being General Kearny him- 
self, Lieutenant Beale and Captain Gillespie. The 
general now found himself besieged by a force that 
was hourly growing stronger. On the night of Decem- 
ber 7th Lieutenant Beale, with Mr. Godey and an 
Indian scout, slipped through the enemy's lines, and, 
after enduring great hardships, reached the American 
camp at San Diego on the night of December 9th. 

The position of the American forces in California 
was extremely critical. Elated with the recapture of 
Los Angeles, the repulse of Captain Mervine on the road 
to that town, the abandonment of San Pedro by the 
powerful American squadron, and most of all by the de- 
feat of General Kearny, the Mexicans were rallying in 
great numbers. Realizing the gravity of the situation, 
Captain Stockton resolved on prompt and decisive 
measures. The first thing to be done was to relieve 
General Kearny at San Bernardino. Accordingly, the 
attack on Los Angeles was postponed, while Andrew F. 
V. Gray, on the 10th of December, with two hundred 
and fifteen men, was sent in all haste to the aid of the 
general. That young officer carried out his instruc- 
tions with spirit, and by making forced marches he 
reached the besieged dragoons and escorted them to 
San Diego. Captain Stockton began his march upon 
Los Angeles December 29th. His entire force now con- 


sisted of nearly six hundred sailors and marines, Gen- 
eral Kearny's sixty dismounted dragoons, six light 
guns and a howitzer. There were only two hundred 
muskets in the whole army, the sailors being armed 
with carbines and boarding- pikes, while the few horses 
were unfit for the march, and soon gave out. 

The road to Los Angeies, about one hundred and 
forty-five miles long, was intersected with deep ravines, 
sand hills and deserts, affording many strong positions 
where a handful of determined men could have im- 
peded seriously the progress of an army. The first 
day of the march was occupied in crossing the dry, 
sandy bed of San Diego River and in reaching Solidad, 
the guns and ammunition carts being drawn two thirds 
of the way by the officers and men. ''After an ad- 
vance of a quarter of a mile we found what labor was 
in store for us. Almost every ox team became stalled 
in the sandy bed of the dry river, and had to be 
dragged across by the troops. On a dead level the 
half-starved oxen managed to drag the carts, but when 
we came to a hill or a sandy bottom the troops had to 
pull them along. These extra labors were of hourly 
occurrence, and when we reached the place where we 
were to camp for the night the men were almost ex- 
hausted." 1 "Our men were badly clothed, and their 
shoes generally were made by themselves out of canvas. 
It was very cold, and the roads heavy. Our animals 
were all poor and weak, some of them giving out daily, 
which gave much hard work to the men in dragging 
the heavy carts, loaded with ammunition and provi- 
sions, through deep sands and up steep ascents." 2 On 
the morning of the second day the men came to Cap- 
tain Stockton in squads and begged for twenty-four 
hours of rest. This, at first, was granted, but realiz- 
ing that every day was increasing the enemy's strength, 

1 Recollections of the Mexican War, Vice-Admiral Rowan. 

2 Official Report of Captain Robert F. Stockton. 


Captain Stockton after a few hours resumed the march, 
in spite of urgent requests for rest. During the day 
straggling parties of Mexican horsemen appeared at 
different points along the route, showing that the ene- 
my was on the alert and not far off. On the second 
day several of them appeared in front of a house on a 
hill, waving their lances in defiance ; but on the ap- 
proach of the advance guard they disappeared as sud- 
denly as they came. When the little army had cov- 
ered about two thirds of the distance, messengers bear- 
ing a letter from General Flores were met, but Captain 
Stockton refused to read the missive, saying that the 
Mexican commander had broken his parole and would 
be shot if he again fell into the hands of the Ameri- 

On the 2d of January Stockton reached San Luis 
Rey, and on the 3d a courier was dispatched to com- 
municate, if possible, with the corps under Major Fre- 
mont. Continuing his march, Captain Stockton on the 
evening of January 7th approached San Gabriel River, 
and by sending out scouts he discovered that the Mex- 
icans were intrenched between him and the river, 
apparently determined to give battle. Early on the 
following morning all the firearms were discharged and 
reloaded, so as to insure their being in good condition. 
Incidentally it was a reminder that the 8th of January 
was the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans. 
Having assigned every man to his position, and giving 
careful instructions how to proceed, Captain Stockton 
resumed the march at 9 o'clock in the morning, and on 
reaching the plains formed his army in a hollow square 
with the baggage and provisions in the center. When 
he was within two miles of the river the enemy, six 
hundred strong, appeared in three divisions on the hills 
on the opposite side of the San Gabriel. As the Amer- 
icans approached the ford where the river was about 
fifty yards wide, a body of one hundred and fifty Mex- 
icans crossed the San Gabriel at another point and en- 


deavored to drive a herd of wild mares into the Amer- 
ican ranks, but failing in this they retired across the 
river to their position about six hundred yards from 
the water. The main body of their army, two hundred 
strong, with two pieces of artillery, was stationed op- 
posite the ford. 

As the Americans approached the crossing place 
the Mexicans opened a heavy fire, one of their cannon 
balls striking Frederick Strauss, a seaman of the Ports- 
mouth, in the neck and killing him instantly. Some 
of the other Americans were wounded about the same 
time, but in spite of their exposed position they strug- 
gled across the stream, while the officers and men as- 
sisted the mules in dragging the two 9-pounders 
through the deep sand. As soon as the advance guard 
had crossed the 9-pounders were unlimbered, and al- 
though exposed in the open plain they were loaded 
and fired with such precision that one shot knocked a 
Mexican gun out of its carriage. It was five minutes 
before the Mexicans recovered from the confusion 
created by this well-aimed missile, but finally twenty 
of them ran from their cover and hastily fastening las- 
soes to the gun dragged it to the rear. About this 
time the Mexicans made a flank movement and endeav- 
ored to capture the two 6-pounders in the rear of the 
American army, but they were repelled by the marines 
under Lieutenant Jacob Zeilin. The Mexican right 
wing then attempted to rout Captain Stockton's left, 
but it was repelled by the musketeers under Lieuten- 
ants William B. Renshaw and H. B. Watson and Mid- 
shipman John Guest. 

Everything now being in readiness, Captain Stock- 
ton gave the word to charge, and the men rushed for- 
ward with great spirit. The Mexican center withstood 
the attack for some time, but finally broke and fled. 
At this moment their right wing wheeled round and 
charged the American rear, which was encumbered 
with baggage, horses and cattle, but Captain Gillespie 


opened such a well-directed fire that the enemy was 
again repelled. The Americans were now in full pos- 
session of the enemy's breastworks, and "the band 
playing Hail Columbia and Yankee Doodle announced 
another glorious victory on the 8th of January." 1 In 
this affair the Americans lost two killed and had nine 
wounded, while that of the enemy was about seventy 
killed and one hundred and fifty wounded. 

Anxious to follow up his advantage, Captain Stock- 
ton ordered the tattoo to be beaten at an early hour that 
evening, with the intention of resuming the march on 
Los. Angeles at daybreak. At midnight the picket 
men were fired upon, and, fearing a general attack, 
Captain Stockton in a few minutes had his little army 
under arms, but finding that it was nothing more than 
a few straggling prowlers the men returned to their 
blankets. At 9 o'clock on the following morning the 
Americans were again formed into a hollow square, 
with the baggage and animals in the center, and re- 
sumed the march ; but they had not proceeded more 
than six miles when they were again confronted by 
the Mexican army intrenched in a strong position on 
the plains of Mesa. When within range the enemy 
opened fire from a masked battery, which killed an ox 
and a mule of the American provision train. The fire 
was returned by the 6-pounder, under Acting- Master 
William H. Thompson. Observing that the enemy 
was dividing his cavalry so as to attack three sides of 
the American square simultaneously, Captain Stockton 
ordered his men to reserve their fire until they could 
distinctly see the faces of their foe. " The appearance 
which the Mexicans made on this occasion, mounted 
on fine horses, gayly caparisoned, with ribbons and pen- 
nons streaming in the breeze, was brilliant and exciting. 
On they came at full gallop, the earth quivering be- 
neath their hoofs, their bright weapons flashing in the 

1 Official report of Captain Stockton. 


rays of the sun, apparently with desperate valor bent 
on hurling themselves upon the small, compact and 
silent mass that awaited their charge. But when they 
had approached as near as Captain Stockton thought 
proper he gave the signal, and a deadly fire checked 
their gallant advance." 1 Three times the Mexicans 
rallied and charged the hollow square, and three times 
they were repelled by the unflinching bravery of the 
little army, leaving many a horse galloping over the 
plains with an empty saddle. At last they retired in 
confusion, and on the following day Captain Stockton 
entered Los Angeles in triumph, where he was joined 
on the 15th of January by Major Fremont's corps. 

In the battle of the 9th the Americans had one 
killed and five wounded, including Lieutenant Rowan 
and Captain Gillespie. Besides those already men- 
tioned, the naval officers in these brilliant affairs were 
Lieutenant Richard L. Tilghman ; Acting- Lieutenants 
B. F. B. Hunter and Edward Higgins ; Midshipmen 
Benjamin F. Wells, P. Haywood, Robert C. Duvall, 
William Simmons, George E. Morgan, J. Van Ness 
Philip, Theodoric Lee, Albert Almand, Edward C. 
Grafton, J. Fenwick Stenson, Joseph Parrioh and Ed- 
mund Shepherd ; Surgeons Charles Eversfield, John 
S. Griffin and Andrew A. Henderson ; Purser William 
Speeden ; Captain Hensley, Captain Turner, of the dra- 
goons, Captain Miguel de Pedrovena, Captain William 
H. Emory, of the topographical engineers, and Lieu- 
tenant Davidson. Soon after his brilliant victories 
Captain Stockton joined a party of hunters, and cross- 
ing the Rocky Mountains made his way overland to the 
United States. Captain William Brandford Shubrick 
succeeded him in the command of the Pacific squadron, 
re-enforcing it with the 54-gun ship of the line Inde- 
pendence and the 16-gun brig of war Preble. 

1 Life of Captain Robert F. Stockton, p. 147. 



WHILE this vigorous campaign was under way in 
the north the vessels stationed on the coasts of Mex- 
ico and Lower California had not been idle. After 
landing Major Fremont's corps at San Diego, in July, 
1846, the Cyane, Commander Dupont, appeared off 
San Bias on the 2d of September. A detachment of 
men under Lieutenant Rowan landed, spiked all the 
guns in the place (twenty-four in number) and then re- 
tired without the loss of a man. Running into the 
Gulf of California, Commander Dupont learned that a 
Mexican gunboat had sailed from Mulije for Guaymas, 
and, making all sail, he appeared off that port on the 
6th of October. Discovering two gunboats and a brig 
in the harbor, he demanded that they be surrendered, 
but the Mexicans burned the gunboats and warped the 
brig into a cove within pistol shot of the shore, where 
two streets leading from the barracks opened on her. 
These barracks were in a commanding position and 
contained several hundred soldiers, besides artillery. 
It was thought that the brig thus defended was safe. 
But evidently the Mexicans had not heard of the dar- 
ing cutting-out expeditions for which the United States 
navy is famous. 

Determined to have the brig, Commander Dupont 
ordered out his launch and cutter under the command of 
Lieutenant G. W. Harrison, who was assisted by Lieu- 
tenant Higgins and Midshipman Lewis. The Cyane 
then hauled close inshore and opened a heavy fire, 
while the boat party, pulling toward the cove, boarded 



the brig and began towing her out. Not wishing to 
injure the town unnecessarily, Commander Dupont 
now ceased firing, whereupon the Mexicans ran from 
their cover and opened a sharp discharge of musketry 
and artillery on the boat. This was returned by Lieu- 
tenant Harrison and the Cyane, and again the enemy 
ran to cover. In a short time, however, the boat party 
was in the line of the Cyane's fire, so that her gunners 
were compelled to desist. This was a signal for the 
Mexicans to resume their fire on the boats, and a party 
of Indians on the other side of the cove opened a cross 
fire. Seeing the danger of his men, Commander Du- 
pont reopened his broadside, and by skillfully throw- 
ing his missiles over the heads of the boat party again 
routed the Mexicans and held them in check until his 
men were out of danger and the brig burned. 

Running down to Mazatlan, the Cyane maintained 
such a vigorous blockade of that port that the town 
soon began to suffer for want of provisions, and in or- 
der to secure them the enemy attempted to run the 
blockade in small coasting vessels. As the only means 
of intercepting them, the Americans manned their 
boats and kept up this hazardous service many weeks. 
By keeping close inshore the coasters secured the sup- 
port of cavalry with flying artillery. On two occasions 
the Americans succeeded in cutting off four of these 
blockade runners, and at one time, while three of the 
Cyane's smallest boats, under the command of Lieuten- 
ant Harrison, were returning from an expedition of 
this nature, two launches and two barges, carrying 
sixty soldiers, put out of the harbor in pursuit, the 
Cyane being some miles seaward. Notwithstanding 
the fact that the Mexicans had the support of their 
artillery on shore, Lieutenant Harrison turned on his 
pursuers and gallantly advanced to give battle. On 
coming within range both sides opened a sharp fire, 
but the Mexicans soon turned, ran their boats on the 
beach and escaped on shore. In her cruise off these 


coasts the Cyane and her boats captured twenty-three 
craft of all kinds. 

Some idea of the hardships and dangers to which 
the American officers and seamen on this coast were 
exposed may be gained from Lieutenant Tunis Augus- 
tus Macdonough Craven's journal, under date of De- 
cember 21, 1846, when his ship, the Dale, was off Mon- 
terey. " In standing out to the northwest, the weather 
being quite thick and the rain pouring down in tor- 
rents, we came very near running into a low point of 
land forming the north point of the bay. We were 
obliged to haul by the wind, which had increased to a 
gale and suddenly shifted to the northwest, blowing 
strong. On neither tack could we clear the shore. 
Night came on ; we could not regain the port ; the rain 
poured down in violent squalls and the wind at times 
raged furiously ; the lee shore was by calculation- not 
more than nine miles off. We could not carry much 
sail, and were obliged to reduce what little we had. A 
tremendous swell set in from the southwest, and we 
felt that it was fast driving us toward the fatal shore. 
But the Almighty rendered us assistance when the 
hand of man was powerless." 

Late in October, 1847, the Congress, Captain La 
Valette, and the Portsmouth, Commander Montgomery, 
hove to off Guaymas, and, landing two heavy guns on 
an island commanding the town, opened a heavy fire 
at sunrise on the following day, and in three quarters 
of an hour the enemy surrendered. All the water- 
front batteries were then destroyed, but on the evening 
of the same day General Campujano approached the 
place with a large force. Landing a detachment of 
seamen and marines, Captain La Yalette prepared to 
defend the place, but the Mexican general, being de- 
serted by many of his soldiers, left the Americans in 
quiet possession. Leaving the Portsmouth at Guay- 
mas, Captain La Yalette ran over to Loreto, and, 
standing down the coast, joined the Independence and 


the Cyane at Cape San Lucas on the 16th of October. 
In November the Dale, Commander Thomas O. Self- 
ridge, relieved the Portsmouth at Guaymas. 

While on his way to that place Commander Self- 
ridge learned that one hundred and fifty Mexican sol- 
diers, under the command of a chief called Pineda, had 
captured Mulije and were overawing the inhabitants, 
the majority of whom were friendly to the United 
States. The bold table mountain and broken crags of 
Mulije were made out September 30th, and soon after- 
ward the Dale brought her broadside to bear on the 
town, while Lieutenant Craven with fifty men in four 
boats pulled up the creek to cut out a schooner. This 
was done in handsome style, and although many Mexi- 
can soldiers were in sight they offered no resistance. 
On the following day Lieutenant Craven landed on the 
right bank of the creek with eighty officers and men, 
including Lieutenant William T. Smith, Lieutenant 
Tansill, of the marines, Past Midshipman James M. 
Duncan, and Midshipmen Thomas T. Houston, J. R. 
Hamilton and W. B. Hayes, and drove the Mexicans, 
one hundred and forty strong, three miles inland. 
Several ambuscades were prepared for the Americans, 
but the steadiness of the seamen carried everything 
before it. Two of the Americans were wounded. 
Lieutenant Craven, with Midshipman Hamilton and 
eleven men, was then placed in command of the 
schooner Libertad, fitted with a 9-pounder for the 
service, and was ordered to cruise in the Gulf and 
interrupt the enemy's communications. On the 9th of 
November Lieutenant Craven cut out the sloop Alerta 
from the harbor of Mulije. 

The Dale in the meantime had crossed over to 
Guaymas, and on the 17th of November Commander 
Selfridge landed with sixty-five men and marched 
upon the town. When he reached the plaza the 
Mexicans opened an unexpected fire from the houses 
that surrounded the place, which inflicted a severe 



wound on the commander's foot and compelled him 
to return to his ship. It was discovered that four 
hundred soldiers were concealed in the houses. The 
Mexicans believed that they had the Americans in a 
trap. "Every house breathed fire from its doors and 
windows, and the officers thought that the whole party 
was doomed to destruction ; but the men were so well 
handled by Lieutenant Smith [who succeeded to the 
command], and their fire was so effectively poured 
upon the Mexicans, who were sallying from the houses 
and forming, that the enemy was thrown into the ut- 
most confusion. A flight commenced, about four hun- 
dred Mexican soldiers being routed by about seventy 
seamen. In this affair Lieutenant Tansill commanded 
the marines and led that gallant little band into the 
thickest and hottest part of the fight." 1 Thirty of the 
Mexicans were killed or wounded. 

Hearing that a body of Mexican soldiers had taken 
a position at Cochori, Lieutenant Yard, commanding 
the Dale, on Sunday morning, January 80, 1848, sent 
a boat party under Lieutenant Craven to attack them. 
Pulling four miles up the coast, the Americans landed 
some distance from the enemy's camp, and, cautiously 
making their way along the shore at night, suddenly 
came upon the Mexicans and routed them. Thirteen 
prisoners, including Captain Mendoza and a lieutenant, 
were taken, and five Mexicans were killed. 

Leaving Lieutenant Charles Hey wood with four mid- 
shipmen, twenty marines and a 12-pounder in the old 
mission house at San Jose, a small village twenty miles 
northeast of San Lucas, Captain Shubrick, on the even- 
ing of the same day (November 9th) sailed for Mazatlan 
with the Independence, the Congress and the Cyane, 
with the intention of capturing that important com- 
mercial center, which yielded an annual revenue of 
three million dollars to Mexico. As soon as the Ameri- 

1 Journal of Lieutenant Craven. 


can vessels came in sight of the town they made for 
positions prescribed by Captain Shubrick. The Inde- 
pendence anchored in a bend in the peninsula west of 
the town, and as her broadside swung round her 
lighted ports loomed up in the darkness like a walled 
city. The Congress took a dangerous but important 
position in the old harbor, where her guns could sweep 
the roads leading from that side of the town, while the 
Cyane and the Erie (the latter having joined the squad- 
ron off the port) boldly stood into the new harbor, and 
trained their guns on the town. 

Early on the following morning Captain La Valette 
went ashore with a formal demand for the surrender of 
the place, but Colonel Telles, the Mexican commander, 
tore up the paper with insulting expressions and dared 
the Americans to attack. As soon as he heard of this 
Captain Shubrick ordered out the boats of the squad- 
ron and formed them in three lines under the command 
of Lieutenant Watson, Lieutenants Kowan and Page 
commanding the left and right wings. The boats from 
the Congress, commanded by Lieutenant John T. Liv- 
ingston, had five pieces of artillery, which had been 
captured in Lower California. Notwithstanding the 
protection the stone walls and sand hills afforded the 
Mexicans, they did not open fire. Pulling directly for 
the landing, the Americans, six hundred in all, formed 
on the beach and marched to the town, and under 
a salute of twenty-one guns from the Independence 
hoisted the American flag. Captain Shubrick organ- 
ized a municipal government for Mazatlan, with Cap- 
tain La Valette at the head of it, while a commission 
consisting of Commander Dupont, Lieutenant Chatard, 
Purser Price and Thomas Miller arranged the terms of 
occupation. Pursers W. H. Greene and Speeden, as 
collectors of this port, in five months received nearly 
three hundred thousand dollars in duties. A garrison 
held the city till the close of the war. 

Colonel Telles encamped not far from the town and 

94. IN THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA. 1847-1848. 

endeavored to cut off all communication with the inte- 
rior. On the 20th of November a land party of ninety- 
four sailors, commanded by Lieutenant Seldon, and 
sixty-two men in boats, under Lieutenant Rowan, pro- 
ceeded up the coast to Urias with a view of dislodging 
a detachment of Colonel Telles' troops. At daylight of 
the following day the Yankee sailors landed, and 
charged the Mexicans and soon dispersed them. Lieu- 
tenant Seldon's party, " having fallen into an ambush 
of the enemy's advance guard, was severely handled, 
losing twenty killed or wounded." 1 

Having secured this important city, Captain Shu- 
brick sent out several expeditions against the smaller 
ports on the western coast of Mexico. Early in Jan- 
uary, 1848, he sent the storeship Lexington, Lieuten- 
ant Theodorus Bailey, against San Bias. Lieutenant 
Bailey appeared off that place on the night of January 
12th, and, landing a party of men under the command 
of Lieutenant Chartard, brought off two pieces of artil- 
lery and the customhouse boat. Soon afterward Char- 
tard landed at Manzanilla and spiked the guns in that 
place. The Mexicans now had not a serviceable gun 
on their western coast except at Acapulco. 

In the meantime several attempts were made by the 
enemy to recapture the posts taken by the Americans, 
the most serious being that against the garrison in the 
mission house at San Jose. On the 19th of November 
a large force of Mexicans unexpectedly appeared before 
that place and called upon the Americans to surrender ; 
and although Lieutenant Heywood's force consisted of 
only twenty marines and four officers and twenty vol- 
unteers, he promptly refused to do so, prepared for a 
desperate defense, and placed Midshipman McLanahan 
and twelve men in a private dwelling adjoining the mis- 
sion house. Late in the day the Mexicans began the 
attack by the rapid discharge of a 6-pounder, but find- 

1 Lieutenant Rowan's Recollections of the Mexican War. 


ing that ineffectual they prepared a different plan. At 
ten o'clock that night they made a sudden assault in 
the front and rear of both houses, at the same time re- 
opening the fire from their 6-pounder. The Americans 
responded with a 9-pounder, and with such good aim 
that the Mexicans sought the cover of buildings, from 
which they kept up a desultory fire until daybreak, 
when they retired. 

On the following night they concentrated their entire 
force on the mission house and endeavored to carry it 
by assault. On they came w r ith yells and shouts that 
were intended to strike terror into the hearts of the 
garrison. Their first object was to break down the 
front door and capture the 9-pounder which had caused 
them so much annoyance the day before. But Lieu- 
tenant Heywood, ever on the alert, was equal to the 
emergency, and had stationed some of his best men at 
the gun. Waiting until the enemy was within good 
range, the Americans discharged the gun, which 
brought down the Mexican leader with several of his 
men, and put the others to flight. At the same time a 
strong party of Mexicans with scaling ladders was ap- 
proaching the mission house from behind, but, meeting 
with a hot fire and discouraged by the repulse of their 
comrades in front, they also fled. On the following 
morning a whaling vessel anchored in the bay, and, 
supposing her to be a man-of-war, the enemy retired. 
In these attacks the Americans had three men 
wounded, while the Mexicans left eight men dead on 
the field. Soon afterward Lieutenant Heywood re- 
ceived a small re-enforcement to his garrison. 

On the 22d of January, 1848, the Mexicans renewed 
their attacks on this heroic little garrison, and suc- 
ceeded in capturing Midshipmen Warley and Duncan, 
with six men, who were on the beach in front of the 
mission house, these men having no intimation that the 
enemy was in the neighborhood until a large body of 
cavalry dashed along the shore. This left Lieutenant 


Heywood with only twenty-seven marines, ten seamen 
and twenty volunteers. It was soon discovered that 
this sudden dash of the Mexican cavalry was only the 
beginning of a determined effort on their part to crush 
the feeble garrison in the mission house. Fleeting 
glimpses of mounted horsemen hovering in the vicinity 
warned Lieutenant Heywood that the enemy was at 
hand in force and was about to renew his treacherous 
warfare. By the close of January the mission house 
was completely surrounded, and all avenues of retreat 
or succor were cut off. The inhabitants long since had 
fled, with the exception of fifty women and children 
who sought the shelter of the fort and were dependent 
on the scanty rations of the garrison. By the 4th of 
February the enemy had drawn his lines around the 
mission house and fired on all who exposed themselves. 
Finding that something must be done immediately, 
Lieutenant Heywood, on the 6th of February, with twen- 
ty-five men, made a dash at a party of Mexicans who 
had taken a strong position in a house at the lower end 
of the street, and dislodged them ; but as the Ameri- 
cans could not spare men to hold the place the enemy 
returned to it as soon as the victors had retired to the 
mission house. On the following day the Americans 
made another successful sortie, but sustained the loss 
of one man. Considering the overwhelming force of 
the Mexicans, this was a substantial victory for them, 
for although they lost fifteen, killed or wounded, their 
great numbers enabled them to withstand the loss. 
Evidently it was their plan to worry the garrison, pick- 
ing off a man here and there until the Americans should 
be so reduced that resistance would be hopeless. The 
Mexicans soon got complete possession of the town, 
and, placing strong bodies of men in a church and 
other buildings near the mission house, they kept up 
an incessant fire. A few days afterward, while passing 
a window, Midshipman McLanahan was mortally 
wounded by a bullet in the neck, and during the fol- 


lowing night the enemy erected an earthwork that com- 
manded the place where the Americans obtained their 
supply of water, so that the garrison was compelled to 
dig a well. While they were engaged in this arduous 
task, the Cyane, Commander Dupont, on the evening of 
February 15th, appeared in the harbor, but, not under- 
standing the situation, made no attempt to relieve the 
mission house until the following day. 

At daylight on February 16th Commander Dupont 
got out his boats with ninety-four seamen and marines, 
with Lieutenants Rowan and Harrison, Acting-Master 
Fairfax, Midshipmen Shepherd, Lewis and Vander- 
horst, and Sergeant Maxwell, and, pulling for the beach, 
effected a landing. The Mexicans prepared to dispute 
the road from the beach to the mission house, and hav- 
ing the protection of trees, houses and sand hills, were 
in a position to make a serious resistance. Notwith- 
standing a galling fire, Commander Dupont moved 
steadily on, returning the enemy's fire as well as he 
could, and fighting for every inch of ground he passed 
over. It was with difficulty that the impetuosity of the 
seamen could be restrained, for they were eager to come 
into close quarters with the "varmints" and "lay the 
enemy aboard," but Commander Dupont wisely con- 
cluded that he would lose the advantage of a compact 
force if his men became scattered in a charge, and so 
with great patience he continued to push his way 
steadily toward the mission house. Step by step the 
Mexicans were driven back, and one vantage point 
after another was wrested from them by the hardy 
Yankee tars. The Cyane was unable to bring her guns 
into play without danger of injuring her own people, 
but the crew watched the contest with great interest, 
every success being heralded with cheers. 

Finding that they had been driven back almost to 
the point where the men in the mission house could fire 
on them in the rear, the Mexicans made a final stand at 
the junction of two streets, when Commander Dupont 



arranged his men for a charge and at the word they 
rushed to the attack. Just at this moment Lieutenant 
Heywood made a sally from the mission house, and, 
after dislodging a body of Mexicans in a neighboring 
house, joined the forces under Commander Dupont, and 
being attacked in both front and rear, the Mexicans 
broke and fled. In this brilliant affair the Americans 
had three killed and eight wounded, while the enemy 
had at least thirteen killed and many more injured. 

This was the last serious effort of the Mexicans to 
regain their ground on the Western coast, although sev- 
eral guerrilla bands continued to overrun the surround- 
ing country. With a view of checking these maraud- 
ing expeditious, the Americans sent out several parties 
that succeeded in surprising a number of these bands. 
By making a forced march on the night of March 15th 
a detachment of the garrison at La Paz, commanded by 
Captain Steele, of the New York regiment, surprised 
the Mexican camp at San Antonio, put the enemy to 
flight and captured Midshipmen Warley and Duncan 
and the six men who had been taken on the 22d of Jan- 
uary on the beach before the mission house at San Jose. 
On the 20th of April Lieutenant Heywood and his men 
were relieved at San Jose by a detachment of troops 
from a volunteer regiment and returned to their ship. 
At the close of the war Captain Shubrick sailed for 
home in the Independence, while Captain Thomas ap 
C. Jones, in the 74-gun ship of the line Ohio, became 
commander of the Pacific squadron. 



THE distant booming of artillery at the battle of 
Palo Alto, May 8, 1846, announced to the American 
squadron at Point Isabel, under the orders of Captain 
David Conner, that war between the United States and 
Mexico had begun. Ignorant of the result of that bat- 
tle, and fearing that the enemy might attack the garri- 
son at Point Isabel, where the supplies of the army 
were guarded by a small body of troops under Major 
Monroe, Captain Conner landed five hundred seamen 
and marines in charge of Captain Francis Hoyt Greg- 
ory, of the Raritan, for additional protection. But 
the victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma ren- 
dered this precaution unnecessary, and on the 18th of 
May Captain John H. Aulick, with about two hundred 
seamen and marines, pulled fifteen miles up the Rio 
Grande in boats, and, effecting a junction with the 
army, established a post at Barita. 

.Shortly after the beginning of hostilities Captain 
Conner received orders from the Government to main- 
tain a vigorous blockade of all the Mexican ports in 
the Gulf, and in order that these instructions might be 
properly carried out the following vessels were placed 
under his command : The 44-gun frigate Potomac, flag- 
ship ; the 44-gun frigate Cumberland, Captain Forrest ; 
the 44-gun frigate Raritan, Captain Gregory ; the 10- 
gun side- wheel steamer Mississippi, Captain Matthew 
Calbraith Perry ; the 20-gun sloops of war Falmouth, 
Saratoga, St. Mary's, Albany, John Adams ; the 10- 
gun brigs Somers, Lawrence, Porpoise, Perry, Trux- 






tun ; and the 9-gun screw steamer Princeton. In ac- 
cordance with his instructions Captain Conner scattered 
his vessels along the entire Mexican coast from the Eio 
Grande to the Tabasco River, making Pensacola his 
base of operations. 

On the 15th of August he collected a naval force 
before Tuspan, but while the Truxtun was endeav- 
oring to enter the harbor she 
grounded, and, being exposed to 
a heavy lire from the batteries, 
was compelled to surrender. All 
her officers and men, with the 
exception of Lieutenant Hunter 
and a boat's crew, fell into the 
hands of the enemy. This un- 
fortunate affair was shortly fol- 
lowed by two unsuccessful at- 
tacks upon Alvarado, the most 
important port on the coast east 
of Vera Cruz. In August Cap- 
tain Conner dispatched several 
light-draught vessels against this 
place, but they were unable to 
get over the bar. On the 16th 
of October a second attempt was 
made, but this also was unsuc- 

Scene of the naval operations in the Mexican gulf. 

cessful. The Mississippi managed to get in range of 
the formidable batteries of this port and caused some 
damage, while the steamer Vixen, towing the schooners 



Bonita and Reefer close inshore, ably supported her ; 
but the steamer McLane, while endeavoring to tow 
into action the second division of gunboats, consisting 
of the Nonita, the Petrel and the Forward, grounded 
on the bar. The attack was abandoned and the ves- 
sels returned to a safe anchorage. This inauspicious 
opening of naval operations in the Gulf greatly en- 
couraged the Mexicans, and threw a shadow of dis- 
couragement and distrust over the American squadron. 
One of the first points to be gained by the navy was 
to secure the neutrality of Yucatan, and to this end it 
was deemed advisable to capture Tabasco, through 
which town supplies could be forwarded to Mexico. 
On the 16th of October Captain Perry sailed from An- 
ton Lizardo, and on the 23d he appeared off Frontera, a 
small port at the mouth of Tabasco River, with the 
following vessels: The steamers Mississippi, Vixen 
and McLane, and the schooners Bonita, Reefer, No- 
nita and Forward, having on board a detachment of 
two hundred marines from the Raritan and the Cum- 
berland, under the command of Captain Forrest. 
Frontera was the scene of Cortez's first battle on Mex- 
ican soil. The Mexican shipping at this place con- 
sisted of two steamers plying between Tabasco and 
Frontera, one brig, one sloop, five schooners and many 
boats and lighters, all admirably adapted for the diffi- 
cult navigation of these waters. Having observed the 
grounding of the McLane at Alvarado, and supposing 
that the American steamers were too heavy to cross 
the bar, the Mexican commander at Frontera, General 
Bravo, dared the Americans to attack him. But so 
rapid were the movements of the squadron that he was 
taken by surprise. On arriving off the bar Captain 
Perry hastened aboard the Vixen, and, with the Bonita 
and Forward in tow and accompanied by a detach- 
ment of Captain Forrest's men in barges, dashed 
across the bar and made all speed for the Mexican flo- 
tilla, which was moored in fancied security under the 



guns of the battery. Great volumes of smoke were 
observed ascending from the smokestack of the steam- 
ers, the largest of which was the Petrita, showing that 
every effort was being made to get up steam and escape 
up the river ; but before the Mexicans could effect 
their object the Americans boarded, and ate a hot sup- 
per that the Aztecs had prepared for themselves. The 
United States flag was then hoisted over the town. 

Leaving Lieutenant Walsh with a few men to hold 
Frontera, Captain Perry, early on the following day, 
began the difficult ascent of the river, hoping to come 
upon the Mexicans before they had time to strengthen 
their defenses, and the 24th and 25th of October were 
spent in this ascent, the steamers Vixen and Petrita 
towing the sailing vessels. At two o'clock in, the after- 
noon of the 25th Captain Perry reached a difficult bend 
in the rapid stream called the Devil's Turn, a few miles 
below Tabasco, at which point there was a breastwork 
with four long 24-pounders advantageously mounted. 
Expecting some resistance at this place, Captain Perry 
landed a detachment and marched upon the breast- 
work, but it was found that the enemy had retired. 
The flotilla, with the exception of the McLane, which 
with her usual luck had grounded some distance below, 
arrived at Tabasco, seventy-two miles above Frontera, 
at three o'clock in the afternoon. Forming the vessels 
in a line so as to sweep the principal streets, Captain 
Perry sent Captain Forrest ashore .with a demand for 
the surrender of the town ; but the Governor, assuming 
a spirit of bravado, replied, "Fire as soon as you 
please." Three shots were fired from the Vixen, which 
brought down the flagstaff on the fort, and several 
Mexican officers then came aboard, begging that hostil- 
ities might cease until they could negotiate the terms 
of surrender. Not wishing to inflict unnecessary in- 
jury, Captain Perry assented, and at five o'clock Cap- 
tain Forrest with two hundred men landed, but as they 
were awaiting the word to advance they were fired 


upon by Mexican troops concealed in a chaparral. 
The Americans returned the fire as well as they could 
until night came on, when they retired to the flotilla. 
At daylight the next morning (October 26th) the Mexi- 
cans opened fire on the vessels, but were silenced after 
a few discharges of grape and canister. A delegation 
of the principal inhabitants and foreign residents now 
waited upon Captain Perry, and assured him that the 
firing had been done against the wishes of the people 
and that they desired to surrender. 

Having effected the object of the expedition, Cap- 
tain Perry prepared to move down the river. One of 
his prizes, in charge of Lieutenant William A. Parker 
and eighteen men, ran hard aground, and while in this 
condition it was attacked by eighty Mexican soldiers. 
Lieutenant Parker defended himself gallantly, and 
although one of his men was killed and two were 
wounded, he succeeded in holding the enemy at bay. 
Observing the difficulty he was in, Captain Perry sent 
Lieutenant Charles W. Morris to re-enforce him. 
Lieutenant Morris passed the gantlet of musketry from 
both sides of the river, but while standing up in his 
boat and cheering his men he was mortally wounded 
and fell back into the arms of Midshipman Cheever. 
He died November 1st in the Cumberland, and was 
buried on Salmadina Island. For this treachery Cap- 
tain Perry opened a fire on the town, which he kept 
up for half an hour. The American flotilla arrived at 
Frontera at midnight ; but the prize Alvarado, ground- 
ing on the shoals at Devil's Turn, was blown up. One 
of the prizes, the Champion, a fast river boat, which 
had run between Norfolk and Richmond, was taken 
into the service as a dispatch boat and placed under 
the command of Lieutenant Lockwood. 

Leaving the McLane and the Forward to maintain 
the blockade off Frontera, Captain Perry returned to 
Anton Lizardo, where he rejoined the squadron under 
Captain Conner. On the 20th of September Captain 


Perry, with the Mississippi, the Vixen, the Bonita 
and the Petrel, took possession of Laguna, where he 
left Commander Joshua Ratoon Sands with the Vixen 
and the Petrel to watch the place, while Lieutenant 
Benham, of the Bonita, was made commanding officer 
of the vessels collected off Tabasco River. 

In order to divert the attention of the enemy from 
the main object of the naval operations in the Gulf, 
which was the capture of Yera Cruz, several expedi- 
tions of minor importance were undertaken. Learning 
from the wife of the American consul at Tampico that 
no resistance would be made to an attack on that place, 
Captain Conner, on the 14th of November, collected 
the following vessels before that town: The Raritan, 
the Potomac, the Mississippi, the Princeton, the 8t. 
Mary's, the Vixen, the Nonita, the Bonita, the Spit- 
fire and the Petrel, besides one hundred seamen and 
marines from the Cumberland. Santa Anna, the Mex- 
ican general, endeavored to raise an army of deserters 
from the American forces, and made particular efforts 
to induce the Irish Roman Catholics to desert. A dis- 
tinct brigade of the Mexican army was formed under 
the name of Santo Patrico, and seventy to eighty men 
were enlisted in it, but as a rule the Irish were loyal 
to their colors. The smaller vessels immediately 
crossed the bar, and, landing one hundred and fifty 
men, took possession of the town without opposition. 
Two merchant vessels and three gunboats were cap- 
tured. From this place Commander Josiah Tattnall 
proceeded with the Spitfire and the Petrel eighty miles 
up Panuca River to a small town of the same name, 
and on the 19th of November he destroyed all the mu- 
nitions of war collected there. 

On the night of November 20th, while the brig 
Somers was on blockade duty, off Vera Cruz, a boat 
put out from that vessel containing Lieutenant Parker, 
Passed-Midshipmen Rogers and Hynson and five sea- 
men, boldly entered the harbor and boarded the bark 



Creole, laden with munitions of war and securely an- 
chored under the guns of the castle. Lieutenant 
Parker surprised the guard of the brig, and after 
burning her escaped without injury, thus adding an- 
other to the list of brilliant cutting-out expeditions for 
which the American navy is famous. Shortly after 
this Passed-Midshipman Rogers and Surgeon Wright, 
of the Somers, while on shore for the purpose of ob- 
taining a better view of the fortifications around Vera 
Cruz, were surprised by a party of Mexican soldiers. 
Surgeon Wright escaped, but Mr. Rogers was captured 
and taken to the city of Mexico, where he narrowly 
escaped being hanged as a spy in spite of the fact that 
he wore his uniform. Afterward Mr. Rogers escaped, 
and with Lieutenant Raphael Semmes joined General 
Scott's army before Maxico, and served with distinc- 
tion in the military operations against that city. On 
the 8th of December, while chasing a blockade runner, 
the Somers capsized, carrying down with her Acting- 
Master Clem son, Passed-Midshipman Hynson and 
nearly forty men, constituting half of her crew. The 
John Adams and the boats of English, French and 
Spanish war vessels near by assisted in rescuing the 
remainder of her crew. Congress afterward awarded 
gold and silver medals to the foreign officers who en- 
gaged in this work. 

It was not the Mexicans alone that our officers and 
sailors were called upon to fight. They were con- 
stantly exposed to malaria and fever arising from the 
low swampy grounds along the coast near which the 
vessels were compelled to anchor. Decayed kelp 
along the shores caused a sour, nauseating effluvia to 
hang over the ships at night, which soon became more 
fatal than the enemy's bullets. Myriads of insects, 
coming from the malaria- laden districts, attacked the 
men night and day and inoculated them with disease. 
Frequent night attacks of roving bands of guerrillas 
compelled the men to turn out and stand by their 


guns until daybreak, exposing them to the drenching 
dews and poisonous miasma. The sick list increased 
at an alarming rate, and the sick bay was always 
crowded. In one week four officers died, and the staff 
of surgeons was so reduced that at one time there was 
only one physician for seven ships, and only two assist- 
ants in the hospitals. In July, 1847, yellow fever 
broke out in the Mississippi, and she was sent to 
Pensacola. Captain Perry himself was taken down 
with sickness, but, changing his flag to the German- 
town, July 16, 1847, he returned to the scene of op- 
erations. The difficulty of securing fresh provisions 
also brought on symptoms of scurvy, and with the 
view of giving the men something besides salt meat the 
several ports along the coast were occupied through- 
out the war. 

Having diverted the enemy's attention from the 
great object the Americans had in view the capture 
of Yera Cruz Captain Conner collected a fleet of sev- 
enty vessels of war and transports, having on board 
General Scott's army of 12,603 men, before Vera Cruz 
early in March. This town was the scene of Cortez's 
landing, and of the French debarkation in 1830, and 
again in 1865. It was strongly defended by massive 
walls of masonry and by the famous castle of San Juan 
d'Ulloa, which was on an island in the harbor, half a 
mile from the shore. The defenses were under the 
command of German artillerymen. In order that such 
a large number of men might be quickly landed in the 
face of an enemy, sixty-five boats, about thirty-five feet 
long, were constructed. At sunrise, March 9th, the 
steamers Spitfire and Vixen, with the gunboats Petrel, 
Bonita, Reefer, Falcon and Tampico, ran close inshore 
on the island of Sacrificios to cover the landing, as it 
was thought that the enemy might be concealed be- 
hind sand hills, but after a few discharges of grape 
and canister only a few horsemen were routed. The 
troops were landed in beautiful style. At a signal the 


boats put out from the frigates and transports for the 
beach, and as fast as the men were landed they occu- 
pied the sand hills, each regiment planting its stand- 
ard and collecting its men around it. By ten o'clock 
that night ten thousand men with arms, ammunition 
and provisions had been landed. 

At dawn of March 10th the Spitfire ran into the 
harbor, and when within a short mile of the castle 
opened a spirited fire on the town and batteries, which 
was maintained two hours, when she was ordered back. 
From a Mexican newspaper that found its way into 
the squadron a few days afterward it was learned that 
many of her shells had been thrown into the heart of 
the city and to the gate of the market place. The 
chief purpose of the Spitfire's attack was to discover 
the position of the Mexican guns, and as the enemy 
promptly returned the cannonading from every gun 
that would bear, this was accomplished. From the 
10th to the 20th of March the army was occupied in 
getting batteries into position, and in the meantime 
the enemy kept up a desultory fire, which did consid- 
erable injury. On the 20th of March Captain Perry 
arrived, and on the 21st he superseded Captain Conner 
in command of the Gulf fleet. 

The Mexicans had entertained great hopes of yellow 
fever breaking out in the American squadron and do- 
ing more injury than they could expect to do with 
their cannon. Vera Cruz was the breeding place of 
the disease, and March was one of the months in which 
it assumed its most malignant form. The Americans 
were in great danger from this lurking enemy, for mos- 
quitoes and flies from the shore visited the ships in 
myriads and carried the germs of the disease in their 
bites. Another peril to which the Americans were ex- 
posed, and on which the enemy counted, was the 
strong northerly gales which swept the approaches to 
the harbor with great fury. In the gale of March 21st 
the Hunter went down, and it was only by the greatest 


exertions that Captain Perry managed to rescue her 
crew of sixty men. 

On the 22d of March a formal demand was made 
for the surrender of Vera Cruz, which was haughtily 
rejected, and two guns were fired in defiance. On the 
afternoon of the same day the Americans opened lire 
from their batteries, and the Mexicans replied with 
spirit. Desiring to come to closer quarters, Commander 
Tattnall on the 23d of March got his division, consist- 
ing of the steamers Spitfire and Vixen and five schoon- 
ers, under way, and leaving one of the schooners at 
Point Honorios opened fire on the city. To draw the 
enemy's attention from that point, he boldly stood out 
to sea as if he intended to rejoin the squadron at Sac- 
rificios ; but on clearing the shoal water at Point Ho- 
norios he suddenly changed his course, and, leading his 
division directly for the castle, hove to within grape- 
shot of bastion San lago and opened a tremendous fire. 
The Mexicans were either taken completely by surprise 
or hoped to lure the boats to certain destruction, as 
they thought, for they did not fire a shot until the six 
little vessels hove to and began their fire. Then began 
a terrific cannonading from all the Mexican guns that 
would bear, and it seemed as if the division was 
doomed. "All expected to see us sunk, and that we 
escaped without loss is a miracle. The shot and shell 
rained around us and kept the water in a foam, and yet 
but three of the vessels were struck, two of the schoon- 
ers and the Spitfire, the last by a shell which exploded 
directly under the quarter and knocked a plank out of 
the quarter boat. Not a man was hurt." 1 For an 
hour this terrific cannonading was kept up, when Tatt- 
nall slowly retired, cheered by the men of General 
Worth's army. Even before this affair Commander 
Tattnall had won the reputation of being an intrepid 
and fearless officer. While a lieutenant in command 

1 Commander Tattnall in a private letter. 


of the Pioneer (1835) he was ordered to convey Santa 
Anna, who had recently been captured by the Texans, 
to Vera Cruz. At that time the Mexican leader was 
exceedingly unpopular in his own country, and it was 
freely predicted that he would be shot the moment he 
placed his foot on Mexican soil. Arriving at Vera 
Cruz, Lieutenant Tattnall landed with his passenger. 
Crowds of angry citizens and soldiers awaited them, 
but, boldly taking Santa Anna's arm under his own, 
the American lieutenant walked up the main street. 
The crowds for a time gazed upon the two unprotected 
men in silent amazement until they reached a guard 
of soldiers who saluted, when the crowds burst into 
cheers. Lieutenant Tattnall remained with Santa Anna 
several days, until the Mexican could gather his friends 
around him. The course taken by the young lieuten- 
ant undoubtedly saved Santa Anna's life. 

On the 21st of March General Scott asked Captain 
Perry for the loan of six heavy shell guns from the 
fleet. Captain Perry replied : "Certainly, general, but 
I must fight them." Scott was anxious to man the 
guns with his own troops, but Captain Perry, ever jeal- 
ous of the reputation of the navy, said, " Wherever the 
guns go their officers and men must go with them." 
General Scott finally consented to the formation of a 
naval battery, and within an hour after obtaining this 
permission Captain Perry manned his boat, and, pulling 
under the stern of each of the war vessels, announced 
that guns were to be landed from the fleet and manned 
by seamen. The news was received with cheers. A 
position known as Battery No. 4, opposite Fort Santa 
Barbara, was assigned to the naval battery. Two 32- 
pounders from the Potomac^ one 32-pounder from the 
Raritan, one 68-pound Paixhan from the Mississippi, 
one from the Albany and one from the St. Mary*s 
were landed at night, with double crews, the junior 
officers casting lots for the service. This battery "was 
constructed entirely of sand sewed up in bags. It had 



two traverses six or more feet thick, the purpose of 
which was to resist a flanking fire. The guns were 
mounted on their own ship's carriages on platforms, 
being run out with side tackles and handspikes and 
their recoil checked with sand bags. The balls were 
stacked within the sandy walls, but the magazine was 
stationed some distance in rear. The cartridges were 
served by the powder boys, as on shipboard, a small 
trench being dug for their protection while not in 
transit." x 

Having obtained the exact distance to the eaemy's 
batteries by a system of triangulation, the naval bat- 
tery was ready for service shortly before ten o'clock on 
the morning of March 24th. Just as the last gun was 
being cleared of sand and sponged the Mexicans dis- 
covered the battery and opened fire with a good aim 
that showed they had determined the range some time 
before. This fire was the signal for seven forts to con- 
centrate their attention on Battery No. 4, and 10- and 
13-inch shells were dropping around the seamen with 
uncomfortable frequency. Captain Aulick, who com- 
manded the battery the first day, responded with spirit, 
and began pounding away at the enemy in true man- 
of-war style. Such was the precision of his fire that a 
shot aimed by Lieutenant Baldwin carried away the 
flagstaff of Fort Santa Barbara. This was greeted with 
tremendous cheering, but a moment afterward Lieuten- 
ant D. Sebastian Holzinger, a German officer in the 
employ of the Mexicans, with a young assistant leaped 
over the parapet, recovered the flag and nailed it to the 
stump of its staff, although at one time he was nearly 
covered with the debris thrown up by American shot. 

So rapid and well sustained was the fire of the 
naval battery that by half past two o'clock in the 
afternoon its ammunition was exhausted, and Midship- 
man Fauntleroy was sent to Captain Perry with a re- 

1 Griffis' Life of Captain Perry, p. 227. 


quest for more. At four o'clock a relief party under 
Captain Isaac Mayo (who had served as a midshipman 
in the Hornet- Penguin fight) arrived and continued 
the work of hammering the Mexican forts. This was 
done so effectually that, although the walls were built 
of massive shell rock, the naval battery soon cut 
through the curtains of the redoubt to the right and 
left and finally made a breach thirty-six feet wide ; 
but at night the enemy filled the gap with sand bags. 
On this day Lieutenant Baldwin, of the St. Mary's, was 
wounded. During the night the sailors were employed 
repairing the breastworks, while the mortar schooners 
every now and then circled the sky with beautiful 
flights of shells. At daylight, March 25th, the naval 
battery renewed its fire, and the Mexicans concentrated 
four batteries on this earthwork, aiming even more ac- 
curately than the day before. Early in the day one of 
their shells dropped in the battery but did no damage, 
and several of their solid shot entered the embrasures, 
which were unusually wide to admit of a larger sweep 
of the guns. 

Seeing that the castle was paying particular atten- 
tion to the naval battery, Captain Perry ordered the 
Spitfire, Commander Tattnall, and the Vixen, Com- 
mander Sands, each having two gunboats in tow, to 
run into the harbor and divert the enemy's attention. 
"What point shall I engage, sir?" asked Tattnall. 
"Where you can do the most execution, sir," was the 
reply ; and taking him at his word, the young com- 
mander stood into the harbor in the most audacious 
manner, and, forming a line about eighty yards from 
the castle, opened a furious cannonade. Not satisfied 
with this, he stood in still closer, actually taking a 
position within the Punto de Hornos, where for half 
an hour he was the center of a terrific fire. His vessels 
were almost hidden in the spray raised by the storm 
of iron that rained around them, but either the bold- 
ness of the attack or the nearness of the vessels pre- 


vented the Mexicans from inflicting any considerable 
injury. Fearing that the little vessels would be blown 
to atoms, Perry signaled them to retire ; but Com- 
mander Tattnall either could not or would not see the 
signal and continued his attack. Captain Perry finally 
sent a boat with peremptory orders for the return of 
the division. Loath to give up his congenial occupa- 
tion, Commander Tattnall retired slowly with his face 
to the enemy, keeping up his fire as long as the guns 
would bear. 

Fort San lago now opened its fire on the naval bat- 
tery, but after Captain Mayo had turned several guns 
on it it was silenced, and about two o'clock in the 
afternoon the enemy abandoned it. Jumping on a 
horse, the gallant captain hastened with the news to 
the army. "As he rode through the camp Gfeneral 
Scott was walking in front of his tent. Captain Mayo 
rode up to him and said, ' General, they are done ; they 
will never fire another shot.' The general in great 
agitation asked, ' Who ? your battery the naval bat- 
tery?' Mayo answered, 'No, general, the enemy is 
silenced.' General Scott, in his joy, almost pulled Cap- 
tain Mayo off his horse, saying, ' Commodore, I thank 
you and our brothers of the navy in the name of the 
army for this day's work.' " l 

In the two days' fight the naval battery had four 
men killed, struck mostly by solid shot on the head or 
breast, while five officers and five sailors were wounded. 
Many of these men were hurt by splinters from yucca 
or cactus bushes in the chaparral. Among the killed 
was Midshipman Thomas Brandford Shubrick, a son 
of Captain Irvine Shubrick. He had just arrived on 
the scene of action in the Mississippi, and went to the 
battery full of life and enthusiasm. While in the act 
of aiming a gun at the tower he was struck by a solid 
shot, which took off his head. Commander Tattnall, 

1 Griffis' Life of Captain Perry, p. 235, 


who visited the naval battery during the engagement, 
describes his experiences as follows: "I landed and 
walked to our battery on the first day, and on reaching 
it saw stretched in a cart and dead a most noble sea- 
man, an old boatswain's mate of mine in the Saratoga. 
His fine manly face, calm and unchanged, I could not 
mistake. Another poor fellow was lying in a cart se- 
verely wounded, to whom I offered a few words of con- 
dolence. In a few minutes afterward, when they had 
removed him to what was deemed a place of safety, he 
was again wounded." l 

While this attack was in progress Captain Perry 
planned a boat attack on the water batteries of Yera 
Cruz for the night of March 25th, which he proposed to 
lead in person. The boats were formed in a column, 
and studding-sail booms of the Mississippi were made 
into ladders. But before these plans could be put 
into execution the Mexicans sounded a parley from 
the city walls, and at 8 A. M. the firing ceased. On the 
26th of March a heavy gale set in from the north, which 
blew twenty-six transports to shore. In one of the 
gales a brig, fouling the Potomac, lost her masts. On 
the 28th of March the town was unconditionally sur- 
rendered, and on the following day the army and navy 
took possession. Captains Aulick and Alexander Sli- 
dell Mackenzie represented the navy in the negotia- 

The capture of Vera Cruz opened the way for the 
army to march upon the capital by the shortest route. 
Being greatly in need of horses, General Scott asked 
for the co-operation of the navy in securing a number 
of animals that the Mexicans had collected at Alva- 
rado. The steamer Scourge, Lieutenant Charles G. 
Hunter, was immediately ordered to blockade the port, 
while Captain Perry was to follow with a larger naval 
force. General Quitman in the meantime was to pro- 

1 Commander Tattnall in a private letter. 


ceed by land and cut off the enemy's retreat. Lieu- 
tenant Hunter reached the bar off Alvarado on the 30th 
of March, but he allowed his zeal to exceed his instruc- 
tions, and began an immediate attack on the defenses 
of the place. On the following day the enemy retired 
up the river, leaving Lieutenant Hunter in quiet pos- 
session of the town and four schooners. Sixty guns 
were captured, thirty-five of which were shipped to 
the United States as mementoes of the war. Leaving 
a garrison at Alvarado, Lieutenant Hunter hastened 
up the river, chasing the enemy to Tlacahalpa, which 
he also took without opposition. Thus the apparent 
object of the mission was accomplished before Captain 
Perry arrived, April 2d ; but the overhaste of Lieuten- 
ant Hunter enabled the Mexicans to escape through 
the mountain passes with the greatly desired horses 
before General Quitman could cut off their retreat. 
Lieutenant Hunter was tried by court-martial and dis- 
missed from the service. Captain Mayo was placed in 
charge of the government of Alvarado, and occupied 
his time in securing the submission of towns in the 
interior, the majority of which meekly submitted ; but 
in one of these expeditions some resistance was offered, 
and an American pfficer and five men were wounded. 

In carrying out his plan of occupying every port on 
the coast through which the Mexicans could obtain 
supplies, Captain Perry next turned his attention to 
Tuspan, off which port the brig of war Truxtun had 
been lost the year before. The American squadron 
appeared off the town on the 17th of April, but owing 
to shoal water only the light- draught vessels could get 
over the bar. The place was defended by a fort on the 
right and one on the left bank of the river, many of 
the guns of which had been taken from the ill-fated 
Truxtun. The batteries were admirably situated for 
sweeping all approaches from the sea, and the guns 
were manned by six hundred and fifty Mexican sol- 
diers under General Cos. On the 18th of April Captain 

1847. FALL OF TUSPAN. 115 

Perry led the attack in the Spitfire with fifteen hun- 
dred officers, seamen and marines, and four pieces of 
artillery. Captain Samuel Livingston Breese com- 
manded the landing detachment. As soon as the as- 
sailants were within range the Mexicans opened a 
spirited fire, both from their batteries and with mus- 
ketry on shore ; but the Americans steadily advanced, 
and they fell back. The loss of the Americans in this 
affair was three killed and five officers and six seamen 

Having secured all the ports on this coast, the Gov- 
ernment decided to raise the blockade, in order that 
commerce might be resumed and the revenues redound 
to the benefit of its treasury. Cruising along the coast, 
Captain Perry destroyed a fort mounting twelve guns 
at Coazacoalcos. Leaving the bomb vessel Stromboli 
on guard at this place, and the Albany and the Reefer 
at Tuspan, Captain Perry turned his attention to Ta- 
basco, which place, as no garrison had been left to hold 
it, had again fallen into the hands of the enemy. On 
the 14th of June he collected the following vessels off 
Frontera : The Mississippi, the Raritan, the Albany, 
the John Adams, the Decatur, the Germantown, the 
Strombolf, the Vesuvius, the Washington, the Scor- 
pion, the Spitfire, the Scourge, the Vixen, the Etna 
and the Bonita. Entering the river with the light- 
draught vessels on the same day, Captain Perry shifted 
his flag to the Scorpion and began the difficult ascent 
of the stream. As the flotilla was approaching Devil's 
Bend it was suddenly attacked by one hundred Mexi- 
cans concealed in the dense chaparral on the banks. 
Captain Perry was standing on the deck of the Scor- 
pion under an awning, and miraculously escaped in- 
jury, although the canvas and woodwork of the steamer 
were riddled with shot. The Scorpion, the Washing- 
ton and the surf boats returned the fire, and soon 
afterward a 10-inch shell from the Vesuvius dispersed 
the Mexicans. 


At six o'clock the vessels anchored for the night 
near Seven Palm Trees, and, as a precaution against 
surprise, barricades of hammocks were so arranged as 
to resist a night attack. Shortly after midnight a vol- 
ley of musketry from the bushes startled the Amer- 
icans, but as it was not followed by a general attack 
the men returned to their rest. On the following morn- 
ing Lieutenant William May, while pulling ahead in 
a boat for the purpose of discovering the channel, was 
wounded by a party of Mexicans concealed in a breast- 
work called La Comena. Finding that the navigation 
of the river at this point had been obstructed by the 
Mexicans, Captain Perry landed with a detachment of 
his men and ten guns, with a view of attacking the 
fort from the rear. The banks of the river at this 
point were from thirty to forty feet high and almost 
perpendicular, and it was only by the united efforts of 
many men that the cannon were hoisted up. The 
enemy evidently supposed this movement was impossi- 
ble, and was taken completely by surprise. 

Rapidly forming the line of march. Captain Perry, 
with the pioneers under Lieutenant Maynard, led the 
way toward the rear of the fort, closely followed by 
the marines under Captain Edson and the- artillery 
under Captain Mackenzie, Captain Mayo acting as ad- 
jutant general. At a place called Acahapan he came 
upon the Mexicans with two pieces of artillery strongly 
intrenched, but they fled on the approach of the Amer- 
icans. As Captain Perry's little army came in sight of 
the fort, the gunboats under Lieutenant David Dixon 
Porter, which had gallantly advanced up the river in 
spite of their exposed position to co-operate with the 
land forces, were greeted with cheers. Captain Perry's 
men then rushed to the assault, while the veteranos, 
leaving their cooked meal behind, fled. Advancing 
about a mile farther up the river, the Americans at- 
tacked Fort Iturbide, mounting six guns. One of the 
shot from the fort struck the Spitfire's wheel, but did 


not disable her. Observing that the enemy was flinch- 
ing from his guns, Lieutenant Porter landed with sixty- 
eight men, and carried the fort by assault. The way 
to Tabasco was now clear, and the town was taken pos- 
session of on the 16th by a detachment from the Scor- 
pion and the Spitfire under Lieutenant Sidney Smith 
Lee. During the land attack on the forts several of 
the Americans were overcome by the heat and the ex- 
ertion of dragging the heavy ordnance through the 
mud. The total loss of the Americans in this expedi- 
tion was two officers and seven seamen wounded. 

After remaining here six days, Captain Perry left 
the Scorpion, the Etna, the Spitfire and the Scourge, 
with four hundred and twenty men under Commander 
Abraham Bigelow, as a garrison, and returned to Fron- 
tera. On the 25th of June seventy Mexicans made a 
sudden attack on a party of twenty seamen who were 
on shore at Tabasco. A short struggle followed before 
the enemy was repelled, in which the Americans had 
one man wounded and the Mexicans had one killed 
and six wounded. That night one hundred and fifty 
Mexican soldiers made an attack on the guard in the 
plaza, but were repelled. Captain Bigelow improved 
his time by sending out small parties to subdue roving 
bands of Mexican soldiers that occupied the ranchos 
in the outskirts of Tabasco. On the 30th of June he 
marched with two hundred and forty men and two 
field pieces to attack five hundred Mexicans who had 
intrenched themselves in a village called Tamultay, 
three miles distant. Approaching within a quarter of 
a mile of the place, Commander Bigelow fell into an 
ambush, but steadily returned the fire and put the 
enemy to flight. In this affair the Americans had two 
killed and five wounded. 

This was the last action of the war in which the 
Gulf squadron was directly engaged. A detachment 
of marines under Lieutenant-Colonel Watson accom- 
panied the army under General Scott, and in the attack 

118 WAR IN THE MEXICAN GULF. 1847-1848. 

on Chapultepec, September 13th, they were among the 
volunteers who attacked the castle under the leader- 
ship of Major Levi Twiggs, of the marines. Captain 
Reynolds, of the marines, led the pioneer storming 
party. Major Twiggs was killed in the first advance. 
In the stubborn hand-to-hand conflict, in which the 
Mexicans showed more than usual courage, the marines 
were conspicuous for their bravery. They were also 
foremost in the charge along the causeway leading to 
the Belen gate, and when the Americans entered the 
capital, September 14th, Lieutenant Watson and his 
marines were assigned to the difficult task of keeping 
the criminal classes in order. In these battles the ma- 
rine corps had seven men killed and four wounded. 
Peace between the United States and Mexico was made 
February 2, 1848. In this war the United States had 
about one hundred thousand men under arms, fifteen 
thousand of whom were in the navy. 



FROM the time when Marco Polo brought news, in 
1295, of a large island inhabited by a warlike and 
highly civilized race east of Corea, Japan had been 
the goal toward which many ambitious explorers di- 
rected their energies. The vague rumors of Zipangu 
or Jipangu haunted Columbus night and day and 
touched upon the grand inspiration of his life. To 
his thoughtful mind they first awakened passing fan- 
cies, then serious reflections, but only to be laid aside 
by the seeming absurdity of his conclusions. But still 
again the recurring thoughts clung to him with strange 
persistency. Jipangu ! To the east of Cathay ! Could 
it be reached by sailing west ? Japan was destined to 
be brought within the pale of civilized nations not by 
Columbus, but by an officer of the United States navy, 
a nation whose existence was a result of Columbus' 
great discovery. In 1549 the Jesuits, led by Francis 
Xavier, gained a footing in Japan, and, rapidly ex- 
tending their influence, they aspired to temporal as 
well as spiritual power, so that in 1587 a decree of 
banishment was directed against them. Other edicts 
of expulsion were issued, but it was not until 1637, 
and after thousands of lives had been sacrificed, that 
they and their doctrines were driven from the empire. 
It was the recollection of the dangerous interference of 
the priests in government matters, and the resulting 
civil wars, that made Japan for so many years a her- 
mit nation. Many attempts were made by Europeans 
to trade with the country, but they were always met 


120 THE EXPEDITION TO JAPAN. 1797-1850. 

with the same reply : "So long as the sun shall warm 
the earth, let no Christian be so bold as to come to 
Japan ; and let all know that the King of Spain him- 
self, or the Christian's God, or the great God of all, if 
he violate this command, shall pay for it with his head." 
As early as 1797 Robert Shaw showed the United 
States flag at Nagasaki, and in the same year Captain 
Charles Stewart, while in the employ of the Dutch 
East India Company, stopped at Deshima, where, al- 
though he was supplied with water and provisions, he 
was not allowed to land. Various other attempts were 
made by American merchantmen to trade with the 
natives. President Jackson in 1831 appointed Ed- 
mund Roberts as agent "to open trade in the Indian 
Ocean," but he died at Macao in 1836, before he reached 
Japan. In 1845 Congress resolved that it was advis- 
able to open Japan and Corea, and in the following 
year Captain James Biddle anchored at Uraga with 
the 90-gun ship Columbus and the Vincennes ; but the 
authorities refused to negotiate with him, and as he 
was instructed "not to do anything to excite a hostile 
feeling or a distrust of the United States," he sailed 
away without accomplishing his purpose. In 1846 
Captain David Geisinger, commanding the East India 
squadron, sent Commander James Glynn in the Preble 
to Nagasaki to obtain the release of eighteen American 
seamen from the whaler Lawrence, who were confined 
by the Japanese. Arriving at Nagasaki April 17th, 
Commander Glynn found that the Japanese were great- 
ly elated at what they considered a victory over Cap- 
tain Biddle's squadron, and he determined to tolerate 
no trifling. Breaking through the cordon of guard- 
boats that surrounded the Preble as soon as she dropped 
anchor at Nagasaki, he brought his broadside to bear 
on the city. He waited two days without getting the 
prisoners, and then threatened to open fire, and after 
many parleys and excuses the men were brought aboard 
the Preble on April 26th. By 1850 the American flag 


had become familiar to the Japanese, and in a twelve- 
month, according to the native records, "eighty-six of 
the black ships were counted from the shore." 

The increasing commerce with China, the growth 
of whale-fishing, and the rapid development of Cali- 
fornia made it necessary to open Japan, and in 1851 
Congress decided to send an expedition to that coun- 
try. Captain John H. Aulick was placed in command 
of it, and was ordered to carry the Brazilian min- 
ister Macedo to Rio de Janeiro in the SusqueJianna 
on his outward passage. Captain Aulick sailed from 
Norfolk June 8th, landed his passenger, doubled the 
Cape of Good Hope, and, after attending to some dip- 
lomatic business with the Sultan of Zanzibar, pro- 
ceeded to Hong-Kong and began his preparations for 
the Japan expedition ; but while at this place he re- 
ceived orders relieving him of the command. In the 
mean time Captain Franklin Buchanan assumed charge 
of the expedition, and afterward it was learned that 
the Government was displeased at some remarks that 
Captain Aulick was alleged to have made in reference 
to the Brazilian minister, declaring that he was being 
carried to Brazil at Aulick's expense. But Macedo 
subsequently exonerated Captain Aulick of all blame. 

On the 24th of March, 1852, Captain Matthew Cal- 
braith Perry was appointed commander of the East 
India squadron, and was ordered to carry out the 
instructions given to Captain Aulick. Commander 
Henry A. Adams, Commander Franklin Buchanan, 
Commander Sidney Smith Lee, and Lieutenant Silas 
Bent, who was in the Preble at Nagasaki, were to 
be associated with him in his negotiations. Captain 
Perry left Norfolk in the Mississippi, November 24, 
1852, and arrived at Hong-Kong April 6, 1853, where 
he found the sailing vessels Plymouth, Saratoga and 
Supply and the steamer SusqueTianna. With these 
he appeared off Uraga, early in July, 1853. 

As the American squadron approached the coast of 


Japan, early on the morning of July 8th, the fog 
gradually faded before the rays of the rising sun and 
revealed the beautiful scenery of the place in all its 
glory. Bold headlands clothed in bright verdure 
came down to the water's edge, sparkling and smiling 
as the sun fell upon the dew. Fishing-boats return- 
ing after their night's work, and junks with their huge 
square sails passing up the harbor to the metropolis, 
laden with the produce of the empire, dotted the bay 
in all directions, while towering over all was the per- 
fect cone of Fusiyama, or Peerless Mountain, with her 
head still in a cap of snow. As the American ships 
drew near the town the native boatmen scurried away 
in fear and amazement, and when those ahead of the 
squadron paused for a moment to gaze at the great 
splashing wheels of the steamer, they thought they 
were at a safe distance ; but when they observed the 
huge steamers bearing down upon them without a 
thread of canvas set they were panic-stricken, and sud- 
denly taking to their sculls, did not pause again until 
they had hauled their boats up high and dry on the 

Captain Perry now cleared his ships for action, for, 
although he came with the most pacific intentions, he 
was determined to be ready for any emergency. Fur- 
thermore, he was convinced that a bold front, backed 
by a good showing of force, would impress the natives 
with the dignity and power of the nation he repre- 
sented. Several large boats bearing official flags soon 
put off from the shore for the American ships, evidently 
for the purpose of boarding and inquiring their busi- 
ness ; but no attention was paid to them. The steam- 
ers, with the Plymouth -and the Saratoga in tow, 
passed majestically by, leaving the official boats far 
behind, vainly struggling to catch up with them, and 
no doubt much mystified and perplexed at the inex- 
plicable method of propulsion. About five o'clock, 
when the squadron anchored off Uraga, the reports of 


two guns were heard, and an instant later a ball of 
smoke exploded in the sky. They were day rockets, 
giving notice of the arrival of strangers. A great num- 
ber of boats now surrounded the American ships, so 
as to cut off communication with the shore. The Jap- 
anese had long regarded all foreigners as mercenaries, 
who would undergo any indignity for the sake of gain. 
The Dutch especially had submitted to the most de- 
grading humiliation in order to hold their trade with 
that country. To the Japanese, familiarity meant con- 
tempt a cringing deference was met with insolence 
and arrogance, while lack of ceremony and pomp was 
taken as proof of weakness and fear. Captain Perry 
had determined on a different policy, and when the 
native boats attempted to make fast to the ships their 
lines were promptly cut, and when some endeavored 
to climb up the chains they were ordered back at the 
point of the bayonet. Being informed through the 
interpreter that only their highest officials would be 
allowed on board, the natives fell back, but still sur- 
rounded the ships and kept a jealous eye on them. 

A boat now came alongside of the Mississippi, and 
an official motioned for the gangway to be lowered. 
As his request was ignored, he showed an order for the 
ships to leave the harbor immediately ; but the Ameri- 
cans replied that no orders would be received except 
from the officials of the highest rank. One of the na- 
tives, who spoke Dutch, now asked several questions, 
from which it appeared that the squadron was ex- 
pected they undoubtedly having learned of the in- 
tended visit through the Dutch of Nagasaki. It was 
then suggested that the Americans appoint some officer 
corresponding to the rank of the vice-governor of 
Uraga, and meet him for a conference. After some 
intentional delay this was agreed to, and Lieutenant 
John Contee was delegated to receive the official. The 
gangway was lowered, and the vice-governor and one 
aid were allowed to come on board. Captain Perry, 


in keeping with his policy of exclusiveness, remained 
in his cabin, communicating with the vice-governor 
through Lieutenant Contee. The natives were now in- 
formed of the nature of the visit, and, in response to 
the vice-governor's reiterated requests that the squad- 
ron go to Nagasaki, the Americans steadily insisted on 
having negotiations conducted near the capital of the 
empire. The vice-governor furthermore w r as informed 
that the Americans would not tolerate any indignity, 
and that they considered the surrounding of their ves- 
sels with boats an insult, and if they were not imme- 
diately ordered off they would be fired upon. When 
this was interpreted to the vice-governor he left his 
seat, and, going to the gangway, motioned the boats 
away. This had the effect of dispersing them ; but 
several remained at a little distance, keeping a sharp 
lookout. This was the first point gained in the mission. 
The vice-governor soon afterward left the ship, saying 
that he had no authority to promise anything, but that 
an official of high rank would visit it the next morning. 
In the still watches of the summer night many of 
the officers and men kept the deck, curious to observe 
the strange land in which they had arrived and to dis- 
cuss the doings of the day. The dark waters were 
filled with globelike jelly fish. Innumerable native 
craft, with their fantastically decorated paper lanterns 
at bow and stern, glided to and fro over the peaceful 
waters of the bay, centering their long scintillating 
rays of light on the ships, as if jealously watching 
every movement. Once in a while some coasting-junk, 
blanched and ghostly with ocean brine, hurried into 
port, as if still fearing the typhoon dragons, and moved 
swiftly up the bay ; and when the hardy mariners 
passed the American squadron with a wondering stare 
they quickly vanished in the direction of the metrop- 
olis. Beacon fires lighted the harbor on all sides, while 
bodies of troops marching and countermarching gave 
token of the excitement on shore. Rockets were sent 


up at frequent intervals, and fire-bells were rung. The 
town itself was thoroughly aroused, people hurrying 
from house to house, or burning incense before their 
gods, supplicating with deep intonation that the "smok- 
ing ships," which had so nearly ground some of their 
fishing-boats to pieces, might be removed. Other na- 
tives were assembling on the beach and gazing at the 
great vessels in profound amazement. The busy hum 
of wakefulness, together with the beating of drums 
and the deep, waving vibrations of the great temple 
bells, filling the air with melancholy music, caused the 
Americans to feel that they w T ere indeed in a strange 
land and among strange people. 

At sunrise a boat put off from the shore and took a 
convenient station near the visiting squadron, and on 
leveling glasses at it, the Americans saw that it con- 
tained artists sketching the ships. About seven o'clock 
two large boats, one of them flying a three-striped flag, 
indicating an official of the third rank, 1 ran alongside, 
and Yezaimen, Governor of Uraga, came aboard with 
his suite. Captain Perry refused to show himself, but 
appointed Commanders Buchanan and Adams and 
Lieutenant Contee to receive any communications. 
The governor, arrayed in a "rich silk robe of an em- 
broidered pattern resembling the feathers of a peacock, 
with borders of gold and silver," emphasized the state- 
ment of his subordinate namely, that the Americans 
must go to Nagasaki. But the Americans insisted on 
delivering the letter near the capital, and the governor 
then said that the answer would be sent to Nagasaki. 
It was now observed that the governor used a different 
title for the President and the Emperor, upon which 
the American officers affected much displeasure, and 
requested that the same title be applied to "both. This 
was conceded, and perceptibly raised the Americans in 
the governor's estimation. The latter then said that he 

1 Mito Yashiki : A Tale of Old Japan, p. 180. 


would send an express to Tokio for further instruction, 
and on being asked how long that would take, he re- 
plied, "Four days." As a few hours' steaming would 
have brought the ships within sight of the capital, the 
American officers declared that they would wait only 
three days, and if an answer was not received within 
that time they would move the squadron nearer to the 
city, so as to enable the Japanese to get their reply in 
less time. This evidently was what the governor 
most feared, and in much trepidation he consented to 
have the reply in three days. 

While this conference was being held, several well- 
armed boats had been sent out from the squadron to 
take soundings. Observing them, the governor in- 
quired what their business was, and on being told, he 
said that it was against the laws and that they must 
return. The Americans replied that the American laws 
compelled them to take soundings and make hydro- 
graphic surveys in all strange waters, and that they 
were bound to obey American laws as well as Japanese. 
As these boats were approaching some earthworks 
mounting a few light guns, native soldiers armed with 
spears, lances, swords and matchlocks came down to 
the water's edge for the purpose of showing the for- 
eigners that they were on the alert and fully prepared 
to resist any attempt to land. They made the best 
possible showing of their matchlocks, evidently with 
the idea of impressing the Americans with the fact that 
the Japanese were not so far behind the times in the 
matter of firearms as might have been thought. One 
of the boats pulled within a hundred yards of the sol- 
diers, when a lieutenant, with the promptness becom- 
ing a man-of-war's man, whipped out his spyglass with 
a resounding crack and leveled it at a dignified warrior 
who seemed to be in command. The movement, harm- 
less in itself, had a most unexpected effect, for the 
Japanese supposed some deadly weapon was being 
aimed at them, and the glass revealed to the lieuten- 


ant's eye a confused mass of fluttering garments, anti- 
quated armor, and flipflapping sandals, for the digni- 
fied warriors had dropped the austerity of their bear- 
ing, and, gathering up their skirts, got behind the 
earthworks with more haste than dignity. 

On the following day (Sunday) a boat came along- 
side with some high officials ; but permission to come 
aboard was refused, as the Americans held the day 
sacred. On this day Captain Perry conducted the 
services in person, and the familiar tunes of Old 
Hundred and "Before Jehovah's awful throne, ye 
nations, bow with sacred joy " were probably for the 
first time wafted across the waters of the bay. On 
Monday surveying parties were sent farther up the bay^ 
accompanied by the Mississippi, and this so alarmed 
the governor that he immediately came aboard the 
flagship to inquire the cause of it. He was informed 
that the American commander intended to survey the 
entire bay, as the squadron expected to return in the 
following spring for an answer. 

On Tuesday, the day appointed for receiving a re- 
ply from Tokio, three large boats ran alongside the 
Susquehanna, and the governor and his interpreter 
came aboard. After a long discussion it was finally 
agreed that the letter from the President would be re- 
ceived in a building on the beach near Uraga, by an 
official of the highest rank in the empire, especially ap- 
pointed by the Emperor. Then again came up the ever- 
recurring question of Nagasaki, the governor saying 
that, although by special act of courtesy on the part 
of the Emperor the letter would be received at Uraga, 
yet the answer must be given at Nagasaki. To this 
Captain Perry sent the following message : " The com- 
mander in chief will not go to Nagasaki, and will receive 
no communication through the Dutch or Chinese. He 
has a letter from the President of the United States to 
deliver to the Emperor of Japan or his Secretary of 
Foreign Affairs, and he will deliver the original to none 


other. If this friendly letter of the President to the 
Emperor is not received and duly replied to, he will 
consider his country insulted and will not hold him- 
self accountable for the consequences. He expects a 
reply of some sort in a few days, and he will receive 
such reply nowhere but in this neighborhood." 

No one was more aware of the impossibility of com- 
pelling by force of arms this spirited people to come 
within the community of nations than Captain Perry 
himself. Such a measure would not only have resulted 
disastrously, but would more than ever confirm the 
Japanese in their seclusion. A resort to any other 
than pacific measures was furthest from Captain Perry's 
intentions, yet he was fully alive to the importance of 
a strong presence with which to maintain the dignity 
of his country and impress the Japanese with the honor 
and value of the treaty he sought. His prompt resent- 
ment of the slightest indignity or lack of ceremony was 
admirably calculated to arouse the respect of this pe- 
culiar people. The governor left the ship, saying that 
he would shortly return. This probably was for the 
purpose of consulting higher officials, who undoubt- 
edly were concealed in Uraga to superintend the pro- 
ceedings. In the afternoon the governor again came 
aboard, and after a long discussion it was agreed that 
Thursday morning, July 14th, should be set aside for 
the ceremony of delivering the letter. There was to 
be no discussion of the subject, but merely an inter- 
change of compliments, after which the Americans were 
to sail away and return in the following spring for an 

Early on the morning of the 14th the steamers 
weighed anchor and stood around a point of land 
where the ceremony was to be held, and anchored so 
as to command the landing-place. When this was 
done, the governor and his interpreters, richly dressed 
in silk and gold, came aboard and were escorted to 
their place on the quarter deck, and a signal now called 


fifteen cutters and launches from the different ships 
around the Susquehanna. Commander Buchanan led 
the boats in single file, each of which was escorted on 
either side by native craft. As the procession of boats 
drew out to its full length toward the land, the bright 
flags, gorgeous banners, and lacquered hats, glistening 
in the sunlight, presented a beautiful and imposing 
spectacle. When the boats were halfway to the land, 
Captain Perry, in full-dress uniform, stepped to the 
gangway, and, with a salute of thirteen guns, entered 
his barge and was rowed to the landing-place. As his 
boat reached the shore the American officers and men 
drew up in a double line to receive him. The land 
procession was then formed one hundred marines, 
whose figures were in striking contrast to the diminu- 
tive Japanese, leading the way, followed by one hun- 
dred seamen. Captain Perry, guarded on each side 
by a gigantic negro and preceded by two boys car- 
rying the President's letter, came next. This letter 
and accompanying documents "were in folio size, and 
were beautifully written on vellum, and not folded, 
but bound in blue silk velvet. Each seal, attached by 
cords of interwoven gold and silk, with pendant gold 
tassels, was incased in a circular box six inches in 
diameter and three in depth, wrought of pure gold. 
Each of the documents, together with its seal, was 
placed in a box of rosewood about a foot long, with 
lock, hinges, and mounting all of gold." l 

Arriving at the reception-hall, Captain Perry and 
his suite entered a tent about forty feet square, where 
were seated two princes, who had been delegated to 
receive the letter. As the Americans entered, the 
princes courteously bowed and motioned their guests 
to a seat on the right. Further than this, however, 
they showed no curiosity or interest, but preserved a 
grave and stolid composure. For some minutes after 

1 Official report of Captain Perry. 



the company had been seated a profound silence pre- 
vailed. Finally, the Governor of Uraga, who acted as 
master of ceremonies, said that the princes were ready 
to receive the letter, upon which the two boys, who 
were at the lower end of the hall, marched up with the 
rosewood boxes, closely followed by the negroes, de- 
posited them in a scarlet box prepared by the Japanese, 
and retired in perfect silence. A paper from the princes 
acknowledging the receipt of the letter was then given. 
It read as follows : "The letter of the President of the 
United States of North America and copy are hereby 
received and delivered to the Emperor. Many times it 
has been said that business relating to foreign countries 
can not be transacted here in Uraga, but at Nagasaki. 
Now it has been observed that the admiral, in his qual- 
ity of ambassador of the President, would be insulted 
by it. The justice of this has been acknowledged, con- 
sequently the above-mentioned letter is hereby received 
in opposition to Japanese law. Because the place is 
not designed to treat of anything from foreigners, so 
neither can conference or entertainment take place. 
The letter being received, you will leave." 

Again a deep silence pervaded the hall. Captain 
Perry then said that within a few days he would leave 
for China, and return in April or May for an answer. 
When asked if he would come with all the four ships, 
he replied, "With many more." The governor then 
informed the Americans that there was nothing more 
to be done, and, bowing to the right and left, he passed 
out of the hall. Upon this Captain Perry and his suite 
rose and retired also, the- two princes standing until 
they had left the apartments. The interview had not 
lasted thirty minutes, during which the severest for- 
mality had been observed. The procession again formed 
and the Americans returned to their ships. 

Captain Perry determined to explore the bay in the 
direction of the capital before he sailed away, for the 
purpose of marking out the channel and impressing 

1853-1854. MAKING THE TREATY. 131 

the natives with their inability to obstruct his move- 
ments. Accordingly, when the governor, who had ac- 
companied the Americans aboard the Susquehanna, 
learned where the squadron was going to sail, he pro- 
tested ; but, unmindful of this, the American boats 
continued their work until the 17th, and, having come 
within sight of Shinagawa, a suburb of Tokio, the 
squadron sailed for China. 

While visiting Macao, in November, waiting for the 
time for his return to Tokio, Captain Perry learned 
that the French admiral had left port suddenly with 
sealed orders, and nearly at the same time the Russian 
Admiral Pontiatine returned from Nagasaki with four 
vessels. Fearing that the French and Russians were 
contemplating a visit to Tokio, Captain Perry decided 
on a midwinter voyage to Japan in order to forestall 
them, notwithstanding the fact that navigation of the 
China Sea at that time was considered exceedingly 
hazardous. Accordingly, on the 12th of February, 
1854, he appeared in the bay of Tokio with the steam- 
ers Susquehanna, Mississippi and Poiohatan, and 
the sailing vessels Macedonian, Southampton, Lexing- 
ton, Vandalia, Plymouth and Saratoga. Five days 
were spent in a courteous altercation with the Jap- 
anese officials as to where the squadron should anchor, 
the natives insisting that it should remain near Uraga, 
while Captain Perry was equally firm in having his 
ships go farther up the bay, declaring the anchorage 
at Uraga to be unsafe. Finally Yokohama was decided 
upon, and a treaty house was built at the present Eng- 
lish Hatoba, where the Union Church is situated. 

On the 8th of March the Americans landed with 
pomp and ceremony and began the negotiations. No 
little risk was involved in landing, for, as was afterward 
learned, there were several fanatics among the Japanese 
guards who had sworn to kill Perry. The negotiations 
extended over several days. On the first day Captain 
Perry asked why the grounds surrounding the treaty 

132 THE EXPEDITION TO JAPAN. 1854-1860. 

house had been fenced in with large mats ; and being 
told that it was to prevent the Americans from seeing 
the country, he requested that they be taken down, as 
he considered it an indignity ; and his request was 
complied with. Finally, on the 31st of March, the 
terms of the treaty were agreed upon, and Simoda and 
Hakodate were opened to the Americans for commerce, 
under certain restrictions. On the 29th of July, 1858, 
Townsend Harris, American consul general, in the pres- 
ence of Commander Josiah Tattnall, signed the main 
treaty between the two countries, and on the 13th of 
February, 1860, a Japanese embassy of seventy-one 
persons left Yokohama in the Powhatan for Washing- 
ton. And thus one of the greatest diplomatic triumphs 
of the age was recorded. Washington Irving wrote to 
Perry : "You have gained for yourself a lasting name, 
and have won it without shedding a drop of blood or 
inflicting misery on a human being. What naval com- 
mander ever won laurels at such a rate ? " A residence 
of seven years in Japan has enabled the author to ap- 
preciate the great firmness, the rare diplomacy and 
indomitable perseverance that were shown by Captain 
Perry in bringing to a successful end his negotiations 
with this spirited and highly intelligent people. 

On July 11, 1854, Perry concluded a commercial 
treaty with the king of the Lew Chew Islands, a small 
group south of Japan. By the terms of this compact 
the natives were to furnish pilots to American vessels 
approaching their harbors, and in case of shipwreck 
our people were to be provided for. The most remark- 
able clause in this treaty, one which reveals Perry's 
splendid tact and diplomacy, was that by which the 
natives agreed to set apart and hold sacred a grave- 
yard for American citizens. 



NOT only has the navy been of incalculable value in 
the wars of the United States, but in scientific and ex- 
ploring expeditions also it has been of great service. 
On the 18th of May, 1836, Congress authorized an ex- 
pedition for the purpose of "exploring and survey- 
ing the southern ocean, as well to determine the exist- 
ence of all doubtful islands and shoals as to discover 
and accurately fix the position of those which lie in or 
near the track of our vessels in that quarter and may 
have escaped the observation of scientific navigators." 
Lieutenant Charles Wilkes was placed in command of 
the expedition, and on the 19th of August, 1838, he 
sailed from Hampton Roads with the 18-gun sloop of 
war Vincennes, flagship ; the 18-gun sloop of war Pea- 
cock, Lieutenant William L. Hudson ; the 12-gun brig 
of war Porpoise, Lieutenant Cadwalader Ringgold ; 
the storeship llelief, Lieutenant Andrew K. Long ; the 
tender Sea Gull, Passed-Midshipman J. W. E. Reid ; 
and the tender Flying Fisli, Passed-Midshipman Sam- 
uel R. Knox. Although the great object of this expe- 
dition was to enlarge the circle of commerce, it was 
also intended to acquire scientific knowledge, and for 
this purpose the following men accompanied it : Hora- 
tio Hale, philologist ; Charles Pickering and Titian 
Ramsey Peale, naturalists ; Mr. Couthouy, concholo- 
gist ; James Dwight Dana, mineralogist ; Mr. Rich, 
botanist ; Mr. Drayton and Mr. Agate, draughtsmen ; 
and J. D. Brackenridge, horticulturist. 

In crossing the Atlantic the vessels sailed about four 



miles apart, to take soundings and ascertain the tem- 
perature in the various currents. After remaining a 
week at Madeira the ships headed southward, touched 
at the Cape Verd Islands, and arrived at Rio de Ja- 
neiro on the 23d of November. They left that port 
on the 6th of January, 1839, and made Orange Harbor, 
Tierra del Fuego, their base of operations for explora- 
tions in the Antartic Ocean. On the 25th of February, 
Lieutenant Wilkes, in the Porpoise, accompanied by 
the Sea Gull, made sail for the south pole. At day- 
light, March 1st, they fell in with ice islands and flur- 
ries of snow, and about noon an island was discov- 
ered, but owing to the surf it was impossible to land. 
Toward night another volcanic island was sighted, and 
at daylight, March 2d, O'Brien and Ashland Islands 
were discovered. On the 3d of March the vessels 
reached Palmersland. Lieutenant Wilkes wrote : u lt 
was a day of great excitement to all, for we had ice of 
all kinds to encounter, from the iceberg of huge quad- 
rangular shape, with its stratified appearance, to the 
sunken and deceptive masses that were difficult to per- 
ceive before they were under the bow. I have rarely 
seen a finer sight. The sea was literally studded with 
these beautiful masses, some of pure white, others 
showing all the shades of the opal, others emerald 
green, and occasionally, here and there, some of a deep 
black. Our situation was critical, but the weather 
favored us for a few hours. On clearing these dangers 
we kept off to the south and west under all sail, and at 
9 P. M. we counted eight large ice islands. Afterward 
the weather became so thick with mist and fog as to 
render it necessary to lay to till daylight, before which 
time we had a heavy snowstorm. A strong gale now 
set in from the southwest ; the deck of the brig was 
covered with ice and snow and the weather became 
exceedingly damp and cold. The men were suffering 
not only from want of sufficient room but from the 
inadequacy of the clothing." 



By the 5th of March the gale had greatly increased 
and the vessels were in danger of being hurled against 
the icebergs. This, together with the appearance of 
incipient scurvy, resulting from constant exposure, in- 
duced Lieutenant Wilkes to head northward and re- 
turn to Orange Harbor. 

On the same day the Porpoise and the Sea Gull set 
out on their antarctic cruise (February 25th), the Pea- 
cock and the Flying Fish also got under way, but on 
the 27th they encountered a heavy gale and became 
separated. After waiting twelve hours in vain for her 
consort, the Peacock continued her cruise to the south 
and experienced moderate weather until the 4th of 
March, when she encountered another severe gale. The 
weather continued boisterous, with frequent squalls of 
snow and rain, but on the llth it again cleared off. 
The Peacock was now continually beset with icebergs, 
fogs, and flurries of snow, so that navigation became 
exceedingly difficult. " The ship was completely coat- 
ed with ice, even to the gun deck. Every spray thrown 
over her froze, and her bows and decks were fairly 
packed with ice." On the 25th of March the Peacock 
fell in with the Flying Fish, which vessel had not 
been heard from since the gale of February 27th. Lieu- 
tenant Walker reported that he had penetrated south 
as far as 70. As both vessels were now in danger of 
being frozen in, and as they were not provisioned for a 
long imprisonment, Lieutenant Hudson called a coun- 
cil of his officers, and it was determined to head north- 
ward, and accordingly the vessels slowly made their 
way out of the antarctic circle. At midnight, March 
29th, the people of the PeacocTc were startled by the 
smell of smoke, which issued from the main hold. All 
hands were instantly called to quarters, and on open- 
ing the main hatch dense volumes of smoke rolled out. 
With much difficulty the flames were extinguished. 
On the 1st of April, Lieutenant Hudson dispatched the 
Flying Fish, with his report, to Orange Harbor, while 


he continued his course to Valparaiso, where he ar- 
rived on the 21st of April and found the storeship 
Relief. About the middle of May the Vincennes, the 
Porpoise and the Flying Fish also arrived at that 
port. The Sea Gull and the Flying Fish had sailed 
from Orange Harbor together, but had become sepa- 
rated in a gale, and the former was never heard 
from again. Soon afterward the Relief was sent to the 
United States, as she was a dull sailer and greatly im- 
peded the movements of the other vessels. 

The remainder of the squadron crossed the Pacific 
Ocean, examining many islands, and arrived at Syd- 
ney, New South Wales, on the 29th of November. 
Here it was determined to attempt another antarctic 
cruise, and the Vincennes, the Peacock, the Porpoise 
and the Flying Fish, on the 26th of December, stood 
out of the bay and headed for the south. On the 2d 
of January, while in a dense fog, the Flying Fish be- 
came separated from the squadron and did not again 
join it, and on the following day the Peacock also 
parted company. In hopes of falling in with these 
vessels, Lieutenant Wilkes made for Macquarie Island, 
the first rendezvous, and arrived in its vicinity on the 
7th. On the 9th he made the second rendezvous, but 
still failed to meet the Flying Fish. The early sepa- 
ration of this tender had a most unfortunate effect on 
the officers and men of the entire squadron ; coming so 
soon after the loss of the Sea Gull, it caused a depres- 
sion of spirits and gloomy forebodings that rendered 
the antarctic cruise doubly hazardous. " Men-o'-war's 
men," wrote Lieutenant Wilkes, "are prone to prog- 
nosticate evil, and on this occasion they were not want- 
ing in various surmises. Woeful accounts were soon 
afloat of the distress the schooner was in when last 
seen and this in quite a moderate sea." 

On the 10th of January the squadron met an ice- 
berg about a mile long and one hundred and eighty 
feet high. The weather now became misty, with occa- 

1840. SEAS OF ICE. 137 

sional flurries of snow, while icebergs were so numer- 
ous as to necessitate changing the course several times. 
About nine o'clock on January llth a low. point of 
ice was discovered, and on rounding it the explorers 
found themselves in a large bay. Moving swiftly 
ahead for an hour and a half, they reached its limit, 
where their course was abruptly checked by a compact 
barrier of ice. The vessels were then hove to until, 
daylight. It was a perfect night ; no sound broke the 
great silence except the ghostly rustling of the ice- 
fields. The morning of the 12th dawned with a dense 
fog, during which the Porpoise was lost sight of, and 
the entire day was spent in beating out of the bay, a 
heavy fog frequently rendering it impossible to see 
more than a ship's length ahead. 

The Peacock, since her separation from the squad- 
ron (January 3d), had made for Macquarie Island, and 
succeeded in landing two men on it. The place was 
found to be uninhabited, except by vast flocks of pen- 
guins, which on the approach of the explorers sav- 
agely flew at them, snapping at their clothing, heads 
and limbs in a most unpleasant manner. The Peacock 
resumed her course southward, and on the 15th of 
January fell in with the Vincennes and the Porpoise 
at the above-mentioned barrier. 

The three vessels now cruised westward along the 
outskirts of the ice barrier, hoping to find some open- 
ing through which they could penetrate farther south. 
On the 16th of January land was seen over a long 
stretch of ice-fields from the masthead of the Peacock, 
and during the following night the Vincennes, by 
making short tacks, endeavored to gain as much south- 
ing as possible. "Previously to its becoming broad 
daylight," wrote Lieutenant Wilkes, "the fog rendered 
everything obscure, even at a short distance from the 
ship. I knew that we were in close proximity to ice- 
bergs and field ice, but from the report of the lookout 
at sunset I believed that there was an opening or large 


bay leading to the south. The ship had rapid way on 
her and was much tossed about, when in an instant all 
was perfectly still and quiet. The transition was so 
sudden that many were awakened by it from a sound 
sleep, and all well knew, from the short experience we 
had had, that the cessation of the sound and motion 
usual at sea was a proof that we had run within a line 
of ice an occurrence from which the feeling of great 
danger is inseparable. The watch was immediately 
called by the officer of the deck. Many of those below 
were seen hurrying up the hatches, and those on deck 
were straining their eyes to discover the barriers in 
time to avoid accident. The ship still moving rapidly 
along, some faint hopes remained that the bay might 
prove a deep one and enable me to satisfy my sanguine 
hopes and belief relative to the land. The feeling is 
awful and the uncertainty most trying, thus to enter 
within the icy barriers blindfolded, as it were, by an 
impenetrable fog, and the thought constantly recurring 
that both ship and crew are in imminent danger. On 
we kept, until it was reported to me by attentive listen- 
ers that they heard the low and distinct rustling of ice. 
Suddenly a dozen voices proclaimed the barriers to be 
in sight, just ahead. The ship, which a moment before 
seemed as if unpeopled, from the stillness of all on 
board, was instantly alive with the bustle of performing 
the evolution necessary to bring her to the wind, which 
was unfavorable to a return on the same tack. After 
a quarter of an hour on her new tack ice was again 
made ahead, and the full danger of our situation was 
realized. The ship was suddenly embayed, and the 
extent of sea room to which we were limited was ren- 
dered invisible by the dark and murky weather ; yet, 
that we were closely circumscribed was evident from 
having made ice so soon on either tack, and from the 
audible rustling around us." After four hours of great 
danger and difficult navigation the Vincennes was ex- 
tricated from her perilous position. 


On the 17th of January Lieutenant Wilkes ordered 
the Peacock and the Porpoise to continue their ex- 
plorations independently of each other, as he presumed 
that the rivalry between the several ships' companies 
would stimulate them to greater exertions. But the 
three vessels cruised in sight of each other, skirting 
along the ice barrier in a westerly direction, and on the 
23d of January the Peacock discovered an opening that 
seemed to reach the land to the south. Standing into 
the bay at five o'clock in the morning, January 24th, 
the ship suddenly made stern-board, and while attempt- 
ing to box off from some ice under the bow she was 
brought with great force against another mass of ice, 
which destroyed her rudder. As the ship was found 
to be rapidly entering the ice all hands were called, 
but every effort to direct her course failed. Scarcely a 
moment now passed without a collision with the ice, 
every blow threatening to sink the ship. In the hope 
of bringing the rudder again into use, a stage was 
rigged over the stern, but on examination the rudder 
was found to be so much injured that it was impos- 
sible to repair it in its place, and preparations were 
made for unshipping it. In the mean time the position 
of the vessel, surrounded by masses of ice and driving 
farther and farther into it toward an immense wall- 
sided iceberg, was every instant growing more critical. 
In consequence of her being so closely encompassed 
all attempts to get her on the other tack failed, and it 
was decided to bring her head around by hanging 
her to an iceberg with ice-anchors. The anchor was 
attached, but scarcely had the hawser been passed 
aboard when the ship took a sudden stern-board, and 
the rope was literally dragged out of the men's hands 
before they could get a turn round the bits. The ship 
now drove stern foremost into the huge masses of ice, 
striking the rudder a second time, wringing it off the 
head and breaking two of the pintles and the upper 
and lower brace. 


As the wind began to freshen and the floe ice to 
set upon the ship, the sails were furled and the spars 
were rigged up and down the ship's side as fenders. 
Boats were again lowered and another attempt was 
made to plant the ice anchors, but the confined space 
and the force with which pieces of ice ground against 
each other was so great that the boats proved nearly as 
unmanageable as the ship. After much exertion, how- 
ever, the ice-anchors were planted and the hawser 
hauled taut, and for a time there was comparative 
security, as the vessel hung by the anchors. But the 
ice continued to close in rapidly, gradually crushing 
and carrying away the fenders, and the wind, changing 
to seaward, rose with the appearance that foreboded 
bad weather. At 11.30 A. M. the anchors, in spite of 
the exertions of the officers and men who were near 
them, broke loose, and the ship was again at the mercy 
of huge floating masses. A rapid stern-board was the 
consequence, and a contact with the ice island vast, 
perpendicular, and high as the masthead appeared 
inevitable. Every possible preparation was made to 
meet the expected shock. The spars were got out 
and preparations were made to cockbill the yards. 

" While these preparations were going forward," 
wrote Lieutenant Wilkes, "the imminence of the dan- 
ger lessened for a while the anchors again held, and 
there was a hope that they might bring the vessel up 
before she struck. This hope, however, lasted but for 
a moment only, for the anchors, with the whole body 
of ice to which they were attached, came in, and the 
ship, going astern, struck, quartering upon a piece of 
ice which lay between her and the great ice islands. 
This afforded the last hope of preventing her from 
coming in contact with the ice island ; but this hope 
failed also, for, grinding along the ice, she went nearly 
stern foremost and struck with her port quarter upon 
the island with a tremendous crash. The first effect of 
this blow was to carry away the spanker boom, the 

1840. A NARROW ESCAPE. -^ 

port stern davit, and to crush the stern boat. The star- 
board stern davit was the next to receive the shock, 
and as this is connected with the spar-deck bulwarks 
the whole of them were started ; the knee, a rotten one, 
which bound the davit to the taffrail, was broken off, 
and with it all the stanchions to the plank sheer as far 
as the gangway. Severe as the shock was, it happened 
fortunately that it was followed by as great a rebound. 
This gave the vessel a cant to starboard, and, by the 
timely aid of the jib and other sails, carried her clear 
of the island and forced her into a small opening. 
While doing this, and before the vessel had moved 
half her length, an impending mass of ice and snow 
from the towering iceberg, started by the shock, fell in 
her wake. Had this fallen only a few seconds earlier 
it must have crushed the vessel to atoms. It was also 
fortunate that the place where she struck the ice island 
was near its southern end, so that there was but a short 
distance to be passed before she was entirely clear of 
them. This gave more room for the drifting ice, and 
permitted the vessel to be worked by her sails. The 
relief from this pressing danger, however, gave no as- 
surance of ultimate safety. The weather had an un- 
usually stormy appearance, and the destruction of the 
vessel seemed inevitable, with the loss of every life on 
board. After dinner the former manceuvring was re- 
sorted to, the yards being kept swinging to and fro in 
order to keep the ship's head in the required direction. 
She was laboring in the swell, with ice grinding and 
thumping against her on all sides ; every moment some- 
thing either fore or aft was carried away chains, bolts, 
bobstays, bowsprit, shrouds. Even the anchors were 
lifted, coming down with a surge that carried away the 
eyebolts and lashings, and left them hanging by the 
stoppers. The cutwater also was injured, and every 
timber seemed to groan." 

Boats were now lowered for the purpose of planting 
ice anchors ahead of the ship, and after two hours of 


hard work, during which the frail craft were in con- 
stant danger of being crushed by the ice, this was ac- 
complished. At four o'clock it began to snow violently. 
The rudder was then unshipped and laid on the quarter- 
deck for repairs, and all night the ship was tossed help- 
lessly about, every moment in imminent danger of 
being ground to pieces by the huge masses of ice. She 
remained in this position till the afternoon of the 24th 
of January, when, favored by a fresh breeze, she at last 
cleared the ice and gained the open sea. 

During this time the Vincennes was making her 
way along the ice barriers, examining every opening 
that seemed to lead to the continent, which was dis- 
tinctly seen over the fields of ice. Having proceeded 
as far as 97 East without being able to reach the land, 
Lieutenant Wilkes, on the 21st of January, headed 
north for Sydney, where he arrived on the llth of 
March, and found the Peacock at anchor there. The 
Porpoise, after parting company with the other vessels 
on the 22d of January, skirted along the ice-bound 
coast in a westerly direction, and on the 30th she fell 
in with two French exploring ships under the command 
of Captain D'Urville. Having met the usual series of 
storms, icebergs and perils of antarctic navigation, the 
Porpoise, after reaching a point 100 East, and 64 65' 
South, set out on her return northward, and on the 5th 
of March made Auckland Isle. The Flying Fish, 
whose separation from the squadron in January had 
caused so much anxiety, was compelled, on account 
of her unseaworthy condition, to return to port. 

During the summer of 1840 the squadron was en- 
gaged in exploring the islands of the Southern Archi- 
pelago, and while examining one of the islands of the 
Fiji group in July, a party of Americans in a launch 
and a cutter was compelled by a storm to run into a 
bay for shelter. In beating out of the place the cutter 
ran on a reef, and while it was in this situation the 
natives attacked it, and as the ammunition of the 



Americans had been spoiled by water they abandoned 
the cutter and returned to the Vincennes. A detach- 
ment of seamen, in eight boats, under the command of 
Lieutenants Wilkes and Hudson, promptly landed and 
burned the village. On the 24th of July the explorers 
were again attacked by the treacherous islanders. Past- 
Midshipman Joseph A. Underwood, with a small party 
of sailors, landed for the purpose of trading, but he 
was met with hostility. He ordered a retreat to the 
boats, upon which the savages, many of whom were 
armed with muskets, began a furious assault. Re-en- 
forcements were landed, and the Americans succeeded 
in putting the islanders to flight ; but Midshipmen 
Underwood and Henry Wilkes were mortally wound- 
ed, and one seaman was badly hurt. Lieutenant 
Ringgold then landed with a detachment of seventy 
officers and men, at the southeast end of the island, 
and marched upon a village in the vicinity, destroying 
the crops and plantations as he advanced. The village 
was defended by stockades formed by a circle of cocoa- 
nut trees planted a few feet apart, the intervening space 
being filled in with strong wickerwork. Behind this 
was a trench, in which the defenders could crouch in 
safety while firing through loopholes, and outside of 
the stockade was a ditch filled with water by no 
means a despicable stronghold even for disciplined 
troops to attack. The savages, confident in their se- 
curity, greeted their assailants with derisive shouts 
and flourished their weapons in defiance. By means 
of a rocket the Americans set fire to the huts within 
the stockade, and at the same time they opened a sharp 
fire of musketry, which killed a chief and six of his 
men. Upon this the savages fled by an opposite gate, 
leaving their town to be consumed by the flames. In 
this attack one American was severely wounded. Lieu- 
tenant Ringgold pursued the savages northward toward 
the only remaining village on the island, where he was 
joined by a boat party under Lieutenant Wilkes, who 


had already destroyed the village. The next day the 
entire population sued for peace and promised good 
behavior in the future. 

In August the squadron sailed for the Hawaiian 
Islands, and on the 2d of December Lieutenant Hud- 
son, in the Peacock, accompanied by the Flying Fish, 
made an extended cruise among the Bowditch, Samoan, 
Ellice, and Kingmill Islands, returning to the Hawai- 
ian Islands early in 1841, after a cruise of nineteen 
thousand miles. On an Island of the Kingmill group 
one of the American sailors was captured by the na- 
tives, but was not missed until the seamen regained 
their boats. Inquiries were then made for him, but 
the natives professed ignorance. After waiting two 
days in vain for some news of the man, Lieutenant 
Hudson ordered the Flying Fish to cover the landing, 
and an attacking party of eighty men, under Lieuten- 
ant Walker, made for the shore. Efforts to ransom the 
man proving unavailing, a rocket was fired into the 
crowd of natives that had assembled on the beach, and 
this was followed up by a discharge of musketry, which 
killed twelve of the warriors and put the rest to flight. 
The detachment under Lieutenant Walker then landed, 
and as the natives still failed to produce the lost sea- 
man their village was destroyed. 

Lieutenant Hudson afterward sailed for the coast of 
Oregon, but while attempting to cross the bar of Colum- 
bia River, July 18th, having no pilots aboard, he ran 
the Peacock aground. To make matters worse, the 
tide fell, and as the sea was rising, the ship was soon 
wrecked. Lieutenant Hudson and his crew managed 
to get ashore, and they were rescued some time after- 
ward by the Vincennes. As early as 1818 Captain 
James Biddle, in the sloop of war Ontario, had ex- 
plored the Pacific coast and taken formal possession 
of extensive tracts in the name of the United States. 
After carefully exploring the harbors and rivers on the 
Pacific slope, and sending a land expedition from Ore- 



gon to Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) under the 
command of Lieutenant George Foster Emmons, Lieu- 
tenant Wilkes returned to the United States by way 
of the Cape of Good Hope, arriving in New York in 
June, 1842, after an absence of three years and ten 

On the 26th of November, 1847, Lieutenant William 
Francis Lynch sailed from New York in the storeship 
Supply for an exploring expedition to the Dead Sea. 
He arrived in the Mediterranean early in 1848, and 
leaving his ship at Smyrna, he proceeded to Constanti- 
nople, where he received the necessary permission for 
his explorations. Returning to Smyrna, he made sail, 
and landed at Haifa on the 21st of March. At this 
place the two boats that had been constructed espe- 
cially for the difficult navigation of the Dead Sea and 
the river Jordan, one made of copper and the other 
of galvanized iron, were placed on trucks and drawn 
across the country to Tiberias, on the western shore 
of the Sea of Galilee. The party consisted of Lieuten- 
ants Lynch and John B. Dale, Passed-Midshipman 
Richmond Aulick and eleven seamen. Their supplies 
were transported by twenty-three camels and twenty 
horses. At Tiberias the expedition was divided : one 
detachment was to embark in the boats, pull down the 
sea to the river Jordan, and descend that tortuous and 
rapid stream to the Dead Sea ; while the other division, 
mounted on camels and horses, was to make the same 
journey by land, keeping as near to the boat party as 
possible, so as to defend it from wandering Arabs, or 
to assist in the navigation of the stream. 

On the 10th of April, 1848, the expedition left Tibe- 
rias, and pulling down the Sea of Galilee began the 
hazardous navigation of the Jordan. The distance 
from this sea to the Dead Sea is not more than sixty 
miles, but the course pursued by the Jordan is over 
two hundred miles, and in this stretch there is a fall of 
thirteen hundred feet. In covering this distance the 



Jordan rushes through narrow defiles, hurls itself down 
fearful rapids, boils over sunken rocks and twists 
around sharp curves at a tremendous speed, rendering 
it impossible for any craft, except those specially con- 
structed, to pass. Down this rushing torrent the ad- 
venturers boldly headed their craft. They repeatedly 
struck on rocks, and at times the entire crew was com- 
pelled to leap into the torrent and force the boats 
over difficult places. After a perilous passage of eight 
days they reached the desolate waste of water appro- 
priately called the Dead Sea. Here a permanent en- 
campment was established, from which numerous sci- 
entific and exploring expeditions were made. After 
several weeks spent in this manner, Lieutenant Lynch 
occupied twenty-three days in measuring the depres- 
sion of the Dead Sea below the level of the ocean, which 
he found to be thirteen hundred and twelve feet. 

On the 24th of May, 1850, an expedition organized 
by Henry Grinnell, of New York, and commanded by 
Lieutenant Edwin J. De Haven, sailed from New York 
in search of Sir John Franklin's arctic explorers. Lieu- 
tenant De Haven's vessels consisted of two heavily re- 
enforced brigs, the Rescue and the Advance. By 
the first of July they were fairly in Baffin's Bay, and 
six days later, while making for what appeared to be 
an unobstructed sea, they became imbedded in an ice- 
pack and were imprisoned twenty-one days, drifting 
northerly at the rate of a mile a day. Freeing them- 
selves from the pack on the 28th of July, the little 
brigs, on the 19th of August, entered Lancaster Sound, 
where on the same day they met the steamer Lady 
Franklin, of Captain Penny's relief squadron. Two 
days later the Advance met the schooner Felix, com- 
manded by Sir John Ross, which was also searching 
for Franklin's party. While off Radstock Bay, Au- 
gust 25th, the Advance discovered the first traces of 
the lost Franklin party, in the shape of a flagstaff and 
a ball, and, on landing, unmistakable evidences of an 

1850-1851. IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN. 


encampment were found. Two days later the Ameri- 
cans began a search for the lost explorers and found 
three graves with wooden headboards, the inscriptions 
on them showing that they belonged to the lost explor- 
ing-party. On the llth of September the Advance 
and the Rescue began their return passage, but the 
arctic winter set in before they could gain the open 
sea. After beating around for several weeks in a vain 
endeavor to force a passage, preparations were made 
for passing a winter in the Arctic Sea. Unfortunately, 
they were caught in the open channel, and during the 
winter months they were carried from one place to 
another by the ever-drifting ice, and their position was 
rendered more dangerous by the cracking of the ice, 
which at any time was liable to ingulf the stores that 
were deposited on the ice-field. 

On the 5th of December a crack in the ice several 
yards wide opened along the side of the Advance, so 
that she was again in her element ; but two days later 
the immense ice-fields began to grind their edges to- 
gether, catching the little brig between them. A vessel 
less substantially built would have been crushed like 
an eggshell. As it was, the little brig strained and 
groaned, and so far resisted the pressure that the ice- 
floe slipped under her and raised her bodily out of the 
water, with her stern eight feet higher than her bow. 
" On the llth of January, 1851," wrote Lieutenant De 
Haven, "a crack occurred between the Advance and 
the Rescue, passing close under our stern. It opened 
and formed a lane of water eighty feet wide. In the 
afternoon the floes began to move and the lane was 
closed up, and the edges of the ice coming in contact 
with so much pressure threatened the demolition of 
the narrow space which separated us from the line of 
fracture. Fortunately, the floes again separated, and 
assumed a motion by which the Rescue passed from 
our stern to the port bow, and increased her distance 
from us seven hundred yards, when she came to a 


stand. Our stores that were on the ice were on the 
same side of the ice as the Rescue's, and, of course, 
were carried with her. The following day the ice re- 
mained quiet ; but soon after midnight on the 13th a 
gale having sprung up from the west, it was once more 
got into violent motion. The young ice in the crack 
near our stern was soon broken up, the edges of the 
thick ice came in contact, and a fearful pressure took 
place, forcing up a line of hummock which approached 
within ten feet of our stern. The vessel trembled and 
complained a great deal. At last the floe broke up 
around us into many pieces, and became detached from 
the sides of the vessel. The scene of frightful commo- 
tion lasted until 4 A. M. Every moment I expected the 
vessel would be crushed or overwhelmed by the mass 
of ice forced up far above our bulwarks. The Rescue, 
being further removed on the other side of the crack 
from the line of crushing, and being firmly imbedded 
in heavy ice, I was in hopes would remain undisturbed ; 
but this was not the case, for, on sending to her as soon 
as it was light enough to see, the floe was found to be 
broken away entirely from her bow, and there formed 
into such high hummocks that her bowsprit was broken 
off, together with her head and all the light woodwork 
about it. Had the action of the ice been continued 
much longer she would have been destroyed. Sad 
havoc had been made among the stores and provisions 
left on the ice, and a few barrels were recovered ; but a 
large portion were crushed and had disappeared." 

On the 29th of May, 1851, the sun again appeared, 
having been concealed eighty-seven days, and the 
dreary night of the arctic winter had passed away. 
On the 6th of June a movement in the ice-floe liberated 
the brigs, and, shipping their rudders and leaving a 
portion of their false keels in the ice, they began their 
homeward voyage, the Advance arriving in New York 
on the 20th of August and the Rescue on the 7th of 

1852-1854 A FISHERY DISPUTE. ^49 

The seizure of seven American fishing-vessels by 
British cruisers, acting under the orders of Admiral 
Seymour, aroused the indignation of the New England 
States, and on July 31, 1852, Captain Matthew Calbraith 
Perry, in the Mississippi, sailed from New York for 
the scene of trouble. He visited Halifax and Cape 
Breton, Prince Edward's Island, and found that be- 
tween two thousand and three thousand American craft 
were engaged in this industry, "furnishing a nursery 
for seamen of inestimable advantage to the maintenance 
of the interests of the nation." 1 The difficulty grew 
out of two interpretations of the clause "three miles 
from the coast and bays," the Americans differing from 
the English in their views as to what size of indenta- 
tion constituted a bay. The result of Captain Perry's 
visit was the reciprocity treaty with Canada in 1854, 
which lasted ten years. 

In the summer of 1881 Commander Winfield Scott 
Schley, U. S. N., now a captain, was in Boston Navy 
Yard, where he heard of the expedition to Lady Frank- 
lin Bay, commanded by Lieutenant Adolphus W. Gree- 
ly, U. S. A. Commander Schley remarked, "Well, I 
suppose some naval officer will have to bring the ex- 
plorers back," little thinking at the time that he would 
be selected for the perilous undertaking. The explor- 
ers embarked in the Proteus, July, 1881, and after a 
remarkably favorable passage landed at Fort Conger, 
Grinnell Land, in August. The Proteus returned 
home, leaving enough provisions to support the ex- 
plorers three years. It was arranged that another sup- 
ply vessel was to be sent to Fort Conger in the fol- 
lowing summer and another in the year after that ; so 
Greely's party were left with every assurance that they 
w T ere perfectly safe. According to this understanding 
the relief vessel Neptune was sent northward in the 
summer of 1882, but was prevented by the ice from 

1 Official report of Captain Perry. 


reaching the explorers. In the following summer the 
Proteus endeavored to reach Fort Conger, but the 
vessel was sunk and her crew narrowly escaped death. 
Such was the alarming condition of the Greely ex- 
pedition in 1884, when Commander Schley was called 
upon to command the third relief expedition. The ves- 
sels Thetis, Bear and Alert were placed under his or- 
ders. Commander Schley left New York May 1, 1884, 
arriving at St. John's May 9th. From this place the 
two vessels made their way north. After many weeks 
of battling with the ice, Commander Schley found the 
seven survivors of the twenty-five men composing the 
Greely expedition under a tent near Cape Sabine. 
Commander Schley, in his Rescue of Greely, p. 222, 
graphically describes the rescue: "It was a sight of 
horror. On one side, close to the opening, with his 
head toward the outside, lay what apparently was a 
dead man. His jaw had dropped ; his eyes were open, 
but fixed and glassy ; his limbs were motionless. On 
the opposite side was a poor fellow, alive, to be sure, 
but without hands or feet (those members having been 
frozen off), and with a spoon tied to the stump of his 
right arm. Two others, seated on the ground, in the 
middle, had just got down a rubber bottle that hung 
on the tent-pole, and were pouring from it into a tin 
can. Directly opposite, on his hands and knees, was 
a dark man with a long matted beard and tattered 
dressing-gown with a little red skull-cap on his head 
and brilliant, staring eyes." This was Greely. The 
other survivors were Sergeants Elison and Fredericks, 
Bierderbick the hospital steward, and Privates Connell, 
Brainard and Long. Had the rescue been delayed a 
few days longer even this wretched remnant of the 
Lady Franklin Bay Expedition would not have re- 
mained alive to tell the story of their terrible suffer- 
ings. With great difficulty Commander Schley got 
the men aboard his ships and made his way back to 
the United States. 



IN December, 1842, the United States brig of war 
Somers, Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, an- 
chored in New York harbor after a protracted cruise, 
and announced that one of her midshipmen, Philip 
Spencer, the boatswain's mate, Samuel Cromwell, and 
an ordinary seaman, Elisha Small, had been hanged at 
the yardarm during the cruise on suspicion of mutiny. 
The announcement caused the greatest excitement 
throughout the country, especially when it was learned 
that the men had been executed without trial and that 
Spencer was the son of the then Secretary of War. The 
Somers had sailed from Norfolk, Va., for a cruise in 
the West Indies and off the West African coast, hav- 
ing on board a number of cadets, or "naval appren- 
tices," as they were then called. After cruising off the 
African coast the Somers made for St. Thomas. 

While nearing the West Indies on the night of 
November 25th, Midshipman Spencer, in a mysterious 
manner, asked the purser's steward, John W. Wales, 
to get on top of the boom, as he had something of the 
utmost importance to communicate and was fearful of 
being overheard. Having reached a safe place, Spen- 
cer a youth of nineteen years after having received 
Wales's oath to secrecy, said he was the ringleader of 
twenty of the seamen who had arranged to instigate a 
sham fight in a few nights, during which the officer of 
the deck was to be thrown overboard and the other 
officers were to be murdered, and then they were to 
become pirates. Wales accepted the proposition to 



become one of the gang, but on the following day he 
reported the affair to the purser, and in a few minutes 
the whole matter was laid before Mackenzie, who only 
said: "I regard the story as monstrous and improba- 
ble, and am under the impression that Spencer has 
been reading piratical tales and was amusing himself 
with Wales." 

A close watch was kept on Spencer, however, and 
he was observed examining the charts and taking 
down notes. It also was noticed that he asked the 
sailing master the rate of the chronometer, and was 
very intimate with the seamen. This induced Mac- 
kenzie to examine the young midshipman personally. 
The latter admitted his conversation with Wales, but 
declared that it was all a joke. Spencer was arrested 
and placed in irons. An investigation of his effects 
revealed a mysterious-looking paper having the names 
of the officers and crew spelled in Greek, and opposite 
to each name were the words "sure" or "doubtful," 
and puzzling pen marks. 

On the night of Spencer's arrest there was a mys- 
terious falling of a topmast and an unnecessary con- 
fusion among the seamen in clearing away the wreck- 
age, which so far confirmed Mackenzie's suspicion that 
he armed all the officers and placed double guards. 
These suspicions had been further increased by the 
fact that Cromwell and Small had been detected in 
holding clandestine meetings with Spencer while he 
was in irons on the quarter-deck, and the result was 
that Cromwell and Small also were placed in irons. 
Mackenzie then assembled the crew and apprentices, 
and warned them that he was acquainted with Spen- 
cer's plans and would proceed to extreme measures on 
the first attempt to carry out their suspected mutiny. 

On the following day the officers reported that the 
men worked discontentedly and showed a sullen spirit, 
and that they frequently collected in groups and con- 
versed in a suspicious manner. Mackenzie's suspicions 

1842-1853. TRAGEDY IN THE SOMERS. 153 

of a mutiny increased during the four days Spencer 
was kept in irons, and he summoned his six officers 
in council. It was decided that the three men under 
arrest were "guilty of a full and determined intention 
to commit a mutiny in this vessel of a most atrocious 
character," and it was recommended that they be put 
to death at once. This was done promptly, no trial or 
examination of the men having been- made, save in 
Spencer's case already noted. All of them protested 
their innocence to the last. The bodies were buried 
at sea. Others of the suspected crew were placed in 
irons and carried to New York, where they were re- 
leased by order of the Secretary of the Navy. A court 
to inquire into the conduct of the Somcrs' officers was 
at once instituted. The excitement all over the coun- 
try was intense, powerful supporters being found for 
each side. A court martial quickly followed the court 
of inquiry, which resulted in a verdict of "Not guilty." 
Cooper, the naval historian, voiced the dominating sen- 
timent of the people when he said of Mackenzie's act, 
"If not one of basest cowardice, it was of lamentable 
deficiency of judgment. 

There were a number of highly creditable affairs 
in which the navy of the United States was engaged, 
which, occurring in times of peace, attracted little at- 
tention and were soon forgotten. While in command 
of the sloop of war St. Louis at Smyrna, July 2, 1853, 
Commander Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham boldly pre- 
pared to attack the Austrian war ship Hussar, which 
was considerably superior in force. Aboard the Hus- 
sar was Martin Koszta, an Austrian who, two years 
before, in New York city, had declared his intention 
of becoming an American citizen. Having incurred 
the displeasure of the Austrian Government, Koszta 
was seized while in Smyrna on business and confined 
in the Hussar. Ingraham cleared for action, and de- 
clared that he would attack the Austrian war ship if 
Koszta was not surrendered by 4 p. M. Before that 



hour, however, satisfactory arrangements were made 
and battle was averted. 

While endeavoring to protect the property of Amer- 
ican residents in Canton, China, November 16, 1856, 
just before the beginning of the war between England 
and China, Commander Andrew Hull Foote, of the 
sloop of war Portsmouth, was fired upon by one of the 
forts. His demand for an apology being refused, he 
got the permission of Captain James Armstrong, com- 
mander of the Asiatic squadron, to avenge the insult. 
Landing with two hundred and eighty-seven sailors 
and marines and four howitzers, November 20th, after 
the Portsmouth, the San Jacinto, Commander Henry 
II. Bell, and the Levant, Commander William Smith, 
had bombarded the Chinese, Foote attacked the forts. 
There were four of them, built of massive granite eight 
feet thick, and mounting in all one hundred and sev- 
enty-six guns and garrisoned by about five thousand 
men. On account of the shoal water, tji boats could 
not run close in to the bank, whereupoi](ourtnen jumped 
into the water waist deep and wadea~fo the shore, 
where they formed into three columns, led by Com- 
manders Foote, Bell and Smith, while Captain John 
D. Simmes led the detachment of marines. Making a 
detour so as to gain the rear of the first fort, the men 
waded through the soft mud of the rice fields, drag- 
ging the howitzers after them. Fording a creek, they 
charged the works, which mounted fifty-three guns, 
many of them of the heaviest calibers. The Chinese 
fled with a loss of about fifty killed. The fort on the 
opposite side of the river now opened on the victorious 
Americans, but was soon silenced by the guns in the 
captured fort. An army from Canton threatened the 
rear of the Americans, but our seamen opened such a 
galling fire that the enemy retreated. 

On the following day our cruisers and boats ad- 
vanced iipon the remaining forts. While under a 
heavy fire one of the San Jacinto's boats was raked 

1859-1867. "BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER." ^55 

by a 64-pound shot, which killed three and wounded 
seven of the crew. The Portsmouth 1 s launch also was 
sunk. In spite of this fire, our men eagerly pressed 
forward to attack the second fort, which mounted 
forty-one guns. This place was carried in handsome 
style at 4 p. M., and its guns were turned on the third 
fort, which also surrendered. Meantime a detachment 
of marines had captured a 6-gun battery on shore. 
Early on November 22d the fourth and last fort, mount- 
ing thirty-eight guns, was captured, the total loss of 
the Americans in these attacks being twelve killed and 
twenty-eight wounded. About four hundred of the 
Chinese were killed. Having accomplished their pur- 
pose, the Americans returned to their ships. Mas- 
ter George Eugene Belknap commanded one of the 
launches, and assisted in undermining and blowing up 
the works. 

Three years after this, Captain Josiah Tattnall ren- 
dered a conspicuous service to the English and French 
gunboats that were attacking the Chinese forts at the 
mouth of the Peiho River, China. While attempting 
to remove the obstructions in the river, June 25, 1859, 
the eleven gunboats under the command of Admiral Sir 
James Hope were unexpectedly fired upon by the 
Chinese forts, and a desperate battle followed, in which 
several hundred of the English were killed and they 
were finally routed. Tattnall, as a neutral, had wit- 
nessed the affair in the chartered steamer Toey-Wan, 
and exclaiming, "Blood is thicker than water," called 
for his launch, and, pulling through the thickest of 
the fire, visited the British flagship. Just before 
reaching the vessel the American boat was sunk by a 
Chinese shot, the coxswain was killed and Lieutenant 
Stephen Decatur Trenchard was dangerously wounded. 
During the half hour or more the Americans were 
aboard the boat crew assisted the English in firing the 
guns. Afterward the Toey-Wan towed up the English 
reserves and brought them into action. Although this 

156 MINOR OCCURRENCES. 1859-1867. 

was a violation of the neutrality of the United States, 
Tattnall was not seriously punished for the affair, and 
he won the gratitude of the British for his heroism. 
The expression ' ' Blood is thicker than water " was con- 
spicuous at the dinner given to Rear- Admiral Erben 
and Captain Mahan in London, June, 1894. 

Learning that the American bark Rover had been 
wrecked on the southeast end of the island of For- 
mosa, and that her crew had probably been murdered, 
Commander John Carson Febiger, in the AsTiuclot, ap- 
peared off that island, April, 1867. The officials dis- 
claimed all responsibility for the affair, saying that the 
outrage had been perpetrated by a horde of savages 
over whom they had no control. Febiger returned to 
Rear-Admiral Henry H. Bell, then commanding the 
Asiatic squadron, with this report, upon which the 
admiral sailed for Formosa with the Hartford and the 
Wyoming, and on June 13th landed one hundred and 
eighty-one men, under Commander George Eugene 
Belknap, who gallantly drove the savages into the in- 
terior and burned their huts. While leading a charge 
into one of the numerous ambuscades skillfully pre- 
pared by the natives, Lieutenant-Commander Alexan- 
der Slidell Mackenzie was killed. A few months later, 
January 11, 1868, Rear-Admiral Bell was drowned while 
endeavoring to enter Osaka River, Japan. Lieutenant- 
Commander Francis John Higginson, now rear-admi- 
ral, was present on this occasion and assisted in recov- 
ering the admiral's body. 

On January 25, 1859, Captain William Branford 
Shubrick arrived at Asuncion, Paraguay, with a fleet 
of nineteen vessels, carrying two hundred guns and 
twenty-five hundred men, to take decisive measures 
against the people of that country for firing on the 
United States steamer Water Witch the preceding year. 
Hostilities were averted only by the prompt apology 
and payment of indemnity by the Paraguayan Gov- 
ernment. Shubrick was highly complimented for his 
spirited management of this affair. 






WHEN President Lincoln came into office, March 4, 
1861, the navy of the United States consisted of ninety 
vessels, of which twenty-one were unserviceable, twen- 
ty-seven were out of commission, and forty-two were 
in commission. The forty-two vessels in commission 
were the screw frigate Niagara, returning from Japan ; 
the first-class screw sloops of war San Jacinto on the 
coast of Africa, Lancaster in the Pacific, Brooklyn at 
Pensacola, Hartford in the East Indies and Richmond 
in the Mediterranean ; the second-class screw sloops of 
war Mohican on the coast of Africa, Narragansett in 
the Pacific, Iroquois in the Mediterranean, Pawnee in 
Washington, Wyoming in the Pacific, Dakota in the 
East Indies, Pocahontas returning from Yera Cruz 
and Seminole at Brazil ; the third-class screw steamers 
Wyandotte at Pensacola, Mohawlc and Crusader at 
New York and Sumter and Mystic on the coast of 
Africa ; the side-wheel steamers Susquehanna in the 
Mediterranean, Powhatan returning from Yera Cruz 
and Saranac in the Pacific ; the sailing frigates Con- 
gress on the coast of Brazil and Sabine at Pensacola ; 
the sailing sloops of war Cumberland returning from 
Yera Cruz, Constellation. Portsmouth and Saratoga 
on the coast of Africa, Macedonian at Yera Cruz, St. 
Mary's, Cyane and Levant in the Pacific ; the John 
Adams and the Vandalia in the East Indies ; the St. 
Louis at Pensacola ; the side-wheel steamers Michigan 
on Lake Erie, Pulaski on the coast of Brazil and Sagi- 
naw in the East Indies ; the storeship Relief on the 



coast of Africa, the Release and the Supply in New 
York ; and the steam tender Anacostia in Washington. 
From this list of the vessels in commission it will 
be seen that only eleven, carrying about one hundred 
and thirty-four guns, or less than half of the entire 
force, were in American waters, while the other vessels 
were scattered all over the globe and the most for- 
midable vessels in American waters were in a Southern 
port. 1 This disposition of the navy had been made 
under the preceding Administration in the interests of 
the Confederacy that was so soon to be formed. Al- 
though orders recalling the vessels stationed on the 
African coast had been made out as soon as possible 
after March 4th, they did not begin to arrive at home 
ports until some months later. A number of the 
cruisers were commanded by Southern officers, and it 
was confidently asserted that they would run their ves- 
sels into some Southern port and deliver them over to 
the Confederacy ; but it speaks well for the loyalty of 
the navy that no attempt of this kind was made. In 
the sailing vessels, 32-pounders and 8-inch shell guns 
were the principal armaments, while the new steam 
frigates and sloops of war were armed with 9-, 10- and 
11-inch Dahlgren smooth-bore shell guns. The 10-inch 
guns were usually mounted as pivot guns. The total 

1 The vessels that were out of commission but could be readily made 
available for service were the screw frigates Roanoke, Wabash, Colorado, 
Merrimac and Minnesota ; the first-class screw sloop of war Pensacola ; 
the side-wheel steamer Mississippi ; the third-class side- wheel steamer 
Water Witch ; the ship of the line Vermont ; the sailing frigates Potomac, 
Brandywine, St. Lawrence, Raritan and Santee ; the sailing sloops of war 
Savannah, Plymouth, Jamestown, Germantoum, Vincennes, Decatur, Mar- 
ion, Dale and Preble ; the brigs of war Bainbridge, Perry and Dolphin ; 
and the steam tender John Hancock. The unserviceable vessels were the 
screw frigate Franklin on the stocks at Kittery ; the side-wheel vessel Ful- 
ton ; the steam floating battery Stevens ; the ships of the line Pennsylvania, 
Columbus, Ohio, North Carolina, Delaware, New Orleans, Alabama, Vir- 
ginia and New York the sailing frigates Constitution, United States and 
Columbia ; the store and receiving vessels Independence, Fredonia, Fal- 
mouth, Warren, Allegheny and Princeton. 


number of officers of all grades in the navy on August 
1, 1861, was fourteen hundred and fifty- seven, besides 
whom a large volunteer force was called for, and seven 
thousand five hundred volunteer officers enrolled before 
the close of the war. Three hundred and twenty-two 
officers resigned from the United States navy and en- 
tered the navy of the seceding States, of which number 
two hundred and forty-three were officers of the line. 
The number of sailors in the navy at the opening of 
the war was seven thousand six hundred, which num- 
ber was increased to fifty-one thousand five hundred 
before the close of hostilities. 

A glance at the map will show how inadequate was 
this force to blockade the extensive and intricate coast 
line of the seceding States. From Chesapeake Bay 
with its many tributaries, down the Atlantic seaboard 
and along the Gulf to the Rio Grande, were three 
thousand miles of coast line broken by many harbors 
and inlets, which it was necessary to blockade. See- 
ing the impossibility of accomplishing this essential 
object with the force in hand, the Government imme- 
diately began increasing its naval power. By purchas- 
ing every merchant craft that could be adapted to war 
purposes, either as a transport or a fighting vessel, the 
Government secured a large fleet that proved effective 
in the kind of warfare for which it was designed. The 
construction of eight additional sloops of war was 
begun, and contracts with ship-builders were entered 
upon for heavily armed and iron-plated gunboats. 
The latter were ready for commission in three months, 
and became famous as the "ninety-day gunboats." 
Thirty-nine double end side- wheel steamers for river 
service were also rapidly pushed to completion, while 
several ironclads were' begun. By these energetic 
measures the strength of the navy was greatly in- 
creased, and at the close of the war the United States 
was the most powerful maritime nation in the world. 

The Secretary of the Navy during the civil war 



and for several years after was Gideon Welles. Realiz- 
ing the necessity of having a professional man near 
him in this great emergency, Mr. Welles secured Lieu- 
tenant Gustavus Vasa Fox for assistant secretary. 
Mr. Fox entered the navy as a midshipman in 1838, 
and rose to the rank of lieutenant, but in 1856 he re- 
signed. He always took a deep interest in the navy, 
and was one of the first to proffer his services when 
they were needed. The chiefs of bureaus at the begin- 
ning of Lincoln's administration were : Yards and 
Docks, Captain Joseph Smith ; Construction, John 
Lenthal ; Provisions and Clothing, Horatio Bridge ; 
Ordnance and Hydrography, Captain George W. Ma- 
gruder ; Medicine, Surgeon William Whelan. These 
were the men (excepting Captain Magruder, who re- 
signed and entered the Confederate service) who had 
the management of the United States navy at the out- 
break of and during the civil war, and to them in a 
large measure is due the credit of raising the nation 
from one of the least to the greatest maritime power in 
the world. The seceding States were not only desti- 
tute of war vessels, but did not have a large merchant 
marine. Furthermore, they were deficient in skilled 
mechanics, shipyards and plant with which to build a 
navy, and while they had able officers they were lack- 
ing in trained sailors. Such being the case, the navy 
of the Confederacy, except in a few notable instances, 
remained on the defensive. 

Previously to the firing on Fort Sumter the South- 
ern forces at Charleston had assumed such a threaten- 
ing attitude as to leave no doubt as to their intention 
of gaining possession of that stronghold. Repeated 
calls were made by Major Anderson, commander of 
the fort, for re-enforcements, but the new Administra- 
tion was beset with many difficulties and perplexities. 
In the mean time the steamer Star of the West, which 
had attempted to re-enforce Fort Sumter early in the 
year, had been fired upon by the State batteries near 





Charleston and failed to accomplish its mission. Be- 
tween the 7th and the 10th of April, the sloops of war 
Pawnee and Pocahontas, the steamers Harriet Lane 
and Baltic and two tug boats, sailed separately from 
New York with provisions and re-enforcements for 
Sumter. At three o'clock in the morning of April 
12th the Baltic and the Harriet Lane arrived off 
Charleston, and three hours later the Pawnee hove in 
sight. While the commanders of these vessels were 
approaching the harbor they heard the report of 
shotted guns; soon afterward smoke was seen in the 
direction of Fort Sumter, and by daylight the contin- 
uous roar of heavy artillery proclaimed that civil war 
had begun. When it was seen that the American flag 
was still waving at Sumter, Commander Stephen Clegg 
Rowan, of the Pawnee, immediately declared his inten- 
tion of running in to the relief of the garrison. But 
Lieutenant Gustavus Vasa Fox, commander of the 
expedition, would not consent to so perilous an under- 
taking, and all day long they lay off the harbor, watch- 
ing with agonized interest the pitiless rain of iron that 
fell upon the fort. Early on the morning of the 13th 
dense volumes of smoke were seen rising from the fort, 
showing that the woodwork was burning, and at four 
o'clock in the afternoon the heroic defenders surren- 
dered. Fort Sumter was evacuated on the 14th of 
April, and its garrison was placed in the Baltic and 
taken to New York. On the day Sumter was fired 
upon the frigate SaMne and the sloop of war Brooklyn 
arrived at Fort Pickens, in Pensacola harbor, and land- 
ed re-enforcements. 

The old frigate Constitution, which at the begin- 
ning of hostilities was lying at Annapolis as a training 
ship, was in great danger of falling into the hands of 
the Confederates, which would give a sentimental sup- 
port to their cause. About this time the Eighth Massa- 
chusetts Regiment, under Brigadier-General Benjamin 
Franklin Butler, was in the vicinity, and with the aid 


of a detachment of these troops the ship was guarded 
until towed to New York. This was as narrow an 
escape as the Constitution ever had from having any 
other than the American flag floating at her gaff. 

One of the most important and dangerous services 
in the war, and yet one that was least likely to lead to 
fame, was that of surveying the Southern rivers, bays 
and sounds, and replacing the buoys. On the with- 
drawal of Virginia from the Union the Confederates 
promptly removed all light-boats and buoys and de- 
stroyed the range of guiding marks in the Potomac 
River. This, together with the destruction of the Gun- 
powder and Nye bridges in Maryland and the hostility 
of the people in Baltmore, for the time almost cut off 
Washington from communication with the North. 
Realizing the necessity of regaining the control of this 
water-way, the Government cast about for an officer to 
perform the perilous duty of surveying the stream and 
replacing the buoys. Lieutenant Thomas Stowell 
Phelps was selected, by ballot of a board consisting of 
the chiefs of departments, as an officer "skilled in sur- 
veying." On his arrival in Washington early in May, 
Lieutenant Phelps found at the navy yard six river 
steamboats and the armed tender Anacostia. He se- 
lected the Anacostia and a large steamer called the 
Philadelphia for his work. Four 12-pound army field 
guns were placed aboard the PJiiladelphia, two mount- 
ed on each end, covered with old canvas, so as to con- 
ceal them as much as possible from the enemy. Be- 
sides the crew, a company from the Seventy-first New 
York Regiment was placed aboard. 

The work of surveying the Potomac was imme- 
diately begun and was steadily pushed to comple- 
tion, although the men engaged in it w^ere constantly 
exposed to the enemy's bullets. The Anacostia, an 
exceedingly slow boat, was soon lost sight of, so that 
most of the work was done by the Philadelphia. The 
crew was carefully concealed, and the surveying party 


was judiciously stationed so that the two leadsmen, the 
pilot and helmsmen in the pilot-house, and Lieuten- 
ant Phelps directing the work with the draughtsman 
Charles Junkin near him to assist in angling, were the 
only people in view. Thus organized, the men rapidly 
advanced with their work, and on the first night they 
anchored near Blackistone Island. The people on both 
sides of the river were hostile, and when the boats 
anchored at night the greatest care was necessary to 
guard against surprises. At Aquia Creek the Con- 
federates had erected a battery of eighteen or twenty 
guns, and as it was particularly important that this 
part of the river should be surveyed, Lieutenant Phelps 
boldly ran under the guns, so near that even without 
the aid of a field glass the gunners could be seen with 
lock strings in hand ready to fire. For two hours the 
guns were kept trained upon the little steamer as she 
passed to and fro over the water, frequently so near as 
to require extreme depression of the cannon to keep 
them bearing, and at no time beyond easy reach of the 
iron messengers. But not a gun was fired. A few 
years afterward it was learned that Colonel William F. 
Lynch, the commander of the battery, refrained from 
firing because he believed her to be the "property of 
some poor devil who had lost his way, and from her 
appearance was not worth the powder," although he 
said that both the officers and men "were crazy to try 
and sink the vessel, and vainly -implored for permis- 
sion to do so." 1 If they had suspected her character 
and object she would have been promptly riddled with 
shot. Lieutenant Phelps accomplished his work in 
the most thorough manner, and he was highly compli- 
mented by the Navy Department. 

For a few months after the firing on Sumter there 
was a lull in the excitement. In the mean time a 
patrol of Potomac River was maintained night and day. 

1 Rear- Admiral Phelps to the author. 




This hazardous service was performed by Commander 
James Harman Ward with the improvised gunboats 
Freeborn, a side-wheel steamer carrying three guns, 
the Anacostia, a propeller carrying two guns, and the 

Scene of naval operations on the Potomac. 

-Resolute, carrying two guns. With these vessels Com- 
mander Ward, on the 31st of May, opened fire on the 
batteries at Aquia Creek, and in two hours drove the 
Southerners from the lower batteries to the guns they 
had mounted on the hill. As the National vessels 


could not elevate their guns sufficiently to drive the 
enemy from his second position, Commander Ward re- 
tired, with little or no damage to his flotilla. On the 
following day the sloop of war Pawnee, Commander 
Rowan, came down from Washington, and the attack 
was renewed. For five hours a spirited fire was main- 
tained, which finally drove the Confederates from their 
position. In this affair the Pawnee was struck nine 
times. On the 27th of June Commander Ward at- 
tacked the enemy at Mathias Point. A body of sailors 
was landed under the command of Lieutenant James 
C. Chaplin, of the Pawnee, and the vessels opened a 
heavy fire. While in the act of sighting a gun, Com- 
mander Ward was shot in the abdomen, and he soon 
died. About this time a large body of Confederate 
soldiers approached the sailors under Lieutenant Chap- 
lin and compelled them to return to their boats. Lieu- 
tenant Chaplin was the last man to retire, and aroused 
much admiration by his coolness. The vessels were 
unable to withstand the enemy's fire, and retreated, 
with a loss of one killed and four wounded. 1 

Captain Thomas Tingey Craven succeeded Com- 
mander Ward in command of the Potomac flotilla. On 
the night of October llth, Lieutenant Abram Davis 
Harrel, with three boats, entered Quantico Creek, de- 
stroyed a schooner that the enemy had anchored there, 
and escaped in spite of a heavy fire. Many daring cut- 
ting-out exploits like this took place along these waters 

1 James Harman Ward was born in 1806 in Hartford, Conn. He en- 
tered the navy as a midshipman March 4. 1823, and with several other mid- 
shipmen received his education in the military school at Norwich, Vt. He 
was in the Constitution in 1824-'28, and became a lieutenant March 3, 
1831. From 1845 to 1847 he was an instructor in the Annapolis Naval 
Academy, and in 1849-'50 he commanded the Vixen, of the home squad- 
ron. On September 9, 1853, he was made a commander, and in May, 1861, 
he was ordered to the command of the Potomac flotilla. He was the authcr 
of two text-books that were used in the Naval Academy many years- 
Manual of Naval Tactics and Elementary Course of Instruction in Naval 
Ordnance and Gunnery. He also wrote Steam for the Million. 


which can not here be recorded. The several command- 
ers of the patrol of the Potomac who succeeded Captain 
Craven were Commanders Robert Harris Wyman, An- 
drew Allen Harwood and Foxhall Alexander Parker. 
On the 24th of June the Pawnee, Commander Rowan, 
in co-operation with Ellsworth's Zouaves, compelled the 
Confederates to evacuate Alexandria, and Lieutenant 
Reigart B. Lowry, landing with a detachment of sea- 
men, took possession of the town in the name of the 
United States. 

About this time a dashing cutting-out affair occurred 
at Pensacola. The Confederates had been fitting out 
the schooner JudaJi as a privateer in the navy yard in 
that harbor, and as an additional protection a thousand 
soldiers were stationed on the wharf near by. At three 
o'clock on the morning of September 14th a boat party 
from the frigate Colorado, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant John Henry Russell consisting of the launch 
with thirty-nine men ; the first cutter, Lieutenant John 
G. Sproston, with eighteen men ; the second cutter, 
Lieutenant Francis B. Blake, with twenty-six men ; 
the third cutter, Midshipman Tecumseh Steece, with 
seventeen men set out to capture the Judah. When 
about a hundred yards from the schooner the boats 
were discovered by sentinels and fired upon. The men 
bent to their oars, and in a few minutes the first and 
third cutters were alongside the wharf and the sailors 
landed. Only one man was found on guard, and he 
was shot, while in the act of discharging a gun, by Gun- 
ner Borton. The other boats made directly for the 
schooner, where a desperate hand-to-hand encounter 
took place, some of the Confederates getting into the 
tops and firing with effect. Assistant Engineer White, 
with a coal-heaver, rushed into the cabin, where they 
kindled a fire and soon had the vessel in flames, upon 
which the men returned to their boats. By this time a 
large crowd of soldiers and civilians had gathered on 
the wharf and opened a straggling fire, which was re- 


turned with, six discharges of the boat howitzer. About 
twenty of the boat party were killed or wounded, 1 
Lieutenant Russell being among the latter. That officer 
was highly complimented by the Navy Department for 
this handsome affair. Lieutenant Sproston was killed 
June 8, 1862, in Florida, by an outlaw. From this 
time to the close of the war there was little or no 
activity around Pensacola, except on November 22, 
1861, when the Niagara and the Richmond joined 
Fort Pickens in the bombardment of Fort McRae. 

Having heard that the British mail steamer Trent 
would sail from Havana, November 7th, for England, 
with two agents of the Confederate Government, John 
Slidell and James Murray Mason, with their secretaries, 
Messrs. Eustis and McFarland, on board as passengers, 
Captain Charles Wilkes (who had commanded the Vin- 
cennes in her celebrated scientific and exploring expedi- 
tion around the world in 1838-'42), of the San Jacinto, 
stationed his vessel in the passage of the Old Bahama 
Channel, where the Trent was likely to pass. About 
eleven o'clock in the morning of November 8th the 
lookout in the San Jacinto reported the smoke of a 
steamer approaching, and soon afterward the Trent 
was made out from the deck. Captain Wilkes immedi- 
ately sent his crew to quarters, and about 1 P. M. 2 he 
unfurled his colors and fired a shell across the Eng- 
lishman's bow. Mr. Moir, commander of the Trent, 
showed English colors and continued on his course, 
upon which Captain Wilkes fired another shot. This 
brought the Trent to. A boat was sent alongside 
under the orders of Lieutenant Donald McNeill Fair- 
fax, who reported to Captain Wilkes that the Con- 
federate agents insisted on force being used in their 
removal from the packet. Lieutenant James Augustin 
Greer accordingly was sent with an armed party, and 
the Confederate commissioners and their secretaries 

1 Bear- Admiral Russell to the author. Midshipman Francis John Iliggin- 
son, now rear-admiral, was wounded by a musket shot in this gallant affair. 
* Rear-Admiral Greer to the author. 


were transferred to the San Jacinto. The affair was 
managed so cleverly by Lieutenant Fairfax that the 
commander of the Trent forgot to throw his ship as a 
prize on the hands of Captain Wilkes a neglect for 
which the Admiralty and the Southerners expressed 
much disappointment, as it undoubtedly would have 
involved the United States and Great Britain in war. 
The Trent proceeded on her way to England, and Cap- 
tain Wilkes made for the United States with his pris- 
oners, who after some delay were placed in a fort near 
Boston. The news of this proceeding aroused great 
excitement both in the United States and in Europe, 
and nearly caused a war with England. France de- 
nounced the act and assumed a threatening attitude. 
After the excitement had subsided the Government 
disavowed the act of Captain Wilkes and released the 
commissioners, who, on January 1, 1862, sailed for 

On the 7th of November, when the sailing frigate 
Santee, Captain Henry Eagle, was off Galveston, Tex- 
as, Lieutenant James E. Jouett volunteered to run 
into the harbor and destroy the steamer General 
Rusk, which was being fitted by the Confederates as a 
war vessel, and the schooner Royal Yacht, mounting 
one 32-pound gun. Leaving the Santee at 11.40 P. M. 
that night, with forty men in the first and second 
launches, Lieutenant Jouett pulled boldly into the 
harbor and made for the General Rusk, then lying at 
a wharf about seven miles from the frigate. Pass- 
ing the Royal Yacht, Lieutenant Jouett had almost 
reached the General Rusk when his boat grounded 
and was run into by the second launch, the noise of 
the collision discovering the party to the Confederates, 
who immediately opened fire, and several steamers 
started out in pursuit. Seeing that it was impossi- 
ble to carry the General Rusk now that her people 
were aroused, Lieutenant Jouett determined to board 
the Royal Yacht. 


Orders were given for the "first launch to board on 
the starboard beam and the second launch to board on 
the starboard bow." 1 While yet two hundred yards 
from the Royal Yacht the launches were hailed twice, 
but, paying no attention to them, the boats dashed 
forward. Just as the first launch ran alongside, Wil- 
liam W. Carter, the gunner, fired the 12-pound howitzer, 
the shell crashing through the schooner's side at the 
water line. The recoil of the gun, however, gave the 
launch stern-board, leaving Carter, who had leaped 
upon the schooner's deck, unsupported. By a great 
effort the launch was brought alongside again, but just 
as Lieutenant Jouett had boarded he was dangerously 
wounded in the arm and lung by a sword bayonet 
fastened to a pole held by a Confederate. Drawing 
the blade from his side, Jouett felled his assailant with 
it, and rushed to the aid of Carter. Twice during the 
desperate struggle in the schooner the retreat was 
sounded and the party began to pull back without 
their leader, and twice the first launch was brought 
back. The crew of the Royal Yacht, thirteen in all, 
was finally got in the launch, and after an exhaust- 
ing pull and several narrow escapes they were safely 
placed aboard the Santee. In this handsome affair 
the Nationalists had one man killed, two officers and 
six men wounded two of them mortally. The Royal 
Yacht was destroyed, but the loss of the enemy is not 
definitely known. 

One of the first difficulties to be overcome by our 
naval administration in the civil war was that of sup- 
plying the blockading ships with fresh provisions, ice, 
medical stores, and the transportation of the sick and 
wounded northward. Nothing could exceed the mo- 
notony of the blockade service, especially off the fever- 
stricken coasts of the Gulf States. Long spells of foggy 
weather kept the vessels in a damp and unhealthy con- 
dition, which, together with the difficulty of getting 

1 Rear-Admiral Jouett to the author. 


fresh meat and vegetables, had a most depressing effect 
on the men. Early in the war the Government secured 
two small steamers, which were rechristened Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, and kept them constantly 
employed throughout the war as messengers from the 
Northern ports to the several blockading squadrons. 
The Rhode Island was commanded (1861-1865) by Com- 
mander Stephen Decatur Trenchard, afterward Rear- 
Admiral. In the course of the war she steamed fifty- 
six thousand two hundred miles. 

The value of this service is touchingly illustrated 
by Flag-Officer James S. Lardner, when he wrote to 
Trenchard at Key West, October 6, 1861 : " Many thanks 
for your kind note and handsome present of fruit, most 
acceptable in these scorching times. I regret extremely 
that the fever prevents me from having the pleasure of 
seeing you. . . . With the present weather there is no 
danger of new cases. . . . There has been only one 
death in the last ten days." ' 4k Only one death " tells 
the story of their sufferings. 

Besides having rooms fitted for carrying ice, special 
luxuries not allowed in general rations, these steamers 
were fitted with conveniences for taking North the offi- 
cers' wash. The paymaster for the entire fleet also took 
up his quarters in these steamers. The Rhode Island 
and Connecticut were fitted with heavy guns and per- 
formed service as gunboats ; in fact, toward the close 
of the war the former was relieved of supply duty and 
ordered to cruise in the West Indies. 

Early in August, 1861, Commander Charles Green, 
of the sailing sloop of war Jamestown, had an exciting 
chase after a blockade runner off the mouth of the St. 
Mary's. The stranger was discovered in the morning. 
Green promptly gave chase, and in a moment both 
vessels were under full sail. Finding that he could 
not escape, the Confederate commander ran his ship 
aground, when a party of soldiers hastened to the shore 

1 Private letter from Lardner to Trenchard. 


to assist. Green sent his boats to take possession, the 
Confederates opening tire with musketry and artillery. 
They also endeavored to get a cannon from the shore 
to the stranded vessel, but the National boats frustrated 
this, and in a few minutes gained her deck, her officers 
and crew escaping on the other side in boats. The 
prize was the sailing ship Alvarado, of and for Boston 
from Cape Town, and the Nationalists believed that 
she had been captured by the enemy or that her mas- 
ter was endeavoring to run her into a Southern port. 
The last entry made in the log evidently written by a 
female was, "We are chased by a man-of-war, but 
I think we will escape her and get safely into St. 
Mary's." As it was impossible to get her afloat, Green 
caused the prize to be burned. "It was a gallant 
affair," wrote Lieutenant Trenchard, who arrived at 
Fernandina in the Rhode Island at that time, "on the 
part of the Jamestown, and the officers and crew de- 
serve the greatest credit for the daring exploit. They 
were exposed during the greater part of the time to a 
heavy fire from the artillery brought to bear on them 
from the shore." l 

On the morning of July 4, 1862, while the Rhode 
Island was about seventeen miles southwest of Gal- 
veston, engaged in her duties as a supply vessel, chase 
was given a strange vessel close inshore, which promptly 
ran aground. A force of cavalry and infantry ap- 
peared on the beach to assist in unloading and defend- 
ing her, but a well-directed fire from the gunboat put 
them to flight. Three boats, commanded by Paymas- 
ter Douglass, Ac ting- Pay master Pennell, and Engineer 
McCutcheon, of the Rhode Island, boarded the vessel, 
which was found to be the English schooner Richard 
O'Brien from Jamaica. A few days before she had 
been warned off by the De Soto. Securing a part of 
the cargo of rum, sugar and drugs, the Nationalists 
destroyed the prize and returned to the Rhode Island. 

1 Private Journal of Rear- Admiral Trenchard. 



IN keeping with his determination to repossess the 
United States of all the forts, arsenals and harbors that 
had fallen into the hands of the Confederates, Presi- 
dent Lincoln convened a board of officers for the pur- 
pose of examining the coast defenses and deciding 
upon a comprehensive plan of operation. This board, 
consisting of Captain Samuel Francis Dupont and Cap- 
tain Charles H. Davis, of the navy, Major John Gr. Bar- 
nard, of the army, and Professor Alexander D. Bache, 
of the Coast Survey, met in June, 1861, and after a 
careful examination into the topographical and hydro- 
graphical peculiarities of the Southern ports, their de- 
fenses and their importance to the cause, a well-ad- 
justed plan of attack was laid before the President. 
The primary object of this scheme was the interruption 
of all communication between the Southern States and 
their foreign sympathizers. From the mouth of the 
Rio Grande to Chesapeake Bay the coast is indented 
with many safe harbors, the defenses of which were 
mostly in the hands of the enemy, while places like 
Pamlico Sound and Port Royal had so many and such 
intricate approaches that it was almost impossible to 
prevent ingress or egress of blockade-runners. From 
the 25th of June to the 4th of August Confederate 
cruisers brought into Hatteras Inlet sixteen prizes. 

The first of the series of attacks proposed by the 
board was directed against the forts that commanded 
the main entrance to Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. 
The rivers Neuse, Roanoke, Pamlico and Chowan, reach- 



ing far into the interior, the Dismal Swamp Canal, con- 
necting Albemarle Sound with Norfolk, and the sev- 
eral inlets from the ocean afforded every convenience 
to the light-draught British blockade-runners, which 
were constructed expressly to navigate these shoal 
waters, bringing in rifles, ammunition, heavy guns, 
iron plates and military stores, and taking out cotton 
for English manufacturers. Hatteras Inlet, the main 
entrance to these waters, was strongly guarded by for- 
tifications, so that a squadron would be unable to fol- 
low a blockade-runner into the sound, while the lesser 
inlets were closed to the heavy vessels by shoals and 
bars. The fortifications at Hatteras Inlet, built by the 
State of North Carolina and constructed with consider- 
able skill, consisted of Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark, 
on the southern end of Hatteras Island, a barren strip 
of land forty miles long and about half a mile wide. 
Fort Hatteras, an earthwork covering about an acre 
and a half of ground, with a bombproof chamber, 
mounting twenty-five guns, 1 commanded the inlet 
proper, while Fort Clark, a redoubt with five 32-pound 
guns, commanded the approach from the sea. 

On the 26th of August a fleet of war vessels and 
transports under the command of Flag-Officer Silas 
H. Stringham, with nearly eight hundred and sixty 
troops under the command of Major- General Ben- 
jamin F. Butler, together with some schooners and 
surfboats to be used in landing, sailed from Hampton 
Roads. The vessels were the steam frigates Minnesota 
(flagship), two 10-inch, twenty-eight 9-inch, fourteen 
8-inch, two 12-pound guns, Captain Gershom Jaques 
Van Brunt ; the steam frigate Wafoash, two 10-inch, 
twenty-eight 9-inch, fourteen 8-inch, two 12-pound 
guns, Captain Samuel Mercer ; the sloop of war Cum- 
berland, twenty 9-inch, four 24-pound guns, Captain 
John Marston ; the sloop of war Susquehanna, fifteen 

1 Scharf's History of the Confederate Navy, p. 370. 


8-inch, one 24-pound, two 12-pound guns, Captain John 
S. Chauncey ; the sloop of war Pawnee, eight 9-inch, 
two 12-pound guns, Commander Stephen Clegg Rowan ; 
the steamer Monticello, six 8-inch guns, Commander 
John P. Gilliss ; the steamer Harriet Lane, five guns, 
Captain John Faunce ; the transports Adelaide, Com- 
mander Henry S. Stellwagen ; George Peabody, Lieu- 
tenant Reigart B. Lowry ; and Fanny, Lieutenant 
Pierce Crosby. Late in the afternoon of the next day 
these vessels rounded Hatteras Lighthouse and an- 
chored. From this point to Hatteras Inlet, thirteen 
miles, the surf rolls on the beach with great violence, 
making it exceedingly dangerous for boats to land, and 
in view of this difficulty the expedition had been pro- 
vided with iron surfboats, which were to ply between 
the land and two schooners anchored just outside the 
breakers. At 6.40 A. M., August 28th, the Pawnee, 
the Harriet Lane and the Monticello ran close inshore 
at the point selected for landing about two and a half 
miles above the forts so as to cover the debarkation 
of the troops. After three hundred and fifteen men 
had been placed ashore the increasing surf made it im- 
possible for the remainder to land. Persisting in their 
efforts to get more men ashore, the surfboats were 
violently hurled on the beach and destroyed, while a 
boat from the Pawnee, in endeavoring to make a sec- 
ond landing, was swamped and its crew narrowly es- 
caped drowning. The men ashore were thus left with- 
out provisions or water r.nd with only two howitzers for 
their protection, and most of the ammunition had been 
made useless by water. To make their position more 
critical, the threatening weather compelled the gun- 
boats to stand offshore, where they were out of range. 

. In the mean time the Minnesota, the Wabasli, the 
Cumberland and the Susquehanna approached Fort 
Clark, and at 10 A. M. they opened a heavy fire. This 
was the first real test in this war of the efficacy of 
wooden ships against earthworks, and the result was a 



matter of widely differing speculation on the part of 
the officers. Captain Stringham, instead of anchoring 
his ships so that the enemy could acquire the range, 
kept them in constant motion, passing and repassing 
the batteries at varying distances, so that each shot 
from the fort was only a test of the range, and the Con- 
federate gunners were compelled to fire at a moving 
target. The great success of this plan caused National 
commanders to imitate it in several instances afterward 
in the war. The shot from the fort rarely struck, while 
shells from the ships speedily drove the gunners to 
shelter. By 12.25 P. M. the enemy's flag was carried 
away, and the gunners were observed running toward 
Fort Hatteras or leaving the shore in boats. Signal 
was now made in the vessels to cease firing, and at 
2 P. M. Fort Clark was occupied by the troops who had 
been landed early in the day. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon the Monticello was 
ordered to push into the inlet, as it was thought that 
the enemy had abandoned both forts. Carefully feeling 
her way among the breakers, the little gunboat con- 
tinued on her tortuous course, although frequently 
grounding, in hopes of getting into deeper water in the 
sound beyond, and when she turned the spithead where 
there was so little water that she could not proceed, 
Fort Hatteras opened on her. Commander Gilliss 
promptly responded, but for fifteen minutes the gun- 
boat was in a most perilous position, and had not the 
larger ships immediately reopened their broadsides and 
silenced the enemy she would have been destroyed. 
As it was, she was struck five times by 8-inch shells, 
once amidship on the port side, the shot lodging in a 
knee. Another shell on the same side struck a davit, 
and drove fragments of both the shell and the davit 
through the armory, pantry and galley. A third shot 
carried away part of the fore-topsail yard, another en- 
tered the starboard bow and lodged in the knee at the 
forward end of the shell locker, and a fifth shot entered 



the starboard side amidships, passed across the berth 
deck, went through paint locker and bulkhead, crossed 
the fire room and landed in the port coal bunker, rip- 

Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. 

ping up the deck in the gangway over it. After the 
Monticello had escaped from this tight place, the can- 
nonading from the National ships was renewed with 


great effect until 6.15 p. M., when the signal to haul off 
was given, and the squadron was made snug for the 
night, the Pawnee, the Monticello and the Harriet 
Lane running close inshore so as to protect the troops 
that had been landed. 

On the abandonment of Fort Clark that morning 
the troops who had landed early in the day took pos- 
session of the work ; but owing to its proximity to Fort 
Hatteras shells from the squadron fell among them, and, 
finding their position dangerous, they abandoned the 
fort. Returning to the place where they had landed, 
they made preparations for passing the night and re- 
pelling an attack which they had every reason to ex- 
pect would be made upon them. They had been com- 
pelled to go through the severe work of the day without 
food or water, and, with the exception of a few sheep 
and geese which they captured and cooked on swords 
and bayonets, they had nothing to eat until the follow- 
ing day. To make their lot even more miserable, it 
began to rain, and as they were destitute of tents or 
shelter of any kind they were compelled to lie out on 
the drenched sands. In the night the enemy was re- 
enforced by the arrival of a regiment and supplies from 
New Berne, but fortunately the Confederates were too 
busy repairing the damages of the bombardment, and in 
making preparations for a desperate resistance on the 
morrow, to give any attention to the stranded troops. 

At half past five on the following morning, August 
29th, the squadron prepared to renew the bombard- 
ment of Fort Hatteras, in which work the Confederates 
had now concentrated all their forces. At 8 A. M. the 
SnsqueTianna opened fire, shortly followed by the 
Minnesota, the Wdbash and the Cumberland. In 
this attack fifteen- second fuses were used, and so ac- 
curate and rapid was the firing that three shells some- 
times exploded within the fort about the same instant. 
"The shower of shell in half an hour became literally 
tremendous, falling into and immediately around the 


works not less, on an average, than ten each minute, 
and, the sea being smooth, the firing was remarkably 
accurate. One of the officers counted twenty-eight 
shells, and several others counted twenty as falling in 
a minute." 1 No men could long stand such a terrible 
downfall of iron as that. The Confederate gunners 
were soon driven from their stations, and, in spite of the 
remonstrances and commands of their officers, rushed 
to the bombproof chamber and filled it to its utmost 
capacity, while those who could not get in sought 
shelter in other parts of the fort. When three hun- 
dred men were thus closely packed together in the 
bombproof chamber, a huge shell entered through the 
ventilator and landed among them. A fearful panic 
ensued. The dark chamber was filled with smoke and 
dust, while each man was struggling to get out of the 
narrow doorway before the explosion. Fortunately the 
fuse wpnt out, but the alarm was given that the place 
was on fire, and the magazine, separated only by a thin 
partition, wa^ in imminent danger of exploding. The 
probability of being blown to atoms in no way tended 
to abate the panic, and it was not until most of the 
men had gained the open air that they realized that 
immediate danger had passed. 

Bat the garrison had escaped only to be exposed 
again to the merciless shells that fell around them. 
Shortly afterward another exploded over the maga- 
zine, threatening to ignite it. Seeing that a shot 
would surely pierce the powder mine in a short time, 
while it was impossible to reply with a single gun, 
the commander called a council of the officers at 10.45 
A. M., and a few minutes after eleven o'clock the 
white flag was raised. The squadron immediately 
ceased firing, while troops marched up and took 
possession. Several Confederate gunboats, which had 
been watching the bombardment from the sound, 

1 Scharf's History of the Confederate Navy, p. 373. 


waiting for an opportunity to take part in the fight, 
now fled. Six hundred and fifteen prisoners, including 
their commander, Captain Samuel Barron, were uncon- 
ditionally surrendered. The enemy had four killed 
and about twenty-five wounded, while the National 
forces escaped without the loss of a man, and sustained 
no damage in their ships. The prisoners were taken 
to New York in the Minnesota and confined on Gov- 
ernor's Island, while a garrison under Colonel Rush 
Christopher Hawkins was placed in the fort. All the 
vessels of the squadron made for different points, ex- 
cepting the Pawnee, the Montlcello and the Fanny. 
This was one of the most brilliant, successful and clean- 
cut enterprises ever undertaken by the United States 
navy. The style in which Captain Stringham received 
the troops on board and sailed away on the same day, 
the wonderful accuracy of the squadron's fire, and the 
capture of over six hundred men without the loss of 
a single man or the slightest injury to his squadron, 
were most creditable. 

Although the possession of the forts at Hatteras In- 
let gave the National forces control of the main en- 
trance to these inland seas, there were other openings 
through which English smuggling craft could enter and 
feed the rebellion. One of these inlets, called Ocra- 
coke, was twenty miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, 
and Beacon Island, commanding the passage, was 
about to be fortified with twenty heavy guns. As it 
was of great importance to secure or destroy these 
guns, Lieutenant James G. Maxwell, in the steamer 
Fanny, with sixty-seven men, and a launch from the 
Pawnee with twenty-two sailors and six marines, hav- 
ing a 12 pound howitzer under the command of Lieu- 
tenant Thomas H. Eastman, was sent against this place. 
The party set out early in the morning of September 
16th, and by eleven o'clock was about two miles from 
Beacon Island when the Fanny ran aground. While 
the launch was sounding for the channel, a sailboat 



containing two men was captured, and by their aid the 
Fanny was floated off and piloted within a hundred 
yards of the fort. This proved to be a deserted octag- 
onal earthwork containing four shell rooms and a 
bombproof chamber one hundred feet square. Lieu- 
tenant Maxwell burned the gun-carriages, while the 
four 8-inch shell guns and the fourteen 32-pounders 
were made useless by firing solid shot at the trunnions. 
All the lumber on Beacon Island was then collected in 
the bombproof chamber and fired, also a storeship 
that had been run ashore ; and while this was being 
done Lieutenant Eastman was sent to Portsmouth vil- 
lage, a mile distant, with the launch, where four 8-inch 
guns were found and destroyed. Having thoroughly 
executed his orders, Lieutenant Maxwell returned 
to Fort Hatteras on the 18th, without the loss of a 

The Confederates next fortified Roanoke Island, so 
as to secure Albemarle Sound and an inlet to the north ; 
and with a view of frustrating their plans the steamers 
Geres and Putnam, with the Twentieth Indiana Regi- 
ment, Colonel W. L. Brown, were dispatched Sep- 
tember 29th to occupy the northern end of Hatteras 
island. In the afternoon of the same day this force 
arrived at its destination, but the water was found to 
be so shallow that even light-draught steamers could 
not get nearer than three miles from the beach, so 
that the men were obliged to debark in boats. Two 
days later, October 1st, the steamer Fanny started out 
with arms, ammunition, clothing and provisions for 
the troops. The commander of the Confederate naval 
forces in these waters, Captain William F. Lynch, who 
led the Dead Sea exploring expedition in 1848, learned 
of the approach of the Fanny, and came out of Croa- 
tan Sound with the Curlew, armed with a 32-pound 
rifled gun and a 12-pound smooth-bore ; the Raleigh, 
two 6-pound howitzers ; and the JunalusJca, one 
6-pound gun. The Fanny was a transport carrying 


two light rifled guns. Just as the unsuspecting Nation- 
alists were anchoring near the troops and preparing 
for the tedious process of landing their cargo on the 
beach, the enemy's flotilla, headed by the Curlew, 
came in sight. As soon as they were within range 
they opened fire, which the Union gunboats promptly 
returned, at the same time hurrying off a boat-load of 
stores to the land ; but before the boat reached the 
beach the enemy had come to close quarters. The 
Fanny fired nine shot, one striking one of the gun- 
boats in the bow, but the superior weight of the Con- 
federate guns soon compelled her to surrender, with 
her valuable cargo and forty-nine men. 

Encouraged by this success, the Confederates deter- 
mined to capture the entire Indiana Regiment, consist- 
ing of six hundred men, and then march upon Fort 
Hatteras. Their plan was to land troops above the In- 
dianians, and also a large body of soldiers below, so as 
to cut off their retreat. Having captured the regiment, 
their entire force was to embark on the flotilla, move 
swiftly down the sound and attack Fort Hatteras be- 
fore the alarm could be given. On the 4th of October, 
just as the Confederate troops under Colonel A. R. 
Wright had begun this movement, and when Colonel 
Brown was preparing for a desperate defense, orders 
were received from Fort Hatteras for the National 
troops to retreat. Accordingly the soldiers who, on 
account of the loss of the Fanny, were destitute of 
stores began the difficult march of forty miles over 
marshes, through inlets and across sand, with a confi- 
dent enemy in hot pursuit. Observing this movement, 
the second division of the Confederate troops, under 
Colonel Shaw, made all haste down the sound in the 
gunboats, hoping to land and cut off the retreat of the 
Indianians ; and, realizing their danger, the men has- 
tened the march until it became a race between them 
and the steamers. During the night the National 
forces succeeded in passing the Confederates before 


they could land, and after enduring great hardships 
they reached Hatteras Lighthouse, where they met a 
relief party from the fort under Colonel Hawkins. In 
this aifair the National troops had forty-four men 
taken prisoners. 

Finding that the Indianians had escaped them, the 
Confederates turned toward the northern end of the 
island to pick up any stragglers that might have eluded 
them during the pursuit. While this was going on, 
Lieutenant Daniel L. Braine, in the gunboat Monti- 
cello^ which was coasting along the seaward side of 
Hatteras Island, noticed several vessels on the sound, 
and a regiment of soldiers carrying a Confederate flag 
marching in a northerly direction. They were the 
Confederate troops retreating after the unsuccessful 
pursuit of the Indianians. Lieutenant Braine promptly 
stood close inshore, and at 1.30 p. M. opened a heavy 
fire, which had the effect of hastening the Southern- 
ers' march, for they rolled up their flag, broke ranks 
and ran for the place where their flotilla was await- 
ing them. The Monticello easily kept up with them, 
and as they were confined to a narrow island they 
were constantly exposed to her fire. When they ar- 
rived at the landing-place they sought refuge in a 
clump of trees. About this time two men were ob- 
served on the beach signaling the Monticello. A boat 
was sent to them, and in attempting to swim through 
the breakers one of them was drowned, but the other 
succeeded in reaching the boat, and reported himself 
as a private of the Indiana regiment who had just ef- 
fected his escape. He directed the gunners to a clump 
of trees in which a number of Confederates had taken 
refuge, and a few shells drove them from shelter. The 
enemy had now been followed four miles along the 
coast, and, as most of them had gained their flotilla, 
the Monticello, at 5.25 P. M , returned to her station. 

On New Year's eve Commander Oliver S. Glisson, 
of the steamer Mount Vernon, sent a detachment of 


men in two boats to destroy a lightship that was an- 
chored in fancied security under the guns of Fort Cas- 
well. This vessel formerly had been stationed off Fry- 
ing-Pan Shoal, but it was naw armed with eight guns 
as an additional defense to the fort. The boat party 
boarded the lightship, and after setting her on fire re- 
treated without the loss of a man, although exposed to 
a heavy fire from the fort. 

The first point along the Southern seaboard that had 
been suggested for occupation was now in the hands of 
the National forces. The second and equally impor- 
tant object to be gained was to secure a safe harbor, 
where workshops could be erected and vessels put in 
repair and supplied, thus avoiding the great waste of 
time in frequent voyages to Northern ports. The in- 
troduction of steam in ships of war made a convenient 
coaling-station almost a necessity. As it was, the 
steamers engaged in the blockade on the Atlantic sea- 
board were far removed from a base of supplies, and as 
only a limited amount of coal could be carried in each 
vessel, much time was lost in running from the block- 
aded ports to coaling-stations in the North. Another 
difficulty under which the blockade was maintained 
was the frail construction of many of the blockading 
ships. A large proportion of them were river or Sound 
steamers chartered for the emergency, and, having 
heavy guns mounted on them, were especially liable 
to strain and leakage ; consequently they were contin- 
ually in need of repairs, which could not be effected 
at sea, and when they were obliged to run several 
hundred miles to a Northern port the blockade was 
weakened. The introduction of iron ships, or ships 
plated with that material, being somewhat of an ex- 
periment, gave rise to innumerable little alterations 
in the hull, armament or machinery, which, owing to 
the peculiar difficulties of working this metal, could 
be done only by extensive machinery in some friendly 


These considerations determined the Government 
upon securing a safe harbor on the Southern coast, 
where the largest vessels could enter. Some of the 
ports suggested were Fernandina, Brunswick, Port 
Royal, and Bull's Bay. On the 29th of October the 
fleet destined for this purpose sailed from Hampton 
Roads, under the command of Flag-Officer Samuel 
Francis Dupont, with sealed orders, and, after some 
delay outside the harbor in forming the vessels in the 
shape of an inverted V, it stood down the coast. 
Aboard the transports were twelve thousand troops, 
under the command of General Thomas W. Sherman. 
The fleet consisted of the steam frigate Wabash, flag- 
ship, two 10-inch, twenty-eight 9-inch, fourteen 8-inch, 
two 12-pound guns, Commander Christopher Raymond 
Perry Rodgers ; the steam sloops of war MoJtican, two 
11-inch, four 32-pound, one 12-pound guns, Commander 
S. W. Godon ; Seminole, one 11-inch, four 32-pound 
guns, Commander John P. Gilliss ; Pawnee, eight 
9-inch, two 12-pound guns, Lieutenant Robert H. \Vy- 
man ; the sailing sloop of war Vandalia, four 8-inch, 
sixteen 32- pound, one 12-pound guns, Commander 
Francis S. Haggerty ; the gunboats Augusta, Com- 
mander Enoch G. Parrott ; Pocahontas, Commander 
Percival Dray ton ; Bienmlle, Commander Charles 
Steedman ; Vnadilla, Lieutenant Napoleon Collins ; Ot- 
tawa, Lieutenant Thomas Holdup Stevens ; Pembina, 
Lieutenant John P. Bankhead; Seneca, Lieutenant 
Daniel Ammen ; Curlew, Acting-Lieutenant Pendleton 
G. Watmongh ; Penguin, Acting- Lieutenant Thomas 
A. Budd; the R. B. Forbes, Lieutenant Henry S. 
Newcomb ; the Isaac Smith, Lieutenant James W. A 

On the day before this fleet sailed from Hampton 
Roads twenty-five storeships and coalers had sailed 
under the escort of the Vandalia. With a view of 
concealing the destination of the fleet, these vessels 
were ordered, in case they became separated, to ren- 


dezvous off Savannah. The fleet, after leaving Hamp- 
ton Roads, met with fair weather until about noon 
of November 1st. Off Cape Hatteras a dull leaden 
sky and a fresh southeast wind gave warning of a 
storm. As the afternoon wore on, the wind increased 
to a steady gale, and Captain Dupont made signal for 
every vessel to take care of itself. When night fell on 
the angry sea the vessels scattered far and wide, and 
occasionally a few of them could be seen staggering 
under storm sails. A peculiar feature of the gale on 
this night was the phosphorescent animalcule which 
lighted up the frothing waves with strange brilliancy. 
Through the long watches of that anxious night the com- 
manders of the vessels kept the deck, while huge drops 
of rain, driven by the fierce wind, struck their faces 
with the sting of pebbles. It was fully expected that 
many of the vessels would founder, for, aside from the 
regular war vessels and the gunboats, few of the craft 
were constructed for an ocean voyage, many of the 
transports being New York ferryboats. When day 
broke on November 2d, only one gunboat could be 
descried from the masthead of the flagship, and the 
greatest apprehensions were felt for the safety of the 

On the morning of the 3d the Seneca was dis- 
patched to the blockading fleet off Charleston, with 
instructions to Captain James L. Lardner, of the Sus- 
quehanna, to detain the vessels of the squadron de- 
tailed for the Port Royal expedition off Charleston 
until nightfall, so as to deceive the enemy as to the 
destination of the fleet. When the Seneca was sighted 
off Charleston Fort Sumter fired an alarm gun, which 
was repeated on shore, the Confederates evidently 
believing her to be the advance guard of the fleet 
that was to attack their city. But these efforts to 
conceal the destination of the fleet were unnecessary, 
for a few hours after it left Hampton Roads the 
following telegram was sent to Governor Pickens, 


of South Carolina, and to Generals Dray ton and Rip- 

"RICHMOND, November 1, 1861. 

" I have just received information, which I consider entirely reliable, 
that the enemy's expedition is intended for Port Royal. 

" J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War" 

The continued on her way to Port Royal, 
where, in the course of a few days, the scattered ves- 
sels began to heave in sight, many of them reporting 
narrow escapes from foundering. The Governor went 
down on the 3d. She had on board six hundred and 
fifty marines, under the command of Major John G. 
Reynolds, and they were saved only by the greatest 
exertion of the officers and crew of the Sabine, Captain 
Cadwalader Ringgold, and the Isaac Smith. In spite 
of every effort, however, seven men were lost. In 
order to assist the Governor, the Isaac Smith was com- 
pelled to throw overboard all her guns except one 30- 
pounder. The army transport Peerless also went down, 
but her crew was rescued by the Mohican, Lieutenant 
Henry W. Miller, of the latter, being highly compli- 
mented for his efforts in saving the drowning men. 
Three other transports also failed to arrive before the 
attack was made ; they were the Belmdere, the Union 
and the Osceola. 

On arriving off Port Royal, Captain Dupont found 
that the usual landmarks for determining the channel 
had been destroyed, and that the buoys were displaced, 
which rendered it exceedingly difficult and dangerous 
to get the vessels over the bar. Under Captains Charles 
H. Davis, and Boutelle of the Coast Survey, in the Vix- 
en, accompanied by the Ottawa, the Seneca, the Paw- 
nee, the Pembina and the Curlew, the sounding party, 
although at times subjected to a heavy fire, rapidly 
discovered the channel and returned the buoys to their 
proper places, so that the gunboats and transports were 
brought over the bar without accident. The three gun- 
boats under Commodore Tattnall were observed coming 


down to engage. As Dupont's flagship was not in sig- 
naling distance, Lieutenant Stevens, then the senior 
officer of the gunboats, gave the order for chase. The 
Confederate vessels were driven under the guns of the 
fort, but on the following day the enemy's flagship, the 
Savannah, probably in Tattnall's absence, came within 
range and fired on the gunboats at twenty-five hundred 
yards. A single shell from the Seneca, aimed by Lieu- 
tenant Ammen, struck the Savannah abaft the star- 
board wheelhouse, and had the fuse not failed to ignite 
the Savannah would have been sent to the bottom. 
As it was, she promptly retreated. Earlier in the 
morning the Ottawa, under Commander John Rodgers, 
with Brigadier-General Horatio G. Wright aboard, in 
company with the Seneca, the Curlew and the Isaac 
Smith, made a reconnoisance in the harbor, exchanged 
a few shot with the fort, and sustained some damage 
in their rigging. Great difficulty was experienced in 
getting the Wabash over the bar, which even at flood 
tide allowed only two feet for the vessel's keel, but on 
the 5th of November she was taken across and an- 
chored with the rest of the fleet. 

Port Royal was guarded by two formidable earth- 
works, one at Hilton Head, called Fort Walker, after- 
ward named Fort Welles, and the other, two and a 
half miles across the Roads, at Bay Point, called 
Fort Beauregard, afterward called Fort Seward. Fort 
Walker had two 6-inch rifled guns, twelve 32-pound- 
ers, one 10-inch and one 8-inch columbiad, three 7- inch 
seacoast howitzers, one 8-inch howitzer, and two 12- 
pounders ; in all, twenty-two guns. Fort Beauregard 
proper was armed with five 32-pounders, one 10-inch 
and one 8-inch columbiad, one 6-inch rifled gun, and 
five 42-pound seacoast guns. In some outworks flank- 
ing the main work, commanding the land approaches 
as well as the channel near by, were three 32-pounders, 
two 24-pounders and two 6-inch Spanish guns ; in all, 
twenty guns. At the farther end of Hilton Head and 




near the wharf were one 10-inch columbiad, two 5^-inch 
rifled guns, and two 12-pound howitzers. The com- 
mander of these forts was Thomas F. Dray ton, a brother 
of Commander Percival Drayton, of the Pocohontas. 
The Confederate naval force, which was under the com- 
mand of Commodore Josiah Tattnall, who had been one 
of the most dashing and successful officers in the old 

Plan of battle at Port Royal. 

navy, consisted of the steamer Savannah, Lieutenant 
John N". Maffit; the Samson, Lieutenant J. S. Ken- 
nard ; and the Jtesolute, Lieutenant J. Pembroke Jones, 
each mounting two 32-pounders. 

Having collected his forces within the bar, Captain 
Dupont summoned the commanders aboard the flag- 
ship and gave them instructions for the attack. His 


orders were for the WabasTi to lead the line of battle, 
to be followed by the Susquehanna, the Mohican, the 
Seminole, the Pawnee, the Unadilla, the Ottawa, the 
Pembina and the Vandalia, the last being towed by 
the steamer Isaac Smith. These vessels were to pass 
up the Roads in the order given, on the Bay Point 
side, delivering their port broadsides on Fort Walker, 
and their starboard guns, if possible, on Fort Beaure- 
gard, until they had reached a point two miles above 
the fort, where they were to turn and come down the 
Roads in the same order on the Fort Walker side, using 
their bow guns so as to enfilade that work as they ap- 
proached, their starboard guns when they came abreast 
and their quarter guns as they drew away. Having 
completed the circuit, the line was to repeat this ellipse 
manoeuvre, until the forts surrendered. A second line, 
consisting of the gunboats Bienmlle, Seneca, Curlew, 
Penguin and Augusta, was to flank the movements 
of the main line while passing up the Roads, but on 
reaching the first turning-point, two miles above Fort 
Bean regard, it was to remain there and hold the ene- 
my's flotilla in check, and it was particularly enjoined 
not to allow them to attack the transports. By this 
admirable arrangement the ships were kept in rapid 
and constant motion, which prevented the enemy from 
obtaining an accurate range. 

The 7th of November dawned bright and clear, 
with scarcely a ripple disturbing the broad waters of 
the bay. Early in the morning the signal was given to 
get under way, and the vessels dropped into their pre- 
scribed positions. At 9 A. M. the signal for close order 
was shown, and the imposing lines of battle advanced 
steadily toward the enemy at the rate of six knots an 
hour. At 9.26 A. M. Fort Walker opened with her 
heavy guns, and was quickly followed by her sister 
fort, but the shot fell short. Soon afterward the Wa- 
bash opened with her bow guns, which were promptly 
seconded by the other vessels in the advancing fleet. 


When in full range the WabasTi opened her formidable 
broadsides, and as her example was promptly followed 
by the other vessels the engagement became general. 
The enemy's flotilla had dropped down the Roads 
and fired with great skill ; but as the National ships 
majestically swept past the forts and came to the 
turning-point, where their powerful broadsides came 
into play, the Confederate gunboats fled up Skull 
Creek. When the flanking line of Dupont's gunboats 
wheeled off from the main line to take a position north 
of Fort Walker, so as to open an enfilading fire, the 
Confederate gunboats came out again, evidently under 
the impression that the fleet was retreating, but the 
Seneca soon drove them up the creek. While the 
bombardment was in progress the PocaTiontas, which 
had been detained by the storm, joined in the attack 
and opened an enfilading fire. 

The WabasTi, still leading the unbroken line, now 
turned down the Roads toward Hilton Head. As the 
vessels came within long range they opened a most de- 
structive enfilading fire with their bow guns ; for the 
Confederates, not expecting an attack from that side, 
had mounted only one 32-pounder in that part of their 
works, and this was soon shattered by round shot. At 
10.40 A. M. the WabasTi was abreast of Fort Walker, 
distant not more than eight hundred yards, when she 
delivered a broadside with great effect, at which time 
the vessels astern of her were still enfilading the enemy 
with their pivot guns. The Susquehanna next came 
abreast of Fort Walker and discharged her heavy 
broadside, and by this time the WabasTi had again 
loaded and hurled in a second torrent of death- dealing 
missiles. All the vessels were now reloading and firing 
as rapidly as possible at the disconcerted enemy, and 
in order that the column might not pass the forts too 
rapidly the engines were slowly reversed. At 11 A. M. 
the WabasTi reached the place in which the ellipse 
had been started, and now again turned up the Roads. 



Being the flagship, she received the largest share of 
the enemy's attention. One shell passed between Cap- 
tain Dupont and Captain Rodgers, narrowly missing 
each of them. Fort Beauregard was passed in the 
same order as before, and received a heavy fire so long 
as the ships were in range. By 11.20 A. M. the WabasTi 
had again reached the northern turning-point of the 
ellipse, and for the second time bore down to engage 
Fort Walker at close quarters. The moment the bow 
guns came within range the same enfilading fire was 
opened by each vessel in turn, so that by the time the 
Wabasli and the Susquehanna were delivering their 
broadsides the vessels astern were pouring in a destruc- 
tive cross fire. 

In this circuit Captain Dupont passed three hun- 
dred yards nearer to Fort Walker than at the first, so 
as to destroy the range which the enemy's gunners 
had secured before the ships had passed them on their 
first circuit. "At half past eleven o'clock," says an 
eyewitness, "the WabasTi and her consorts drew near 
to Hilton Head again. Occasionally the pivot guns of 
the WabasTi and the SusqueTianna threw a shell into 
the battery, but the grand affair was yet to come. At 
11.50 A. M. the ships were again enveloped in a dense 
cloud of white smoke, and a few seconds later the 
shells were bursting in the battery in a splendid man- 
ner. The sand was flying in every direction, and it 
seemed impossible that any one in the battery could be 
saved from death. The Confederates now worked only 
two guns, but I will give them the credit of saying that 
they worked them beautifully." 1 By this time over 
two hundred shells had been dropped into the fort. 
Dr. Buist, the surgeon in the fort, was killed by a 
shell, and his body was buried by the falling of a par- 
apet. Ten minutes after twelve, the National ships 
were out of gunshot, preparing to repeat their ellipse. 

1 Correspondent of the New York Herald. 


A few minutes before this the flag at Bay Point had 
been lowered, but as the ships passed out of range it 
was rehoisted. The Wabask now for the third time 
headed northward on that terrible circle of fire, and at 
12.20 P. M. Bay Point opened on her, but was silenced 
when the National broadsides came into play. The 
flanking gunboats took a position north of Fort Walker, 
and, being within six hundred yards, kept up an en- 
filading fire that "annoyed and damaged us excess- 
ively," as General Dray ton expressed it. These vessels 
drifted so near to Fort Walker that "the enemy's 
sharpshooters, concealed in depressions of the shore, 
opened a heavy fire on us, to which we replied with 
our 24-pound howitzers loaded with canister." 1 

The transports now got out one hundred surfboats 
in readiness to land the troops, and at half past two 
o'clock the Wabash again got under way, and running 
close to the batteries fired one gun. As the enemy did 
not reply, it was believed that the works were aban- 
doned. The line of battle accordingly came to anchor, 
and Commander John Rodgers put off in a boat with 
a flag of truce. With some degree of awe the entire 
fleet, now resting on its guns, watched the whale-boat 
pull out from the wing of the huge frigate and make 
its way like a cockleshell toward the grim and silent 
fort. Thousands of eyes centered on the little boat 
with increasing interest as she drew nearer the shore. 
Her keel soon grated on the beach, and the officers 
were seen to jump out, approach the fort and enter, 
and for a time they were lost to view. Then Com- 
mander Rodgers was seen scrambling up the highest 
part of the ramparts, carrying the American colors 
with him : and at the first glimpse of the beautiful 
ensign the long suspense gave place to tremendous 
cheers from every craft in the fleet. 

Lieutenant Daniel Ammen, of the Seneca, landed 

1 Rear-Admiral Stevens to the author. 



soon afterward with thirty armed men and hoisted the 
flag over a small frame house that had been used by 
the enemy as headquarters. On abandoning the fort 
the Confederates had planted torpedoes with wires at- 
tached to them in different parts of the works, and one 
of the machines was placed under the floor of this 
house. Scarcely had Lieutenant Ammen and his men 
left the place when "a dull explosion was heard, a 
cloud of smoke went up, and when it passed away 
there was no vestige of the house." 1 One of the sea- 
men had caught his foot in a wire, igniting the torpedo. 
The man was knocked senseless, but fortunately no 
lives were lost. By sunset it was discovered that Fort 
Beauregard had been abandoned ; and on the follow- 
ing morning the Union flag was waving over that work 
also. The National loss in this affair was only eight 
killed and twenty-three wounded, which must be at- 
tributed to the masterly manner in which the attack 
had been planned and carried out by the commander- 
in-chief. The enemy's loss was eleven killed, forty- 
eight wounded and four missing. 2 A chart of the 
Southern coast was found in General Dray ton's head- 
quarters, on which were indicated in red ink the posi- 
tions of Confederate batteries. This was of great as- 
sistance in the operations on the Atlantic seaboard. 

An eyewitness describes the scene in Fort Walker 
immediately after its surrender as follows: "On the 
line along the front three guns were dismounted by the 
enfilading fire of our ships. One carriage had been 
struck by a large shell and shivered to pieces, dis- 
mounting the heavy gun mounted upon it and send- 
ing the splinters flying in all directions with terrific 
force. Between the guns and the foot of the parapet 
was a large pool of blood mingled with brains, frag- 
ments of skull, and pieces of flesh evidently from the 

1 Am men's Atlantic Coast, p. 29. 

8 Official report of Brigadier-General Drayton. 


face, as portions of whiskers still clung to it. This 
shot must have done horrible execution, as other por- 
tions of human beings were found all around it. An- 
other carriage to the right was broken to pieces, and 
the guns on the water front were rendered useless by 
the enfilading h're from the gunboats on the left flank. 
Their scorching fire of shell, which swept with resist- 
less fury and deadly effect across this long water pond, 
where the enemy had placed his heaviest metal en bar- 
bette without taking the precaution to place traverses 
between the guns, did as much as anything to drive 
them from their works. The fort was plowed up by 
shot and shell so badly as to make an immediate re- 
pair necessary. All the houses and many of the tents 
about the works were perforated and torn by flying 
shell, and hardly a light of glass could be found intact 
in any building. The trees in the vicinity showed 
marks of heavy visitation. Everything, indeed, was in 



ALTHOUGH the capture of Forts Hatteras and Clark 
gave the National forces control of Hatteras Inlet and 
Pamlico Sound, yet the enemy was still in possession 
of the important towns of New Berne and Washing- 
ton, and the large rivers on which they were situ- 
ated, besides holding undisputed sway in Albemarle 
Sound. From the latter place light-draught steamers 
passed into the Atlantic and preyed on the coastwise 
commerce. Furthermore, it was rumored that several 
ironclads of the Merrimac type were in course of con- 
struction, and would prove formidable antagonists to 
the frail wooden vessels that composed the National 
fleet in these waters. 1 The possession of Albemarle 
Sound was necessary before Norfolk could be attacked 
from the rear, or any attempt made against the Con- 
federate inland communications. Realizing the im- 
portance of these waters, the enemy, after the loss of 
Fort Hatteras, began fortifying Roanoke Island, which 
commanded the only entrance to Albemarle Sound from 
the south. The island is nine miles long and three 
miles wide in its broadest part, and was defended by 
several batteries, which, together with the neighbor- 
ing marshes and the difficulty of navigating the nar- 
row channels or landing troops, rendered the place a 
stronghold. The only road running the length of the 
island was guarded, at a point where the swamp ex- 
tended from it on each side to the water's edge, by a 

1 For map of the North Carolina naval operations, see page 179. 





masked battery of three guns, which were trained to 
sweep the approach for several hundred yards, while 
trees and other obstructions were placed across the 
causeway to impede an attacking party. 

Two miles north of this battery was Fort Bartow, 
commanded by Lieutenant B. P. Loyall. This was a 
heptagonal earthwork, five sides of which mounted 
eight 32-pound smooth-bore guns and one 68-pound 
rifled gun, while a battery of three field pieces pro- 
tected the rear. A mile and a half above this was Fort 

Scene of operations at Roanoke Island. 

Blanchard, mounting four 32-pound smooth-bore guns ; 
and one mile above this was Fort Huger, mounting 


twelve 32- pounders, rifled and smooth-bore, commanded 
by Major John Taylor, formerly of the United States 
navy. On the eastern side of the island was Ellis Bat- 
tery, mounting two 32-pounders. Opposite Fort Hu- 
ger, on the mainland, was Fort Forrest, mounting 
seven 32-pounders. This work, like the others, was 
built on the marsh at the edge of the channel, canal 
boats and piles being used as foundations, which ren- 
dered a land attack almost impossible. Across the 
channel, between Fort Forrest and Fort Bartow, was a 
double row of piles and sunken vessels, which effectu- 
ally obstructed the channel leading into Albernarle 
Sound ; and just above this barrier the Confederate 
squadron, under Commodore Lynch, was held in readi- 
ness to assist the forts. It consisted of the steamers 
Seabird, Lieutenant Patrick McCarrick ; the Curlew, 
Commander Thomas T. Hunter ; the Ellis, Lieutenant 
J. W. Cooke ; the Beaufort, Lieutenant W. H. Parker ; 
the Raleigh, Lieutenant J. W. Alexander ; the Fanny, 
Midshipman Tayloe ; and the Forrest, Lieutenant 
James L. Hoole; each carrying one rifled 32-pound 
gun, while the Seabird had an additional 30-pound 
rifled gun. The Confederate forces in all did not num- 
ber four thousand men. 

One of the first steps to be taken in the contem- 
plated expedition against Roanoke Island was the 
buoying and sounding of the intricate channels leading 
to Pamlico Sound. In this perilous work Lieutenant 
Thomas Stowell Phelps, in the coast-survey steamer 
Corwin, was engaged in November, 1861, and although 
frequently fired upon by the Confederates on shore, he 
pushed it to a successful termination. On November 
15th the heavily armed Confederate steamer Chocura 
opened on the Corwin, driving the surveying boats 
from their work. Lieutenant Phelps promptly re- 
sponded with his two brass chasers, "unequaled in 
the service for their extraordinary range, loaded with 
pebble powder and Hotchkiss shell, four or five miles 

1862. A GREAT FLEET. ^l 

was their range," 1 and soon put the enemy to flight. 
The storm that scattered Dupont's fleet shifted the 
entire channel at Hatteras about fifty feet. 

Early in January, 1862, twelve thousand soldiers, 
commanded by Brigadier- General Ambrose E. Burn- 
side, and a naval force under the orders of Flag-Officer 
Louis M. Goldsborough, with Commander Stephen 
Clegg Rowan as divisional commander, was detailed 
for an expedition against Albemarle Sound. The 
naval part of the expedition consisted of a promiscu- 
ous assortment of ferry, river and tug boats, armed 
with guns. They were in no way adapted for war pur- 
poses, and could easily be disabled by a single shot. 
Even the firing of their own guns strained them seri- 
ously. The troops and vessels were ordered to ren- 
dezvous at Annapolis, from which place they pro- 
ceeded early in January to Fort Monroe. The vessels, 
as they passed each other down the Potomac, "saluted 
with their steam whistles," wrote General Burnside, 
"while the band played and the troops cheered, the 
decks being covered with bluecoats, some chatting, 
others sleeping, others writing their last letters to their 
loved ones at home. On the night of January 10th 
they arrived at Fort Monroe. The harbor probably 
never presented a finer appearance than on that night. 
All the vessels were illuminated, and tho air was filled 
with the strains of initial music and the voices of 
brave men. Not a man in the fleet knew his destina- 
tion, except a few officers, yet there was no complaint 
or inquisitiveness, but all seemed ready for whatever 
duty was before them. Much discouragement was ex- 
pressed by nautical and military men high in author- 
ity as to the success of the expedition. The Presi- 
dent was frequently warned that the vessels were unfit 
for sea, and that the expedition would be a total fail- 
ure. Great anxiety was manifested to know its des- 

1 Rear- Admiral Phelps to the author. 


tination. One public man was very importunate, and 
in fact almost demanded that the President should tell 
him where we were going. Finally the President said, 

* Now, I will tell you in great confidence where they 
are going, if you will promise not to speak of it to any 
one.' The promise was given, and Mr. Lincoln said, 

* Well, now, my friend, the expedition is going to 
sea.'" 1 

The motley marine force sailed from Hampton 
Roads on the night of January llth, and by the 13th 
most of the vessels had arrived off Hatteras Inlet. 2 
While entering the Sound the little steamer Picket, in 
which were General Burnside and several staff officers, 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. i, p. 662. 

2 The vessels collected for the expedition were : The Philadelphia, flag- 
ship, two 12-pound guns. Lieutenant Silas Reynolds ; the Stars and Stripes, 
four 8-inch, one 30-pound Parrott, two 12-pound guns, Lieutenant Reed 
Werden ; the Louisiana, one 8-inch, three 32-pound, one 12-pound rifled 
gun, Lieutenant Alexander Murray : the Hetzel, one 9-inch, one 80-pound 
rifled gun, Lieutenant II. K. Davenport ; the Underwriter, one 8-inch, one 
80-pound rifled, two 12-pound guns, Lieutenant William N. Jeffers; the 
Delaware, one 9-inch, one 32-pound, one 12-pound gun, Lieutenant Stephen 
P. Quackenbush; the Commodore Perry, four 9-inch, one 32-pound, one 
12-pound gun, Lieutenant Charles W. Plusser ; the Valley City, four 32- 
pound, one 12-pound gun, Lieutenant James C. Chaplin ; the Southfield, 
three 9-inch, one 100-pound gun, Lieutenant C. F. W. Behm ; the Commo- 
dore Barney, three 9-inch, one 100-pound gun, Acting-Lieutenant Richard 
T. Renshaw; the Hunchback, three 9-inch, one 100-pound gun, Acting- 
Lieutenant Edmund R. Colhoun; the Morse, two 9-inch guns, Acting- 
Master Peter Hayes; the Whitehead, one 9-inch gun, Acting-Master 
Charles A. French; the 7. .ZV. Seymour, one 30-pound rifled, one 12-pound 
gun, Acting-Master F. S. Wells ; the Shawsheen, two 20-pound rifled guns, 
Acting-Master Thomas G. Woodward ; the Lockwood, one 80-pound, two 
12-pound guns, Acting- Master George W. Graves ; the Ceres, one 30-pound 
rifled gun, one 32-pound gun, Acting-Master John McDiarmid ; the Put- 
nam, one 20-pound rifled, one 32-pound gun, Acting- Master William J. 
Hotchkiss ; the drinker, one 30-pound rifled gun, Acting- Master John E. 
Giddings ; the Granite, one 32-pound gun, Acting-Master's-Mate Ephraim 
Boomer. Besides this force there were forty-six army transports, each 
armed with one small gun, under Commander Samuel F. Hazard, of t'.ie 
navy. As the channels in Albomarle Sound were exceedingly shallow, 
vessels drawing more than eight feet of water could not be operated in 

1862. CASUALTIES. 203 

was almost sunk by two large vessels that dragged 
their anchors and came near crushing her between 
them. On the way to Hatteras Inlet the old steamer 
PocaJiontas was so much injured as to compel her 
officers to run her ashore, and of her cargo of one 
hundred and thirteen horses ninety were lost. The 
large transport City of New York also went ashore 
and became a total wreck, and a part of her cargo of 
four hundred barrels of gunpowder, fifteen hundred 
rifles, eight hundred shells, and other valuable stores, 
was lost. Her officers and men clung to the rigging 
all night, and were rescued on the following day. The 
gunboat Zouave sank after crossing the bar, and while 
passing from headquarters to the ships in a surf- 
boat Colonel J. W. Allen and Surgeon Frederick A. 
Welles were drowned near Cape Hatteras by the 
swamping of the boat. Although the expedition had 
arrived off Hatteras Inlet by the 13th of January, it 
was not until the 4th of February that all the vessels 
were brought over the bar. This delay was caused by 
many of the transports drawing more than eight feet 
of water. 

Early on the morning of February 5th the gun- 
boats formed in three columns, led by the Stars and 
Stripes, the Louisiana and the Hetzel, and, carefully 
feeling their way, proceeded up the channel, the sound- 
ing boats being kept ahead to ascertain if the buoys 
had been displaced. In some places the channel was 
so narrow that two vessels could not ride abreast. By 
evening the fleet anchored off Stumpy Point, as it was 
impossible to follow the channel at night. On the 
next morning the vessels got under way, but at 11 
A. M., two miles above Stumpy Point, a dense fog com- 
pelled them to anchor again. Captain Goldsborough 
then shifted his flag to the Southfield, taking with him 
staff officers Commander Case, Captain's Clerk Fisher 
as signal officer, and Lieutenants T. R. Robeson and 
N. S. Barstow. At nine o'clock, February 7th, while 


the vessels were drawing near Roanoke Island, the 
Ceres, the Putnam and the Underwriter, led by Com- 
mander Rowan, were sent a quarter of a mile in ad- 
vance of the fleet to feel the way, and to ascertain if 
Sandy Point, the place selected for debarkation, was 
fortified. The gunboats mounting 9-inch guns now 
massed themselves around the flagship in anticipation 
of a fight, and by 10.30 A. M. the enemy's gunboats 
were observed taking a position behind the line of 
piles. The Underwriter shelled Sandy Point, and in 
twenty-five minutes signaled that it was not fortified. 
The army transports Picket, Acting-Master Thomas 
Boynton Ives ; the Huzzar, Acting-Master Frederick 
Crocker ; the Pioneer, Acting-Master C. E. Baker ; the 
Vidette, Acting-Master I. L. Foster ; the Ranger, Act- 
ing-Master S. Emerson ; the Lancer, Acting-Master M. 
B. Morley ; and the Chasseur, Acting-Master John 
West, formed in close order and opened a heavy fire 
on Fort Bartow, Fort Forrest and Fort Blanchard, 
which was returned by the enemy. 

. At 11.30 A. M. the vessels advanced to cover the 
landing of the troops at Sandy Point. A heavy fire of 
shrapnel and shell was thrown on shore, and at the 
same time an animated cannonade was maintained 
with the Confederate gunboats and the land batteries. 
By noon the action had become general, the enemy 
returning the fire with promptness and skill. At 1.30 
p. M. flames were observed in Fort Bartow, and in an 
hour it was destroyed. The Confederate gunboats had 
taken position at fourteen hundred yards and fired 
with considerable accuracy, and suffered somewhat in 
return. Early in the fight the Forrest was disabled in 
her machinery, and her young commander, Lieutenant 
Hoole, was badly wounded in the head by a piece of 
shell. She then ran under the guns of Fort Forrest 
and anchored. About 3 P. M., when the fire was heavi- 
est, the troops embarked in light steamers and boats, 
and effected a landing in Ashby Harbor. But while 


they were approaching the shore, a large body of Con- 
federate soldiers with a field piece attempted to dis- 
pute the landing, upon which the Delaware. Com- 
mander Rowan, took a position south of Fort Bartow, 
and with a free use of 9-inch shrapnel put the enemy 
to flight. While this was going on, Fort Bartow and 
Fort Blanchard, at 4. 30 P.M., were silenced, and the 
Confederate steamers retired behind Fort Huger, ap- 
parently much injured. At five o'clock, however, they 
returned to the attack, and with the forts opened a 
heavy fire ; but in forty minutes they again retired, 
the Curlew disabled and seeking refuge behind Fort 
Forrest. A heavy shell had dropped on her hurricane 
deck and gone through her decks and bottom as if 
they were so much paper. The batteries slackened 
fire, and by 6 P. M. Fort Bartow alone was replying to 
the attack, firing only at long intervals. As it was 
fast growing dark, the order to cease firing was given, 
but the work of landing troops was pushed until mid- 
night, when about a thousand men, together with six 
navy howitzers, under the orders of Midshipmen Ben- 
jamin J. Porter and Hammond, were placed ashore. 

At daybreak, February 8th, General Foster's bri- 
gade, consisting of the 23d, the 25th and the 27th Mas- 
sachusetts, and the 10th Connecticut regiments, with 
the navy howitzers, moved forward, and after fording 
a creek came upon the Confederate pickets, who dis- 
charged their muskets and retreated to their main 
body. The National forces soon reached the road 
running northward, and after a march of a mile and a 
half came in sight of the battery of three guns which 
commanded the causeway through the marsh. The 
27th Massachusetts was now detailed to the right, with 
orders to force its way through the morass, and if pos- 
sible rout the enemy's sharpshooters, while General 
Reno's brigade, consisting of the 21st Massachusetts, 
the 51st New York and the 9th New Jersey, pushed 
through the swamp and thick undergrowth on the left, 


so as to turn the enemy's right wing. At nine o'clock 
the 25th Massachusetts, with the navy howitzers, be- 
gan the attack along the causeway. The fire at this 
point soon became heavy, the enemy firing with de- 
liberation and accuracy upon the exposed assailants, 
while the National troops, stopping to remove the 
large timbers from their path, could not fire as effec- 

Just as the ammunition for the howitzers was giving 
out, General Parke, with the 4th Rhode Island, the 
10th Connecticut and the 9th New York (Hawkins 
Zouaves), came to their support ; but it was impossi- 
ble to continue the attack until the howitzers were re- 
plenished, unless the enemy's position was carried by 
storm. For this hazardous undertaking Colonel Haw- 
kins gallantly offered his services. His men formed 
with fixed bayonets and started for the Confederate 
guns, leaping over fallen trees and other debris at the 
top of their speed, yelling, "Zou ! Zou ! Zou ! " The on- 
slaught was irresistible, and the Confederates deserted 
their guns after the first fire. Leaving the redoubt to 
be secured by the troops that were behind them, the 
Zouaves followed up the road in hot pursuit of the 
fleeing enemy, until they reached the path leading to 
Fort Bartow, where they halted, as it was understood 
that a large body of troops guarded the land approach 
to that fort. While they were thus waiting, General 
Foster's command came up, and the Zouaves were or- 
dered to secure the battery at Shallowbag Bay, while 
the remainder of the brigade, after leaving a regiment 
to march against Fort Bartow, resumed the pursuit of 
the fleeing Confederates to the north. Abreast of Fort 
Blanchard a flag of truce was met, and after a brief 
negotiation two thousand Confederates uncondition- 
ally surrendered, and about the same time six hundred 
men surrendered at Fort Bartow. 

At the time General Foster was attacking the three- 
gun battery on the causeway the gunboats under Com- 


mander Rowan moved up the channel and opened a 
heavy lire on the forts. But at ten o'clock the order 
"Cease firing" was given, as it was thought that the 
troops might be attacking the forts from the rear. 
At 1 P. M. the Underwriter, the Valley City, the Sey- 
mour, the Lockwood, the Geres, the Shawsheen, the 
Putnam, the Whitehead and the Bririker were or- 
dered to break through the line of piles that crossed 
the channel leading into Albemarle Sound. This was 
done in gallant style, and by five o'clock the vessels 
had gained the other side. About the same time the 
United States colors were seen waving from Fort Bar- 
tow, and a few minutes later the enemy fired the wood- 
work in Fort Forrest, and the steamer Curlew, both 
blowing up in the night. 

In this affair the navy had six men killed, seventeen 
wounded and two missing, while the troops had forty- 
one killed and a hundred and eighty-one wounded. 
The Confederate loss, owing to the protection afforded 
by their earthworks, was much less. Two thousand 
six hundred and seventy-five prisoners were taken, to- 
gether with three thousand small arms. In his official 
report, Captain Goldsborough, while speaking in the 
highest terms of all his officers, specially commended 
the gallantry of Commanders Rowan and Case. 

Driven from Roanoke Island, the Confederates col- 
lected the remnants of their forces and made a gallant 
stand at Elizabeth City, which guarded the approach 
to the Dismal Swamp Canal. The National forces 
entered Albemarle Sound on the morning of February 
9th, with the following gunboats, under Commander 
Rowan : Delaware (flagship), Louslana, Hetzel, Under- 
writer, Commodore Perry, Valley City, Morse, Lock- 
wood, Ceres, Shawsheen, Br inker and Putnam. Mak- 
ing their way among the treacherous shoals, they dis- 
covered two steamers at three o'clock in the afternoon, 
heading for Pasquotank River, and gave chase, but 
without success. By sunset the National gunboats ap- 


preached the river, and at 8 P. M. they dropped anchor 
about ten miles below Cobb's Point. At daylight, 
February 10th, they advanced toward Elizabeth City, 
where the six Confederate gunboats were drawn up in 
line of battle three hundred yards behind a battery 
mounting four 32-pounders. The Commodore Perry, 
the Morse and the Delaware, flanked by the Ceres on 
the right, led the advance. As the ammunition of the 
National gunboats had been reduced to twenty rounds, 
Commander Rowan issued orders that no gun be fired 
except within short range, where every shot would tell. 
The gunboats steamed rapidly up the river, passed 
the battery without slackening speed and made straight 
for the enemy's flotilla. The Commodore Perry, steer- 
ing for the Confederate flagship, the Seabird, ran her 
down and crushed in her sides, so that she began to 
sink. The Ceres, selecting the Ellis, ran alongside 
and carried her by boarding, but not without a desper- 
ate resistance on the part of her men, w T ho did not sur- 
render until their commander, Lieutenant Cooke, had 
been badly wounded. The Delaware chased the Fanny 
ashore, where she was blown up by her own men. The 
Black Warrior was run ashore and burned, her crew 
escaping on shore ; and Captain Lynch's boat, in which 
he was endeavoring to get into action, was cut in two 
by a shot. The Appomattox, Captain Sims, attempted 
to escape by the canal, but drew too much water and 
was blown up. The Valley City and the WMtehead 
meantime returned to the battery on land, and soon 
compelled it to surrender. Thus in fifteen minutes four 
of the enemy's steamers were destroyed, one captured, 
and two, the Raleigh and the Beaufort, put to flight 
up the Pasquotank River, where they escaped to Nor- 
folk by the Dismal Swamp Canal. The National loss 
in this affair was two killed and two wounded ; that of 
the enemy was considerably greater. Two days later 
Lieutenant Murray, with the Louisiana, the Under- 
writer, the Commodore Perry and the LocTcwood, took 


possession of Edenton, and on the 13th Lieutenant 
Jeffers, with the LocTcwood, the ShawsJieen and the 
WTiitehead, went to the mouth of the Chesapeake and 
Albemarle Canal, dispersed some Confederate troops 
that had collected there, and sank two schooners so as 
to obstruct the canal. 

On the 19th of February Commander Rowan, with 
eight gunboats and a small detachment of troops 
under the command of Colonel Hawkins, ascended 
Chowan River to Winton, where it was rumored there 
were a number of Union men who would enlist if they 
had an opportunity. Being a little suspicious of these 
reports, Colonel Hawkins, as the vessel approached 
Winton, stationed himself in the crosstrees of the 
Delaware^ mainmast, so as to get a better view of the 
town. As the vessels were about to run alongside the 
wharf, at 3.30 P. M., a negro woman stood on the shore 
waving a welcome to them ; but from his elevated posi- 
tion Colonel Hawkins caught a glimpse of the glistening 
barrels of many muskets in the bushes on shore and 
two pieces of artillery trained to sweep the wharf. He 
gave the warning to the officer of the deck just in 
time to prevent a landing, and the vessels passed on 
at full speed, clearing the wharf by less than ten feet. 
Finding that they were discovered, the Confederates 
opened fire, riddling the bulwarks and masts of the 
vessels, but fortunately hurt no one. Under cover of 
the flotilla's guns, Colonel Hawkins landed with his 
men, dispersed the enemy, and destroyed all public 
stores in the place. The expedition then returned to 
the sound. 

Control of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds being 
secured, the next step was to capture the towns ad- 
joining these waters, the most important of which was 
New Berne, a town of six thousand inhabitants, con- 
nected by rail with Beaufort and Richmond, at the 
junction of the Neuse and Trent rivers. The naviga- 
tion of the Neuse was obstructed a few miles below 



the town by twenty-four vessels locked together with 
cables and spars and sunk across the channel ; their 
masts, appearing above the water, were firmly inter- 
woven with timbers and chains, so as to make it ex- 
ceedingly difficult for an enemy to break through even 
when not under fire. A second and perhaps more for- 
midable obstruction was placed a short distance down 
the stream. It consisted of a row of piles across the 
channel, driven firmly into the bed of the river and hav- 
ing their heads cut off below the water. A second row, 
with heads capped with sharp iron, was driven across 
the first row at an angle of forty-five degrees, so that 
the iron heads pointed down stream, and, being sub- 
merged, would pierce the thin hulls of steamers com- 
ing up the river. In front of this barricade were thirty 
torpedoes, fitted with trigger lines attached to the piles 
so as to explode when a vessel struck, each torpedo 
containing two hundred pounds of powder. A large 
raft laden with cotton saturated with turpentine was 
in readiness to be fired and sent down the narrow 
channel on the approach of a hostile squadron. These 
formidable obstructions were supplemented with forts 
and earthworks, which had been constructed with great 
labor and considerable skill. The first fortification, 
Fort Dixie, about six miles from New Berne, mounted 
four guns. Then came Fort Thompson, mounting thir- 
teen guns, which was four miles below New Berne ; and 
a mile above this was Fort Ellis, with eight guns. Two 
miles from New Berne was Fort Lane, with eight guns, 
and within a mile of the town was Union Point, with 
two guns. All these works were on the south side of 
the river, their land approaches being guarded by rifle 
pits, while a movable battery on a railroad track en- 
abled the enemy to send speedy re-enforcements to any 
threatened point. 

After ascertaining the character of these defenses, 
General Burnside determined to land his troops at 
Slocum Creek, ten miles below New Berne, and attack 


the forts from the rear, while the flotilla was to open a 
bombardment from the river. Accordingly, early on 
the morning of March 12th the naval expedition left 
Hatteras Inlet, the vessels under the orders of Com- 
mander Rowan consisting of the steamers Delaware 
(flagship), Stars and Stripes, Valley City, Commodore 
Barney, Southfield, Brinker, Louisiana, Hetzel, Com- 
modore Perry, Underwriter (now commanded by Lieu- 
tenant A. Hopkins), Hunchback, Morse and Lockwood. 
About half past two o'clock in the afternoon the ad- 
vance division of gunboats reached the mouth of the 
Neuse, where it was learned that two steamers had 
been discovered in Pamlico River and 'might come out 
and cut off some of the transports. The Loekwood was 
detailed to watch them, and at five o'clock chase was 
given to a small steamer that was reconnoitering the 
fleet, and the steamer hastily retired under the guns 
of the fort. The flotilla then anchored for the night 
off Slocum's Creek. 

At eight o'clock on the following morning, March 
13th, the troops, with six boat howitzers, under the 
command of Lieutenant Roderick S. McCook, assisted 
by Captains Drayton and Bennett of the marines, 
landed under cover of a heavy fire of grape and shell 
from the gunboats. The Commodore Perry then ran 
up the river and opened an animated fire on Fort 
Dixie, which was maintained until dark, while the 
troops got under way and continued their march over 
heavy roads till 9 P. M. At daylight on the 14th 
the march was resumed, and by seven o'clock they 
came in sight of Fort Thompson and began the attack. 
For two hours a fierce conflict raged in front of the 
earthworks and rifle -pits. The naval howitzers under 
Lieutenant McCook being deployed to the right made 
a splendid fight under a heavy fire of grape and shell 
from six of the enemy's guns. Between 9 and 10 A. M. 
the troops ran short of ammunition, when they were 
ordered to charge with the bayonet. This was done 


with great spirit, and after a momentary repulse they 
carried the earthworks and put the enemy to flight. 
This left the road clear to New Berne, for after their 
defeat at Fort Thompson the Confederates abandoned 
their remaining posts. 

During this attack a heavy fog settled over the 
river, making it difficult for the gunboats to manoeuvre ; 
but as soon as the first gun was heard on the morning 
of the 14th, the Delaware, the Hunchback and the 
Southfield opened fire on Fort Dixie. As no reply was 
made by the fort, a boat was sent ashore, and the place 
was found to be deserted. The gunboats next ad- 
vanced against Fort Ellis and fired a shell into it, 
causing the magazine to explode. At this moment the 
troops were hotly engaged in the rear of Fort Thomp- 
son, and the gunboats approached the barriers and 
fired at the earthwork from a distance. Learning that 
his shells were falling near the National troops, Com- 
mander Rowan ceased firing, and, boldly taking the 
lead, drove his vessel against the line of piles and tor- 
pedoes. Fortunately the torpedoes failed to ignite, 
else the flagship and her gallant commander would 
have been blown to atoms. The iron-pointed piles 
were more effective. The Commodore Perry, running 
against one of them, broke oft 5 the head and carried it 
for some time sticking in her hull. The Commodore 
Barney also had a hole cut in her bottom, while the 
Stars and Stripes was severely injured. 

Without waiting to repair damages, the gunboats 
hastened to get abreast of Fort Thompson, so as to par- 
ticipate in the fight at close quarters ; but just as they 
cleared the line of obstructions the troops carried the 
fort by storm and greeted the approaching steamers 
with the National colors. Upon this, Commander 
Bo wan passed rapidly ahead, threw a few shells into 
Fort Lane, and, getting no reply, ordered the Valley 
City to take possession. The remaining gunboats 
pushed up the river and took possession of New Berne 

1862. FORT MACON. 213 

just as the enemy had fired the town in several places. 
At this moment some steamboats and a schooner laden 
with commissary stores were discovered attempting to 
escape up the Neuse, whereupon the Delaware gave 
chase and compelled one of the steamers to run ashore, 
while the other two with the schooner were captured. 
By noon the gunboats had complete possession of the 
town. The flames started by the Confederates were 
extinguished, and all the arms and public stores were 
secured. At two o'clock in the afternoon the victori- 
ous National troops appeared on the opposite bank of 
the Trent, and before night were transferred to the 
New Berne side. In this affair the navy had two men 
killed and eleven wounded, all in Lieutenant McCook's 
command. The loss of the land forces, on account of 
their exposed position, was much greater. 

The next point of attack in this quarter was Fort 
Macon, a massive work mounting nearly fifty guns, but 
manned by only four hundred and fifty men, and two 
hundred and fifty of these were reported as being unfit 
for service. Late in March General Burnside landed 
troops and erected batteries on the narrow peninsula, 
at the end of which was Fort Macon, and by April 23d 
the fort was cut off from all communications. The Na- 
tional batteries consisted of three 30-pounder Parrott 
rifled guns, under the command of Captain L. O. Mor- 
ris ; four 10-inch mortars, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant M. F. Prouty ; and four 8-inch mortars, under 
Lieutenant D. W. Flagler. At 5.40 A. M. on the morn- 
ing of April 25th the bombardment was begun. The 
naval force consisted of the gunboats Daylight (flag- 
ship), Commander Samuel Lockwood ; CMppewa, Lieu- 
tenant Andrew Bryson ; State of Georgia, Commander 
James F. Armstrong, and the Gemsbok, Lieutenant E. 
Cavendy. At 9 A. M. these vessels, although not in- 
tended for participation in the bombardment, came 
into range and opened fire. At first their shot fell 
wide of the mark, but soon, in spite of the heavy sea, 


they secured the range and enfiladed the fort. After 
being in action two hours they were compelled by the 
increasing sea to haul off into deeper water. In this 
short fight the GemsboJc suffered somewhat in her rig- 
ging, and a 32- pounder shot struck the Daylight near 
the gangway, passed through the engine room, carried 
away a portion of the iron stairway, broke Engineer 
Eugene J. Wade's left arm, entered the captain's cabin 
and lodged in the port side. The shore batteries, how- 
ever, bore the brunt of the conflict. Their fire was ex- 
ceedingly effective, driving the enemy from his water 
batteries and silencing his remaining guns one by one, 
until at four o'clock the fort was surrendered. 

Compared with the more important naval operations 
in the war, the service on the North Carolina sounds 
was of minor importance, but owing to the peculiar 
difficulties under which our officers and men labored it 
called for great endurance and gallantry. The facili- 
ties for constructing ironclads afforded by the several 
rivers entering Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds com- 
pelled the National forces to make frequent incursions 
to such towns as Washington, Plymouth and Hamil- 
ton, to assure themselves that such craft were not in 
course of construction. If the Confederates could com- 
plete an ironclad, it would soon clear these waters of 
the frail wooden steamers that constituted the Na- 
tional naval force ; and, in spite of great watchfulness, 
as will be seen in another chapter, they succeeded in 
completing a powerful ironclad, constructed especially 
for operations in these shallow waters. On the 9th of 
July the Commodore Perry, the Geres and the Shaw- 
sheen, under the command of Lieutenant Charles W. 
Flusser, with forty soldiers, forced the barricades in 
Roanoke River and steamed up to Hamilton. The nar- 
row channel compelled the steamers to move cautious- 
ly, while the high, thickly wooded banks gave the 
Confederate sharpshooters every opportunity to pick 
off the officers and men. Notwithstanding a loss of 


one man killed and ten wounded, Lieutenant Flusser 
reached Hamilton, where he captured the steamer Wil- 
son and destroyed the battery and earthworks, and 
returned unmolested. 

On the 3d of October a detachment of troops under 
Major-General John A. Dix and a naval force under 
Lieutenant Flusser advanced against Franklin. When 
about two miles from that town the steamers Commo- 
dore Perry (flagship), Hunchback, Lieutenant Edmund 
K. Colhoun, and the Whitehead, Acting-Master Charles 
A. French, while endeavoring to round a bend in the 
river, were tired upon by riflemen in ambush. The 
stream at this point was so narrow that even these lit- 
tle steamers could not turn round, and they could not 
elevate their guns sufficiently to reach the high banks. 
Nothing remained but to push ahead, which they did, 
only to find themselves cut off from further progress 
by barricades across the river. In the mean time the 
enemy greatly increased in numbers, and the fire of 
musketry made it extremely hazardous for any man 
to expose himself on deck or at an open port ; and at 
the same time the Confederates began to fell trees 
across the stream below the ensnared gunboats so as 
to cut off their retreat. The National troops failed to 
co-operate with the navy, and "having no support from 
the army we had to fight a large force of the enemy 
with only three gunboats." * The situation was nearly 
hopeless, but after much difficulty the steamers man- 
aged to turn their heads downstream, and slowly 
pushed their way through the fallen timbers and were 
again free. In this affair the navy had four men killed 
and eleven wounded. 

On the 23d of November the Ellis, Lieutenant Wil- 
liam Barker Gushing, steamed up the river Onslow 
with a view of surprising the town of that name, seiz- 
ing arms and other military stores that had been col- 

1 Rear-Admiral Colhoun to the author. 


lected there, and capturing the Wilmington mail. 
When five miles up the river the Ellis met an out- 
ward-bound steamer laden with cotton and turpentine, 
which the enemy burned to prevent capture. By one 
o'clock in the afternoon Lieutenant Gushing arrived at 
Onslow, where twenty-five stands of arms, two schoon- 
ers and the Wilmington mail were captured, and an 
extensive salt-work was destroyed. At daylight the 
next day, while returning down the river with the 
schooners, the Ellis was fired upon by two pieces of 
artillery from the shore ; but after an hour of spirited 
cannonading the enemy was silenced, and Lieutenant 
Gushing proceeded on his way. About five hundred 
yards from a bluff, however, the pilot ran the Ellis 
aground, the headway forcing her over a sand bank 
and into deeper water on the other side, which was sur- 
rounded by shoals. Every effort was made to get her 
into the channel again, but in vain. 

Several men were now sent to secure the two pieces 
of artillery which had just been silenced on shore, so 
that they could be used in defense of the Ellis, but on 
reaching the place it was found that they had been 
carried off. When night came on, one of the captured 
schooners was brought alongside, and everything in 
the Ellis was transferred to it except the pivot gun, 
some ammunition, two tons of coal, and a few small 
arms ; but still the steamer could not be moved from 
her position. The men were then placed in the schooner 
and ordered to make the best of their way down the 
river and there await Lieutenant Gushing, who, with 
six volunteers, resolved to remain in the Ellis and 
fight her to the last plank. Early the next morning, 
November 25th, the Confederates opened on the steamer 
with four rifled guns from as many points of the com- 
pass. Lieutenant Gushing replied to this cross fire as 
well as he could, but his boat was soon cut to pieces, 
and the only alternative was surrender, or flight in an 
open boat which for a mile and a half would be ex- 


posed to the enemy' s fire. The plucky lieutenant chose 
the latter, and after setting the Ellis on fire and load- 
ing her 32-pounder for the last time, he pulled away 
with his men, leaving her flag flying, and made down 
stream with all speed. After a hard pull the men 
escaped the batteries and passed the bar just in time 
to elude the Confederate cavalry, which had galloped 
around in the hope of cutting them off before they 
could gain the open sound. The Ellis shortly after- 
ward blew up. 



THE successful introduction of iron in the construc- 
tion of merchant vessels had turned the attention of 
naval architects to the utility of that material in ships 
of war. The great objection that had hitherto been 
urged against it was that shot, in passing through, left 
an irregular hole, which could not be easily plugged. 
In the days of wooden war ships shot holes below the 
water line were easily repaired by stoppers made to fit 
12, 18, 24 or 32-pound shot, as the case required. But 
this objection was soon overcome by plating the ships 
so heavily as to render them impervious to shot, while 
iron gave the further advantage of water-tight bulk- 
heads and greater security against fire. The scarcity 
of large timber, both in England and in France, was a 
powerful stimulus in the introduction of iron in ship- 
building. In 1859 the French launched la Gloire. a 
timber- built steam frigate resembling a line of battle 
ship cut down and incased with four and three quar- 
ters inches of iron. She carried thirty-four 54-pound 
guns and two shell guns forward, her draught being 
twenty -seven and a half feet and her speed eleven 
knots an hour. In that year the French and English 
navies stood as follows: Forty line of battle ships, 
forty-six frigates and four iron-plated ships on the side 
of the French, and fifty line of battle ships and thirty- 
four frigates for the English. The ominous "four 
iron-plated ships " on the French list turned the scale 
heavily in favor of France. The wooden line of battle 
ships and frigates were suddenly found to be valueless, 


1860-1861. NORFOLK NAVY YARD. 219 

and many that were on the stocks were not completed. 
In great alarm the Admiralty, in 1860, hastened the 
construction of the ironclad steam frigate Warrior, the 
first of this type in the British navy. The central por- 
tions of her sides were plated with four and a half 
inches of iron, and her speed was thirteen and a half 
knots an hour. 

Shortly before the civil war began, Captain Charles 
Stewart McCauley, commandant of the Norfolk Navy 
Yard, was cautioned by the Government to do nothing 
that might lead the people of Virginia to think their 
loyalty to the Federal Government was doubted. The 
State was then debating the question of secession, and 
it was feared that any step to fortify or destroy the 
navy yard at Norfolk by the United States officials 
might precipitate hostilities. The attitude of the State 
authorities became so threatening, however, that on 
the 19th of April Captain McCauley determined to de- 
stroy the stores and vessels there, the latter consisting 
of the old ship of the line Pennsylvania, the sailing 
frigate Cumberland, the steam frigate Merrimac, five 
large sailing vessels, the sailing sloops of war German- 
town and Plymouth and the brig Dolphin. 

Before the work of destruction was begun the 
Pawnee, Captain Hiram Paulding, having on board 
Captain Wright, of the engineers, and a regiment of 
Massachusetts volunteers, steamed up Elizabeth River, 
on the 20th of April, to assist in saving the vessels and 
destroying whatever could not be removed. It was 
eight o'clock in the evening when the Pawnee came in 
sight of Norfolk, and as the breeze made it impossible 
for her answering signal to be distinguished aboard 
of the National ships in the yard, preparations were 
made to attack her. Seeing that the officer in charge 
of the pivot gun aboard the Cumberland was ready to 
fire on the Pawnee, and realizing that Captain Pauld- 
ing would be likely to return it under the impression 
that the yard was actually in the hands of the Confed- 


erates, and that he had been lured into a trap, Lieuten- 
ant Allen, of the Pennsylvania, with great presence of 
mind, suggested that his people cheer the Pawnee. 
By this means the other National vessels knew that the 
approaching stranger was a friend, and a possible dis- 
astrous fight between the ships was thus averted. 

At twenty minutes after four o'clock on the morn- 
ing of April 21st a rocket was sent up as a signal for 
the ships and the woodwork in the navy yard to be 
destroyed, and in a few minutes all the shops, houses, 
and war vessels, excepting the Cumberland and 
the Pawnee, were set on fire. But the most valuable 
part of the stores, with two thousand cannon of the 
best make, fell into the hands of the Confederates, and 
was distributed over the South. The charge of pow- 
der that was to blow up the dry dock failed to ignite. 
The Cumberland was in great danger of being cap- 
tured, for the enemy had obstructed the channel with 
sunken vessels ; but the powerful chartered steamer 
Keystone State, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur Trench- 
ard, and the tugboat Yankee, after an hour of persist- 
ent ramming, succeeded in crushing through the ob- 

The 40-gun frigate Merrimac, of three thousand 
five hundred tons, after burning to the water's edge, 
sank before the flames had made serious headway on 
her lower hull. On the 30th of May she was raised, 
and her hull and engines were found to be intact. She 
was then placed in the dry dock, and her upper wood- 
works were raised to the level of the berth deck, which 
was three and a half feet above the light water line. 
On this deck, for one hundred and seventy feet amid- 
ships, bulwarks consisting of twenty inches of pitch 
pine covered with four inches of oak, and sloping at an 
angle of thirty-five degrees, were built, meeting the 
roof seven feet above the deck. Outside of this 
twenty-four inches of solid wood backing were laid 
rolled-iron plates two inches thick and eight inches 


wide, in horizontal courses, and over this again were 
laid similar plates running up and down, the four 
inches of iron being bolted through with If -inch iron 
rivets, which were secured on the inside. The shot- 
proof casemate was covered with a light grating twenty 
feet wide and about one hundred and sixty feet long, 
forming the promenade deck. Forward of the smoke- 
stack was the pilot house, protected by the same thick- 
ness of iron as the sides. Forward and aft of this 
gunroom the vessel's hull was decked over so as to be 
awash when in fighting trim, and attached to the bow 
and about two feet under water was a cast-iron ram 
projecting some distance beyond the cutwater. This 
formidable craft was pierced for ten guns, the ends of 
the gunroom being rounded so as to carry 7-inch rifled 
guns, which, being mounted on pivots, could be fired 
abeam or in the keel line forward and aft. The broad- 
side armament consisted of two rifled 6-inch guns and 
six 9-inch Dahlgren guns. The four rifled guns were 
heavily re-enforced by 3-inch steel bands shrunk around 
the breech. 

This novel craft, renamed by the Confederates Vir- 
ginia, was built after a model made by John L. Porter, 
a constructor in the Confederate navy, which was sim- 
ilar to some rough drawings prepared by Lieutenant 
John M. Brooke, formerly of the United States navy. 
The work of rebuilding the Merrimac was carried on 
by Constructor Porter, the repairing of the engines was 
done by Chief-Engineer William P. Williamson, of the 
Confederate navy, and Lieutenant Brooke provided 
the rolled-iron plates and the heavy batteries. The 
difficulties of rebuilding the Merrimac were greatly 
enhanced by the lack of machinery and experienced 
laborers. The Confederacy was well supplied with 
engineers and officers of the old navy, but the skilled 
mechanics were largely in the North, while the work- 
shops in the Norfolk Navy Yard had been almost de- 
stroyed by the conflagration. The only mills in the 


South at this time capable of rolling the plates were 
the Tredegar works at Richmond. 

Such being the extraordinary difficulties under 
which the builders of the new Merrimac labored, it is 
surprising that their designs were ever realized. Work 
on the formidable craft, however, was steadily pushed ; 
and when, toward the close of 1861, news came through 
the lines that an ironclad vessel was being built at New 
York, it stimulated the Confederates to redoubled ef- 
forts. But, in spite of their greatest exertions, it was 
not until March, 1862, that the new Merrimac ap- 
proached completion. She was placed under the com- 
mand of Captain Franklin Buchanan, recently of the 
United States navy, who had a naval staff of officers, 
many of whom had been in the old service. They 
were Lieutenants Catesby ap Rogers Jones, Charles 
C. Simms, Robert D. Minor, Hunter Davidson, John 
Taylor Wood, John R. Eggleston, Walter R. Butt; 
Midshipmen R. C. Foute, H. H. Marmaduke, H. B. 
Littlepage, W. J. Craig, J. C. Long and Thomas R. 
Rootes ; Paymaster James A. Semple, Surgeon Din- 
widdie B. Phillips, Assistant-Surgeon Algernon S. Gar- 
nett, Captain of Marines Reuben Thome, Engineer 
Henry A. Ramsay, Assistant Engineers John W. Tynan, 
Loudon Campbell, Benjamin Herring, Jack and Wright ; 
Boatswain Charles H. Hasker, Gunner Charles B. Oliver, 
Carpenter Hugh Lindsay, Clerk Arthur Sinclair, Jr. ; 
Volunteer- Aids Lieutenant Douglas A. Forrest and 
Captain Kevil, of the infantry. The Merrimatfs crew 
of three hundred and twenty was largely made up of 
volunteers from the army around Yorktown, Richmond 
and Petersburg. 

An hour before noon on the 8th of March, 1862, the 
Merrimac cast loose from her moorings in Norfolk and 
steamed down Elizabeth River. Up to the last moment 
she was crowded with mechanics, coalers and laborers, 
many of whom were put ashore after the vessel was 
well under way, and so great had been the confusion 


and haste in the last few weeks that not a gun had 
been fired. The crew had not been exercised even in 
the ordinary duties of man-of-war's men, the engines 
had not made a single revolution, the officers and men 
were strangers to each other, while the ship itself was 
a bold experiment, a complete revolution in naval war- 
fare, which had not undergone the test of even a trial 
trip. In short, the people of the Merrimac were about 
to make one of the most hazardous experiments in 
naval warfare. Captain Buchanan for some time had 
been suffering from nervous prostration, and the doc- 
tors had pronounced his case hopeless ; but, undaunted 
by the great risks involved, he shipped his cables and 
stood down the river, loudly cheered by Confederate 
soldiers who lined the shores. From the first it was 
seen that the engines were unsatisfactory, making only 
five knots at the best, while the great length of the 
craft and her twenty-two feet draught made her ma- 
noeuvres in the narrow channels exceedingly difficult 
and limited. 

In the James River lay the Confederate 12-gun 
steamer YorJctown, Captain John R. Tucker ; the 2- 
gun steamer Jamestown, Lieutenant-Commander Jo- 
seph N. Barney, and the 1-gun river tug Teaser, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander William A. Webb, ready to join 
the Merrimac in the attack on the National ships. The 
YorMown (or Patrick Henry) was partially protected 
by 1-inch iron plates, which were secured abreast of 
her boilers, and, running a few feet forward and aft of 
her machinery, extended a foot or two below the water 
line. Iron shields in the form of a V were also placed 
on the spar deck forward and aft of the engines, to 
afford protection from raking shot. The Merrimac 
was escorted down Elizabeth River by the steamers 
Beaufort, Lieutenant-Commander William H. Parker, 
and RaleigJi, Lieutenant-Commander Joseph W. Alex- 
ander, mounting one gun each. Leaving the Beaufort 
and the RaleigJi at SewelPs Point, Captain Buchanan 


pushed boldly into the south channel alone, and headed 
for Newport News, where lay the United States 50-gun 
frigate Congress, Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith, and the 
24-gun sloop of war Cumberland, Commander William 
Radford, anchored in fancied security under the guns 
of the Federal batteries, which commanded all water 
communications to Richmond by way of James River. 
It was of great importance to the Southern cause that 
these interruptions to their communications should be 
removed. Farther down Hampton Roads, off Fort Mon- 
roe, were the sailing frigate St. Lawrence, Captain Hugh 
Young Purviance, and the steam frigates Roanoke and 
Minnesota, Captain Gershom Jaques Van Brunt, the 
last two being sister ships of the old Merrimac. 

It was a beautiful spring morning, and the gentle 
sea breeze scarcely rippled the waters of the Roads. 
The National ships, with their towering masts, swung 
lazily at their anchors, their rigging strung with dry- 
ing clothes. Barges and cutters rocked gently at the 
booms, while officers and seamen walked quietly about 
the decks in the ordinary routine of duty or listlessly 
whiled away the time in various occupations. On shore 
the same feeling of security and ease prevailed, the 
soldiers going through their drills, their polished bay- 
onets and musket barrels glistening in the bright sun- 
light, while others were busy with preparations for the 
midday meal. Everything betokened an entire absence 
of fear or suspicion of danger. Early in March Com- 
mander William Smith had been detailed from the 
Congress, and although he had turned over the com- 
mand of the ship to his executive officer, Lieutenant 
Joseph B. Smith, he was still aboard waiting for a 
steamer to carry him North. Observing the Merrimac, 
he volunteered his services while the frigate was in 
danger. Commander Radford, of the Cumberland, was 
attending a court of inquiry in the Roanoke, some 
miles down the Roads, leaving Lieutenant George 
Upham Morris in charge of the ship. There had been 




so many rumors about the Merrimac that some of the 
National officers had become skeptical of her prowess, 
and anticipated little trouble from her. 

At nine o'clock on the morning of March 8th the 
people in the Union ships noticed the smoke of two 
steamers over the woodl.mds that concealed Elizabeth 
River from the Cumberland's lookout. Two hours 
later a trailing line of smoke lying along the course of 
the river indicated the approach of a third steamer, and 
at noon the three Confederate vessels were distinctly 
seen from the decks of the Cumberland moving down 
the river toward Se well's Point. The gunboat Zouave, 
lying alongside the Cumberland, was ordered to run 
down to Pig Point and ascertain who the strangers 



were. When the Zouave had proceeded about two 
miles on her mission her officers saw what looked to 
them like the roof of a large barn belching forth smoke 
from a chimney, and they were somewhat mystified as 
to what it could be. It was decided finally that it was 
the Merrimac, and the 32-pounder Parrott gun of the 
Zouave was trained on the stranger and six shot were 
fired at her ; but the enemy took no notice of this, and 
the Zouave was recalled to the Cumberland. A little 
before one o'clock the Merrimac emerged from the 
river, and came in full view of the National ships. 

The peaceful scene in the Roads was speedily trans- 
formed into one of hurried preparation for battle. The 
soldiers on land paused in their several occupations to 
gaze at the novel craft in astonishment and curiosity 
until the sharp call to arms sent them to their batteries. 
On board the men-of-war, the shrill piping of the boat- 
swain's whistle mingling with the rapid orders of offi- 
cers indicated a scene of unwonted activity. The rig- 
gings were quickly cleared of the "wash," boats were 
dropped astern, booms swung alongside, decks cleared 
for action, magazines opened, extra sentinels stationed, 
ammunition piled in symmetrical rows on deck and 
the guns loaded, while down in the cockpit tables were 
cleared and bandages arranged in convenient reach, and 
the surgeons polished their glittering instruments and 
awaited their duties in grim silence. 

All this time the Merrimac, with her ports closed, 
well in advance of her escorts, had been steadily mov- 
ing toward the Congress and the Cumberland, and by 
one o'clock she was within long range. About this 
time the Cumberland opened with her heavy pivot 
guns, which were shortly followed by those of the Con- 
gress and the shore batteries, but the huge projectiles 
glanced harmlessly from the iron mail of the leviathan, 
while on she came in majestic silence. About half past 
two o'clock, when within easy range, the Merrimac 
opened her bow port and fired her 7-inch rifled gun, 


which was aimed by Lieutenant Simms. The shot 
hulled the Cumberland's quarter, and killed or wound- 
ed most of the crew of her after pivot gun. Both Na- 
tional ships, now only a hundred yards distant from the 
Merrimac, delivered full broadsides from their power- 
ful batteries, which would have blown any wooden craft 
out of the water ; but the storm of iron glanced from 
the Merrimatfs plating with no more effect than so 
many pebbles. Franklin Buchanan had a brother in 
the Congress Paymaster McKean Buchanan but this 
did not deter him from his purpose of destruction. He 
returned the fire of the National ships deliberately and 
with deadly effect from his bow gun, and when near 
enough the four starboard ports of the Merrimac were 
raised, four black muzzles were run out, four long 
tongues of flame leapt from her side, and four shells 
crashed into the wooden hull of the Congress. Not 
waiting to repeat this terrible blow, Buchanan kept 
steadily on under full head of steam for the helpless 
Cumberland, with a view of testing the power of his 
ram. The iron prow of the Merrimac struck the Cum- 
berland nearly at right angles under the fore rigging 
in the starboard fore channels. The shock was scarcely 
felt in the ironclad, but in the Cumberland it was ter- 
rific. The ship heeled over to port and trembled as if 
she had struck a rock under full sail, while the iron 
prow of the Merrimac crushed through her side and 
left a yawning chasm. In backing out of the Cumber- 
land, the Merrimac left her iron prow inside the 
doomed ship. Following up the blow by the discharge 
of her bow gun, she backed clear of the wreck. In re- 
sponse to a demand for surrender, Lieutenant Morris 
defiantly answered, "Never ! I'll sink alongside." For 
three quarters of an hour the Merrimac and her con- 
sorts concentrated their fire on the doomed Cumber- 
land, and the Confederate gunboats YorMown, James- 
town and Teaser came down from James River and 
joined in the attack. 


The National commanders now realized the hope- 
lessness of the struggle, but, with that indomitable 
heroism which has ever characterized the American 
seaman, they prepared to fight to the last plank rather 
than permit the enemy to secure the ships. Many of 
the men stripped to the waist, took off their shoes and 
hoisted tank after tank of cartridges on deck so that 
the water could not cut them off from their ammuni- 
tion. The scene in the Cumberland soon became awful. 
One shell, bursting in the sick bay, killed or wounded 
four men in their cots. More than a hundred of the 
crew very soon were killed or wounded, the cockpit 
was crowded, the decks were slippery with blood and 
were strewn with the dead and dying, while the inrush- 
ing waters and the rapid settling of the ship too plainly 
indicated that she would soon go to the bottom. In 
order to prevent the helpless wounded on the berth 
deck from being drowned, they were lifted up on racks 
and mess chests, and as the ship settled more and more 
they were removed from this temporary refuge and 
carried on deck and placed amidship. This was all 
that their shipmates could do for them, and when the 
ship finally went down they perished in her. The heroic 
commander of the Cumberland maintained the fight 
with superb gallantry. It was not long before the ad- 
vancing water drove his men from the guns on the 
lower deck, but they immediately manned the upper 
batteries and renewed the unequal struggle. The red 
flag "No quarter" was run up at the fore, as it was re- 
solved to sink with the ship rather than let her fall 
into the hands of the enemy. As soon as possible 
boats were lowered and made fast to a line on the shore 
side, but the ship was settling perceptibly. All this 
time the guns of the Cumberland were trained and fired 
at the enemy as rapidly as possible, and a man in the 
Merrimac who ventured outside of the casemate was 
cut in two. At half past three o'clock the forward 
magazine in the Cumberland was flooded, and the 


water had reached the gun deck and was creeping 
around the gun carriages, when five minutes later the 
order was given for every one to save himself. The 
ship listed heavily to port and went down amid a roar 
of escaping air. The colors at the gaff were dragged 
beneath the water as the ship settled on the bottom, 
but the other ensigns at the mastheads were still visi- 
ble, reaching a few feet above the water. "No ship," 
said Lieutenant Wood, of the Herrimac, "was ever 
fought more gallantly." 

After ramming the Cumberland, the Merrimac 
stood up the channel with a view of turning round 
and attacking the Congress. During the thirty-five 
minutes required for turning she maintained a fire on 
both ships. Three times she raked the Congress from 
stem to stern with 7-inch shell. Seeing the hopeless- 
ness of the struggle, and observing that the ironclad 
was preparing to ram his ship, Lieutenant Smith 
slipped his cables, set his fore topsail and jib, and 
with the aid of the gunboat Zouave ran ashore under 
the National batteries, where the shoal water would 
not allow the Merrimac to follow. 

The Merrimac, at 3.40 P. M., accompanied by her 
consorts, approached the Congress. After some ma- 
noeuvring she secured a position from one hundred and 
fifty to two hundred yards, where she could rake the 
Congress with her entire broadside, to which the Con- 
gress could not reply except with her two stern chasers. 
The murderous shells tore through the frigate with 
horrible effect. Lieutenant Smith was soon killed, but 
still the heroic crew fought on against tremendous odds, 
while the blood running out of her scuppers spattered 
the decks of the gunboat Zouave, which was lying 
alongside. The gunboats Raleigh and Beaufort, tak- 
ing advantageous positions, also poured in a heavy fire. 
But in spite of the fearful condition of the ship and 
the terrible losses she had sustained, Lieutenant Pen- 
dergrast, upon whom the command had devolved, main- 


tained the unequal contest for more than an hour after 
the sinking of the Cumberland, and did not surrender 
until one of his two stern guns had been dismounted 
and the muzzle of the other was knocked off. By this 
time fire had broken out in several places in the ship. 
At 4.40 P. M. the Congress lowered her colors and dis- 
played a white flag, upon which the gunboats Beaufort 
and Raleigh ran alongside to take off her crew and fire 
the ship. 

Not understanding the situation, the shore batteries 
opened a hot fire of cannon and small arms, which com- 
pelled the steamers to haul off with only thirty prison- 
ers and the colors of the Congress. This flag was rolled 
up and taken to Richmond, and three days afterward, 
when it was unrolled in the presence of Jefferson Davis 
and several of his Cabinet officers, it was found to be 
saturated with blood in several places. It was hastily 
rolled up and sent to the Navy Department, where it 
was probably destroyed when that building was burned 
at the close of the war. The Teaser also was driven 
off in an attempt to burn the Congress. This fire not 
only killed Lieutenant Tayloe and wounded Lieutenant 
Hutter of the Raleigh, who were assisting the wound- 
ed out of the frigate, but also injured some of the 
people in the Congress. The remainder of the Na- 
tional crew endeavored to escape to the shore by swim- 
ming or in boats. Observing this, the enemy opened 
with hot shot, and soon had the ship in flames, and 
she burned all that afternoon and far into the night. 
About this time a rifle ball from the shore struck Bu- 
chanan and Flag-Lieutenant Minor, so that the com- 
mand of the Merrimac devolved on Lieutenant Jones. 
When the news of the loss of the Cumberland and the 
Congress reached Washington, Sunday morning, Cap- 
tain Joseph Smith, father of the commander of the 
Congress, was attending church. After the service 
was over Secretary Welles informed him that the Cum- 
berland had been sunk and the Congress had surren- 


dered. "What!" exclaimed the veteran, "the Con- 
gress surrendered? Then Joe is dead." The Secretary 
reassured the veteran by saying that the casualties 
were as yet unknown, but the heartbroken commodore 
replied : " Oh, no ; you don't know Joe as I do. He'd 
never surrender his ship." 1 

While this spirited fight was going on, the frigates 
Minnesota, RoanoTce and St. Lawrence, which had 
been lying at Fort Monroe, seven miles below, got un- 
der sail, and with the assistance of tugboats set out 
for the scene of action. The Minnesota was the first 
to get under way, and, running past a brisk fire from 
the battery at Sewell's Point, hastened upstream, but 
when about a mile and a half from the scene of action 
she grounded. Why this ship, with one of Norfolk's 
best pilots in charge of her, should have run upon a 
well-known shoal at such a critical moment may well 
excite suspicion of treachery, and a deeper investiga- 
tion reveals it. On the declaration of Mr. Mallory, the 
Confederate Secretary of the Navy, it is learned that 
" the pilot of the Minnesota, although bound by an 
oath of fealty to the United States, was also under 
sworn allegiance to the Confederacy and in the service 
and pay of its Department of Marine, and the strand- 
ing of that ship was in obedience to instructions from 
the office in Richmond, where information of the dis- 
aster was received in one hour and fifteen minutes after 
its occurrence." The pilot was discharged from the 
United States service April 19, 1862, and immediately 
on his arrival at Norfolk he was appointed second pilot 
in the Merrimac. The RoanoJce and the St. Lawrence 
also grounded a little above Fort Monroe. 

Having completed the destruction of the Cumber- 
land and the Congress, the Merrimac, at five o'clock 

1 Joseph B. Smith entered the navy as a midshipman October 19. 1841. 
Going through the usual routine of a young naval officer, he became passed 
midshipman. August 10, 1847; master, August 22, 1855; and lieutenant, 
September 14, 1855. 


in the afternoon, turned her attention to the stranded 
Minnesota, the St. Lawrence and the Roanolce. For- 
tunately, the water in the north channel at that time 
was so low that the ram was compelled to take the 
south channel and attack the frigates from that quar- 
ter. This placed the middle ground between her and 
the ships, so that she could not approach nearer than a 
mile until high tide. At this long range the ironclad 
opened fire, but only one shot struck, and that passed 
through the bow. The light-draught consorts of the 
Merrimac took a position at easy range, where the 
Minnesota could bring but one heavy gun against 
them, and before they were driven off they had in- 
flicted serious injury. One of their heavy shells 
"passed through the chief engineer's stateroom, cross- 
ing and tearing up the deck over the cockpit, and 
striking the clamp and knee in the carpenter's state- 
room, where it exploded, carrying away the beam 
clamp and knee, and completely demolishing the bulk- 
heads, setting fire to them and ripping up the deck." * 
Two shells passed through a port, carried away the 
planking and timbers, and splintered several beams 
and casings. Another shell passed through the main- 
mast about fourteen feet above the deck, cut away one 
third of the mast, and parted some of the iron bands. 
Another shot passed through the hammock netting 
abaft the main rigging, striking the spar deck on the 
starboard side, cutting through four planks, then, ric- 
ochetting, carried away the truck and axle of a gun 
carriage and injured the water-ways. 

For about an hour and a half this unequal combat 
was kept up, the Minnesota using her 10-inch guns 
against the ironclad, while her single stern chaser 
played on the mischievous gunboats. It is doubtful 
if Captain Van Brunt could have held out long under 
the dreadful fire of heavy shells that was steadily and 

1 Official report of the carpenter. 


deliberately rained upon him at this range. At 6.30 
p. M. the St. Lawrence was floated off, and in tow of 
the tugboat Cambridge was brought into range, but 
while still half a mile from the combatants she again 
grounded. Her approach, however, relieved the Min- 
nesota of the distressing fire of the Confederate gun- 
boats. The St. Lawrence then discharged several 
broadsides at the Merrimac, but with no effect. In 
return she received a heavy shell that penetrated the 1 
starboard quarter about four inches above the water 
line, passed through the pantry of the wardroom and 
into the stateroom of the assistant surgeon on the port 
side, completely demolished the bulkhead, and then 
struck a strong iron bar that secured the bull's-eye of 
the port. It then bounded into the wardroom, where 
it was spent. Fortunately it did not explode, and no 
person was injured. It was now seven o'clock in the 
evening, and was so dark that the pilots refused to 
keep the Merrimac longer in her present position, as 
the fast ebbing tide threatened to leave her aground. 
Accordingly, her head was turned toward Sewell's 
Point, and shortly afterward she anchored there with 
her consorts for the night, intending to renew the work 
of destruction on the following morning. 

Thus ended the most disastrous day in the career of 
the United States navy. Of her crew of four hundred 
and thirty-four men, the Congress had one hundred 
and thirty killed or drowned, including her commander, 
and a large number of wounded, and thirty taken pris- 
oners. The Cumberland, with a crew of three hundred 
and seventy-six, had one hundred and twenty killed or 
drowned, and a large number of those w T ho escaped to 
the shore were wounded. On the part of the enemy, 
two were killed in the Merrimac, and eight, including 
Captain Buchanan, were wounded. The total loss of 
the Confederates, including the gunboats, was twenty- 
one killed or wounded. Although the Merrimac had 
been the target for more than one hundred heavy guns, 


her casemate had not been materially injured. But 
everything exposed was swept away. Her flagstaff had 
been repeatedly shot away, and her colors were several 
times fastened to the smokestack, but only to be car- 
ried away again. The flag was finally fastened to a 
boarding pike. Stanchions, railings, davits, steam 
pipes and boats had been demolished, while two of the 
broadside guns had been disabled by having their muz- 
zles shot away. Further than this she was as danger- 
ous as ever, and only awaited the return of daylight 
and tide to complete the destruction of the wooden 
vessels in the Roads. 

The disastrous results of this day's fight spread the 
profoundest gloom over the North, and caused corre- 
sponding rejoicing in the South. Extraordinary meas- 
ures for protecting Northern ports were suggested, for 
the appearance of the " terrible monster" was momen- 
tarily expected at all the seaports. Anything strange 
or abnormal pertaining to the sea is peculiarly liable to 
the wildest exaggeration among the average landsmen. 
The Merrimac certainly was a "new fish" in naval 
architecture, and she had proved her terrible power. 
It is not strange, then, that immediately following the 
announcement of the disaster of March 8th the wildest 
reports found credence. The scuttling of the noble 
frigate St. Lawrence, so as to obstruct the channel of 
the Potomac, was seriously considered, while the only 
measure proposed possessing the elements of success 
was considered a prodigious joke : this was stretching 
a huge fish net across the Potomac so as to entangle 
the Merrimac's propeller. The President called a 
special meeting of the Cabinet, and the fear was freely 
expressed that the whole character of the war was 
changed. The proposed peninsular campaign was ren- 
dered impracticable if the base of operations was at the 
mercy of the Merrimac, and the blockade of the most 
important Southern port would be raised. Nothing 
now, in the opinion of all, could prevent the iron mon- 

1862. GLOOM IN THE NORTH. 235 

ster from destroying all the ships in Hampton Roads, 
making her way up the Potomac, and laying Wash- 
ington in ashes. Then, after raising the blockade of 
other Southern ports, she would turn northward and 
lay the great seaports under enormous contribution. 
This done, there could be no doubt that England and 
France would acknowledge the independence of the 
Confederate States. Such were the hopes of the Mer- 
rimad's people as they rested that night off SewelPs 
Point and dreamed of easy victory on the morrow. 
Such were the fears of the loyal sailors as with dread 
and agony they awaited the renewal of the bloody 
scene. Nothing but an act of Providence could save 
them. And that act of Providence was at hand. 



ON October 4, 1861, four months after the raising of 
the Merrimac at Norfolk, the Government entered 
into a contract with John Ericsson, of New York, for 
the construction of a war vessel of such type as the 
world had never seen and few had ever dreamed of. 
An iron-plated raft one hundred and seventy-two feet 
over all, forty-one and a half feet beam and eleven and 
one-third feet depth of hold, and a revolving iron turret 
containing two 11-inch Dahlgren guns, were the strik- 
ing features of this novel craft. As less than two feet 
of the hull was to appear above water, the target sur- 
face was reduced to a minimum ; and as a further se- 
curity, this surface was plated with five layers of iron, 
each -of which was one inch thick, while the deck was 
protected by two layers of half-inch plates. The tur- 
ret, twenty feet in diameter, inside measurement, and 
nine feet high, was built of eight layers of one-inch 
iron plates ; and the roof was protected by railroad 
iron, while the propeller and the rudder at the stern 
and the anchor at the bow were protected by the over- 
hang of the deck. The pilot house on deck forward 
was made of massive bars of iron, and a movable iron 
plate, an inch and a half thick, covered the top of it. 

The idea of such a war ship was suggested to John 
Ericsson nearly half a century before, by observing 
the motions of the lumber rafts on the lakes in Sweden. 
He wrote to Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary 
of the Navy, under date of October 5, 1875 : " I found 
that while the raftsman in his elevated cabin experi- 



enced very little motion, the seas breaking over his 
nearly submerged craft, these seas at the same time 
worked the sailing vessels nearly on their beam ends." 
Ericsson's enmity for Russia, the old-time enemy of 
his native land, seems to have been the principal mo- 
tive in developing and perfecting this raft idea of naval 
warfare, and on the outbreak of the war between the 
northern empire and the Franco- Anglican alliance he 
sent the plan of a monitor, in 1854, to the Emperor of 
the French. Napoleon III was not much impressed 
with the scheme, and wrote : "I have found your ideas 
very ingenious and worthy of the celebrated name of 
their author, but I think the results to be obtained 
would not be proportionate to the expenses or to the 
small number of guns which could be brought into 
use." Napoleon III prided himself upon his knowl- 
edge of artillery ; but when he saw how badly his 
cruisers fared in the Black Sea, and how the Russian 
squadron was able to steam into Sinope and destroy 
the Turkish fleet, he was greatly chagrined, and, says 
William Conant Church : " If he did not take Ericsson's 
plan, he certainly adopted the suggestion of armor de- 
fense, and built five armor-clads, England following in 
humble imitation with an equal number on the same 
general plan." 

On the 8th of August, 1861, a naval board, consist- 
ing of the veteran Captains Joseph Smith and Hiram 
Paulding and Commander Charles Henry Davis, was 
appointed by President Lincoln for the purpose of ex- 
amining plans for ironclad vessels. Among the hun- 
dreds of novel suggestions laid before this board was 
the plan, in a modified form, that Napoleon III had 
rejected. At the outbreak of the civil war Ericsson 
perfected a few details of this craft and forwarded it 
to Washington in the care of C. S. Bushnell, of New 
Haven, Conn. " I succeeded at length," said Mr. Bush- 
nell, "in getting Captains Smith and Paulding to prom- 
ise to sign a report advising the building of one trial 


battery, provided Captain Davis would join with them. 
On going to him I was informed that I might ' take the 
little thing home and worship it, as it would not be 
idolatry, because it was in the image of nothing in the 
heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters 
under the earth.'" 

The idea of a turret had been suggested before 
Ericsson's Monitor. Theodore Ruggles Timby, in 1841, 
planned a system of coast defense based upon the 
idea of a revolving turret, either on land or afloat, and 
in 1859 Captain Coles, of the British navy, perfected a 
revolving cupola on a vessel in the form of a raft, but 
it was never properly tested. Three types of armored 
vessels were finally recommended by the naval board 
for adoption the floating battery Ironsides, the 
Galena and the Monitor. In recommending the last 
type the members of the board exhibited a courage 
seldom equaled in naval history. The weight of pro- 
fessional experience and prejudice was against them. 
The most advanced naval constructors of that day, the 
French, had recently rejected the Monitor. Ericsson 
himself, although one of the most brilliant engineers 
of the age, had been the inventor of some, notable fail- 
ures from a practical point of view, though all were 
valuable to science. The naval bureaus for many years 
had been strongly prejudiced against him, and had un- 
justly associated with him the bursting of the Prince- 
torts 12-inch gun, February 28, 1844, by which the 
Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Navy, Captain 
Beverly Kennon and Colonel Gardiner, of Gardiner's 
Island fame, had been killed. It required bold men to 
advocate the Monitor idea in the face of such circum- 
stances. If the craft was successful, the glory would 
go to the inventor ; if a failure, the full weight of odium 
would fall on the men who recommended it. They 
were responsible men, who had spent a lifetime in 
studying the science of naval warfare. The hundreds 
oMnventions brought before them for consideration 


were largely the products of irresponsible men, whose 
only object was that of getting contracts out of the Gov- 
ernment. Joseph Smith, Hiram Paulding and Charles 
H. Davis wagered a lifetime of brilliant service when 
they selected Ericsson's plan and gave their signatures 
to it. Ericsson wrote, "A more prompt and spirited 
action is probably not on record in a similar case than 
that of the Navy Department as regards the Monitor " ; 
and Ericsson's intimate acquaintance with the English 
Admiralty and the French Department of the Marine 
eminently qualified him as a judge in this particular. 
"Go ahead !" was the order the inventor received, and 
while the contract was being drawn up at Washington 
the keel-plate of the Monitor was being run through 
the rolling-mill in New York. 

Some idea of the great responsibility resting on the 
naval board in recommending Ericsson's plan can be 
gained by the doubts and sneers from men high in the 
profession. One of the first objections urged against 
the Monitor was that the concussion of such great guns 
in the confined space of the turret would be greater 
than the gunners could endure ; but Ericsson's ex- 
perience in firing heavy guns from little huts while he 
was an officer in the Swedish army had demonstrated 
that, if the muzzles protruded from the turret, the con- 
cussion would be inconsiderable. Naval experts be- 
sieged the board with calculations showing that the 
Monitor would not float with the amount of iron that 
was to be placed on her. Even the builders of the 
strange craft took the precaution of constructing 
wooden tanks to buoy up her stern when she was 
launched, lest she should plunge and stay under water. 
"Even if the ridiculous structure does float," said the 
experts, "she is top-heavy and will promptly capsize." 
Misgivings as to her stability, "on account of the ab- 
rupt termination of the iron raft to the wooden vessel," 
were even in the minds of the naval board after it had 
sanctioned the building of the craft, and it was sug- 


gesfced that the angles be filled in with wood. "But," 
added the board, "if the whole thing is a failure this 
will be of little consequence." It was even suggested 
that some of the essential features of the Monitor be 
sacrificed in order to " save her from the possibility of 
failure." It was urged that in a heavy sea one side of 
the vessel would rise out of the water, or the sea recede 
from it, and the wooden hull underneath the iron raft 
would strike the water with such force when it came 
down as to knock the people on board off their feet. 
Others were confident that in heavy weather the over- 
hang at the bow and stern would slap down on waves 
with such force as to rip it off the hull below ; and 
some were confident that the iron plating would settle 
the sides of the wooden vessel so that her deck would 
become curved and finally break. 

The best-grounded objections to the new craft were 
to the confined quarters of the officers and crew, many 
predicting that in heavy weather they would be smoth- 
ered by possible defects in the ventilation or escaping 
gas from the engine fires. Sailors, like other people, 
object to being buried before they are dead, and the 
quarters of the Monitor were unpleasantly suggestive 
of Davy Jones' locker. To be stowed away for days 
in an iron box under water, with artificial light and 
ventilation, with no place for exercise and with little 
chance for throwing off the accumulating smells of a 
kitchen, engine room, mess room and sleeping quarters, 
is too much like death to make life worth living. It 
is possible to pack machinery away like this, and in 
machinery Ericsson had no equal; but when he en- 
deavored to treat human beings in the same way he 
met the serious defect in his Monitor system. Cap- 
tain Smith saw this, and suggested that a temporary 
house be built on the deck for the accommodation of the 
officers and crew. This suggestion was followed out in 
several instances, the Winnebago at the battle of Mo- 
bile Bay having a large wooden structure on her deck ; 

1861. ON A TRIAL TRIP. 241 

but lack of time and the prospect of an early battle 
made it impracticable to carry it out in the case of the 

In the light of the present day these many doubts 
and misgivings relative to the Monitor may seem child- 
ish ; but at that time the experiment had not been 
made, and the criticisms were eminently pertinent and 
showed the intelligence of the critics. It is common 
to . ridicule the doubts and distrusts arising in the 
minds of people of past generations when some new 
invention, such as a steamboat, a railroad or an elec- 
tric machine, first came in vogue : but it is safe to say 
that equal distrust would arise in the minds of the 
present generation should some equally radical inven- 
tion be brought to our notice. 

The keel of the Monitor was laid in the shipyard 
of Thomas F. Rowland, Continental Iron Works, 
Greenpoint, Long Island, on the 25th of October, 1861. 
In order to test the confidence of the builders in the 
new vessel, a clause in the contract stipulated that 
" the money was to be refunded to the Government if 
the ironclad proved to be a failure." On the 30th of 
January, 1862, or in one hundred days, the ironclad 
was launched. This was a most extraordinary feat in 
naval construction, the building of a war vessel in six 
months at that time being considered almost an im- 
possibility. On the 19th of February the new ironclad 
went on her trial trip and was handed over to the Gov- 
ernment ; but it was not until March 4th that her guns 
were mounted and a board of naval officers reported 
favorably upon her. At the request of Ericsson the 
new craft was called Monitor. In a letter to Mr. Fox, 
he said: "The impregnable and aggressive character 
of this structure will admonish the leaders of the 
Southern rebellion that the batteries on the banks of 
their rivers will no longer prevent the entrance of 
Union forces. The ironclad intruder will thus prove a 
severe monitor to those leaders. But there are other 



leaders who will also be startled and admonished by 
the booming of the guns from the impregnable iron 
turret. 'Downing Street' will hardly view with in- 
difference this last 'Yankee notion,' this monitor. To 
the Lords of the Admiralty the new craft will be a 
monitor, suggesting doubts as to the propriety of com- 
pleting those four steel-clad ships at three and a half 
millions apiece. On these and many similar grounds I 
propose to name the new battery Monitor" It was 
at first intended that the Monitor should join the ex- 
pedition to New Orleans, and in reference to this As- 
sistant-Secretary Fox wrote to Ericsson, February 6, 
1862, "Can your monitor sail [steam] for the Gulf of 
Mexico by the 12th inst. ? " But the report of the com- 
pletion of the Merrimac, at Norfolk, changed the des- 
tination of the new ironclad. 

It required no ordinary degree of courage for officers 
and men to enlist in such a novel ship of war as this. 
When Stephen Decatur, at the head of seventy-six 
men, entered the harbor of Tripoli in 1804 in a ketch, 
and destroyed the PJiiladelphia under the guns of 
Turkish batteries, Nelson pronounced it the most dar- 
ing act of the age. The officers and men of the Moni- 
tor were not only entering a place of equal danger, but 
were navigating an entirely new machine, which at any 
moment might become more formidable and merciless 
to them than even the Confederate guns. The officers, 
who volunteered for this service were Lieutenant John 
Lorimer Worden, Lieutenant Samuel Dana Greene, 
Acting-Master Louis N. Stodder, Acting-Master John 
J. N. Webber, Acting-Assistant-Surgeon Daniel C. 
Logue, Acting- Assistant-Paymaster William F. Keeler, 
First- Assistant-Engineer Isaac Newton, Second-Assist- 
ant-Engineer Albert B. Campbell, Third- Assistant-En- 
gineer Robinson W. Hands, Fourth- Assistant-Engineer 
Mark Trueman Sunstrom, Captain's-Clerk D. Toffey, 
Quartermaster P. Williams, Gunner's-Mate J. Crown 
and Boatswain's-Mate J. Stocking. Lieutenant Wor- 


den left a sick bed to take this command. Chief-Engi- 
neer Alban C. Stimers volunteered to go on board as a 
passenger, and performed valuable service in the ves- 
sel. The crew were volunteers selected from the frigate 
Sdbine and the receiving- ship North Carolina. 

There were many points of similarity in the Moni- 
tor and the old 44-gun frigate Constitution. Both 
were radical innovations in naval construction in their 
day, the mounting of 24-pounders in the broadside of 
a frigate in 1797 being almost as startling as the huge 
11-inch guns in the Monitor. The Constitution and 
the Monitor caused marked changes in the naval archi- 
tecture of their days ; both were superior to anything 
afloat, Old Ironsides being heavier in armament than 
any frigate of her day, while her speed enabled her to 
outsail the line-of-battle ships. The deck measure- 
ments of the Monitor and the Constitution were within 
a few feet of each other ; the latter mounted fifty-five 
guns, with a total shot weight of seven hundred and 
sixty-five pounds to the broadside, while the former 
mounted but two guns, with three hundred and sixty 
pounds. The cost of the Monitor was two hundred 
and seventy-five thousand dollars, an'd that of the Con- 
stitution was three hundred and two thousand dollars. 
When the Constitution sailed from Boston, in 1812, to 
try a battle with an English frigate, orders arrived a 
few hours afterward to have her remain in port. When 
the Monitor sailed to meet the enemy, in 1862, orders 
arrived, as will be seen in the next chapter, changing 
her destination. 



AT eleven o'clock on the morning of March 6, 1862, 
the Monitor, although designed for the smooth waters 
of harbors and rivers, in tow of the tugboat Seth Low, 
and escorted by the steamers CurritucTc and Sachem, 
ventured into the boisterous waters of the Atlantic. 
Scarcely had she passed the Narrows when orders were 
received to change her destination to Washington, and 
a tugboat was immediately sent in chase of the iron- 
clad, but in vain. Similar orders were then tele- 
graphed to Captain Marston at Hampton Roads. 
When the Monitor passed Sandy Hook there was but 
little wind, and on the first day out she experienced 
pleasant weather. On the second day the breeze fresh- 
ened, and drove seas over her exposed decks in alarm- 
ing quantity. In spite of every contrivance, the berth- 
deck hatches leaked and the water poured in like a 
cascade. The waves, rolling completely over the pilot 
house, knocked the helmsmen from the wheel, poured 
into the sight-holes or sweeping aft broke against the 
turret, and ran around the massive tower in swift 
eddies. The turret did not revolve on rollers, but slid 
on a smooth, bronze ring let into the deck. Before she 
left New York hemp rope had been packed into the 
crevice between the ring and the base of the turret to 
keep out the water ; but in a short time this packing 
was washed away, and the sea poured through the 
opening. The people in the Monitor also neglected to 
stop the hawse holes, and quantities of water entered 
by that way, so that before long the vessel was in dan- 



ger of foundering. The seas increased in violence until 
the gunboats escorting her rolled so much that it was 
possible at times to look down their holds from the 
turret of the Monitor. The waves broke over the 
smokestack of the ironclad, which was only six feet 
high, and poured down into the tires. The steam 
pumps were started, but the waves broke over the 
blower pipes, which were only four feet high, and, run- 
ning down in large streams, drenched the blower ma- 
chinery so that the belts slipped. Thus deprived of 
their artificial draft, the furnaces could not get air for 
combustion, and the engine room was soon filled with 
suffocating gas. Engineers Newton and Stimers rushed 
into the confined space to check the inflowing water, 
but were overcome with the gas, and with great diffi- 
culty they were dragged out, more dead than alive, and 
carried to the top of the turret the only place in the 
vessel where fresh air could be obtained and here 
they slowly revived. Water continued to pour down 
the blower pipes and smokestack and nearly extin- 
guished the fires, and filled the engine room with such 
quantities of gas that it was impossible for any man 
to remain there. 

The fires soon got so low that the steam pumps would 
not operate. The hand pumps were then manned, but 
were found to be useless, as they were not of sufficient 
power to force the water to the top of the turret, the 
only place through which it would pass. Bailing was 
then resorted to, but the buckets had to be passed 
from the hold through a series of passages and lad- 
ders, so that even if they were not emptied by the 
tossing and rolling of the ship when they reached the 
top of the turret, the time required rendered this a 
vain endeavor. From the forward part of the ship 
came the most dismal and unearthly screams and 
groans, which were caused by the air in the anchor well. 
"They resembled," said Lieutenant Greene, "the death 
groans of twenty men, and were the most dismal and 

246 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

awful sounds ever heard." These discordant noises 
did not tend to raise the spirits of the seamen. The 
water continued to pour through the hawse holes, 
hatches, pilot house, smokestack and blower pipes in 
alarming quantities. Destruction stared the heroic 
crew in the face, and undoubtedly the vessel would 
have foundered in a few hours had not the wind to- 
ward evening died away and the waves subsided. 
When at last, in comparatively smooth waters, the 
engines were put in motion and the men took heart. 
But toward midnight they again got into a rough sea 
and had to fight the inrtishing water. To add to their 
complication of the previous day, the wire wheel-ropes 
for steering the vessel came off the wheels, and all 
hands were occupied most of that night in hauling on 
ropes by hand and readjusting the steering gear. Sat- 
urday morning, March 8th, they again came into 
smooth water. Although exhausted and dispirited by 
thirty-six hours of struggle for life, and sadly discour- 
aged by the many defects that were developed in the 
''trial trip" of their novel craft, the men immediately 
set to work pumping out the water and making repairs. 
At four o'clock in the afternoon, while they were 
passing Cape Henry, the distant booming of shotted 
guns was heard. It was the Merrimac completing the 
destruction of the Congress, and soon afterward the 
pilot came aboard and told the dreadful story of that 
day. With quickened pulse the men of the Monitor 
keyed up the turret, cleared for action and made every 
exertion to reach the scene of hostilities, but it was 
nine o'clock in the evening before they arrived off Fort 
Monroe. As the night advanced the burning frigate 
presented a magnificent spectacle. " The moon in her 
second quarter was just rising over the waters, but her 
silvery light was soon paled by the conflagration of the 
Congress, whose glare was reflected in the river. The 
burning frigate, four miles away, seemed much nearer. 
As the flames crept up the rigging, every mast, spar 


and rope glittered against the dark sky with dazzling 
lines of fire. The hull was plainly visible, and upon its 
black surface the mouth of each porthole seemed the 
mouth of a fiery furnace. For hours the flames raged 
with hardly a perceptible change in the wondrous pic- 
ture. At irregular intervals loaded guns and shells, 
exploding as the fire reachecT them, shook up a shower 
of sparks and sent forth their deep reverberations. The 
masts and rigging were still standing, apparently al- 
most intact, when at one o'clock in the following morn- 
ing she blew up." ' Lieutenant Worden immediately 
reported to Captain Marston, of the Jtoanofce, and the 
latter, in view of the disastrous results of that day, dis- 
obeyed his order to send the Monitor to Washington, 
and directed her to remain in the Roads. Ac ting- Mas- 
ter Samuel Howard volunteering as pilot, the Monitor 
again got under way, steamed up the channel, and 
about midnight anchored beside the Minnesota, which 
ship was still fast aground. 

The gloom and depression pervading the National 
forces at Hampton Roads on the night of the 8th was 
-scarcely disturbed by the arrival of this untried and 
diminutive stranger, which had barely escaped a pre- 
mature end in her own element, and which now could 
hardly be distinguished as she lay in the dark shadow 
of the powerful frigate she presumed to protect. Nor 
were the men in the Monitor in a condition to go 
through the terrible ordeal of the morrow. They were 
completely exhausted. Isaac Newton was confined in 
his bunk. He had been under a severe strain during 
the trip from New York, and he was not expected to 
be ready for duty for at least a week. During the last 
fifty hours this heroic ship's company had been bat- 
tling against the sea night and day for mere existence, 
and now, just as they were exhausted to the last de- 
gree, they were called upon to face a foe flushed with 

1 R. E. Colston, in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. i, p. 714. 


victory, whose vessel had safely passed the test of one 
hundred heavy guns, and who were resting in security 
and quiet, dreaming of greater victories on the morrow. 

All night long the sounds of preparation for the 
impending conflict were heard in the little ironclad. 
There was no time for rest, and as the dawn of Sunday, 
March 9th, broke over the placid waters of Hampton 
Roads, they eagerly sought the first glimpse of their 
confident antagonist. Gradually her dark outlines be- 
gan to assume shape through the mist that shrouded 
the shores, and by daylight she was in full view, silent 
and majestic in the consciousness of her prowess. 
Soon dense volumes of black smoke began to curl 
lazily upward, indicating that she was beginning prepa- 
rations for the work of destruction. At eight o'clock 
Sunday morning the Merrimac slipped her moorings, 
and in command of Lieutenant Jones turned her head 
toward the Minnesota, evidently with the intention of 
beginning on her. The iron monster leisurely steamed 
toward the Rip-Raps, and while yet a mile away fired 
a gun, the shot striking the Minnesota's counter. 

Now was the time for the Monitor to make her 
debut. All eyes were turned on the insignificant craft, 
some with hope, others w T ith contempt, but all feeling 
that on her depended what little chance there was for 
escape from a renewal of the horrible scenes of the day 
before. It was with a sense of relief and astonishment, 
therefore, that they beheld the Monitor swing from 
her anchorage and boldly head for the iron monster. 
From descriptions and plans that the Confederates had 
received from the North, they immediately recognized 
the novel machine as the Monitor. One of the men in 
the Merrimac wrote : " We soon descried a strange- 
looking iron tower sliding over the waters toward us. 
It had been seen by the light of the burning Con- 
gress the night before, and it was reported to us by 
one of the pilots." The presence of the Monitor caused 
a change in the Confederate programme, which was, to 


destroy the Minnesota first, and then the Roanoke and 
the St. Lawrence, after which the way to Washington 
and New York would be open to the all-powerful Mer- 
rimac. Instead of proceeding directly for her prey, 
therefore, the Merrimac turned on the little Monitor, 
to settle immediately all questions as to who should be 
master of the Roads. 

The two strange vessels, so different both from each 
other and from everything else afloat, now approached 
in silence. The other vessels and the shores of the 
Roads were crowded with eager and anxious specta- 
tors. On the one side the Unionists awaited the issue 
with deepest anxiety and palpitating hearts, while on 
the other side the Confederates watched the approach- 
ing duel with confidence and expectant delight. But 
all felt that the result of the combat before them would 
tilt the scales of the civil war heavily one way or the 
other. About this time Lieutenant Worden took his 
station in the pilot house with the pilot and quarter- 
master, while Lieutenant Greene and Chief -Engineer 
Stimers, with sixteen men, manned the guns in the 
turret and the machinery for revolving it. Acting- 
Master Stodder was first stationed at the wheel for re- 
volving the turret, and when he was disabled Stimers 
took his place. Acting-Master Webber commanded 
the powder division on the berth deck, while the pay- 
master and the captain's clerk on the berth deck passed 
orders from the pilot house. The remainder of the 
crew thirty-six men were at their stations in the 
engine room, cockpit and magazines. Lieutenant Butt, 
of the Merrimac, had been a roommate of Lieutenant 
Greene in the Naval Academy at Annapolis. 

About 8.30 A. M. the Merrimac opened with her 
bow gun, but now she did not have the broad side of a 
frigate to aim at and her missile went wide of the mark 
one point in favor of the Monitor which the specta- 
tors of the duel were quick to note. Lieutenant Wor- 
den reserved his fire until within short range, when he 



changed his course so as to run alongside of his antag- 
onist ; then he stopped his engines and gave the order 
"Begin firing!" Immediately the port covers were 
triced back, the turret revolved until the guns bore, 
and massive 11-inch solid shot were hurled at the 
Merrimac. Almost at the same instant the Merrimac 
brought her starboard broadside to bear, and, taking 
more careful aim, fired. Lieutenant Greene and his 
men heard the heavy shot strike viciously on their tur- 
ret, and for a moment they looked anxiously about 
them to discover the result of this first test of their 
citadel. It was seen at a glance that the shot had not 
penetrated, and as the turret again revolved obediently 
to the order, a look of confidence and hope spread over 
every countenance and the men reloaded with a will. 
After this first pass of arms the ironclads turned 
and again fired, this time even at closer quarters than 
before. The Monitor used solid shot, and fired about 
once in eight minutes, while the Merrimac fired shells 
exclusively. The broadsides were exchanged, with no 
effect on the Monitor, while her men, growing more 
confident in the protection of her turret, even presumed 

to look out of the 
ports and see 
what effect their 
shot had on the 
enemy. No dam- 
age could be dis- 
covered on the 
sides of the Mer- 
rimac, but the 
difference in the 
superior weight 
of 11-inch shot and the lighter guns of the wooden fri- 
gates was realized by the Confederate crew. About 
this time Acting-Master Stodder was disabled while 
leaning against the side of the turret when it was 
struck by a shell from the Merrimac. The guns of 

Monitor and Merrimac. 


the Merrimac were now fired as fast as they could be 
loaded, and the Monitor responded every seven or 
eight minutes. In this contest the latter had the ad- 
vantage over her huge antagonist, for her light draught 
and superior speed enabled her to manoeuvre with 
adroitness, while her revolving turret brought her guns 
into range whenever they were loaded. The Merrimac, 
of course, could not fire until her guns bore, and on ac- 
count of her great draught she was confined to the narrow 
channel, while the loss of her smokestack on the day 
before caused her fires to run so low that Chief-Engi- 
neer Ramsay reported that it was exceedingly difficult 
to keep up any steam at all. This enabled the little 
Monitor to counterbalance the superior number of the 
enemy's guns by keeping out of range. At one time 
she secured a position from which she poured in her 
heavy shot, while the Merrimac for several minutes 
could not bring a gun to bear. 

After firing broadside after broadside with no ap- 
parent effect upon his antagonist, Lieutenant Worden 
sought for some vulnerable place where he could ram 
the Merrimac, and Lieutenant Jones, of the Merrimac, 
says, " This manoeuvring caused us great anxiety." At 
length a dash was made at the Merrimac 1 s stern, in the 
hope of disabling the rudder or the propeller. The 
blow was well aimed, but missed its mark by three 
feet, so that the Monitor grazed along the Merrimac 9 s 
quarter, and at this instant Lieutenant Greene dis- 
charged both his guns at the same time. The solid 11- 
inch shot struck close together halfway up the case- 
mate and crushed in the iron plates two or three inches. 
The concussion was terrific, knocking over the crew of 
the after guns in the Merrimac and causing many of 
her men to bleed at the nose and ears. Another shot 
planted in the same place would have penetrated ; but 
this could not easily be done, owing to the peculiar 
difficulties under which the people in the turret labored 
and the want of practice in working the machinery 

252 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

that revolved it. Lieutenant Jones says: " We won- 
dered how proper aim could be taken in the very short 
time the guns were in sight." 

The only view the men in the turret had of the out- 
side world was over the muzzles of their guns, which 
cleared the ports by only a few inches. When the 
guns were run in after each discharge the heavy iron 
stoppers covered the ports, leaving the gunners to- 
tally at loss as to what was going on outside until the 
guns were again run out. As the turret began to re- 
volve again, they had to watch through their narrow 
strip of light until the Merrimac was swung into their 
line of vision. It was only with great difficulty that 
the enormous mass of iron composing the turret could 
be started on its revolution. The machinery and the 
turret itself had become rusty on the passage from 
New York, so that when once started it was even more 
difficult to stop it at the desired point. Consequently 
the men in the turret were obliged to fire " on the fly," 
or whOe the turret was revolving, lest they should be 
carried past the range before the engine could bring 
them to a standstill. 

Another great embarrassment under which the gun- 
ners labored was that of distinguishing the bow from 
the stern and the starboard from the port side when 
inclosed in their dark tower. White marks had been 
made on the stationary deck inside the turret, which 
was next to the revolving deck on which they stood ; 
but soon their confined space in the turret was filled 
with burnt gunpowder and smoke, which blackened the 
faces of the men and their clothing, and everything in 
the place was covered with a thick layer of soot, which 
completely obliterated all traces of the distinguishing 
white marks, leaving the men ignorant as to which di- 
rection the bow, stern, starboard or port side was in. 
Furthermore, the rotary motion of the turret made 
them dizzy and confused their vision. The question 
was constantly passed to the pilot house, "How does 


the Merrimac bear?" The answer would be, " On the 
starboard beam "or " On the port quarter," as the case 
might be ; but the men in the turret were at loss to 
know in which direction the starboard or port side 
lay. Consequently, when the guns were ready to be 
fired the port covers were hauled back and the turret 
set in motion, while the gunners, without the least 
idea as to the whereabouts of their foe, closely watched 
their narrow strip of horizon until the frowning 
sides of the Merrimac swept into view, when they 

This complication of difficulties led to the danger of 
firing into their own pilot house. Soon after the action 
began both vessels were involved in volumes of smoke, 
which frequently enveloped them so as to render their 
outlines exceedingly indistinct, if not entirely con- 
cealed. This, together with the fact that the Monitor's 
turret was filled with smoke, might easily induce an 
excited gunner, already confused by the whirligig mo- 
tion of the turret, and fully convinced that he must fire 
on the fly, to pull the lanyard as the beclouded out- 
lines of the pilot house came into view. The speaking- 
tube that connected the pilot house with the turret was 
broken early in the action, so that all orders had to be 
transmitted verbally. This led to much delay in exe- 
cuting orders, and also caused errors, as the messenger 
intrusted to this duty was a landsman and frequently 
confused the technical terms he conveyed. Another 
great object constantly held in view by the sorely em- 
barrassed men in the turret was to prevent the enemy 
from landing a shell within it. Such a disaster would 
be irreparable, as there were not enough men in the 
vessel to form a relief crew, even if the turret and 
guns were not disabled by such an explosion. The 
effect of heavy shot striking the turret was not serious 
unless men happened to be standing near the iron 
where the shot struck. Three men were knocked down 
in this way, including Chief -Engineer S timers, who was 

254 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

not seriously hurt. The other two men were carried 
below and recovered before the battle was over. 

Despairing of injuring the Monitor, Lieutenant 
Jones made for the Minnesota, but in so doing he ran 
his vessel aground. In a short time, however, he got 
her afloat again. As the Merrimac approached the 
Minnesota the latter delivered full broadsides, but 
with no effect, although fifty solid shot were fired. The 
enemy responded with shells from his bow gun, one of 
which exploded amidships on the berth deck, and tore 
four rooms into one and started a fire. The second 
shell exploded the boiler of the steamer Dragon that 
was lying alongside the frigate. By the time the Mer- 
rimac fired her third shell at the Minnesota the Mon- 
itor was again in range, and the duel between the iron- 
clads was renewed. After hurling broadside after 
broadside at the Monitor with no effect, the Merrimac 
determined to try her ram, manreuvring some time for 
a position, and an opportunity at last presented itself. 
On went the ironclad at full speed, but her vigilant 
foe eluded the shock, so that only a slanting blow was 

One of the men in the Merrimac wrote: "Nearly 
two hours passed, and many a shot and shell were ex- 
changed at close quarters, with no perceptible damage 
to either side. The Merrimac is discouragingly cum- 
brous and unwieldy. To wind her for each broadside 
fifteen minutes are lost, while during all this time the 
Monitor is whirling around and about like a top, and 
the easy working of her turret and her precise and 
rapid movements elicit the wondering admiration of 
all. She is evidently invulnerable to our shell. Our 
next movement is to run her down. We ram her with 
all our force. But she is so flat and broad that she 
merely slides away from under our hull, as a floating 
door would slip away from under the cutwater of a 
barge. All that we could do was to push her. Lieu- 
tenant Jones now determined to board her, to choke 


her turret in some way, and lash her to the Merrimac. 
The blood is rushing through our veins, the shrill 
pipe and the hoarse roar of the boatswain, ' Boarders 
away ! ' are heard, but lo, our enemy has hauled off 
into shoal water, where she is safe from our ship as if 
she was on the topmost peak of Blue Ridge." "Her 
bow passed over our deck," wrote Chief -Engineer Al- 
bans C. Stimers, who was a volunteer in the Monitor, 
to Ericsson, "and our sharp upper edge rail cut 
through the light iron shoe upon her stem, and well 
into her oak." At the instant of the collision Lieuten- 
ant Greene planted an 11 -inch shot on the Merrimac 's 
forward casemate, which crushed in the iron and shat- 
tered the wooden backing, but did no further damage. 
Had the gun been charged with fifty pounds of pow- 
der, the shot would have penetrated ; but peremptory 
orders had been issued by the department to use only 
fifteen pounds in the charge, as the guns were new and 
were of extraordinarily large caliber for those days. 
On the other hand, had the Merrimac used solid shot, 
the effect of her blows on the Monitor would have been 
far more serious. 

After two hours of incessant action the ammunition 
in the Monitor's turret began to fail, upon which Lieu- 
tenant Worden hauled off to replenish his stock. This 
could be done only when the scuttle in the revolving 
deck of the turret was exactly over a corresponding 
opening in the stationary deck immediately below it, 
which compelled Lieutenant Worden to retire from 
the action until ponderous shot were hoisted from the 
hold into the turret. This was the movement that led 
the Merrimac's people to believe that their antagonist 
was retreating. In this short lull Lieutenant Worden 
passed through the portholes of the turret to the deck, 
so as to get a better view of the situation. 

In fifteen minutes the Monitor was again ready for 
the struggle and gallantly bore down on her huge an- 
tagonist, and the enemy, despairing of making any im- 

256 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1863. 

pression on the turret, now concentrated their fire on 
the pilot house. About 11.30 A. M., while Lieutenant 
Worden was watching the enemy through a sight-hole 
in the pilot house, a shell struck on the outside not 
more than fifteen inches from him and exploded, filling 
his face and eyes with powder. For a moment it was 
thought that the pilot house was demolished, and Lieu- 
tenant Worden gave the order to sheer off, at the same 
time sending for Lieutenant Greene. The latter officer 
hastened forward and found his commander leaning 
against the ladder that led to the pilot house. As the 
dim yellow light of the ship's lantern fell upon Lieuten- 
ant Worden he presented a ghastly sight. Blood seemed 
to be oozing from every pore in his face, while with 
closed eyes he helplessly clung to the ladder for sup- 
port. Lieutenant Greene assisted him to a sofa in his 
cabin, where he was attended by Dr. Logue ; but even 
there the heroic man could not forget the great strug- 
gle that was going on above him, and constantly in- 
quired about the progress of the battle, apparently for- 
getful of the intense pain caused by his wound. When 
told that the Minnesota had been saved, he said, 
" Then I can die happy." 

The command of the Monitor now devolved upon 
Lieutenant Greene, who hastened to the pilot house 
and once more gave his attention to the foe. On ex- 
amination, it was found that only the heavy iron plate 
had been fractured, while the steering gear remained 
intact. In the confusion of the moment, however, the 
Monitor had been drifting aimlessly about, but at noon 
she was again headed for the enemy. Lieutenant 
Jones, of the Merrimac. observing the Monitor run- 
ning to shoal water where he could not follow her, de- 
termined to return to Norfolk. The Monitor fired two 
or three shot at her retiring foe, indicating her will- 
ingness to continue the fight, but the Merrimac held 
on her course up Elizabeth River, and the Monitor 
returned to her station by the side of the Minnesota, 


which vessel was still hard aground. So little hope of 
the successful repulse of the Merrimac had been en- 
tertained by the officers of the Minnesota, that when 
Lieutenant Greene came aboard he found every prepa- 
ration had been made to abandon and fire the ship. 

In this fight between the ironclads the Monitor was 
struck nine times on her turret, twice on the pilot 
house, three times on the deck and eight times on her 
side. The deepest indentation was made by a shot that 
entered four inches into the iron on her side. One 
shell crushed in the turret two inches. The Monitor 
fired forty-one shot. Ninety-seven indentations of shot 
were found on the Merrimatfs armor, twenty of which 
were from the 11-inch guns of the Monitor. None of 
her lower layers of iron plates were broken, but six of 
the top layers were smashed by the Monitor's shot. 

After her action with the Monitor the Merrimac 
withdrew to Norfolk and was placed in dry dock for 
repairs. She was then supplied with a new steel ram, 
wrought-iron shutters were fitted to her ports, the hull 
for a distance of four feet below the casemate was cov- 
ered with two-inch plates, and her rifled guns were 
supplied with steel-pointed solid shot. These changes 
increased her draught to twenty-three feet and reduced 
her speed to four knots. On the llth of April she 
again steamed down Elizabeth river in command of 
Commodore Josiah Tattnall, with the expectation of 
meeting the Monitor, which at that time was anchored 
below Fort Monroe with the other National vessels. 
But the Monitor remained strictly on the defensive, as 
she was the only effective ironclad ship in the posses- 
sion of the Government in any way capable of meeting 
the Merrimac. For much the same reason Commo- 
dore Tattnall was not permitted to run past Fort Mon- 
roe and attack the Monitor, as the loss of the Merrimac 
would expose the more important operations of the 
Confederate forces on land. 

At this time the National naval force in Hampton 


258 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

Roads, in anticipation of another attack from the Mer- 
rimac, had been increased to about twenty-five war 
vessels of all classes. The vital point to be gained by 
the Government at this time was to prevent the Mer- 
rimac from becoming mistress of these waters, and to 
attain this object every minor consideration was sacri- 
ficed. In the Union fleet was the swift river boat Bal- 
timore, which drew only six inches forward, and it 
was proposed to drive her bow upon the submerged 
deck of the Merrimac and thus hold the ironclad steady 
while the other vessels took turns in ramming her. 
The vessels were anchored in two columns, one headed 
by the Minnesota and the other by the Vanderbilt, 
and all were held in readiness for immediate action. 
Of such great importance was the possession of Hamp- 
ton Roads to the National cause that the Monitor was 
held in reserve, to be called into action only when the 
fleet of twenty-five vessels failed to accomplish the 
destruction of the Merrimac. 

Observing three merchantmen anchored above Fort 
Monroe, the Jamestown made a gallant dash at them, 
and in spite of the heavy fire from the land batteries 
carried them off in triumph, amid cheers from the crew 
of the British corvette Rinaldo. Two of the prizes were 
brigs laden with supplies for McClellan's army. At 
another time the Merrimac again dropped down the 
Roads and exchanged a few shot with Fort Monroe, 
in hope of inducing the Monitor to give battle. On 
this occasion Commodore Tattnall had made prepara- 
tions for his four gunboats to surround the Monitor, 
board her with overwhelming numbers, cover her gun 
ports and pilot house with tarpaulins, wedge the turret 
so it could not be used, and throw hand grenades into 
the turret and down the smokestack. The people in 
the Monitor were prepared for such an emergency, but 
they were still compelled by the orders of the Govern- 
ment to remain strictly on the defensive. 

An effort has been made to show that the action be- 


tween the Monitor and the Merrimac, if not a victory 
for the latter, was at least a drawn battle. It is diffi- 
cult to understand how such a conclusion could be ar- 
rived at. On the morning of March 9th the Merrimac 
came out with the avowed purpose of destroying the 
remaining ships in Hampton Roads, knowing at that 
time that the Monitor had arrived, for, says a South- 
ern account, on the evening of March 8th "one of the 
pilots chanced, about 11 p. M., to be looking in the di- 
rection of the Congress, when there passed a strange- 
looking craft, brought out in bold relief by the brilliant 
light of the burning ship, which he at once proclaimed 
to be the JUricsson [Monitor]. We were therefore not 
surprised in the morning to see the Monitor at anchor 
near the Minnesota." This shows that the Merrimac, 
on the morning of March 9th, assumed the offensive, 
knowing that the Monitor was among the National 
ships. It is also shown by Southern records that on 
that memorable day the Monitor at no time assumed 
any but a defensive position. The Monitor entered 
Hampton Roads with the avowed purpose of prevent- 
ing the destruction of the National ships. On the even- 
ing of March 9th the Merrimac retired from Hampton 
Roads without having accomplished her object, but the 
Monitor had accomplished hers. On the morning of 
March 9th the Merrimac was master of the situation in 
Hampton Roads, but in the evening of that day the 
Monitor was. If the argument that because the Moni- 
tor did not capture her antagonist she did not win a 
complete victory is held good, then General Jackson 
did not win the battle of New Orleans, because the 
British army was not captured; Wellington did not 
win at Waterloo, because Napoleon's army was allowed 
to escape ; and a long list of celebrated naval victories 
were not victories because the bulk of the defeated 
squadron escaped. After the battle the Monitor was 
ordered to protect the National ships at Hampton 
Roads but attempt nothing further. This she did in 


the most effectual manner. More than one battle has 
been won by masterly inactivity, and the destruction 
of the Merrimac a few weeks later was directly due to 
the prolonged presence of the Monitor in the Roads 
acting strictly on the defensive. 

Realizing that shot and shell could not be relied 
upon to destroy the Merrimac, the Government col- 
lected a large fleet of vessels in Hampton Roads, deter- 
mined to crush the " monster " by sheer weight. Ru- 
mors of the Merrimac's coming out as soon as her 
repairs were finished came to the Nationalists from 
time to time, and stimulated them to greater exertions, 
and by April 9, 1862, twenty-five unarmored vessels, 
besides the Monitor, under the orders of Flag-Officer 
Goldsborough, were in the Roads. The most important 
of these were the Minnesota, SusqueJianna, Dakota, 
Seminole, San Jacinto, Octorara, Wachusetts, Aroos- 
tooTc, Maratanza, VanderMlt, Oriole, Aroga, Rhode 
Island, Illinois, Stevens, Ericsson and Baltimore. 

The last was "a light river boat, side wheeler, of 
great speed and curved bow, drawing only six inches 
forward and six feet aft, held in front for the purpose 
of being forced upon one of the nearly submerged ends 
of the Merrimac, if possible, either forward or abaft 
the superstructure, according to circumstances, in order 
to render the ironclad immovable, and while thus held 
she was to be rammed by the vessels of the National 
fleet." J This great fleet was anchored in two columns, 
headed by the Minnesota and VanderMlt, about a 
mile and a half east of Fort Monroe, the right column 
consisting of merchant vessels and the left of war craft. 
The Monitor and Stevens were held in reserve in case 
the wooden ships failed to destroy the Merrimac. Of 
these vessels only the Vanderbilt had her bow pro- 
tected with iron. 

On April llth the Merrimac, accompanied by the 

1 Rear- Admiral Thomas Stowell Phelps to the author. 


gunboats Jamestown and Raleigh and four other ves- 
sels, 1 ventured into the Roads, the gunboats promptly 
seizing two brigs and a schooner which had grounded 
near Beaches Landing, having moved over to that side of 
the road in disobedience to orders. After reaching Mid- 
dle Ground, however, the Merrimac remained station- 
ary, and late in the afternoon retired toward her moor- 
ing, above Craney Island. ' ' The boats of an English and 
a French man-of-war anchored northward of Newport 
News shoal were observed to communicate with the 
Merrimac, and about 2 P. M. the French ship weighed, 
and running leeward of the fleet her commander 
boarded the Minnesota, and in conversation with the 
flag officer remarked that during his interview with 
Commodore Tattnall that officer had stated " that he 
perfectly understood Goldsborough's plans, and did not 
propose to subject his ship to certain destruction, thus 
explaining why he refrained from attempting to ac- 
complish the object of his visit to the Roads." ' Soon 
afterward the Merrimac returned to Norfolk for neces- 
sary repairs. 

The subsequent careers of these celebrated ironclads 
were short and tragic. In the following May Norfolk 
was abandoned by the Confederates, and on the 10th 
of that month the Merrimac was set on fire and on the 
following morning she blew up. Five days later the 
crews of the Monitor and the Merrimac again met in 
battle, the latter being on shore. After the destruction 
of the Merrimac her men were ordered to assist in the 
defenses of Richmond, and with great efforts they 
erected a battery of three 32-pounders and two 64- 
pounders at Drewry's Bluff, and on May 15th the iron- 
clad Galena (Commander John Rodgers), the Monitor, 
the Port Royal and the Naugatuck came up the river 
within six hundred yards of this battery and opened 

1 Private Journal of Rear-Admiral Trenchard. 

2 Rear-Admiral Thomas Stowell Phelps to the author. 

262 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

fire. Owing to the great height of the bluffs on which 
the Confederate batteries were placed, the tire from the 
gunboats was not so effective, but two guns of the bat- 
tery were dismounted, and several Confederates were 
killed or wounded. After a battle of four hours the 
vessels retired. The Galena in this affair had thir- 
teen killed and eleven wounded, the Port Royal one 
wounded, and the Naugatuck two wounded ; total, 
thirteen killed and fourteen wounded. A sheet-iron 
breastwork about four feet high had been placed on the 
Monitor's turret as a protection against sharpshooters. 

On the 29th of December the Monitor, Commander 
John Pine Bankhead, in company with the steamer 
Rhode Island, Captain Stephen Decatur Trenchard, 
sailed for Beaufort, N. C. Unusual precautions were 
taken to insure the safety of the ironclad, as her ex- 
periences on her trip from New York to Hampton 
Roads in the spring gave well-grounded cause for 
anxiety. Commander Trenchard accordingly gave the 
following night orders: "The officer of the deck is 
directed to have a very bright lookout kept off the 
bow and beam. He will sound at ten o'clock and in- 
form me of the depth of water ; also at four o'clock in 
the morning. The course will be south-southeast as at 
present steered until order is changed. Keep a sharp 
lookout upon the Monitor astern, and should she sig- 
nal attend to it at once ; then report to me. Inform 
me of every change of wind and weather. The speed 
of the steamer should be regulated by the sea. If it 
increases, moderate the speed ; if smooth, increase it. 
Inform me when the steamer has made sixty miles 
from 10 P. M." ' 

The following day was pleasant, and when off Hat- 
teras Shoals the steamer State of Georgia, with the 
monitor Passaic in tow, passed them to the northeast, 
and the steamer Gahanta with a troop-ship tow came 

1 Private Journal of Rear- Admiral Trenchard. 


in sight. About 7 P. M. the wind increased in violence, 
and at 9 P. M. Bankhead signaled the Rhode Island to 
stop. "Finding that the Monitor had fallen off into 
the trough of the sea and that the waves were making 
a complete breach over her, we started the engines 
again. The steamer soon brought her head to the 
wind under easy steam, when the Monitor appeared 
to make better weather. 

"At 11 P.M. Captain Bankhead signaled that he 
required assistance, and upon stopping the engines 
and on the Monitor ranging up alongside, he hailed, 
and said, ' The Monitor is sinking ! ' Our boats were 
immediately cleared away, and arrangements were 
made to get the officers and crew from the sinking iron- 
clad to the Rhode Island with as little delay as possi- 
ble. The port hawser with which we were towing the 
Monitor had parted in the early part of the evening, 
and the stream cable was cut by some one on board 
the ironclad. About eleven o'clock, or soon afterward, 
our boats succeeded in getting nearly all on board, and 
the first cutter had started to get the remainder on 
board, when, unhappily, about 1.30 A. M. on the 31st 
of December the Monitor suddenly disappeared. Act- 
ing-Master's Mate D. Rodney Brown was in charge of 
the cutter, having with him Charles H. Smith, cox- 
swain, Morris Wagg, coxswain, Hugh Logan, captain 
of the afterguard, Lewis A. Horton, seaman, George 
Moore, seaman, Luke M. Griswold, ordinary seaman, 
and John Jones, landsman, who composed the crew of 
the boat. We lost sight of the cutter, and kept as 
near the position as possible until daylight, and then 
cruised up in the direction of Hatteras Shoals for the 
remainder of the day in hopes of picking up our boat." 1 
Nothing was seen of the boat, however, and the Rhode 
Island made for Beaufort. 

The fate of this heroic boat's crew was almost as 

1 Private Journal of Rear-Admiral Trcnchard. 

264 !RO N VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

tragic as that of the Monitor herself, as the Rhode 
Islanders learned several days later. Brown, after 
having made two trips to the Monitor, started on the 
third, and after leaving the Rhode Island he saw the 
red lights burning at the flagstaff of the Monitor and 
apparently about one mile distant. 1 As the sea and the 
wind were "against him he made but little progress, 
yet he continued gaining until within a quarter of a 
mile of the Monitor, when the light suddenly became 
extinguished. It appeared to settle gradually in the 
water as he approached her, and then it disappeared 
altogether. When he approached to what he supposed 
to. be the position of the vessel, he could perceive no 
other trace of her except an eddy produced by the 
sinking craft. He remained near that position as long 
as he deemed prudent, in order to rescue any of the 
crew who might be in the water ; but he found none. 
He then started for the Rhode Island, which then ap- 
peared to be two miles distant, the weather being over- 
cast and attended with a slight rain, the wind hauling 
off to the north. Soon afterward he lost sight of the 
Rhode Island, but in a few minutes saw the first, 
second and third lights. This is the last he saw of 
the Rhode Island that night. He then made a drag 
of the boat's mast by which he kept her head to the 
sea, the men being constantly on the lookout for a 
signal. As none could be seen, he then made for the 
northward and westward, finding the sea too rough to 
pull directly to the west, hoping to fall in with some 
coasting vessel. 

" Mr. Brown kept the boat's crew pulling all night 
in order to overcome the great strength of the current. 
He thought that if they did not do this they would 
drift far away from the track of all vessels before day- 
light. At break of day he discovered a schooner some 
four or five miles away from them. He also mentioned 

1 Brown's official report to Commander Trenchard. 


seeing a small boat some distance off with two or three 
men in her, observing her as she rose two or three 
times upon the crest of a wave and then disappearing. 
At this time Brown's crew was engrossed with the man- 
agement of their own boat, the sea being very irregu- 
lar and the waves seeming to come from all quarters. 
After losing sight of the schooner referred to, Mr. 
Brown saw a large ship close hauled, the wind being 
from the northward and eastward. He had approached 
her sufficiently near to make out the men upon her 
decks, but she passed on without noticing his signals 
for assistance. He then pulled directly in for the land, 
which he estimated to be about ten miles distant. This 
was about half past nine o'clock in the morning of De- 
cember 31st, and about an hour afterward he made a 
schooner to leeward. He got up the crew's coats in 
order to make the sail, and broke some of his oars to 
assist in rigging the sail. He then ran down for the 
schooner, and about eleven o'clock managed to get 
alongside. The schooner proved to be the A. Colby, 
commanded by H. D. Harriman, of Buckport, Me., 
bound for Fernandina, with bricks for Government 
use. Mr. Brown and his crew were received with every 

"The cutter was taken aboard the schooner, and 
Mr. Harriman was requested to change his course so 
far as to land the officers and men at Beaufort, N. C. 
This he consented to do, but in running in for the 
coast, with a view of ascertaining more correctly his 
position, having been without an observation for sev- 
eral days, his schooner struck on Diamond Shoals, off 
Cape Hatteras. Being laden with brick, which strained 
the vessel dangerously every time she struck bottom, it 
was feared that the A. Colby would soon go to pieces. 
As it was, she began to leak dangerously. Mr. Harri- 
man managed to get her afloat, and, continuing on his 
course for Beaufort, he anchored that night under the 
land near Cape Hatteras inlet. The men were kept 

266 IRON VERSUS IRON. 1862. 

constantly at work pumping out the water as fast as 
it leaked in. On the following day they sighted a 
steamer, and made the signal of distress. Harriman 
went aboard the vessel, which proved to be the United 
States gunboat Miami, Captain Townsend. Mr. Har- 
riman reported the situation of his schooner and the 
crew, upon which Captain Townsend dispatched a boat 
with twelve men to assist in getting the schooner into 

"That same afternoon they started for Beaufort, 
reaching there on the morning of the 2d of January." ' 

1 Maclay's Reminiscences of the Old Navy. 



THE Mississippi River has been called the ''Back- 
bone of the Rebellion." From the outbreak the Con- 
federate leaders realized its importance in extending 
their territory westward, and the more ambitious 
looked to an ultimate formation, with the West India 
Islands and Mexico, of one great slave empire. Pos- 
session of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers from Smith- 
land to New Orleans gave them the control of the Red, 
Arkansas, White, Tennessee and Cumberland, while 
the conquest of the enormous basin drained by their 
confluents they hoped would follow in the course of 
time. It would be difficult to exaggerate the important 
part that the Mississippi River played in this great 
struggle. In New Orleans, the center of the mightiest 
river system in the world, the Confederacy possessed a 
considerable plant for building ironclads, casting great 
guns and making small arms, and there skilled me- 
chanics were in sympathy with the cause. From the 
fertile State of Texas which, being remote from the 
seat of war, escaped its ravages immense supplies of 
beef were driven across the Mississippi to the Confed- 
erate army, long after the seaboard States had been 
exhausted. At New Orleans enormous quantities of 
cotton, collected from hundreds of miles around and 
placed on swift vessels, eluded the vigilance of the 
blockaders, and on returning supplied the secession- 
ists with arms and munitions of war. 

No one was more alive to the importance of this 
stream than the Confederate leaders themselves. From 



the beginning their most skillful engineers were en- 
gaged in fortifying its banks from Columbus to Forts 
Jackson and St. Philip. A large portion of the money 
and the strength of the South was massed along this 
river, presenting a frowning gantlet through which, it 
was confidently asserted, "no craft afloat could pass." 
Every strategic point was crowned with bristling bat- 
teries, and the most difficult bends were obstructed 
until one formidable line of fortifications guarded the 
river for a thousand miles. Beginning at the north, 
the Confederates erected strong batteries at Columbus, 
Island No. 10, Fort Pillow, Vicksburg (which may be 
regarded as the citadel of their river system of fortifica- 
tions), Grand Gulf, Port Hudson, Baton Rouge and 
Forts Jackson and St. Philip ; so that, should they 
lose either end of the line, their troops need only to 
fall back on the next post, gradually concentrating 
their forces with each defeat, until their entire strength 
massed at Vicksburg might well defy the armies of the 
North. The northernmost line of defense began at Co- 
lumbus, and extended eastward by Forts Henry and 
Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, 
through Bowling Green to Mill Spring. 

The first measure taken by the Government for the 
repossession of the Mississippi was the construction of 
a squadron of gunboats suitable for river navigation 
and operations against heavy land batteries. No naval 
station, dockyard or arsenal had been established on 
the Mississippi or its tributaries, as an enemy had 
not been expected in that quarter, so that the great 
undertaking of building a flotilla of war vessels had to 
begin with constructing the plant for such work. This 
task was at first assumed by the War Department, 
as it was thought that the fortifications on the Missis- 
sippi would be attacked principally by land forces and 
only a few transports would be required. In the spring 
of 1861 James Buchanan Eads and Commander John 
Rodgers went to Cairo and began the work of creating 


an inland navy. In May, Commander Rodgers went to 
Cincinnati, where he purchased the side- wheel steamers 
Conestoga, A. 0. Tyler and Lexington. Their boilers 
and steam pipes were lowered into the hold and were 
partially protected by coal bunkers, while oak bul- 
warks five inches thick, and pierced for guns, shielded 
the crew from musketry. The Conestoga was armed 
with four smooth-bore 32-pounders, the Tyler, renamed 
Taylor, with six 8-inch shell guns and three rifled 30- 
pounders, while the Lexington mounted four 8-inch 
smooth-bore guns, one 32-pounder and two rifled 30- 
pounders. On the 12th of August these improvised 
war vessels were taken to Cairo. In the earlier opera- 
tions these gunboats did not carry rifled guns, and at 
the battle of Belmont they did not have stern guns. 

In the mean time the War Department advertised 
for seven flat-bottomed vessels, capable of mounting 
thirteen heavy guns each, and drawing not more than 
six feet of water. They were to be about six hundred 
tons burden, fitted with high-pressure engines, capable 
of steaming nine miles an hour, to be one hundred and 
seventy-five feet long and fifty-one and a half feet wide. 
Their wooden hulls had sides inclined inward from the 
water's edge at an angle of thirty-five degrees. As 
these vessels were expected to fight bows on, the for- 
ward casemate was built with twenty-four inches of 
solid oak, covered with two and a half inches of iron. 
The same thickness of iron was laid abreast of the 
boilers and engines, but without the wood backing, 
which left the stern and the sides, forward and abaft 
of the machinery, vulnerable. The conical pilot house 
was built with heavy oak and plated on the forward 
side with two and a half inches of iron, and on the 
after side with one and a half inches of iron. The 
armaments of these gunboats were made up of such 
cannon as could be picked up at the moment. Thirty- 
five old-fashioned 42-pounders supplied by the army 
were rifled, which weakened them, as they were not re- 


enforced by steel bands. They were always regarded 
as dangerous, and several of them burst. 

These vessels were to be propelled by a wheel in 
the middle, sixty feet forward of the stern, covered by 
the casemate. This left a chasm in the stem of the 
same width as the paddle wheel, eighteen feet. This 
chasm in the hull of the vessel was planked over and 
was called the fantail. These vessels mounting thirteen 
guns (generally three 8-inch shell guns, six 32-pounders 
and four rifled 42-pounders), were named the De Kalb 
(St. Louis\ the Carondelet, the Cincinnati, the Louis- 
ville, the Mound City, the Cairo and the Pittsburgh. 
They were built by Mr. Eads. They were begun in 
August, 1861, and by working day and night and seven 
days in the week they were launched and ready for 
their armaments and crews within one hundred days. 

Before the completion of these ironclads Mr. Eads 
converted the snag boat Benton, of about one thousand 
tons burden, into a formidable gunboat. She was con- 
structed on two hulls, twenty feet apart, which were 
braced together with heavy timbers, the space between 
the two hulls being planked so that there was a contin- 
uous flat bottom. The upper side was decked over in 
the same manner, and by extending the outer sides of 
the two hulls until they joined each other forward 
and aft the twin boats became one wide substantial 
hull. The false bottom of the Benton was carried 
within fifty feet of the stern, where it was brought up 
to the deck so as to leave a space open for a wheel, 
which was turned by the original engine of the snag 
boat. Thus altered, the Benton was two hundred and 
two feet long and had seventy-two feet beam. A case- 
mate covered with iron plates was built on her deck, 
slanting inward at an angle of about thirty-five degrees, 
and this casemate was carried up so as to cover the 
wheel. On the bow the casemate was plated with three 
and a half inches of iron backed by thirty inches of 
oak, while the wheelhouse and stern were covered with 


two and a half inches of iron and twelve inches of 
oak. The rest of the casemate was covered with f-inch 
iron. Thus completed, the Benton drew nine feet of 
water and made about five miles an hour. She was 
armed with two 9-inch shell guns, four rifled 42-pound- 
ers, two rifled 50-pounders and eight smooth-bore 32- 
pounders. Another vessel, the Essex, named after the 
Essex of the War of 1812, and commanded by William 
David Porter, a son of Captain David Porter, was 
armed with one 10-inch, three 9-inch, one 32-pounder 
and two rifled 50-pounders. Besides these vessels 
there were thirty-eight mortar boats or rafts, each 
mounting one 13-inch mortar. Commander Porter had 
two sons in the Confederate service. 

The difficulty of manning these vessels was even 
greater than that of building them. Their crews, as 
finally brought together, consisted of landsmen, steam- 
boat hands, soldiers and seamen. Five hundred sail- 
ors arrived from the Atlantic States in November, 1861, 
and on the 23d of December eleven hundred troops 
were ordered for the service from Washington. The 
mixed character of these crews gave rise to many diffi- 
culties, Major-Greneral Halleck insisting that the offi- 
cers of the regiments from which the troops came 
should accompany the men and owe no obedience to 
naval officers except to a commander of the gunboat. 
This necessarily caused confusion and prevented a 
large number of troops from serving. On the 30th of 
August, 1861, Captain Andrew Hull Foote was ap- 
pointed commander of the Western flotilla. Arriving 
at Cairo on the 12th of September, he found his move- 
ments greatly embarrassed by "want of funds and ma- 
terial for naval purposes." At the time of his arrival 
he had only the rank corresponding to colonel, and he 
very properly complained that " every brigadier could 
interfere with him." Even when he received his ap- 
pointment as flag officer, November 13, 1862, which 
gave him the relative rank of major-general, the naval 


officers under him were constantly liable to be harassed 
by conflicting orders from any superior army officer 
under whom they might be serving. With this emi- 
nently improper complication of authority the early 
operations of the Western flotilla were carried on, and 
it is greatly to the credit of both the navy and the 
army officers that they got along as harmoniously as 
they did. It was not until July, 1863, that the fleet 
was transferred to the Navy Department. There is 
another class of men who served in these gunboats who 
should be honorably mentioned the pilots. These 
men, although denied all the professional advantages 
of officers, and cut off from all hope of regular promo- 
tion, served, as a rule, loyally and with conspicuous 
gallantry all through the naval operations on the 
Western rivers. It called for unusual bravery to act 
as a pilot in this service, as it was well known that 
the pilot house would be the first and last target of the 
enemy, for, the pilot killed or disabled, the gunboat 
was practically thrown out of action. The pilot house 
might well be called the slaughter pen, for in the ac- 
tion at Fort Henry two pilots were killed Marshall 
H. Ford and James McBride ; in the Fort Donelson 
affair two more were killed Frank Riley and William 
Hinton and others were wounded, two of the gun- 
boats dropping out of action largely for this reason. 
Another pilot was killed just above Fort Donelson, 
while the number of officers who were killed or wound- 
ed in their pilot houses shows that it was pre-eminently 
a post of danger. 

The neutral attitude assumed by Kentucky at the 
outbreak of the war at first made both sides reluctant 
to invade her territory ; but early in September the 
Confederates occupied Columbus and Hickman, upon 
which General Grant seized Paducah and Smithland. 
In September, Grant, who was in command of the 
troops in Cairo, determined to march against Norfolk, 
eight or nine miles below, where a considerable body 


of Confederates had assembled. Accordingly, on the 
10th of September the gunboats Lexington, Com- 
mander Roger N. Stembel, and Conestoga, Lieutenant 
S. Ledyard Phelps, dropped down the river so as to 
support the troops. A few miles down the Lexington 
was fired upon by a battery of sixteen field pieces, 
supported by a body of cavalry that assisted in mov- 
ing the artillery from place to place along the river 
bank. But the Confederate guns were too light to 
effect much damage, and shells from the gunboats, 
bursting among the horsemen, scattered them. 

The Lexington pursued and drove them under the 
guns of their fortifications at Columbus. On the same 
afternoon the Confederate gunboat Yankee came up 
the river and opened fire at long range on the Con- 
estoga and the Lexington. The first shot from the 
Conestoga's heavy gun compelled the Yankee to re- 
treat, and when she was about two miles distant an 
8-inch shell from the Lexington exploded on her star- 
board wheelhouse, which so injured her that only one 
engine could be used in reaching Columbus. As the 
National gunboats were retiring from this skirmish one 
man was severely wounded by fire from an ambush. 
On the 24th of September the Lexington moved up the 
Ohio River, where she was joined a few days later by 
the Conestoga^ and visited several points on the Cum- 
berland, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The 
appearance of these gunboats did much toward keep- 
ing alive the spirit of loyalty to the National cause. 
On the 28th of October the Conestoga broke up a Con- 
federate camp on the Cumberland, inflicting a loss of 
several killed and wounded. Although these opera- 
tions were not important, yet they proved to be excel- 
lent practice for the green crews, and accustomed them 
to the strange craft they were manning. 

Early in November Grant advanced upon Belmont 
for the purpose of destroying a Confederate camp, and 
also to prevent the enemy from sending troops into Mis- 





souri to interfere with an expedition that had been sent 
into that State for the purpose of driving General M. 
Jeff. Thompson out of it. Accordingly, on the evening 
of November 6th, the Tyler, Commander Henry Walke, 



Belmont /t Columbus 




and the Lexington, Commander Stembel, dropped down 
the river to convoy a half dozen transports, and en- 
gaged the batteries at Columbus with a view of divert- 
ing the enemy's attention from the real point of attack. 
Moving in a circle so as to prevent the enemy estab- 
lishing the range, these gunboats, on November 7th, 
opened fire ; but as they were not capable of engaging 
the formidable batteries at close quarters, they soon 


drew out of range. They returned, however, several 
times during the day and opened a spirited fire. In 
the last attack a shot passed obliquely through the 
Tyler's side, deck and scantling, killed one man and 
wounded two others. Finding that the firing in the 
direction of Belmont had ceased, the gunboat dis- 
charged a few more broadsides and then returned to 
the landing where the transports were anchored. The 
troops under General Grant, having accomplished their 
purpose, were returning, and soon appeared at the land- 
ing, pursued by a superior force of Confederates. As 
the Southerners eagerly pressed forward in anticipation 
of cutting off the retreat of the National troops before 
they could embark in their transports, the gunboats 
opened with shell and grape. 

An eyewitness says: "The enemy planted their 
fresh artillery, supported by infantry, in a cornfield 
just above our transports with the intention of sinking 
them when we started up the river, and of bagging 
the entire army ; but thanks to the gunboats Tyler and 
Lexington and their experienced gunners, they saved 
us from a terrible doom. They took up a position be- 
tween us and the enemy and opened their guns upon 
them, letting slip a whole broadside at once. This 
movement was performed so quickly that the Con- 
federates could not fire on us. Their guns were si- 
lenced as soon as they opened, or probably were dis- 
mounted. The first shot from the gunboats made a 
perfect lane through the enemy's ranks." The Con- 
federates endeavored to reply with musketry, but with- 
out effect, and the fire from the gunboats soon put 
them to flight. As the National vessels were returning 
to Cairo Commander Walke learned that some of our 
troops had been left behind. He promptly put down 
the river and met straggling groups of soldiers who 
were directed to go on board the transports. Satisfied 
that all had been rescued, Walke rejoined the vessels 
up the river. 


On the 11 tli of January, 1862, Commander Porter, 
of the Essex, was informed that seven Confederate 
steamers, having in tow a floating battery, were mov- 
ing up the river from Columbus. Immediately signal- 
ing Lieutenant Leonard Paulding, of the De Kalb, 
Commander Porter stood down the river. A heavy fog 
obstructed the view until about ten o'clock, when the 
mist rolled aside and revealed a large vessel at the 
head of a bend, in company with two steamers. The 
National gunboats immediately bore down to close. 
When at longe range the enemy opened with a heavy 
shell gun, and the missile struck a sandbar and rico- 
chetted within two hundred yards of the Essex, when 
it exploded. The Essex did not immediately reply, but 
moved steadily downstream until at long range, when 
the De Kalb discharged a rifled gun, immediately after 
which the Essex opened, and for twenty minutes an 
animated tire was maintained on both sides. At the 
end of this time the enemy retired, rounding to once 
in a while to fire a broadside. The Essex and the De 
Kalb kept up a running fight until the chase, in a crip- 
pled condition, ran under the cover of the battery 
above Columbus. 

The first of the three strongholds that constituted 
the Confederate northern line of defense in the West 
was Fort Henry, on Tennessee River. This was an 
earthwork with five bastions on low ground at a bend 
in the river, mounting one 10-inch columbiad, one 6- 
inch rifled gun, two 42-pounders, eight 32-pounders, 
five 18-pounders and four 12-pounders. The garrison 
consisted of the Fourth and Seventh Mississippi, the 
First Kentucky, one Louisiana regiment, and a cavalry 
company under the command of Brigadier-General 
Lloyd Tilghman. The plan of attack was to send fif- 
teen regiments of infantry, with several batteries of 
artillery and a body of horse, to make a reconnoissance 
toward Columbus, with a view of deceiving the enemy 
as to the real point of attack. At the same time Brig- 


adier-General C. F. Smith, with six thousand men, was 
to march overland to Forts Henry and Donelson, but 
on reaching Paducah they were to return, so as to lead 
the enemy to believe that the expedition on Fort Henry 
had been abandoned. 

On the morning of February 2, 1862, the naval part 
of the expedition, under command of Captain Foote, 
left Cairo, and in the evening it reached the mouth of 
Tennessee River. This force consisted of the Cincin- 
nati (flagship), Commander Stembel ; the Essex, Com- 
mander Porter ; the Carondelet, Commander Walke ; 
the De Kalb, Lieutenant Paulding ; and the wooden 
gunboats Conestoga, Lieutenant Phelps ; Lexington, 
Lieutenant James W. Shirk ; and Tyler, Lieutenant 
William Gwin. These vessels when approaching the 
fort were ordered to keep in constant motion by steam- 
ing ahead or dropping back with the current, so as 
to destroy the enemy's range, at the same time keep- 
ing their heavily protected bows toward the fort. 
On the 4th of February the squadron anchored six 
miles below Fort Henry, where the troops were landed 
and stationed at several points, so as to prevent re- 
enforcements from reaching the garrison and cut off 
all avenues of escape in case the fort surrendered. On 
the 5th of March General Grant and his staff went 
aboard the Essex and ran close up to the forts to recon- 
noiter. While they were thus engaged the enemy 
opened fire and sent a shot through the officers' quar- 
ters and into the steerage, upon which the Essex drew 
out of range and returned to her anchorage. 

Heavy rains had raised the river to an unusual 
height, and had so accelerated the current that at times 
it required a full head of steam and both anchors to 
keep some of the ironclads in place. Immense quan- 
tities of logs and trees also came down the river, keep- 
ing the officers and men at work day and night to dis- 
encumber their vessels. Although this unlooked-for 
difficulty exhausted the crews before the attack was 


begun, yet it proved a most fortunate occurrence, inas- 
much as the torpedoes that the enemy had thickly 
planted in the river were dragged from their moorings 
and carried harmlessly away. At 10.20 A. M. on the 
6th of February signal was made for the gunboats to 
clear for action, and half an hour later they got under 
way and steamed up the river, the four ironclads lead- 
ing the way, the Carondelet and the De Kalb, lashed 
together, on the left wing, as the stream was narrow 
at this point, while the Cincinnati and the Essex were 
on the right, thus presenting an ironclad battery of 
twelve guns toward the enemy. The three wooden 
gunboats followed about a mile astern. At 11.30 A. M. 
the ironclads, rounding a bend in the stream, suddenly 
came in full view of the fort, and an hour later, while 
at a distance of seventeen hundred yards, the Cincin- 
nati fired the first shot as the signal for the battle to 
open. This promptly drew the enemy's fire, and their 
rifled shells were soon heard on all sides. The iron- 
clads steadily pushed up the stream until about four 
hundred and fifty yards from the fort, where they main- 
tained a well-contested action. At first the Confeder- 
ates fired with greater precision than the gunboats, as 
they had long since obtained the exact range of the 
position that any vessel must take in approaching ; but 
as the National gunboats drew nearer their fire became 
effective and the walls of the fort rapidly crumbled 
before the blows of solid shot and exploding shell. 
The Confederate gunners were much exposed in their 
open earthwork, while their opponents were partially 
protected by casemates. 

A little before one o'clock a shot penetrated the 
Essex's armor just above a porthole on the port side, 
killing Acting-Master' s-Mate S. B. Brittan, Jr., and 
pierced the middle boiler. Instantly the forward gun- 
room was filled with scalding steam, which caused fear- 
ful havoc. Those who could rushed aft, others leaped 
into the river through the ports, while Commander 


1862. DEATH BY STEAM. 2^9 

Porter himself barely escaped with his life through a 
port on the starboard side. He was badly wounded, 
and was rescued from the river by a seaman named 
John Walker. Twenty-eight men were scalded, and 
many of them died. The shellman of gun No. 2, 
James Coffey, was found on his knees in the act of 
taking a shell from the box. While he was in this 
position the scalding steam had struck him full in the 
face, killing him instantly. The two pilots were found 
dead in the pilot house, one of them, Marshall Ford, 
with his left hand holding a spoke of the wheel and his 
right hand grasping the signal-bell rope. Thus crip- 
pled, the Essex drifted out of action, but the remaining 
ironclads maintained the battle with unflinching zeal 
and made encouraging progress, for two of the enemy's 
guns were disabled, one by bursting and the 10-inch co- 
lumbiad by having its priming- wire jammed in the vent. 

"Precisely forty minutes past one 1 the enemy, after 
a most determined resistance, surrendered, and shortly 
afterward the fort was occupied by a detachment of 
seamen under Commander Walke. While the Essex 
was drifting helplessly out of action the news of the 
surrender reached her, and a seaman named Jasper T. 
Breas, who was badly scalded, sprang to his feet ex- 
claiming, * Surrender ! I must see that with my own 
eyes before I die.' Before any one could interfere he 
clambered up two short flights of stairs to the spar 
deck, shouted * Glory to Grod ! ' and sank exhausted. 
He died that night." 

In this sharp action the De Kalb was struck seven 
times, but none of her people were hurt. Thirty-one 
shot struck the Cincinnati, and one, passing through 
a paddle wheel, killed one man and wounded several 
others. Two of her guns were disabled, while her 
smokestack, after cabin and boats were riddled through 
and through. The Carondelet fired one hundred and 

1 Correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette. 


seven shot and shell. She was struck thirty times, 
eight shot taking effect within two feet of the bow 
ports on a direct line with the boiler ; but none of her 
men were injured. The Essex fired in all seventy-two 
shot from her two 9-inch guns. Her total loss was 
thirty-two killed, wounded or missing. The wooden 
gunboats, being less formidable to the Confederates, es- 
caped with little notice. Aside from the men who were 
injured by scalding, the squadron had two men killed 
and nine wounded. The enemy's loss is placed at five 
killed, eleven wounded and five missing. Seventy- 
eight prisoners were taken, while the remainder of the 
garrison, numbering two thousand five hundred and 
fifty-eight men, escaped to Fort Donelson. 

Immediately upon the surrender of the fort the 
gunboats Conestoga, Tyler and Lexington hastened up 
the river in pursuit of several steamers which were seen 
getting under way. Toward evening they reached a 
railroad bridge twenty -five miles up the river, and the 
enemy, after passing it, had jammed the machinery for 
hoisting the draw so that it could not be readily raised. 
Observing the escaping vessels on the other side, and 
believing them to be laden with troops and valuable 
stores, Lieutenant Phelps ordered some men ashore, 
and after an hour of hard work they managed to force 
the draw. The Tyler was then left to destroy the rail- 
road, while the Conestoga and the Lexington resumed 
the pursuit, and with such success that toward mid- 
night two of the chase were blown up by their own 
men. So great was the force of the explosion that, 
although the National gunboats were half a mile away, 
much of their glass work was broken in, the doors 
were started and the light upper deck lifted. On the 
evening of the next day (February 7th) the gunboats 
reached Cerro Gordo, where they captured the large 
steamer Eastport, which was being plated with iron. 

The Tyler was left to guard the Eastport and take 
aboard large quantities of lumber, while the Lexington 


and the Conestoga continued up the river. At Chicka- 
saw two steamers were captured, one laden with iron. 
Pushing on to Muscle Shoals, the gunboats captured 
three steamers that had been set on fire by the enemy, 
and a portion of their cargo and military stores was 
saved. Returning down the river, a detachment of 
men was landed to destroy the baggage and stores of a 
Confederate camp that had been hastily abandoned. 
The gunboats returned to Cairo with the Eastport and 
one steamer on the llth. The Eastport was built on a 
beautiful model and had great speed. Her hull was 
sheathed with oak, and bulwarks of oak increased her 
strength. When she was taken into the National serv- 
ice her boilers were lowered into the hold. In the Red 
River expedition, two years later, she was partially de- 
stroyed by a torpedo, and, finding that it was impossi- 
ble to save her, Phelps, then lieutenant commander, 
blew her up. 

The next attack on the Confederate northerly line 
of defense was directed against Fort Donelson. This 
work was built on a bold bluff one hundred and twenty 
feet above the level of Cumberland River, on the west 
side, about twelve miles from Fort Henry. It was 
garrisoned by fifteen thousand troops under Brigadier- 
Generals Gideon Johnson Pillow and Simon Bolivar 
Buckner. The defenses of the place were divided into 
three batteries, the first mounting nine 32-pounders 
and one 10-inch columbiad, about twenty feet above 
the water's edge ; another, armed with one columbiad, 
rifled as a 32-pounder, and two 32- pound carronades, 
about fifty feet above the river ; while a third battery, 
mounting three or four heavy guns, crowned the bluff. 
On the 12th of February the Carondelet, Commander 
Walke, towed by the transport Alps, arrived a few 
miles below this formidable work, and, casting off 
boldly, steamed toward the Confederates to engage 
them single-handed ; but everything about the fort 
was quiet ; not a gunner was to be seen. At 12.50 the 


Carondelet announced her presence by the discharge of 
her three bow shell guns ; but even this failed to draw 
a response, and after ten shells had been dropped in 
and around the silent batteries Commander Walke re- 
tired and anchored three miles below, the enemy at 
this time being wholly engrossed by a land movement 
of the twenty thousand troops under General Grant. 
The Confederate sharpshooters on the banks, however, 
soon gave evidence of their presence, and were con- 
stantly on the watch to pick off any man exposing 
himself outside of the casemates or in the open ports. 

The next morning, February 13th, the Carondelet, at 
the request of Grant, again moved toward the batteries, 
and at five minutes after nine o'clock opened tire. This 
time the enemy promptly replied with all the guns 
that bore, but owing to a heavily wooded point of land 
which intervened they caused little damage. The gun- 
boat fired one hundred and thirty-nine shells at the bat- 
teries, killing one of the engineer officers of the fort and 
doing considerable injury. At 11.30 A. M. a 128-pound 
solid shot penetrated the Carondelefs casemate on the 
port side', and "in its progress toward the center of 
our boilers glanced over the temporary barricades in 
front of them and then passed over the steam drum, 
struck the beams of the upper deck, carried away the 
railing around the engine room and burst the steam 
heater, and then, glancing back into the engine room, 
'seemed to bound after the men,' as one of the engi- 
neers said, 'like a wild beast pursuing its prey.' . . . 
When it burst through the side of the Carondelet it 
knocked down and wounded a dozen men. An im- 
mense quantity of splinters were blown through the 
vessel ; some of them, as fine as needles, shot through 
the clothes of the men like arrows." ! 

After receiving this shot the Carondelet drew out of 
range to repair damages, but at 12.15 P. M. she again 

1 Rear- Admiral Walke, Battles and Leaders, Civil War, vol. i, p. 431. 


returned to the attack and maintained a stubborn ac- 
tion until nearly dark, when she retired. At half past 
eleven o'clock that night Flag-Officer Foote arrived on 
the scene of action with his gunboats, making the en- 
tire naval force in the river oif Fort Donelson as fol- 
lows : The ironclads St. Louis (flagship), Lieutenant 
Paulding ; Louisville, Commander Benjamin M. Dove ; 
Carondelet, Commander Walke ; and Pittsburgh, Lieu- 
tenant Egbert Thompson ; and the wooden gunboats 
Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and Conestoga, Lieutenant 
Phelps. The morning of February 14th was taken up 
with preparations for a serious attack from the river. 
Owing to the great height of the Confederate batteries, 
the upper decks of the ironclads were exposed to 
plunging shot, besides which shot from the upper bat- 
tery would strike the sloping bulwarks of the gunboats 
almost at right angles. To guard as much as possible 
against this, chains, lumber, bags of coal and hard ma- 
terial of all descriptions were strewn on deck so as to 
break the force of heavy shot from the heights. 

"At 2 P. M. precisely the signal was given from 
the flagship to get under way." 1 The four ironclads 
formed as nearly in a line abreast as the narrow river 
would admit, the Carondelet on the left, then the Pitts- 
burgh and the St. Louis, with the Louisville on the 
extreme right, the two wooden gunboats being sta- 
tioned about half a mile astern. At 3.30 P. M., when 
the flotilla had proceeded about a third of a mile, the 
upper battery fired two shot by way of testing the 
distance. Without replying, Captain Foote steamed 
ahead until within a mile of the batteries, when he 
fired his starboard rifled gun, which was followed by 
those of the Louisville, the Pittsburgh and the Ca- 
rondelet in rapid succession. These missiles fell short, 
but at the next round a slight elevation of the guns 
caused the shot and shell to fall in and around the 

1 Correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette, who was in the Louisville. 


fort with great precision. The vessels rapidly dimin- 
ished the distance between them and the fort to six 
and finally to four hundred yards. From this time 
the firing on both sides became rapid and more accu- 
rate. The narrowness of the stream somewhat disar- 
ranged the National line of battle, so that the St. Louis 
was compelled to take the lead, closely followed by 
the Louisville, the Pittsburgh and the Carondelet, 
thus presenting a formidable battery of twelve guns to 
the enemy. A large shell from the Louisville exploded 
under a gun in the water battery, dismounted the piece 
and killed a dozen or more men. 

But the gunboats also suffered severely. They were 
repeatedly struck by solid shot, some of which pene- 
trated the iron mail and caused fearful havoc on the 
crowded decks. One shot struck the Louisville at the 
angle of the upper deck and pilot house, penetrated 
the iron plating and heavy timber backing, and buried 
itself in a pile of hammocks in a direct line with the 
boiler. Soon afterward a shell raked her from stem to 
stern, passed through the wheel house, and exploded 
in the river just astern. This was followed by a solid 
10-inch shot, which entered the starboard bow port, 
wrecked the gun carriage, killed three men, wounded 
four, and passed through the entire length of the gun 
deck and into the river beyond. To finish the work of 
destruction, a shell passed through the starboard for- 
ward port, killed one man, wounded two, and disabled 
the steering-gear so as to make the boat unmanageable, 
and compelled her to drop out of action. 

The flagship St. Louis was struck fifty -nine times, 
but only one shot penetrated. This one, however, en- 
tered the pilot house and exploded, killing the pilot 
and severely wounding Captain Foote. Soon after- 
ward her wheel ropes were carried away, so that she 
drifted helplessly out of action with the Louisville. 
The Carondelet also was handled severely. A 128- 
pound shot smashed her anchor into flying bolts, and, 


bounding over the casemate, carried away a portion 
of the smokestack. Another shot penetrated her iron 
mail, but was checked by the heavy timber backing, 
and a third missile struck her square on the pilot 
house, sending a shower of iron fragments and splin- 
ters, which killed one of the pilots. Everything out- 
side of the ironclad was swept away boats, smoke- 
stack, davits and flagstaff while the iron plates were 
ripped and torn as if struck by lightning. In their 
eagerness to fire the gunners in the Carondelet loaded 
too hastily, and a rifled gun exploded, knocking down 
a dozen men, but fortunately killed no one. 

The Pittsburgh was struck by forty shot, two of 
which entered below the guards and caused her to leak 
so much that it was feared she would sink before morn- 
ing. In turning round to draw out of range she fouled 
the Carondelefs stern, breaking her starboard rudder. 
This compelled Commander Walke to go ahead in or- 
der to clear the Pittsburgh, so that he found himself 
within three hundred and fifty yards of the batteries 
at a moment when his consorts were drifting out of 
action in a disabled condition. Taking in the situation 
at a glance, and greatly encouraged by the results of 
the engagement so far, the Confederates turned their 
remaining guns on the Carondelet with renewed vigor. 
There was no alternative .for Commander Walke but to 
drop out of action also, and this he did, keeping his 
bow toward the enemy, slowly retiring and deliberately 
firing so long as he was in range. Two 32-pound shot 
entered the Carondelet } s bow between wind and water, 
which undoubtedly would have sunk her had not the 
water-tight compartments kept her afloat until the 
shot holes could be plugged. She was struck fifty- 
nine times, and everything outside of her casemate 
was carried away. The smokestack was riddled; six 
shot struck the pilot house, shattering one section 
to pieces and cutting through the iron plating; four 
struck the casing forward of the rifled gun, and 


three on the starboard side. One of her rifled guns 

Commander Walke said: "Our gunners kept up a 
constant firing while we were falling back, and the 
warning words * Look out ! ' * Down ! ' were often heard 
and heeded by nearly all the gun crews. On one occa- 
sion, while the men were at the muzzle of the middle 
bow gun loading it, the warning came just in time for 
them to jump aside as a 32-pound shot struck the lower 
sill and glancing up struck the upper sill, then falling 
on the inner edge of the lower sill bounded on deck and 
spun around like a top, but hurt no one. It was very 
evident that if the men who were loading had not 
obeyed the order to drop, several of them would have 
been killed. So I repeated the instructions and warned 
the men of the guns and the crew generally to bow or 
stand off from the ports when a shot was seen coming. 
But some of the young men, from a spirit of bravado 
or from a belief in the doctrine of fatalism, disre- 
garded the instructions, saying it was useless to at- 
tempt to dodge a cannon ball, and they would trust 
to luck. The warning words ' Look out ! ' ' Down ! ' 
were again soon heard. Down went the gunner and 
his men as the whizzing shot glanced on the gun, tak- 
ing off the gunner's cap and the heads of two of the 
young men who trusted to luck and in defiance of the 
order were standing up or passing behind him. This 
shot killed another man also who was at the last gun 
of the starboard side, and disabled the gun. It came 
in with a hissing sound, and three sharp spats and a 
heavy bang told the sad fate of three brave comrades. 
Before the decks were well sanded there was so much 
blood on them that our men could not work the guns 
without slipping." l The following day, February 15th, 
Grant followed up the attack of the gunboats by a com- 
bined assault of the navy and army, and early on the 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. i, p. 435. 


morning of the 16th the fort surrendered. The loss to 
the gunboats on the 14th was one man killed and nine 
wounded in the St. Louis, two wounded in the Pitts- 
burgh, four killed and six wounded in the Louisville 
and six killed and twenty-six wounded in the Caron- 
delet; total, eleven killed and forty-three wounded. 

The capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson broke 
the first line of defense, and compelled the Confederates 
to abandon Bowling Green on the east and Columbus 
on the west, the latter place being occupied by Captain 
Foote on the 2d of March. The Confederates then 
formed a second and perhaps more formidable line, hav- 
ing Island No. 10 on the west and extending eastward 
through Corinth. Here they made a most determined 
effort not only to hold their position, but by a coup de 
main to overwhelm the National army in Tennessee, 
regain the lost ground and assume the offensive. They 
expected that the powerful ironclads of the Merrimac 
type then being built at New Orleans, Yazoo River 
and other points along the Mississippi would make 
short work of the comparatively frail gunboats under 
Captain Foote. This would give them the all-impor- 
tant command of the Mississippi and its many tributary 
waters, and enable them to carry the war far into the 
Northern States. At the same time, by suddenly mass- 
ing their forces on some point of the widely extended 
National line they hoped to sweep all before them. 
This was not altogether fancy on the part of the Con- 
federate leaders. Their plans were perfect, and their 
success might have been complete had it not been for 
an unexpected check given by the two insignificant 
wooden gunboats Tyler and Lexington. 

In pursuance of this brilliant scheme, General Albert 
Sidney Johnston, after leaving enough troops to hold 
Island No. 10, ordered the divisions under Generals 
Beauregard, Bragg, Hardee and Breckenridge quietly 
to concentrate at Corinth, from which place they were 
to overwhelm Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing, and 


then, proceeding rapidly down the Tennessee River, re- 
capture Fort Henry and Fort Donelson before they 
could be re-enforced. This done, the way would be 
clear for an invasion of the North. By the 5th of April 
the Confederate troops had been massed around Cor- 
inth. The National army was encamped in the form 
of a semicircle just above Pittsburg Landing, not more 
than fifteen miles distant, both wings resting near the 
river, while the center swelled out five miles from its 
banks. About daybreak, April 6th, the enemy began 
a furious assault on the National center, intending to 
crush it and then sweep around so as to attack the 
wings in the rear. The division under General Pren- 
tiss, which held the center, stubbornly contested the 
ground, but was gradually forced back, until by 10 
A. M. the enemy was in possession of the camp. The 
Confederates then wheeled round to annihilate the wing 
under General Hurlburt, which guarded the stores at 
Pittsburg Landing, and by 3 p. M. they had nearly ac- 
complished their purpose ; for the National troops, 
though fighting gallantly, were swept back in confu- 
sion, the river cutting oif their retreat. There was now 
a pause in the battle while the victorious Confederates 
massed their forces for a final charge to capture the 
landing with all the army stores. 

During the progress of the great battle the Tyler, 
Lieutenant Gwin, and the Lexington, Lieutenant 
Shirk, moved up and down the river, seeking an op- 
portunity to reach the enemy. At 1.25 p. M. Lieuten- 
ant Gwin sent a messenger to General Hurlburt asking 
permission to open on the enemy, and was directed to 
do so, the general expressing himself "grateful for 
this offer of support, saying that without re-enforce- 
ments he would not be able to maintain the position he 
then occupied for an hour." The Tyler at 2.30 P. M. 
opened on a battery and in half an hour silenced it, 
and at 3.50 p. M. she dropped down to the landing op- 
posite Pittsburg, where she was joined by the Lexing- 


ton. The two gunboats took a position where their 
guns would sweep a ravine through which the enemy 
was compelled to pass in his final charge. At 5.30 
p. M. the Confederates started from cover with yells 
of confidence, and wave after wave of glistening bayo- 
nets rolled from the woods across the ravine. At this 
moment the gunboats opened at short range, together 
with a battery of 32-pounders hastily prepared by 
Colonel Joseph D. Webster, and swept the ravine 
.from end to end with a terrific fire of shot, shell and 

The Confederates had not anticipated the fire of 
the gunboats, and in their eagerness to seize the prize 
so nearly in their grasp they rushed on to destruc- 
tion. Hissing shells tore bloody chasms in their 
lines, and, exploding, struck down the men in wide 
circles, while a pitiless storm of grape and canister 
sprinkled death on all sides. No mortal army could 
withstand such a terrific fire, and gradually the enemy 
fell back, until at 6.30 P. M. they retired beyond the 
reach of the gunboats. During the night the Confed- 
erates occupied the captured camps, where the gun- 
boats kept dropping shells among them until daylight. 
The battle was renewed with fresh troops on the fol- 
lowing day, when the enemy was compelled to retreat. 
Not a man in the gunboats had been injured. The 
Tyler alone threw one hundred and eighty-eight shells 
at point-blank range. 

After the surrender of Forts Henry and Donelson 
the presence of National gunboats in these rivers was 
necessary, as guerrillas were a constant menace to the 
army lines of communication. This hazardous service 
was gallantly performed by the gunboats under Cap- 
tain Alexander M. Pennock. On the 30th of January, 

1863, Captain Pennock sent the Lexington, Lieutenant- 
Commander S. Ledyard Phelps, up the Cumberland 
River. Twenty miles above Clarksville Phelps landed 
and burned a house that had been used as a head- 



quarters by the enemy. Returning from this expedi- 
tion, the Lexington was fired upon by a battery of 
heavy guns, and although struck three times she soon 
silenced the enemy. 

While moving up Cumberland River with a number 
of transports under convoy of the Lexington and five 
light-draught gunboats, February 3d, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Le Roy Fitch learned that Colonel Harding, 
commanding the garrison of eight hundred men oppo- 
site Fort Donelson, was surrounded by an overwhelm- 
ing force of Confederates and that his ammunition was 
exhausted. Hastening to the scene of battle with his 
six gunboats, Fitch stationed his vessels where they 
could sweep a graveyard in which the main body of 
the enemy was stationed, and opened a terrific fire. 
Being thus unexpectedly attacked in the rear, the Con- 
federates fled in confusion, leaving one hundred and 
forty of their dead on the field. Fitch afterward went 
up the Tennessee as far as Florence, dispersing bodies 
of Confederate troops wherever found. On the 24th of 
April, Fitch, in the Lexington, assisted Ellet's vessels 
in silencing a Confederate battery. When General J. 
H. Morgan made his raid into Ohio, July, 1863, Fitch 
stationed his gunboats at various points along the Ohio 
River to cut off the enemy's retreat. On the 19th of 
July, in the little gunboat Moose, he overtook the Con- 
federates at a ford two hundred and fifty miles east of 
Cincinnati, and notwithstanding a battery of two field 
pieces the Moose prevented the enemy from crossing. 
This compelled the Confederates to abandon their 
wounded and dismounted men and to scatter in a head- 
long flight. The Moose kept abreast of them and frus- 
trated two other efforts to cross, and she did not relin- 
quish the chase until the water was too shoal even for 



WHEN General Johnston concentrated his forces at 
Corinth with a view of overwhelming Grant at Pitts- 
burg Landing, he left enough men, as he thought, 
to hold the powerful fortifications at Island No. 10 
against any force that could be brought against them. 
This place was of great strategic strength. The earth- 
works on the island itself were from ten to fifteen 
feet thick, and mounted two 10-inch columbiads, four 
8-inch guns, five 32-pounders and five 64-pounders. 
Opposite the island, on the Kentucky shore, were 
mounted thirty heavy guns, while a floating battery of 
sixteen guns was anchored just below battery No. 1 on 
Island No. 10. A line of hulks obstructed the northern 
channel, compelling vessels to pass on the southern side, 
where they were exposed at short range to the fire of 
about sixty heavy guns. At the northern bend of the 
river was New Madrid, held by several thousand Con- 
federate soldiers, and fortified so as to guard Island 
No. 10 on the Missouri side ; and below New Madrid, 
on the eastern shore, were planted batteries which pre- 
vented a force from crossing at that point. All land 
approaches to the fortifications around Island No. 10, 
on the south, were cut off by impassable swamps. On 
the 15th of March Captain Foote appeared before Island 
No. 10 with twelve hundred troops under Colonel Napo- 
leon Bonaparte Buford ; eleven mortar boats under Cap- 
tain Henry E. Maynadier ; and the ironclads Benton 
(flagship), Lieutenant S. Ledyard Phelps ; Carondelet, 
Commander Henry Walke ; St. Louis, Lieutenant Leon- 





ard Paulding ; Mound City, Commander Augustus 
Henry Kilty ; and Pittsburgh, Lieutenant Egbert 

At this time the river was swollen by rains and had 
overflowed its banks, sweeping houses, fences and 
lumber down the stream in its rapid current. The 
heavy ironclads, whose engines even in ordinary times 
made slow progress upstream, were now barely able to 
save themselves from being swept under the enemy's 
guns. In their action with Fort Henry and Fort Don- 
elson they had approached the enemy from below, so 
that in case their machinery became disabled which 
happened in both of these attacks they could drift 
out of range ; but in attacking Island No. 10 the situ- 
ation was reversed, and should the engines of a gun- 


Island No. 10. 

boat become impaired it would be swept helplessly 
under the enemy's guns. Realizing the difficulty of 


the situation, and well knowing how dependent the 
movements of the land forces were on the gunboats, 
Captain Foote acted with great caution. This was the 
more necessary as the ironclad Louisiana was nearly 
ready for service, and with other ironclads of her type 
was expected up the river in a short time to give battle. 
Should the National gunboats be worsted in such an 
action (and the recent achievements of the Merrimac 
gave reason for fearing it), the great cities of the North- 
west would be exposed to an attack from the Con- 

On the 16th of March the mortar boats, under the 
command of Captain Maynadier, of the army, and Com- 
mander Joseph P. Sanford, of the navy, were placed in 
position, and opened with some effect ; but, owing to 
the great distance, their fire was without important 
results. On the 17th the ironclads moved down for a 
more serious attack ; the Benton, owing to her deficient 
steam power, was lashed between the Cincinnati arid 
the St. Louis and moved down the eastern side of the 
river, while the Mound City, the Carondelet and the 
Pittsburgh took the western side. At 1.20 p. M. they 
opened fire on the upper batteries on Island No. 10 at 
long range, and the enemy promptly responded ; but 
no serious damage was inflicted on either side. The 
Benton was struck four times, but the greatest injury 
was occasioned by the bursting of a rifled gun aboard the 
St. Louis, by which fifteen men were killed or wounded, 
among the latter being Lieutenant Faulding. 

From the 17th to the 26th of March, during which 
time General Johnston was beginning to carry out his 
plan of massing his forces at Corinth, little was done 
toward reducing the enemy's stronghold at Island No. 
10. The National forces maintained a desultory fire, 
inflicting some trifling damage which was speedily re- 
paired, and the only immediate result of the bombard- 
ment was to afford amusement rather than annoyance 
to the Confederates. Yet it lulled them into a greater 

294 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

sense of security. On the 23d of March, while the 
Carondelet was close under the shore, two large trees 
fell without warning on her decks, wounding two men, 
one mortally. While this tedious bombardment was 
in progress, General Pope, with two thousand troops, 
had been working around the Confederate position 
with a view of cutting off retreat, and by blockading 
the river twelve miles below Point Pleasant he com- 
pelled them to evacuate New Madrid. The enemy was 
now hemmed in on three sides, being cut off on the north 
and the west by the Mississippi, and on the east by an 
impassable swamp, so that his only avenue for sup- 
plies or retreat was on the south side. It was this 
southern opening that General Pope desired to close, 
but as the enemy controlled the river below Island No. 
10 with heavy batteries on the eastern bank, he could 
not attain his object without the aid of the gunboats. 
It was finally suggested that one of the ironclads at- 
tempt to run the batteries, but in a council of officers 
this was declared to be too hazardous. 

It was then determined to cut a canal from Island 
No. 8 across the swamps to New Madrid, and in that 
way get the ironclads below the Confederate strong- 
hold. After a vast amount of labor and exposure to 
the miasma of the marshes, the canal was cut in nine- 
teen days ; but it was found that the gunboats could 
not pass through it, and even the smaller transports 
could get through only with difficulty. In the mean 
time the Confederate ironclads being built at various 
points along the Mississippi were rapidly approaching 
completion, and they would have no difficulty in re- 
lieving the garrison of Island No. 10 and compelling 
Captain Foote to act on the defensive. Such being the 
serious extremity to which the National flotilla was 
placed, another council of officers was held in the 
Benton on the 28th and 29th of March, but with one 
exception it was unanimously decided that it would be 
too hazardous to risk an ironclad in an attempt to run 


the Confederate batteries. The one exception was Com- 
mander Walke, of the Carondelet, who volunteered to 
take his vessel past the batteries, and obtained the re- 
luctant permission of Captain Foot to do so. 

While these preparations were under way one of 
those daring exploits which have ever characterized the 
American navy was undertaken. On the night of 
April 1st forty picked sailors under the command of 
Master John V. Johnston, and fifty soldiers under the 
command of Colonel George Washington Roberts, of 
the Forty-second Illinois Regiment, embarked in five 
barges, and, pushing out from the shadow of the wil- 
lows that fringed the Kentucky shore, dropped down 
the river with the current toward the Confederate lines. 
Strict silence was observed, and even the muffled oars 
were used only once in a while to give the barges steer- 
age way. Thus for an hour the boats glided down- 
stream, stealing along the shores in the shadow of the 
overhanging trees and availing themselves of every 
means of concealment. They arrived within a few rods 
of the first battery above Island No. 10 before they were 
discovered. Here they were challenged by a sentinel, 
and almost at the same instant the order "Give way ! " 
was heard. The oars splashed in the water and the 
barges dashed toward the battery at full speed. The 
sentinel discharged his musket and fled to give the 
alarm. The boats ran ashore, the men landed, stationed 
their guards, and in half an hour had spiked the seven 
guns of this battery, one of them a formidable 10-inch 
columbiad. They then returned to their boats and es- 
caped up the river without the loss of a man. 

One of the obstacles to the passage of the Caronde- 
let being thus removed, Captain Foote directed the 
fire of his mortars toward the floating battery, which 
was moored near the head of the island. Fortunately, 
a shell cut her moorings, and she was carried three 
miles below her station before she could be secured 
again. Having received his orders to run the batteries 

296 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

on the " first foggy or rainy night," and in case of fail- 
ure to "destroy the steam machinery, and, if impossi- 
ble to escape, set fire to your gunboat or sink her and 
prevent her from falling into the hands of the enemy," 
Commander Walke made preparations for running the 
gantlet. An 11-inch hawser was coiled round the pilot 
house to a level with the windows, chains and cables 
were placed over the more vulnerable parts of the ma- 
chinery, planks taken from the wreck of a barge were 
strewn over the deck as an additional protection against 
plunging shot, while hammocks were stowed in the net- 
ting and cord wood was piled round the boilers. A 
barge laden with coal and baled hay was then lashed 
along the port side so as to protect the magazine, and 
a course of bales was laid over the after end of the 
casemate, as that part of the ironclad after she had 
passed the batteries would be exposed. As a precau- 
tion against discovery, the escape steam, which in the 
high-pressure engines made a loud puffing noise, was led 
into the paddle-wheel house so as to deaden the sound. 
By the 4th of April these preparations had been 
nearly completed, and Commander Walke announced 
his intention of attempting the passage that night if 
the weather was favorable. During the day the heav- 
ens were watched with the closest scrutiny, the weather- 
wise tars scanning each cloud and " tasting " each puff 
of air with serious countenances as they discussed the 
probabilities of the weather. As the afternoon wore 
on and the indications for a clear and starlit night be- 
came more pronounced, the seamen grew more gloomy. 
But as evening drew near dark clouds were observed 
massing on the western horizon, and shortly afterward 
the wind, shifting in that direction, brought to their 
ears the faint muttering of distant thunder. At the 
same time a light haze was noticed creeping up the 
river, and as evening approached it gradually diffused 
itself over the surrounding landscape and finally en- 
shrouded everything in a damp fog. The happy omen 


put every man on the alert. The final preparations 
were completed with alacrity; the guns were run in 
and the ports carefully closed, so that no stray beam of 
light would discover them to the enemy ; small arms, 
cutlasses and boarding- pikes were stacked in conven- 
ient reach, while hose was attached to the boilers to 
turn streams of scalding steam on the enemy in case 
they attempted to board. 

By ten o'clock the moon had disappeared, leaving 
the river in darkness, while the threatening storm- 
clouds that had been massing in the west lowered over 
the scene and finally broke in a drenching rain. Com- 
mander Walke now gave the order to cast off the lines. 
The Carondelet swung heavily into the current and 
was soon plunging downstream. By the time she was 
fully under way the night was black as pitch, so that 
it would have been impossible to keep clear of the 
shoals and banks had it not been for the frequent and 
vivid flashes of lightning that illuminated the river 
with dazzling brilliancy, giving occasional glimpses of 
the drenched landscape and the trees bending under 
the storm. For half an hour the men on the gun deck 
stood at their stations in grim silence, hearing nothing 
but whistling of the wind and incessant pattering of 
rain on the deck above them. Onward glided the 
phantom gunboat under the skillful piloting of Acting- 
Volunteer-Lieutenant William K. Hoel, and all went 
well until the Carondelet had passed the battery that 
had been so daringly spiked on the night of April 1st, 
when the soot in both smokestacks took fire and blazed 
upward in the black night like two immense torches. 
This mishap was caused by the escaped steam being led 
into the paddle-wheel house to drown the puffing noise. 
Ordinarily this steam passed into the smokestacks and 
kept the soot moist, thus preventing its taking fire. 
The firemen were immediately called away and the 
flames were extinguished, so that the Carondelet was 
again wrapped in darkness. But the alarm had been 

298 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

given, and though the cannon in this battery had been 
effectually spiked, signal rockets were sent up giving 
notice to the lower batteries of an approaching enemy. 
There was warm work ahead for the Carondelet. 

Commander Walke soon realized that he was in the 
midst of an aroused and powerful enemy, and if he 
would accomplish his purpose he must act with deter- 
mination and promptness. Full speed was ordered, 
and the ironclad dashed through the darkness at a 
dangerous rate. When she was opposite the second 
battery on the shore the smokestacks again took fire 
and revealed her exact position. Then began a crash 
of heavy artillery and a rattling fire of musketry on all 
sides. Without replying, the Carondelet sped on her 
way down the river. Realizing the extreme peril of 
their position, and knowing that the safety of all de- 
pended upon .an uninterrupted and speedy passage of 
the batteries, the heroic pilot, Hoel, in order the better 
to guide the boat down the river, took his station with 
the leadsmen, Charles Wilson and Theodore Gilmore, 
forward on the open deck, exposed to the drenching 
rain and the enemy's shot. The lead was continuously 
kept going, for the course of the gunboat was rendered 
doubly uncertain by the broad surface presented to the 
current, which among the many abrupt bends and ed- 
dies would frequently give her a sheer toward some 
bank or shoal before it was discovered. In a few min- 
utes of total darkness a brilliant flash of lightning 
showed that the Carondelet was rushing directly upon 
a dangerous shoal under the guns of the Confederate 
battery. Instantly the watchful pilot cried out " Hard 
aport ! " and the clumsy craft swung heavily around, 
almost grazing the island, and so near that the voice of 
a Confederate officer was distinctly heard ordering his 
men to elevate the guns, the Confederates having low- 
ered the muzzles of their cannon to keep the rain from 
destroying the charges of powder in them. 

After this narrow escape the Carondelet passed the 

1862. WALKE'S SUCCESS. 299 

remaining batteries on the island unscathed. The 
enemy, deceived by the flashes of lightning, had ele- 
vated their guns too much, so that most of their shot 
went over. Only one obstacle now remained in the 
course of the Carondelet, and that was the formidable 
floating battery three miles below the island moored to 
the western bank. As the Carondelet was not in fight- 
ing trim, Commander Walke hugged the opposite shore, 
to give the enemy as wide a berth as possible. But the 
dreaded battery offered little opposition to the flight of 
the National gunboat, firing only seven or eight shot 
at her. The Carondelet had now safely passed the 
Confederate batteries and had added another to the 
brilliant achievements of the navy. Not a man in 
her had been injured, and only two shot were found 
in the barge at her side. The great risk involved 
in running these batteries is seen in the Carondelefs 
grounding hard and fast on one of the treacherous 
shoals while rounding to as she approached New Mad- 
rid, immediately after her passage of the batteries, 
where it required the utmost exertions of her crew 
to get her afloat. Some of the forward guns were 
run astern and all the men assembled aft, and by 
putting on a full head of steam she was backed off 
after an hour of hard work. Had this happened 
under the enemy's batteries, she would have been 

The passage of the ironclad blighted the enemy's 
hope of holding Island No. 10, for now there was noth- 
ing to prevent General Pope's army from crossing the 
river and taking a position in the rear, thus cutting off 
the retreat and supplies. The second night after the 
Carondelefs exploit the Pittsburgh, Lieutenant Thomp- 
son, also passed the batteries, upon which the National 
troops assembled at New Madrid and Point Pleasant 
crossed the river to the eastern side, the Carondelet 
having on the 6th and 7th of April silenced the enemy's 
batteries of eight 64-pounders. On the 8th of April 

300 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

Island No. 10 was surrendered to Captain Foote and 
General Pope, together with five thousand men. 

On the 13th of April five Confederate steamers came 
up the river to reconnoiter, but on the appearance of 
the ironclads retired under the guns of Fort Pillow. 
From this time until early in May the Western flotilla 
was not engaged in any serious operations, as General 
Pope's army was ordered to Corinth, leaving only one 
thousand five hundred men to hold the ground already 
won. On the 9th of May, Captain Foote, to whose skill- 
ful and prudent management so much of the success of 
the navy in the West was due, was relieved of his com- 
mand at his own request, as the wound he had received 
at Fort Donelson, together with illness, had so im- 
paired his health as to compel him to seek rest in a 
change of service. His successor was Captain Charles 
Henry Davis. 

Early in the war, at the suggestion of two Missis- 
sippi River steamboat captains J. E. Montgomery and 
Townsend the Confederates organized a river defense 
fleet consisting of fourteen river boats having their 
bows plated with 1-inch iron and their boilers and ma- 
chinery protected with cotton bales and pine bulwarks, 
and on the 9th of May eight of these vessels were sta- 
tioned near Fort Pillow under the command of Mr. 
Montgomery. They were the Little Rebel, flagship ; 
the General Bragg, William H. H. Leonard ; the Gen- 
eral Price, H. E. Henthorne ; the General Sumter, W. 
W. Lamb ; the General Van Dorn, Isaac D. Fulker- 
son ; the General M. Jeff. Thompson, John H. Burke ; 
the General Beauregard, James Henry Hurt ; and the 
General Lovell, James C. Delancey. After the capture 
of Island No. 10 Captain Foote moved down the river, 
and from the 14th of April to the 10th of May he 
divided and moored his flotilla at Plumb Point, and on 
the opposite side of the river six miles above Fort 
Pillow, and every day sent a mortar boat under the 
protection of one of the ironclads down the river to a 


point about two miles above Fort Pillow, where 13-inch 
shells were fired at the enemy. This fire proved to be 
exceedingly annoying to the Confederates, and they 
determined to make a dash up the river and give battle 
to the flotilla. 

Early on the morning of May 10th, while the mist 
was hanging over the river, the enemy's vessels, led by 
the General Bragg, a brig-rigged side-wheel steamer, 
came swiftly up the river, intending first to destroy the 
mortar boat and the ironclad defending it before the 
other National ironclads could come to their assistance. 
The ironclad defending the mortar boat at this time 
was the Cincinnati, and Acting-Master Gregory was in 
charge of the mortar boat No. 16. When the Confed- 
erate steamers were discovered coming up the river, 
Mr. Gregory reduced the charge of his mortar, and, 
lowering the elevation, deliberately fired eleven shells 
at them. Paying no attention to this, the General 
Bragg came swiftly up the Arkansas side, far in ad- 
vance of her consorts, and, passing some distance above 
the Cincinnati, turned down the river at full speed 
and rammed the ironclad on her starboard quarter, 
which was her most vulnerable point. The blow 
crushed in the side and made a hole in her shell-room, 
into which the water poured in great quantities. The 
warning was given for the remaining National gunboats 
to get under way, but owing to the mists and the want 
of a breeze the signal flags could not be readily distin- 
guished. Word was then passed from boat to boat, 
and they stood down the river as rapidly as possible. 

After ramming the Cincinnati, the General Bragg 
swung alongside and received a broadside, and, backing 
clear of the ironclad, stood downstream disabled. In 
the mean time the other rams had arrived on the scene, 
and the General Price and the General Sumler also 
succeeded in ramming the Cincinnati. About this 
time Commander Stembel was dangerously wounded 
in the neck by a pistol shot, and Master Reynolds fell, 

302 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

mortally wounded. With the assistance of the Pitts- 
burgh and a tug, the Cincinnati was taken to the Ten- 
nessee shore, where she sank in eleven feet of water. 
The Carondelet disabled the General Price with a shot. 
The General Van Dorn, the fourth Confederate steamer, 
passed the disabled Cincinnati and rammed the Mound 
City on her starboard bow and compelled the ironclad 
to make for the Arkansas shore in a sinking condition. 
The General M. Jeff. Thompson, the General Beaure- 
gard and the General Lowell fired into the Carondelet, 
to which Commander Walke replied with his stern 
guns. One of his shot struck the General Sumter just 
forward of her wheelhouse, and, cutting the steam pipe, 
filled the vessel with scalding steam. The Confeder- 
ates now retreated down the river with all their ves- 
sels, which were not so seriously damaged but that 
they were repaired and ready for another battle a few 
weeks later. The Cincinnati and the Mound City also 
were repaired. The loss in the Cincinnati was three 
wounded, in the Mound City one wounded. The Con- 
federates had two killed and one w.ounded. 

On the 27th of March, 1862, Charles Ellet, a civil 
engineer, was directed by the Government to purchase 
a number of river steamers and fit them up as rams. 
Seven steamers were secured for this purpose, four 
of them side-wheelers and three stern-wheelers, their 
hulls strengthened by solid timber bulwarks twelve 
to sixteen inches thick, running fore and aft (the 
central one being on the keelson) and firmly braced 
together. Iron rods ran through the hull from side to 
side, giving additional strength, while oak bulwarks 
two feet thick protected the boilers. These vessels, 
hastily fitted out in six weeks, joined the squadron un- 
der Captain Davis above Fort Pillow on the 25th of 
May. On the 4th of June Fort Pillow was abandoned 
by the enemy, and on the following day the squadron 
moved down the river, two miles above Memphis. 

On the 6th of June the following ironclads, under 


the command of Captain Davis, moved down the river 
to engage the enemy: Benton (flagship), Lieutenant 
S. Ledyard Phelps ; Carondelet, Commander Walke ; 
Louisville, Commander Dove ; St. Louis, Lieutenant 
Wilson McGunnegle ; and Cairo, Lieutenant Nathaniel 
C. Bryant ; with two of Ellet's steam rams, the Queen 
of the West, Colonel Ellet, and the Monarch, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Alfred W. Ellet (a younger brother). 
As they came within sight of Memphis the Confederate 
vessels, mounting two to four guns each, under the 
command of Montgomery, were found drawn up in a 
double line of battle opposite the city. The National 
ironclads formed in line of battle, with the two rams a 
short distance astern. The bluffs around the city were 
crowded with people eager to witness a naval engage- 
ment, and the National vessels refrained from firing 
lest some of their shots might fall among the citizens. 

While they were some distance from the enemy 
the Queen of the West and the Monarch dashed past 
the ironclads at full speed and made straight for the 
Confederate vessels, Colonel Ellet selecting the General 
Lovell, which was about the middle of the enemy's line 
of battle. The Queen of the West and the General 
Lovell approached each other in gallant style, and 
every one expected there would be a head-on collision 
in which both vessels would probably be sunk; but 
just before the steamers came in contact the General 
Lovell suddenly turned her head inshore, exposing her 
broadside at right angles to the Queen of the West. 
On went the National ram at a tremendous speed and 
crashed into the Confederate flagship, cutting her near- 
ly in two, causing her to disappear under the water in 
a few seconds. At the moment of the collision Colonel 
Ellet, who was standing in an exposed position on the 
hurricane deck, was wounded above the knee by a pis- 
tol shot. He died from the effect of this wound June 
21, 1862. Before the Queen of the West could disen- 
gage herself from the wreck she was rammed by the 

304 ISLAND NO. 10 AND MEMPHIS. 1862. 

General Beauregard on one side and by the General 
Sumter on the other and one of her paddle wheels was 
carried away, but by using the remaining wheel she 
managed to reach the Arkansas shore, where she was 
run aground. 

The Monarch, closely following the Queen of the 
West, had selected one of the enemy's steamers, when 
the General Beauregard and the General Price made 
a dash at her from opposite sides ; but the command- 
ers of the Confederate vessels had not calculated on 
the great speed of the new National vessel, and sup- 
posed that they were still dealing with the slow-going 
ironclads. The result was that they missed her alto- 
gether and crashed into each other, the General Beau- 
regard tearing off the General Prices port wheel and 
seriously injuring her hull. The latter ran ashore on 
the Arkansas side near the Queen of the West. The 
Monarch then turned on the General Beauregard, 
which was fleeing down the river, but the Benton 
disabled the Confederate vessel with a shot in her 
boiler, causing her to sink soon afterward. The Little 
Rebel received a shot in her steam chest from one of 
the ironclads and drifted on the Arkansas shore, where 
her men escaped. The remaining Confederate vessels 
fled down the river and were pursued about ten miles. 
The M, Jeff. Thompson, being on fire, soon blew up, 
and the General Bragg and General Sumter were over- 
taken and captured. The General Van Dorn alone 
escaped, although pursued by the Monarch and the 
Switzerland, the latter having joined in the battle at 
its close. The loss to the National fleet in this brilliant 
affair was only four wounded ; that of the Confederates 
is not definitely known. The Little Rebel, the General 
Bragg, the General Sumter and the General Price 
were repaired and added to the National flotilla. 

On the 17th of June, Commander Kilty, in the 
Mound City, with the St. Louis, Lieutenant McGun- 
negle, the Lexington, Lieutenant James W. Shirk and 


the Conestoga, Lieutenant Blodgett, with an Indiana 
regiment under Colonel Fitch, attacked two Confeder- 
ate earthworks at St. Charles, on White River. Early 
in the action a shell entered the casemate of the 
Mound City, killing three men in its flight, and ex- 
ploded her steam drum. A fearful scene followed, and 
the men, endeavoring to escape from the scalding steam, 
jumped into the river, where forty-three were drowned 
or killed by the enemy's shot. Eighty-two men died 
from scalding or wounds, and only twenty-five out of 
the complement of one hundred and seventy-five were 
uninjured. Commander Kilty himself was so badly 
scalded that it became necessary to amputate his left 
arm. The disabled ironclad was towed out of action 
by the Conestoga. In spite of this terrible disaster the 
remaining gunboats maintained the attack until Colonel 
Fitch, who had landed with his regiment to attack the 
earthworks in the rear, signaled for them to cease firing, 
and the troops carried the battery by storm. The gun- 
boats pushed sixty-three miles farther up the river and 
then returned. For his brilliant services Captain Davis 
received the rank of rear-admiral February 7, 1863. 




WHILE the National gunboats were opening the 
Mississippi River from the north, the Government was 
projecting an expedition against New Orleans, with a 
view of capturing that most important seaport of the 
South by an attack from the mouth of the river. Soon 
after the beginning of hostilities Captain "William Mer- 
vine, who had served on the coast of California dur- 
ing the Mexican War, was placed in command of the 
blockading squadron in the Gulf, and he arrived off 
the mouth of the Mississippi on the 8th of June, 1861. 
For a short time before his arrival the Brooklyn, Com- 
mander Charles H. Poor, the Niagara and the Pow- 
Jiatan, Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, had been 
blockading Southwest Pass and Pass a 1'Outre, and on 
the 13th of June the Massachusetts arrived. Captain 
Mervine was relieved of his command in the latter part 
of September by Captain William W. McKean. The 
escape of the Confederate cruiser Sumter showed the 
necessity of holding the Head of the Passes, where the 
river broadens out into a deep bay two miles wide, 
giving ample room for the manoeuvres of a fleet ; and 
early in October the steam sloop Richmond, Captain 
John Pope ; the sailing sloop Vincennes, Commander 
Robert Handy ; the sailing sloop Preble, Command- 
er Henry French ; and the side-wheel steamer Water 
Witch, Lieutenant Francis Winslow, moved up to the 
Head of the Passes, took possession of the telegraph 
station and began the erection of a fort. 

On the night of October llth, Captain George Nich- 



olas Hollins, of the Confederate navy, with the ironclad 
Manassas l and six wooden steamers, left New Orleans, 
and, stealing down the river, approached the National 
vessels unobserved. In the early dawn of October 12th 
the Manassas rammed the Richmond as she lay at 
anchor. Fortunately, a schooner from which the Rich- 
mond was coaling was lying alongside and prevented 
serious results ; but as it was, a small hole was made 
in the Richmond's side two feet below the water line, 
abreast of the port fore chains. The shock of the col- 
lision started the boilers in the Manassas, and before 
she could ram again Captain Pope had slipped his 
cable and ranged ahead. The ram then crept off in the 
night, and although many missiles were aimed at her 
she escaped without serious damage. About this time 
three lights were discovered coming swiftly down the 
river, and as they drew nearer they were seen to be fire 
rafts guided by two steamers, the Tuscarora and the 
Watson. The flames, sweeping across the river from 
bank to bank like a wall of fire, presented an appalling 
appearance ; and, fearing that his vessels would be de- 
stroyed by this new species of warfare, Captain Pope 
hoisted a red light as a danger signal and retreated 
down Southwest Pass. Lieutenant Winslow, in the 
Water Witch, remained at the Head of the Passes un- 
til daylight, when he saw the smoke of four steamers 
and the masts of a propeller that had every appearance 
of a blockade runner. He hastened down the pass, 
overtook Captain Pope at the bar, and begged him to 
return, but Pope deemed it unadvisable to do so. 

In attempting to cross the bar the Richmond and 
the Vincennes grounded, and while they were in this 
position the Confederate vessels, at eight o'clock in the 
morning, approached, and for two hours kept up a 
desultory cannonading. As the Richmond had her 
broadsides in a position to rake any craft going up or 

1 For a description of the Manassas, see page 315. 


down the river, Captain Hollins did not care to risk 
his vessels before her heavy shell guns. The Water 
Witch maintained a spirited fire from her few guns and 
kept the enemy at a respectful distance. The Rich- 
mond was soon floated off, but, drifting down the cur- 
rent, she grounded again below the Vincennes, Cap- 
tain Pope then made signal for the vessels below the 
bar to get under way, but Commander Handy, of the 
Vincennes, mistook the signal for an order to abandon 
his ship, and applying a slow match to the magazine at 
a time when the enemy was actually withdrawing, he 
sent a part of his crew aboard the Water Witch, while 
he, at 9.30 A. M., went aboard the Richmond with the 
rest of his men. After waiting a reasonable time for 
the magazine to explode, Captain Pope ordered Handy 
back to the Vi?wennes, and the next day, by the aid 
of the South Carolina, which had come up from Bar- 
rataria, she was floated off. After this humiliating oc- 
currence a vessel was stationed off each of the passes, 
as it was deemed too hazardous to hold the Head of the 
Passes. On the 16th of September troops were landed 
from the Massachusetts and took possession of Ship 
Island, with a view of making that a naval headquar- 
ters. On the 19th of October the Florida, Captain 
Hollins, engaged the Massachusetts in a distant can- 
nonading off Ship Island, but with no decisive results. 
In the mean time the Government at Washington 
had learned, through fishermen in the Gulf and other 
sources, that the defenses of New Orleans on the south 
had been neglected by the Confederates, as they 
deemed an attack from that quarter impracticable. In 
November, 1861, President Lincoln considered a plan 
for the capture of New Orleans, submitted by Gustavus 
Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It was 
proposed to have wooden ships run past Fort Jackson 
and Fort St. Philip and take possession of the city ; the 
forts, being cut off from their base of supplies, would 
thus be compelled to surrender. Although Washing- 


ton, nearly a hundred years before, had urged 'upon 
Comte de Grasse the feasibility of running wooden 
ships past the land batteries of Lord Cornvvallis on 
York River, saying, " I should have the greatest confi- 
dence in the success of that important service," yet the 
plan was never carried out, and had always been re- 
garded by naval authorities as too hazardous even to 
be seriously considered. It was proposed to send about 
ten thousand soldiers to hold the city after the fleet 
had passed the forts, and it was decided to have a mor- 
tar flotilla to bombard the forts before the fleet made 
its attempt to run past. Six thousand Massachusetts 
troops, together with some Western regiments, under 
the command of General Benjamin P. Butler, were de- 
tailed for the expedition. 

The proposition was one of the boldest and seem- 
ingly most foolhardy plans that had ever been seri- 
ously contemplated. Its success depended entirely 
upon the selection of a sagacious, fearless and well- 
balanced commander, and it was this part of the enter- 
prise that most seriously engaged the attention of the 
Government. Of all the officers at the disposal of the 
United States, Captain David Glasgow Farragut seemed 
to be the one best fitted for this command, and it was 
only his Southern birth and affiliations that caused the 
Government to hesitate ; but on the 9th of January he 
was formally appointed commander of the expedition, 
and also commander of the Western Gulf Blockading 
Squadron, the new sloop of war Hartford being as- 
signed as his flagship. 

Farragut's name was first noticed in these pages as 
a midshipman in the Essex at the opening of the war 
for independence on the high seas. At the close of 
that war he was ordered to the Mediterranean in the new 
ship of the line Washington. In 1821 he received his 
commission as lieutenant and took part in the suppres- 
sion of piracy in the West Indies. When off Tortugas, 
about 1823, he took passage in a vessel laden with brick 


for Fort Jackson. In 1832 he was in the Norfolk Navy 
Yard. During the nullification troubles, in 1833. he 
was in the man-of-war that was sent to South Carolina 
by President Jackson with the message, "The Union 
must and shall be preserved." In 1837 he was execu- 
tive officer in the sloop-of-war Natchez, and in 1840 he 
was again at Norfolk, about which time he married the 
daughter of Mr. Loyall, of that city. In the following 
year he sailed for the coast of Brazil in the ship-of-the- 
line Delaware, when he was made commander. In 
1844 he commanded the receiving ship Pennsylvania, 
at Norfolk, and in 1847 the sloop-of-war Saratoga, of 
the home squadron. From 1848 to 1854 he was on 
shore duty, after which he was sent out to establish 
the navy yard in California, where he remained until 
1858, by which time he had been promoted to the rank 
of captain and was ordered to the sloop-of-war Brook- 
lyn. When the civil war broke out he was in Norfolk 
and was strongly urged to serve the Southern cause. 

It is difficult for a landsman to understand how at- 
tached a thoroughbred seaman becomes to his colors. 
It was under the United States flag that the youthful 
Farragut received his commission as a midshipman, and 
in that proud moment of gratified ambition he took his 
boyish oath to die rather than strike that flag. On 
more than one occasion he had seen the haughtiest 
colors on the ocean bow with respect before Old Glory. 
At Valparaiso he stood on the bloody decks of the Es- 
sex with that gallant ship's company and saw men give 
life and limb in order that the flag might not be hauled 
down. He had seen sailors writhing in the agonies of 
death expend their last vitality in some feeble defense 
of that flag. He had traveled from ocean to ocean, and 
had seen the star-spangled banner towering proudly 
among the powers of the earth, feared by some, blessed 
by others for its manly upholding of the rights of hu- 
manity, respected by all. He had seen kings and 
princes do it homage. Many a time when in distant 


lands, surrounded by strange scenes and by strange 
people, he had stood under the protecting folds of the 
Stars and Stripes and felt that he had a true friend by 
him. Often, on the lonely ocean, he had watched the 
beautiful flag caressed by gentle zephyrs, brightly re- 
turning the smiles of the sun, or, drawing itself out to 
its full length, grandly maintain its dignity in the face 
of storm. 

And this was the flag against which Farragut was 
asked to raise his hand. The secessionists little under- 
stood how those stripes could entwine themselves about 
the heart of a sailor who had once fought for that flag, 
who had endured sickness, hardship, insult and igno- 
miny in order that it might remain unsullied. They 
understood still less the emotion of men who have once 
gazed on those stars proudly floating over the enemy's 
colors after a bloody struggle. Stung with the insult 
contained in the suggestion, and remembering the glori- 
ous triumphs achieved under the flag, Farragut re- 
plied, "I would see every man of you damned before 
I would raise my hand against that flag ! " Being in- 
formed that he could no longer remain in the South, he 
replied, " I will seek some other place where I can live, 
and on two hours' notice." And he was as good as his 
word. On that same evening, April 18th, he left Nor- 
folk and most of his worldly possessions, and with his 
wife and only son went to Baltimore, and thence to 
Hastings on the Hudson. His first service was on the 
board appointed under the act of Congress, August 3, 
1861, to retire superannuated officers from active serv- 
ice, from which duty he was called to assume command 
of the New Orleans expedition. 

.While the preparations for the expedition were 
under way in the North, the blockade of the mouths 
of the Mississippi had been maintained as well as the 
few vessels stationed there could do it. The dreary 
monotony of blockade on this coast was enhanced by 
fogs so dense that it was impossible at times to see one 


hundred yards ahead, which afforded every oppor- 
tunity for blockade runners to get to sea. At times 
the rigging and spars of the vessels were soaked with 
moisture, and the continual dripping kept the ships 
damp and unhealthf ul. The only relief was the daily 
drill of the men at the great guns and other exercises. 
As they were cut off from all communication with the 
North, and knew little or nothing about the progress 
of the war except such exaggerated and discouraging 
accounts as were allowed to pass through the enemy's 
lines or were picked up from the fishermen, the thank- 
less service did not tend to raise the spirits of the offi- 
cers or the men. Occasionally the lookout at the top- 
mast crosstrees would sing out with a dismal drawl, 
4 'Smoke, ho-o-o ! " and it was one of the treats of the 
service for the officer of the deck to call back through 
his trumpet, ' ' Where away ? " "Up the river, sir. " But 
the smoke seldom came out of the river. The Brooklyn, 
Commander Thomas Tingey Craven, was engaged in 
blockading Pass a 1'Outre from February 2 to March 
7, 1862. Some excitement was afforded to her people 
on the 24th of February by the smoke of a steamer 
coming down the river, for in this instance the vessel 
actually came out and attempted to run the blockade, 
and in a short time the sloop-of-war was in readiness 
for the chase. Owing to the fog, it was impossible to 
see the steamer from the deck, and the only way of 
following her was by an officer going aloft and keeping 
track of the smoke, which could be seen above the fog. 
After a run of many miles the stranger was overtaken, 
and proved to be the Magnolia, having on board twelve 
hundred bales of cotton. 

Farragut arrived at Ship Island, near the mouth of 
the Mississippi, in the Hartford, on the 20th of Feb- 
ruary, and from that time there was plenty of excite- 
ment. The preparations for entering the river were 
actively begun ; the men were kept busy firing at tar- 
gets, getting in coal and provisions and protecting the 


machinery with chains, sand bags etc. "Farragtit was 
about the fleet from early dawn until dark, and if any 
officer had not spontaneous enthusiasm, he certainly in- 
fused it into him. I have been on the morning watch 
from four to eight o'clock, when he would row along- 
side the ship at six o'clock, either hailing to ask 
how we were getting along, or perhaps climbing over 
the side to see for himself." ' The first difficulty to be 
overcome was that of getting the heavy ships over the 

When Farragut received his orders to command 
this expedition it was thought that there were nineteen 
feet of water on the bar, 4 so that such ships as the 
Brooklyn and the Hartford could readily cross, while 
heavier frigates like the Wabash and the Colorado^ 
which drew twenty-two feet of water, could be taken 
over after being relieved of their guns, coal and other 
heavy stores : but when the squadron assembled before 
the passes it was found that the ever-changing sands 
had reduced the depth to fifteen feet. All hope of 
getting the Wabash and the Colorado over was im- 
mediately abandoned, while grave doubts were enter- 
tained as to the possibility of getting even the Missis- 
sippi and the Pensacola across. The Colorado was 
deemed especially valuable in the operation against the 
forts, as the commanding height of her masts enabled 
her topmen to fire over the parapets and sweep the in- 
terior of the forts with grape and canister. The Pen- 
sacola was finally got over the bar on the 7th of April, 
after a delay of two weeks. In one of the attempts 
to tow her over the hawser parted, killing two men 
and wounding five. The pilots were found to be 
either nervous or treacherous, and the vessels were fre- 
quently run aground. The dense fogs off these low 
sandy coasts also rendered the navigation unusually 

1 Commander John Russell Bartlett, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 
* Secretary of the Navy to Farragut, February 10th. 


difficult. After many futile attempts to get the Brook- 
lyn over the bar at Pass a 1'Outre, she was taken to 
Southwest Pass, where also she grounded. Finally 
several steamers took her in tow and hauled her 
through the mud by sheer force. The Mississippi 
was stripped of everything that could possibly be 
taken out of her, and after eight days of tugging and 
hauling she was brought over. These unexpected ob- 
stacles delayed the expedition at the passes many days, 
giving the Confederates ample time to ascertain the 
force of the fleet and to make their defenses accord- 

The defenses of New Orleans were of the most for- 
midable kind. The river about ninety miles below 
New Orleans was guarded by two forts under the com- 
mand of General Johnson K. Duncan. On the right 
bank of a bend in the stream was Fort Jackson, having 
bomb-proof chambers and all the appliances for mod- 
ern warfare. It stood about one hundred yards from 
the levee, the casemate rising just above its level, 
while a water-battery extended below the fort along 
the river's edge. The fort was divided into three sec- 
tions ; an outer wall surrounded by the overflow water, 
formed a substantial moat, and between this and the 
fort proper was a wide ditch of mud and water, form- 
ing the second moat, while the fort itself, a massive 
structure of stone and brick in the shape of a star, 
stood in the center. Between this and the citadel of 
solid masonry was a third ditch. The armament of 
this formidable work consisted of three 10-inch colum- 
biads and five 8-inch guns, one 7-inch rifled gun, six 
42-pounders, seventeen 32-pounders and thirty-five 24- 
pounders in all, sixty-seven guns. The commander of 
this fort was Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Higgins, for- 
merly of the United States navy. On the opposite bank 
of the river, a little above, was Fort St. Philip, com- 
manded by Captain Squires. It mounted six 8-inch 
guns, one rifled 7-inch gun, six 42-pounders, nine 32- 


pounders and twenty-one 24-pounders, one 13-inch mor- 
tar and five 10-inch mortars in all, forty- nine pieces. 

As an auxiliary battery, a formidable fleet of gun- 
boats and ironclads, under the command of Commo- 
dore John K. Mitchell, was held in readiness to at- 
tack any craft that might attempt to pass up the river. 
The most dangerous of these was the Louisiana, Cap- 
tain Charles F. Mclntosh, which was rapidly approach- 
ing completion. She was built under the direction of 
E. C. Murray from timber cut in the forest bordering 
on Lake Pontchartrain. Her engines were taken from 
the steamer Ingomar. Although the construction of 
this vessel was begun on the 15th of October, 1861, 
work on her was delayed by strikes and the imperfect 
appliances for handling iron. Upon her lower hull, 
which was nearly submerged, was erected a casemate 
plated with a double row of T-railroad iron sloping at 
an angle of forty-five degrees. In this shot-proof gun- 
room were two paddle wheels, besides which she had 
two propellers. The deck above the casemate was sur- 
rounded by sheet-iron bulwarks as a protection against 
sharpshooters. Her armament consisted of seven rifled 
32-pounders, three 9-inch and four 8-inch smooth-bore 
guns and two rifled 7-inch guns in all, sixteen guns. 
A serious defect in her construction was that the gun 
ports were too small, so that the arc of fire of the guns 
was not more than five degrees. 

A second ironclad was the ram Manassas, Lieuten- 
ant A. F. Warley. This was formerly the twin-screw 
tugboat Enoch Train, built in Boston in 1855 by J. 
0. Curtis. She was one hundred and twenty- eight 
feet over all, and had twenty-six feet beam and eleven 
feet draught. Her frame was of white oak. Under 
the personal direction of John H. Stephenson, the Enoch 
Train was covered with five-inch timbers and with 
about an inch of flat railroad iron ; the beams, meeting 
at the bow, formed a solid mass twenty feet thick. 
The only entrance to this craft was by a trap door, the 


port cover of the single gun in the bow springing back 
when the gun was withdrawn. She had two "tele- 
scoping " smokestacks, which could be drawn into the 
vessel when necessary, and steam pipes were so ar- 
ranged as to throw boiling water over the deck if an 
enemy should attempt to board. She was armed with 
one 32-pounder, and had a crew of thirty-five men, all 
told. This vessel was built by private subscription at 
New Orleans, in order to get the twenty per cent of the 
value of any Federal vessel that it might destroy ; but 
on the 12th of October, 1861, it was purchased by the 
Confederate Government. 

Besides these two ironclads there were wooden 
steamers that had been converted into gunboats. One 
of the most efficient of these was the steamer McRae, 
Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, formerly the steamer 
Marquis de la Habana, mounting six 32-pounders and 
one 9-inch shell gun. The two steamers Governor 
Moore and General Quitman had been fitted out by 
the State of Louisiana. The Governor Moore (named 
after the war Governor of Alabama), Commander Bev- 
erley Kennon, formerly the wooden paddle-wheeled 
steamer Charles Morgan, was armed with two rifled 32- 
pounders and was manned with ninety-three men, all 
told, and pieces of railroad iron were fastened to her 
bows to form a sort of ram. The General Quitman, 
Captain Grant, a little smaller than the Governor 
Moore, was armed with two smooth-bore 32-pounders. 
The steamer Jackson, Lieutenant Francis B. Renshaw, 
mounted two 32-pounders. Launch No. 6, Acting-Mas- 
ter Fairbanks, and launch No. 3, armed with one how- 
itzer, Acting-Master Telford, were among the vessels. 
All these were protected about their boilers and ma- 
chinery with double barricades of pine boards, the 
space between them being filled in with compressed 
cotton. None of them had rams under water. Each 
was manned with about thirty-five men, and they 
were fitted out under the direction of Lieutenant- 


Colonel William S. Lovell, formerly of the United States 

Besides this, the Confederates had under way the 
powerful floating battery New Orleans, mounting 
twenty guns ; the Memphis, eighteen guns ; and the 
Mississippi, sixteen guns. The last-mentioned vessel 
was regarded " as the greatest vessel in the world," so 
far as her fighting capacity was concerned. She was 
two hundred and seventy feet over all, had fifty -eight 
feet beam, was to make eleven knots an hour and cost 
two million dollars. The enemy worked day and night 
and Sundays, and hoped to have her ready by the first 
of May. Distinct from the Confederate naval force 
was what was termed a "river defense fleet," consist- 
ing of boats mounting one or two guns each. They 
were the Warrior, John A. Stephenson ; the Stonewall 
Jackson, Mr. Phillips ; the Resolute, Mr. Hooper ; the 
Defiance, Mr. McCoy ; and the R. J. Breckenridge. 
There were also seven unarmed steamers : the Phoenix, 
the W. Burton, Mr. Hammond ; the Landis, Mr. 
Davis ; the Mosher, Mr. Sherman ; the Belle Alge- 
rienne, the Star, Mr. La Place ; and the Music, Mr. 

As a further defense, the Confederates, early in the 
winter, had thrown a raft across the river under the 
guns of the forts. This raft consisted of cypress logs 
several feet in diameter and about forty feet long, 
placed three feet apart, so that driftwood would pass 
between them. The logs were held together with iron 
cables two and a half inches thick, while thirty heavy 
anchors held them across the stream. The freshet in 
the spring of 1862 caused such an unusually rapid cur- 
rent that on the 10th of March about a third of the raft 
was carried away. Eight schooners joined together 
with chains, and with their masts dragging astern so 
as to entangle the screws of passing steamers, were an- 
chored in this gap. The Confederates also collected a 
great number of long flatboats filled with pine knots, 


ready to be fired and sent down the swift current into 
the midst of the hostile fleet. 

On the 16th of April, 1862, Farragnt steamed up to 
a point about three miles below Fort Jackson with his 
fleet of twenty-four vessels besides twenty schooners, 
each armed with one 13-inch mortar and two long 32- 
pounders and manned by seven hundred and twenty- 
one men, under the command of Commander Porter. 
The following steamers were detailed as tenders to the 
mortar flotilla : the Harriet Lane, Lieutenant Jonathan 
M. Wainwright ; the Owasco, Lieutenant John Guest ; 
the Westfield, Commander William B. Renshaw ; the 
Clifton, Acting- Lieutenant Charles H. Baldwin; the 
Miami, Lieutenant Abram Davis Harrell ; and the 
Jackson, Acting-Lieutenant Selim E. Woodworth. The 
Harriet Lane had been transferred from the revenue 
service, the Owasco was of the same class as the Cayuga, 
the Miami was a double-ender built for the Govern- 
ment, while the Clifton, the Jackson and the Westfield 
were ordinary side-wheel ferry boats mounting heavy 

As yet Captain Farragut had little idea of the 
strength and character of the fortifications he was 
about to attack or the defenses in the river. He had 
received from the Secretary of the Navy sketches of 
the works and a memorandum prepared by General 
Barnard, who had constructed Fort St. Philip. Since 
the outbreak of hostilities, however, it was known that 
the enemy had greatly strengthened these fortifica- 
tions, besides augmenting the defenses and obstruc- 
tions in the river. The first thing to be done, there- 
fore, after getting the fleet into the river, was to survey 
the situation as well as possible from a distance. The 
Kennebec, under Commander Bell, and the Wissa- 
hickon, were sent up the river to reconnoiter, and 
reported that " the obstructions seemed formidable." 

The hazardous duty of getting the mortar schooners 
in position was performed under the direction of F. H. 


Gerdes, of the Coast Survey service, who, with the as- 
sistance of J. G. Oltmannis and Joseph Harris, made a 
careful survey of the river for several miles below Fort 
Jackson. The work occupied several days, and as it 
was performed in open boats the surveyors were ex- 
posed to a fire from sharpshooters concealed in the 
bushes along the banks, and sometimes shells from the 
forts landed in unpleasant proximity. The river was 
finally triangulated for seven miles, and white flags, each 
having the name of the boat that was to be anchored 
near it, were placed with great accuracy. The position 
selected for the mortar boats was on the south bank of 
the river, about two miles from Fort Jackson, where 
the trees and the dense underbrush effectually con- 
cealed them and made it difficult for the enemy to get 
the range ; and even if the enemy succeeded in firing 
with accuracy, the schooners could easily move a few 
rods without being observed and thus again leave the 
enemy in doubt as to their whereabouts. To hide 
their movements more perfectly, the upper masts and 
rigging of the schooners were dressed with branches 
and vines, so that the enemy could not distinguish 
them from the trees. The mortar schooners were an- 
chored in three divisions : the first, of seven vessels, 
under the command of Lieutenant Watson Smith, was 
stationed on the west bank, about twenty-eight hun- 
dred and fifty yards from Fort Jackson and about 
thirty-six hundred and eighty yards from Fort St. 

This division consisted of the Norfolk Packet, Lieu- 
tenant Smith ; the Oliver H. Lee, Acting- Master Wash- 
ington Godfrey ; the Para, Acting-Master Edward G. 
Furber ; the G. P. Williams, Acting-Master Amos R. 
Langthorne ; the Arietta, Acting-Master Thomas E. 
Smith ; the Bacon, Acting- Master William P. Rogers ; 
the Sophronia, Acting-Master Lyman Bartholomew. 
The third division, of six schooners, commanded by 
Lieutenant Kidder Randolph Breese, was in the rear of 


the first division. It consisted of the John Griffith, 
Acting- Master Henry Brown ; the SarahBruen, Acting- 
Master Abraham Christian ; the Racer, Acting-Master 
Alvin Phinney ; the Sea Foam, Acting-Master Henry 
E. Williams ; the Henry Janes, Acting- Master Lewis 
W. Pennington ; the Dan Smith, Acting-Master George 
W. Brown. The second division, of seven schooners, 
under the command of Lieutenant Walter W. Queen, 
was stationed on the east bank, about thirty-six hun- 
dred and eighty yards from Fort Jackson. This divi- 
sion consisted of the T. A. Ward, Lieutenant Queen ; 
Maria J. Carlton, Acting-Master Charles E. Jack ; the 
Matthew Vassar, Acting-Master Hugh H. Savage ; the 
George Mangham, Acting-Master John Collins ; the 
Orvetta, Acting-Master Francis E. Blanchard ; the Sid- 
ney C. Jones, Acting-Master J. D. Graham ; the Adolph 
Hugel, Acting- Master Van Buskirk. The position of 
the second division was greatly exposed to the ene- 
my's fire. 

At ten o'clock on the morning of April 18th the 
signal for the mortar schooners to open fire was given, 
and shortly afterward huge 13- inch shells were whis- 
tling through the air in their graceful flight and drop- 
ping in and around the fort, each schooner firing one 
shell every ten minutes. The Confederate forts re- 
sponded with spirit, but owing to the concealment 
afforded by the trees they fired with little accuracy. 
The division under Lieutenant Queen, on the left bank 
of the river, fired with great precision, but from its 
exposed position it suffered considerably in return. 
To divert the enemy's fire from these schooners as 
much as possible, two gunboats took turns with one of 
the smaller sloops in steaming up on the west side of 
the river, suddenly shooting out in full view of the 
forts and opening a rapid fire from their 11-inch pivot 
guns. As they were constantly in motion, it was diffi- 
cult for the Confederate gunners to get their range, 
while the fire from the 11-inch guns was always effect- 


ive. Lieutenant Guest, in the Owasco, held the posi- 
tion at the head of the line an hour and fifty minutes, 
and left only when his ammunition gave out. 

About midday the T. A. Ward was struck by a 120- 
pound shot, which crashed into her cabin and nearly 
fired the magazine, while soon afterward a 10-inch shot 
struck the water line of the George Mangham. Find- 
ing that their position was becoming critical, the 
schooners dropped downstream, anchored two hun- 
dred yards below, and resumed their fire. The mor- 
tars kept up their fire throughout the day, and about 
five o'clock in the afternoon dense volumes of smoke 
were observed rolling upward from Fort Jackson. As 
night came on, the mortars increased their fire to a 
shell every five minutes from each, or two hundred and 
forty shells an hour. Toward midnight they reduced 
their fire to a shell every half hour, so as to allow the 
crews of the mortar schooners a little rest. At two 
o'clock in the morning the six schooners under Lieu- 
tenant Queen were removed from the left to the right 
bank under cover of the woodland. 

The labor of the men in the mortar schooners was 
most exhausting. Little or no sleep could be had, 
while the terrific shock caused the little vessels to 
shiver from stem to stern and threatened to rack them. 
Every time the mortars were fired the men were com- 
pelled to run aft, and that the concussion might be as 
little as possible they stood with mouths open and on 
tiptoe. The explosion of so much powder soon black- 
ened them from head to foot. One of the schooners, 
the Maria J. Carlton, had been sunk. 

That night the enemy sent down an immense flat- 
boat, one hundred and fifty by fifty feet, laden with 
burning pine knots piled up twenty feet high, while 
the flame leaped a hundred feet into the air. As 
the huge mass of fire came down the river toward the 
thirty-five wooden ships of the National fleet anchored 
close together in the narrow channel, it presented a 



fearful spectacle. The roaring and crackling flames, 
sometimes caught in a puff of air, swept across the en- 
tire breadth of the river, licking the water into steam 
or scorching and wilting the trees on the bank. Good 
discipline, together with the indomitable pluck of the 
American seamen, came to the rescue. The vessels 
that stood in the course of the fire quickly slipped 
their cables and ran inshore, allowing the raft to pass 
harmlessly by ; but immediate preparations were made 
to meet other attacks from fire-boats. The steamer 
Westfield, fitted with hose, was detailed as a fire patrol, 
while a number of boats armed with grapnels, buckets 
and axes were held in readiness to tow the rafts in- 
shore before they should reach the fleet. From that 
time a number of these rafts were sent down, but so 
perfect were the arrangements for receiving them that 
no further alarm was felt, while the sailors hailed their 
approach with delight as affording amusement and 
relieving the monotony of the siege. 

On the third night of the bombardment, April 20th, 
the Pinola, Lieutenant Peirce Crosby, and the Itasca, 
Lieutenant Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell, under 
the orders of Commander Bell, were sent up the river 
to sever the line of hulks and chains that stretched 
across the stream under the guns of the forts. The 
gunboats, having first had their lower masts and rig- 
ging taken out so as to render them less visible to 
the enemy, set out under cover of darkness. As they 
approached the raft they were discovered by the 
enemy and a heavy fire was opened on them, upon 
which the mortars increased their fire, at times keep- 
ing nine shells in the air at once. With this diversion 
in his favor, Commander Bell kept steadily on his 
course until he reached the obstructions, when the 
Pinola ran alongside the third hulk from the eastern 
shore and her men boarded. Charges of powder with 
slow matches and a petard were placed aboard, after 
which the crew returned to their ship and the Pinola 


dropped astern. But the current carried the gunboat 
down so rapidly -that the wires attached to the petard 
were severed and the charges failed to explode. The 
Itasca then boldly ran alongside the second schooner 
from the eastern shore and threw a grapnel aboard, 
which caught on the hulk's rail ; but the rail gave 
way under the strain, and the gunboat was carried 
some distance downstream before she could stem the 
current. She then ran alongside the easternmost 
hulk, and by keeping her engines going slowly ahead 
held her position alongside while Lieutenant Caldwell, 
Acting-Masters Amos Johnson and Edmund Jones 
jumped aboard with a party of seamen. While 
Caldwell was making his preparations for firing the 
hulk the chains holding her were slipped without his 
knowledge, and as the fiasco's engines were going 
ahead and had her helm aport, the sudden releasing 
of the schooner caused both vessels to turn inshore and 
run aground under the guns of the fort. The Itasca 
was compelled to remain in this perilous position until 
the Pinola came to her assistance. So far from be- 
ing discouraged by this mishap, Lieutenant Caldwell 
headed his vessel up the river, passed through the gap 
in the obstructions, and after going some distance to 
obtain a good headway he came down the stream with 
a full head of steam, and, striking the chains holding 
the hulks together, he ran the bow of his vessel three 
or four feet out of water and her weight parted the 
chains, leaving a larger gap in the obstruction. The 
two gunboats then returned to the fleet. 

On the night of April 23d, Lieutenant Caldwell, 
with Acting-Master Edmund Jones, pulled up the river 
in one of the Hartford's boats to make a final recon- 
noissance, as some doubt had been expressed as to the 
opening made in the raft ; and if an opening had been 
made at all, it was feared that the enemy had repaired 
the injury. The doubt of there being a clear passage 
was increased by the rippling of water in the narrow 


gap, as if a chain were there, which some of the officers 
noticed. After an exhausting pull of several miles 
against the rapid current the boat reached a place 
where a fire kindled by the Confederates lighted the 
river like day and would have discovered the adven- 
turers to sharpshooters. In order to avoid this light 
Lieutenant Caldwell headed his boat to the opposite 
bank, and by passing close under the trees and bushes 
he came within one hundred yards of the obstruc- 
tions. Here the party was directly under the guns of 
Fort Jackson, and so near that the voices of the sol- 
diers could be heard. From this place it could be 
distinctly seen that the water in the gap was unob- 
structed ; but, in order to be absolutely certain, Lieu- 
tenant Caldwell ordered his men to pull to the gap. In 
doing this the boat was compelled to pass directly 
across a broad belt of light and was in full view of 
the enemy. The Confederates probably believed it to 
be one of their own boats, for they did not fire. It 
was found that two or three of the schooners had been 
torn from their position and were ashore. After pull- 
ing above the obstructions, where the lead showed 
twelve to fifteen fathoms, the boat party rested on its 
oars and floated downstream, with a heavy lead line 
at the bow so as to ascertain if there were any barri- 
cades or explosives under the water. The lead caught 
nothing, and after pulling above the hulks and mak- 
ing this test a second time Lieutenant Caldwell was 
satisfied that the channel was clear, and he returned 
with this report. 



ABOUT noon of April 20th thirteen boats were 
quietly trailing at the stern of the Hartford. The 
commanders of the National war ships were in the 
flagship's cabin, holding a council of war. Opinions 
differed widely as to the best means to be adopted. 
Effective as the bombardment by the mortar flotilla 
seemed to have been, the forts still held out, and every 
moment the enemy was strengthening his defenses. 
The ram Louisiana was thought to be completed, and 
in a short time the ironclads New Orleans and Mem- 
phis would be added to the Confederate naval force, 
while the most powerful war vessel ever projected by 
the South, or any other country up to that time the 
Mississippi would be finished in a few days; so 
that, instead of taking the offensive, the National fleet 
would be driven out of the river and again reduced to 
a mere blockading force. Taking the enemy unpre- 
pared was the first element of success that had been 
counted upon when the great New Orleans expedition 
was planned, and Farragut accepted the place of com- 
mander-in- chief with the understanding that he was 
to run past the forts not merely to act as an escort 
to twenty mortar schooners. His long experience in 
active service had taught him to place little reliance on 
mortars, and he had accepted them merely as an aux- 
iliary battery, because they had been ordered before 
he was assigned to the command. Day after day was 
passing, and the enemy showed no sign of weakening. 
As a matter of fact, fewer than ten guns of the one 



hundred and twenty-six in the two forts had been dis- 
abled by the sixteen thousand eight hundred shells 
dropped in and around them, and only four men had 
been killed and fourteen wounded. 

The proposition of running past the forts did not 
meet with the unanimous approval of the Union offi- 
cers. The weight of tradition and long-established 
rules of war were against it. It was demonstrated with 
incontrovertible accuracy that wooden ships could 
never pass such batteries and remain afloat. Had not 
a French admiral and Captain Freed y, of the English 
frigate Mersey, just been up the river as far as the 
forts and reported that they were impassable? But 
Farragut had known English predictions in regard to 
American naval prowess to fail before this. He saw 
clearly enough that if New Orleans was to be captured 
by the fleet, it was to be done only by the vessels 
running past the forts. " Whatever is to be done will 
have to be done quickly," he said, and the night of 
April 23d was fixed for the attempt. 

At first it was intended to have the ships pass the 
forts in a double column, as there would be less strag- 
gling and this would enable the larger vessels to give 
more protection to the lighter ones. But the narrow 
gap in the line of obstructions would greatly increase 
the chances of collision with the hulks, and, what was 
more serious, collision between the vessels themselves ; 
and Farragut therefore determined to range his vessels 
in single line and to pass the forts in three divisions, one 
after the other. The vessels were arranged in the follow- 
ing order : First Division, Captain Theodoras Bailey ; * 
the Cayuga, Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte Harrison ; 
the Pensacola, Captain Henry W. Morris ; the Missis- 
sippi,* Commander Melancton Smith ; the Oneida, Com- 
mander Samuel Phillips Lee ; the Varuna, Command- 

1 The present Rear- Admiral Francis John Higginson acted as aide and 
signal midshipman to Bailey. 

8 Admiral Dewey was serving in the Mississippi as a lieutenant. 


er Charles Stuart Boggs ; the KataJhdin, Lieutenant 
George Henry Preble ; the Kineo, Lieutenant George 
Marcellus Ransom ; and the Wissahickon, Lieutenant 
Albert N. Smith. The Second or Center Division was 
to be led by Captain Farragut himself in the Hartford, 
Commander Richard Wainwright ; followed by the 
Brooklyn, Captain Thomas Tingey Craven, and Rich- 
mond, Commander James Alden. The Third Division, 
commanded by Commander Henry H. Bell, was to be 
led by the Sciota, Lieutenant Edward Donaldson ; fol- 
lowed by the Iroquois, Commander John Decamp ; the 
Kennebec, Lieutenant John Henry Russell ; the Pino- 
la, Lieutenant Peirce Crosby ; the Itasca, Lieutenant 
Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell ; the Winona, Lieu- 
tenant Edward Tattnall Nichols. 1 

The 23d of April was taken up with final prepara- 
tions for the great battle. Bags of sand, ashes and coal, 
sails, hammocks, etc., were piled around the machinery 
and exposed parts of the ships, some of the hulls were 
daubed with yellow river mud to make them less visible 
to the Confederate gunners, and many of the decks 
and gun carriages were whitewashed, so that objects on 
them would be more readily distinguished in the night, 

1 These vessels carried the following armaments : Hartford, twenty-two 
9-inch, two rifled 20-ponnders ; Brooklyn, twenty 9-inch, one rifled 80- 
pounder, one rifled 30-pounder : Richmond, twenty-two 9-inch, one rifled 
80-pounder, one rifled 30-pounder; Pensacola, one 11-inch, twenty 9-inch, 
one rifled 100-pounder, one rifled 80-pounder; Mississippi, one 10-inch, 
fifteen 8-inch, one rifled 20-poumler ; Oeida, two 11-inch, four 32-pound- 
ers, three rifled 30-pounders ; Iroquois, two 11 -inch, four 32-pounders, 
one rifled 50-pounder ; Varuna. eight 8-inch, two rifled 30-pounders ; 
Caynga, Katahdin, Kennebec, A'ineo, Pinola, Sciota, Winona, Wissa- 
hickon, each carried one 11-inch, one rifled 30-pounder ; Itasca, one 10- 
inch, one rifled 30-pounder. The armaments of the steamers of the mor- 
tar flotilla were : Harriet Lane, three 9-inch guns ; Clifton, two 9-inch, 
four 32-pounders, one rifled 30-pounder ; Jackson, one 10-inch, one 9- 
inch, one 6-inch rifled Sawyer, four 32-pounders ; Westfield, one 9-inch, 
four 8-inch, one rifled 100-pounder; Miami, two 9-inch, one rifled 100- 
potmder, one rifled 80-pounder, one rifled 30-pounder; Owasco, one 11- 
inch, one rifled 30-pounder. 


as it was proposed to have as few lanterns lighted as 
possible. At the suggestion of Chief-Engineer J. W. 
Moore, of the Richmond, the sheet cables were ar- 
ranged up and down the hulls of the ships, so as to 
protect the machinery. The holds or the cockpits of 
the vessels were cleared of the stores piled there, and 
made ready for the first time, perhaps for the recep- 
tion of wounded men. Tables were arranged in con- 
venient positions, and the surgeons prepared their in- 
struments, while buckets and tubs were placed in 
readiness to receive the blood and severed members of 
the human body. Aboard the Brooklyn a cot frame 
was slung from two davits and so arranged that the 
wounded could be lowered down the main hatch and 
taken to the surgeon's table in the fore hold. The 
ropes, hawsers etc. were packed in the sick bay in a 
solid mass, kedge anchors attached to hawsers were 
slung to the main-brace bumkins on each quarter in 
case it became necessary to turn the ship suddenly, 
and, in some, hammocks or netting made of rope were 
spread so as to catch splinters. The men in the tops 
were protected from musketry fire by iron bulwarks ; 
the heavy weights in the ship were stowed in the for- 
ward part, so that if they grounded at all the bow 
would strike first and the swift current would not 
swing them broadside to across the river. All un- 
necessary spars, boats, rigging etc. had been sent 
ashore at Pilot Town and the vessels stripped for the 
fight. Five of the nine gunboats took out their masts 
entirely, as the Pinola and the Itasca had done when 
severing the raft on the 20th of April. 

On the afternoon of April 23d Farragut personally 
visited every vessel in the fleet, to see if his orders for 
the night were clearly understood. Having done this, 
he returned to his own ship and made his personal ar- 
rangements for the battle. The evening came on clear 
and starlit, while nothing served to break the silence or to 
conceal the movements of the vessels. At about five min- 


utesof two o'clock in the morning, April 24th, two ordi- 
nary red lights (so as not to attract the enemy's notice) 
in a vertical line appeared in the rigging of the flagship, 
and immediately afterward the click of capstans and the 
harsh grating of cables fell upon the midnight air from 
all parts of the anchorage, and proclaimed to the Con- 
federate lookouts concealed in the woods that the fleet 
was about to begin some serious movement. The alarm 
was quickly conveyed to the forts, and scarcely were 
the ships under way before the enemy was in readiness 
to receive the attack. The unusual strength of the cur- 
rent delayed the ships, so that it was 3.30 before the 
entire fleet w r as under way. The five steamers that had 
been used for towing the mortar schooners w r ere moved 
up the river to a position about two hundred yards from 
the water-battery opposite Fort Jackson, where, by run- 
ning close under the levee, their hulls would be entirely 
protected from the enemy's shot, and about the time 
the first division of ships was well under way the mor- 
tar steamers opened their fire. The sailing sloop of war 
Portsmouth, Commander Samuel Swartwout, also was 
towed by the steamer Jackson to a position where she 
could enfilade the enemy's batteries. Soon after the 
fleet got under way large bonfires on the banks and 
huge fire rafts on the water illuminated the whole scene, 
enabling the Confederate gunners to fire with accuracy. 
The mortar schooners now began to thunder out their 
huge shells, keeping two constantly in the air, while 
the five steamers near the water-battery opened with 
grape and shrapnel. 

As soon as the head of the National line was in 
range the Confederates opened from every gun that 
bore. The scene was one of indescribable grandeur. 
The huge 13-inch shells left their beds with thunderous 
reports ; revolving the light of their fuses rapidly in the 
air, they rushed to the apex of their flight, where they 
seemed to pause for a moment, and then descended in 
a graceful curve, exploding in or over the forts. Some 


of them burst in mid-air, sending a shower of iron frag- 
ments and sparks in all directions. The constant flash- 
ing of so many guns, together with the flickering light 
of the fire-rafts, produced a shimmering illumination 
over the river, which, although brilliant, was illusive 
and made it difficult to take accurate aim. Soon dark 
masses of smoke began to float across the river, ob- 
structing the line of vision here and there and adding 
greatly to the confusion. 

About 3.45 A. M. the Cayuga was well under the 
forts. Captain Bailey, whose ship, the Colorado, was 
unable to cross the bar, had asked for an opportunity 
to take part in the fight and was placed in command 
of the first division, while his men were distributed 
among the crews. He pressed gallantly toward Fort St. 
Philip, leaving the other divisions to attack Fort Jack- 
son. The Cayuga was now the center of a terrific storm 
of shot, to which she could make no effective answer. 
"The air," said Lieutenant Perkins, who was piloting 
the Cayuga, "was filled with shells and explosives, 
which almost blinded me as I stood on the forecastle 
trying to see my way, for I had never been up the river 
before. I soon saw that the guns of the forts were well 
aimed for the center of the midstream, so I steered close 
under the walls of Fort St. Philip, and although our 
masts and rigging got badly shot through, our hull was 
but little damaged. After passing the last battery and 
thinking we were clear, I looked back for some of our 
vessels, and my heart jumped into my mouth when I 
found I could not see a single one. I thought they all 
must have been sunk by the forts. Looking ahead, I 
saw eleven of the enemy's gunboats coming down upon 
us, and it seemed as if we were gone, sure." 

Undaunted by the heavy odds, Captain Bailey boldly 
stood on and prepared to attack three large steamers 
that made a dash at him with the intention of running 
him down. One headed for the Cayuga's starboard 
bow, another came on at right angles amidship, and a 


third came up on the stern. The 11-inch Dahlgren gun 
was deliberately trained on the second steamer, and 
when at a distance of thirty yards it was fired. The 
shot crippled the enemy, and he sheered off, ran in- 
shore, and was soon wrapped in flames. The Parrott 
rifled gun on the forecastle also lodged a shot in the 
steamer off the starboard bow, which compelled her to 
haul off. This left only the steamer coming up on the 
sfarboard quarter. The boarders were immediately 
called aft, but at this moment the Varuna, which had 
been fifth in line, came swiftly up the river and crip- 
pled the enemy with a shell. The Cayuga had now 
been struck by forty-two shot. Her masts were so 
shattered as to be unfit for use, the carriage of her 11- 
inch Dahlgren gun was broken, and her smokestack 
was riddled ; but as her machinery remained intact 
she still advanced. The Varuna, however, soon passed 
her and sped up the river, delivering her fire right 
and left. A steamer filled with soldiers soon ap- 
peared off her starboard beam, and Commander Boggs 
put a shot into her boiler, which caused her to drift 
ashore. Two other steamers and one gunboat also 
were crippled and driven ashore in flames by the Va- 
runa. But, unknown to Commander Boggs, a more 
formidable enemy was swiftly pursuing and gradually 
overtaking him. 

When the National fleet was getting under way, the 
Governor Moore lay near Fort St. Philip, with her 
lights carefully concealed and with a double guard of 
sentinels. About half past two in the morning her 
vigilant commander, Lieutenant Beverley Kennon, de- 
tected unusual sounds down the river, and climbing 
over the side of the vessel, he placed his ear near the 
water and distinctly heard the stroke of a paddle-wheel 
steamer apparently coming up stream. He rightly 
conjectured that it was the Mississippi coming up 
with the fleet, and firing two alarm guns, he got up 
steam in three minutes, and proceeded a short distance 


up the river so as to have a better opportunity for ram- 
ming. While feeling his way in the gloom, Lieutenant 
Kennon saw a large two- masted steamer emerge from 
the darkness and pass between him and the light of the 
burning steamer, "rushing upstream like an ocean 
racer, belching black smoke, firing on each burning 
vessel as she passed." It was the Varuna, leading the 
line of vessels up the river. As the stranger carried 
a white light at the masthead and a red light at the 
peak, Lieutenant Kennon knew that she was one of the 
National vessels. He also knew that General Lovell, 
commander of the Confederate forces at New Orleans, 
had come down the river to visit the forts that evening, 
and-had just passed up the river in the steamer Doub- 
loon, on his return to the city. 

Knowing that the*" ocean racer "would soon over- 
take the Doubloon, Lieutenant Kennon, after shooting 
away his blue distinguishing light at the masthead 
with a musket (for hauling it down would have at- 
tracted attention), set off in chase of the Varuna. The 
trees and thick underbrush on the bank of the river 
near which the Governor Moore was steaming formed 
a dark background and prevented the people in the 
National gunboat from discovering her. By putting 
oil on his fires Kennon got up a full head of steam, 
and soon had the steamer "shaking all over and fairly 
dancing through the water." In order to deceive the 
Varuna, Lieutenant Kennon now hoisted the Union 
distinguishing lights, and in this way the two steamers 
sped up the river, the Governor Moore gradually gain- 
ing and the people in the Varuna ignorant of an ap- 
proaching foe. 

When near the battery at Chalmette, day just 
breaking, the two vessels were only one hundred yards 
apart, and Lieutenant Kennon hauled down the Union 
light and fired at the Varuna. But the shot missed 
its mark. The people in the Varuna responded to this 
unexpected attack with such guns as bore, but they 


were afraid to yaw across the river so as to bring their 
broadside to bear lest they should be rammed by the 
rapidly approaching enemy. In this way a running 
fight ensued, with the advantage decidedly in the Va- 
runa? s favor, for her shells were raking the Governor 
Moore, killing and wounding men at every fire. One 
shot from the Confederate gunboat, however, raked the 
Varuna along the port gangway, killing four men and 
wounding nine. Finding that his bow gun was too 
far abaft the knightheads to hull the Varuna, Lieuten- 
ant Kennon ran up to close quarters and deliberately 
fired through his own bow, hoping to throw a shell 
into the Varuna's engine room. The missile struck 
the hawse pipe, was deflected, and passed through the 
Varuna's smokestack. But a second shot, fired 
through the hole made by the first in the Governor 
Moore's bow, struck the Varund*s pivot gun and 
killed or wounded several men. Soon after this the 
Varuna ported her helm, and the Governor Moore fol- 
lowed the example, but under cover of smoke the latter 
suddenly put her helm hard to starboard, and before 
the Varuna could right herself she was rammed near 
the starboard quarter, at the same instant delivering 
her broadside and receiving a shell from the Confeder- 
ate steamer. Backing clear, the Governor Moore again 
rammed, striking in nearly the same place as before; 
while Commander Boggs managed at the same time to 
get in three 8-inch shells, which set fire to his antag- 
onist and caused her to drop out of action. Lieuten- 
ant Kennon attempted to fight again, but all his boat's 
steering gear was destroyed, a large piece of the walk- 
ing-beam had been carried away, the slide of the engine 
fell and cracked the cylinder, filling the engine room 
with steam, and fifty-seven of his men had been killed 
and seventeen wounded. After drifting about help- 
lessly some time he ran the Governor Moore ashore, 
where she was burned to the water's edge. 

But scarcely had the Varuna disposed of this ene- 


my when another, the Stonewall Jackson, loomed out 
of the darkness on the port side and struck the Varuna 
on the gangway, doing considerable damage. The Va- 
runa delivered her fire, but with little effect. The 
enemy then backed off and again rammed the Varuna 
in the same place, this time crushing in her side below 
the water line. Without diminishing her speed, the 
Varuna dragged the ram ahead so as to bring her 
broadside guns into play, and fired five 8-inch shells 
into the Stonewall Jackson, so that she drifted ashore 
in flames. But as the Varuna also was rapidly sink- 
ing, Commander Boggs ran her ashore, let go his an- 
chor and made fast to the trees on the bank, during 
which time, however, his guns were still playing on the 
Governor Moore, which was making a feeble effort to 
get up steam. The guns of the Varuna were fought 
until the water covered the gun-trucks, when attention 
was given to getting the men ashore. " In fifteen min- 
utes from the time the Varuna was struck [by the 
Stonewall Jackson] she was on the bottom, with only 
her topgallant forecastle out of water." ' 

In approaching the forts the vessels of the first 
division maintained their prescribed positions until 
passing the obstructions, when they became somewhat 
confused. The Oneida soon overhauled the Missis- 
sippi, and, being caught in a strong eddy, was carried 
swiftly past Fort St. Philip, and so close under its guns 
that the sparks from the cannon came aboard. The 
enemy, miscalculating the distance, fired too high, so 
that she passed almost unscathed, while her grape and 
shrapnel swept the parapets at short range. One shell 
from Fort Jackson entered the coal bunker on the port 
side but did not explode. Getting past the forts and 
out of their line of fire, the Oneida pushed ahead to 
join the Gayuga and the Varuna, then struggling with 
the Confederate gunboats. Passinglhe ram Manassas 

1 Official report of Commander Boggs. 


without being able to strike her, Commander Lee dis- 
covered a steamer crossing his course only a short dis- 
tance ahead, and, putting on a full head of steam, he 
struck the enemy amidships, crushing in her starboard 
quarter, so that she drifted away in a sinking condi- 
tion. Continuing his course, he soon found himself 
among the enemy's vessels and began delivering his 
broadsides right and left. Just as he fell in with the 
Cayuga, the Governor Moore loomed up within a few 
feet, and on being hailed "What ship is that? " Lieu- 
tenant Kennon answered, "The United States steamer 
Mississippi.'' 1 But the Union commander was not so 
easily deceived, and, observing the distinguishing lights 
in the stranger, he raked her with his starboard guns. 
Learning that the Varuna was ahead and unsupported, 
Commander Lee hastened on and discovered his consort 
in a sinking condition. As Captain Boggs declined all 
assistance, the Oneida passed ahead. 

The Mississippi and the Pensacola deliberately 
slowed up when passing the forts, frequently stop- 
ping so that their powerful batteries could play with 
full effect on the fortifications, while the smaller vessels 
passed ahead with but little injury. So near were 
these vessels to the enemy that at times the jeers of 
defiance and the oaths and imprecations exchanged 
by the contending men could be heard above the roar 
of battle. The Mississippi was struck repeatedly, 
eight shot passing entirely through the ship, but for- 
tunately inflicting no vital injury, although one of 
them caused a slight alteration in a bearing of the 
shaft. Her rigging was badly cut up, and the mizzen 
mast was struck about twelve feet above the deck. 

The ram Manassas, after passing the Varuna, came 
rapidly down the river in search of larger game. The 
Pensacola was the next vessel she discovered, and, 
putting on full steam, she endeavored to ram her ; but 
Captain Morris discovered the ram just in time, and 
Lieutenant Francis Asbury Roe, who was conning the 


Pensacola, "avoided a collision beautifully," 1 and, 
passing close by, fired his starboard broadside. The 
shot did not take effect, except cutting away the flag- 
staff, and the next instant the Manassas had vanished 
in the darkness. After remaining in front of the forts 
two hours, the Pensacola steamed up the river, and, 
observing the Varuna in a disabled condition, sent her 
boats aboard and took off seven officers and about sixty 
of the crew. 

Having missed the Pensacola, the Manassas made 
for the Mississippi, and, favored by the darkness and 
dense smoke, managed to strike her on the port quar- 
ter, a little forward of the mizzen mast, making a gash 
seven feet long and four inches deep, and took off fifty 
copper bolts under the water line. Had the blow been 
a little deeper, the Mississippi would have sunk 
immediately. After this escape Commander Smith 
steamed ahead, passed the Confederate line of fire, 
and disabled an enemy's steamer with a broadside. 

The Katahdln followed close in the Varuna's 
wake. The fire of her pivot gun was much embar- 
rassed by the shells jamming in the bore, the sabots be- 
ing too large. Five shells were passed up before one 
could be found to fit. By keeping up a full head of 
steam, Lieutenant Preble was enabled to maintain his 
position close astern of the Varuna, although the dense 
smoke hid everything from view except when lighted by 
the fitful flashes of the guns. Overtaking the Missis- 
sippi, he ran above the forts and passed within fifty 
yards of the ironclad Louisiana, which was moored near 
Fort St. Philip. Fortunately, the iron monster did not 
fire upon her, or the course of the Katahdin would 
have been cut short. But Lieutenant Preble fired an 
11 -inch shot at the ram with some effect. The KataTi- 
din had passed the fort almost uninjured. "Several 
of the men had their clothing torn by shot and fragments 

1 Lieutenant A. F. Warley, of the Manassas. 


of shell, but not a man was even scratched. The vessel 
also escaped without serious damage. One shell passed 
through the smokestack and the steam-escape pipe and 
burst, making a dozen small holes from the inside out- 
ward, and another shot cut about four to six inches 
into the foremast, while the same or another shot cut 
the foresail and some of the running rigging about the 
foremast." l The Kineo, in passing the hulks, came 
into violent collision with the Brooklyn, but no serious 
injury was done. The Wissahickoti also passed the 
forts without serious injury. 

While the first division of the fleet was getting into 
close quarters with Fort St. Philip, Captain Farragut, 
leading the second division in the Hartford, passed 
the barriers and came into range. For fifteen minutes 
after the enemy had opened on him he did not reply, 
but kept steadily on his course under a full head of 
steam. When in easy range, about 3.55 A. M., he 
opened with his bow guns, and as he swept past Fort 
St. Philip he discharged his broadside. By this time 
the river between the two forts was covered with a 
dense mass of smoke, completely enveloping the ships 
and shores, so that even the monstrous fire-rafts, which 
in the earlier part of the action illuminated the scene 
like day, now failed to penetrate the gloom, merely 
making a dull red glow in their direction and render- 
ing the darkness the more striking by the contrast. 

At 4.15 A. M., while the Hartford was carefully 
feeling her way along, a huge fire - raft suddenly 
loomed up off her port quarter, and, guided by an un- 
seen hand, made directly for the flagship. The order 
"Hard aport ! " was instantly given, but the current 
caught the frigate, and, giving her a broad sheer, ran her 
hard and fast on the muddy bank, where the bushes on 
shore could be reached from her bowsprit, and at such 
a short distance from Fort St. Philip that the gunners 

1 Official report of Lieutenant Preble. 


in the casemates could be distinctly heard talking. 
The enemy quickly recognized the Hartford by her 
three ensigns and the flag-officer's flag at the mizzen, 
and began firing on her with great rapidity. ' ' It 
seemed to be breathing a flame," said Farragut after 
the action. "On the deck of the ship it was bright 
as noonday, but out over the majestic river, where the 
smoke of many guns was intensified by that of the 
pine knots of the fire rafts, it was dark as the blackest 
midnight." 1 Fortunately the Confederates aimed too 
high, so that most of their shot passed over the bul- 

But the terrible fire-raft was at hand. Guided 
by the thirty-five-ton tugboat Mosher, it was pushed 
against the wooden side of the flagship, and the flames, 
pouring into the portholes, drove the men from their 
guns, or, rolling up her sides and mounting into the 
well-oiled rigging, ran up to the mastheads and seemed 
to envelop the ship in a sheet of flame. Two years 
afterward Farragut wrote : " It was the anxious night 
of my life. I felt as if the fate of my country and my 
own life and reputation were all on the wheel of for- 
tune." But the men, animated by the example of 
their intrepid commander, maintained perfect self-com- 
mand, and under the direction of Commander Wain- 
wright they attacked the fire. At one time a long 
tongue of flame was thrust through a port, and for a 
moment the men were driven from their guns. Farra- 
gut, who was calmly pacing the poop deck, shouted 
out, " Don't flinch from that fire, boys ! There is a hot- 
ter fire for those who don't do their duty ! Give that 
rascally little tug a shot, and don't let her go off with 
a whole coat." A strer.m of water was brought to bear, 
and the flames were extinguished before they had made 
serious headway ; soon afterward a shot entered the 
Mosher's boiler and sank her. The engines were then 

1 Lieutenant Albert Kautz, of the Hartford. 

1862. CRAVEN IN ACTION. 339 

reversed, the ship swung around, and as she once more 
got into deep water her fcrew gave three cheers. All 
this time the Hartford had maintained a heavy fire 
on Fort St. Philip, which was kept up until she was 
out of gunshot. About this time a large steamer filled 
with troops made a dash at her, with the intention of 
getting alongside and boarding, but a single well-aimed 
shell crippled the stranger and sent her drifting down 
the stream. 

Closely following the Hartford was the sloop of war 
Brooklyn. Captain Craven had taken every precaution 
for the battle. Just before getting under way his decks 
had been washed down and sanded so as to make them 
less slippery when blood began to flow. For twenty 
minutes after the ship was well within range of the ene- 
my's fire he refrained from answering, the men stand- 
ing silently at their guns while shot and shell seemed 
to fill the air over their heads. Captain Craven him- 
self, calm and collected, stood on the break of the 
poop deck, resting his hands lightly on the ratline, 
intently watching the progress of the battle and giving 
the few necessary orders in his deep bass voice that 
could be heard in all parts of the ship. The clouds of 
smoke, shutting in the view to a short distance, ren- 
dered it impossible to aim with accuracy, and Captain 
Craven determined to bring his broadside guns into full 
range before opening fire. 

As the Brooklyn approached the obstructions the 
water-battery opposite Fort Jackson opened a most de- 
structive fire on her, to which Craven responded with 
grape and canister. In the darkness and confusion he 
lost sight of his leader, the Hartford, and instead of 
passing through the opening he ran into the line of 
chains. Backing clear of this, the Brooklyn steamed 
up the river again to find the opening, but she ran again 
into the obstruction. This time, however, the chains 
broke, and as she swung alongside one of the hulks, 
the Brooklyn's stream anchor, which was hanging on 


the starboard quarter in readiness to let go at a mo- 
ment's notice, caught the hulk and held the ship just 
where the gunners in the fort had long since got the 
most accurate range. While thus entangled she was 
subjected to a dreadful tire. One shot from Fort Jack- 
son broke off the port-quarter anchor close to the stock, 
scattering the fragments over the deck. Several shot 
hulled her, one of them striking the rail at the break 
of the poop deck and plowing a deep furrow across the 
planks. Another shot cut Midshipman John Ander- 
son and the signal quartermaster, Barney Sands, al- 
most in two. Young Anderson, whose ship had been 
detailed for another duty, had volunteered to serve in 
the Brooklyn. Early in the fight Quartermaster James 
Buck received a painful wound, " but for seven hours 
afterward he stood bravely at the wheel and performed 
his duty, refusing to go below until positively ordered 
to do so ; and on the morning of the 25th, without my 
knowledge, he again stole to his station and steered 
the ship from early daylight until 1.30 p. M., over eight 
hours." * 

The hawser holding the Brooklyn to the hulk was 
quickly severed, and again the sloop of war headed up- 
stream ; but scarcely had she got under way when a 
sudden jar was felt, the engine stopped, "and a thrill 
of alarm ran through the ship." To prevent the Brook- 
lyn from being carried downstream by the strong cur- 
rent, Captain Craven now called out> " Stand by the 
starboard anchor ! " and it seemed for a moment as if the 
ship must come to anchor directly under the guns of 
both forts, where, being a stationary object, her de- 
struction would be a question of a very few minutes. 
The blades of the propeller had struck some hard ob- 
ject in passing the line of hulks, but after a pause of a 
few minutes the engines were started, and again the 
ship moved slowly up the river. The Brooklyn now 

1 Official report of Captain Craven. 


poured shell and shrapnel into Fort Jackson as fast as 
the guns could be loaded, receiving a heavy fire in re- 
turn. About this time a shot entered the port of gun 
No. 9 on the port side, and at the same moment a shell 
burst directly over the gun, wounding nine men and 
taking off the first captain's head. Acting Midshipman 
Bartlett, who was standing amidships between the star- 
board and port No. 10 guns, was struck on the back by 
a splinter and thrown down. Quickly regaining his 
feet, he found that only two of the gun crew on the port 
side were standing. The first loader and sponger were 
leaning against the side of the ship, while the rest of 
the men were lying flat on the deck, one of them direct- 
ly in the rear of the gun. As the gun had just been 
loaded, Bartlett dragged this man aside so as to be clear 
of the recoil and fired it. On the discharge of the gun 
the men got up and returned to their stations, none of 
them having been seriously injured. " The captain of 
the gun found a piece of shell inside his cap, which did 
not even scratch his head ; another piece went through 
my coat-sleeve." 1 

While the Hartford was hard aground, exposed to 
a terrible fire from both Fort Jackson and Fort St. 
Philip, as already narrated, the Brooklyn passed her. 
Captain Craven did not discover the peril of the flag- 
ship until he had the Hartford on his starboard quar- 
ter. Taking in the situation at a glance, notwithstand- 
ing the fact that he was in a most exposed position 
himself, he promptly gave the order "One bell ! " (slow 
down), and a moment later " Two bells ! " (stop), in- 
tending to remain alongside of his commanding officer 
until he was extricated from his perilous position. The 
Brooklyn 's bow now swung around, and she dropped 
down to a position where she was on a line between the 
two forts, when she poured in a terrific fire of shell and 
shrapnel from the port battery. As soon as the enemy 

1 Lieut. Bartlett. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. ii, p. 03. 


discovered her they diverted a portion of their fire from 
the flagship, just as Captain Craven had desired. Had 
the Confederates aimed more accurately, they would 
have blown the Brooklyn out of water. As it was, 
a storm of shot, shell and shrapnel passed just over 
the bulwarks and cut the rigging, the hammock net- 
tings and the boats all to pieces, there being scarcely a 
sound rope left to the spars. Craven deliberately kept 
his ship under this terrific fire until he saw that Farra- 
gut was free from the fire-raft, and then continued on 
his course up the river. 

As she passed within a hundred feet of Fort St. 
Philip a long blaze of musketry was opened on her 
from the parapets. One of the bullets, entering the 
port of gun No. 1, struck Lieutenant James O'Kane in 
the leg ; but although he fell to the deck he would not 
allow himself to be carried below until he had fired two 
of the broadside guns with his own hands. Soon after- 
ward a shot took off the head of a marine who was 
standing on the starboard quarter. But the greatest 
carnage had taken place in the forward division of 
guns. A shell exploded near the powder man of the 
pivot gun, literally blowing him to pieces, and parts of 
his body were scattered all over the forecastle. The 
primer of the gun was broken off at the vent, disabling 
the gun. As soon as possible the Brooklyn responded 
to this fire with grape, which drove the Confederates to 
shelter. A prisoner afterward remarked that " the 
grape came in like rain, but the worst of all were the 
infernal lamp-posts or the stands that held the grape. 
The fort was full of them." At times the Brooklyn 
was so close to Fort St. Philip that the flashes of the 
Confederate cannon scorched the faces and clothing of 
the ship's gunners. All this time a heroic quartermas- 
ter, Thomas Hollins, stood at the starboard main chains, 
undismayed by the storm around him, and his voice 
every few minutes was heard above the din of battle, 
calmly singing out the varying fathoms of water. 


When abreast of the fort, where the flashes leaped out 
of the enemy's guns and seemed almost to touch him, 
he coolly called out, "Only thirteen feet, sir ! " On ex- 
amining the ship after the battle, it was found that her 
side near the place where he stood was peppered with 

Just as Craven was clearing Fort St. Philip he 
caught a glimpse, through a break in the smoke, of the 
Louisiana. The National commanders had little or no 
reliable information as to the condition of the ram, but 
rumor had pictured the Louisiana as a most terrible 
monster, and with a feeling that they had met their 
greatest danger they drew near the ironclad. The 
Brooklyn delivered her starboard fire of solid shot, 
which could be distinctly heard striking the ram, but 
they glanced harmlessly upward. Lieutenant James 
McBaker, of the Louisiana, at this moment was stand- 
ing astride two beams in the pilot house (the floor not 
yet being laid), and the shock caused him to fall to the 
deck. Captain Mclntosh, who was in charge of the 
Louisiana, was mortally wounded while in the act of 
throwing a fireball at a National vessel. The Louisi- 
ana fired a heavy shell that struck the Brooklyn about 
a foot above the water line on the starboard &ide of the 
cutwater near the wood ends, and, forcing its way three 
feet into the dead wood and timbers, remained there. 
Had that shell exploded, the entire bow would have 
been blown off and the ship would have gone to the 
bottom in a few minutes. But the Confederates, in 
their haste to fire, had neglected to remove the lead 
patch from the fuse. 

After passing the ram the Brooklyn swung out 
into the middle of the river and continued on her 
slow course against the current. A number of vessels 
could now be made out through the smoke, engaged in 
a desperate struggle at close quarters, but as it was im- 
possible to distinguish between friend and foe, Captain 
Craven refrained from firing. A few minutes later the 


cry ran through the ship, "A steamer coming down on 
our port bow ! " and soon they saw black smoke from 
the double smokestack of a river boat, quickly fol- 
lowed by the outlines of a steamer having her fore- 
castle crowded with men as if in readiness to board. 
The order " Stand by to repel boarders ! " was passed, 
the guns were loaded with shrapnel and the fuses were 
cut so as to burn one second. On the steamer came ; 
but just before a collision took place the Brooklyn gave 
a sheer to starboard, and as the steamer passed to port 
the broadside guns of the Brooklyn, beginning with 
the forward one, were discharged one after another 
as they bore. The missiles sped with fatal precision, 
as the rush of steam and the shrieks and yells of the 
injured speedily proclaimed. The shells exploded al- 
most on leaving the guns, and when it came time for 
the after guns in the Brooklyn to be fired the steamer 
was nowhere to be seen. 

Scarcely had this enemy been disposed of when 
some of the men who had been looking out of the ports 
saw another black column of smoke creeping out of the 
night, and a moment later the cry "The ram ! the ram ! " 
passed through the ship. "Four bells! [full speed]. 
Put your helm hard a-starboard ! " called out Craven. 
But it was too late, for in a moment there was a shock 
that nearly threw the men off their feet. The Manas- 
sas had struck the Brooklyn almost at right angles and 
nearly amidships. At the moment of striking the ram 
fired her gun. The shot, piercing the chain and plank- 
ing on the starboard side, entered the berth deck, made 
its way through the pile of rigging and passed into 
the sand-bags that had been placed around the steam 
drum. The chain plating was driven into the outer 
planking, and on the inside the planks were splintered 
and crushed for about five feet, and had it not been for 
the fact that her bunkers were full of coal she would 
undoubtedly have been sunk. When the BrooTdyn 
went to sea some weeks after this, the rolling of the 


ship caused her to leak so seriously that she was com- 
pelled to run into Pensacola, where a large patch of 
planking was bolted over the wound. Mr. Bartlett 
writes : "I ran to the No. 10 port, the gun being in, 
and, looking out, saw her [the ram] almost directly 
alongside. A man came out of the little hatch aft and 
ran forward along the port side of the deck as far as 
the smokestacks, placed his hand against one of the 
funnels and looked to see what damage the ram had 
done. I saw him turn, fall over and tumble into the 
water, but did not know at the moment what caused his 
sudden disappearance until I asked the quartermaster 
who was leadsman in the chains, if he had seen him fall. 
'Why, yes, sir,' he said, 'I saw him fall overboard in 
fact, I helped him ; for I hit him alongside of the head 
with my hand-lead.'" l The shock of the collision threw 
the boilers of the Manas sas out of position and pre- 
vented her from repeating the attack immediately. As 
the men had just been working the port guns and the 
Manassas came up suddenly on the starboard side, 
none of the Brooklyn's guns could be fired at her, 
although an attempt was made to depress the muzzle 
of the 30-pounder Parrot. The Manassas vanished in 
the night as suddenly as she appeared. 

After these narrow escapes Captain Craven pressed 
on, feeling his way in the darkness and guiding the ship 
by the flashes of the guns. Finding that he was get- 
ting too far to the western side, he headed his ship for 
Fort St. Philip, but in so doing exposed himself to a 
terrible raking fire from Fort Jackson. At this mo- 
ment a large three-masted steamer loomed out of the 
smoke and opened fire. Waiting until his entire port 
broadside bore, Captain Craven fired eleven 9-inch 
guns, which sent the stranger down the river in flames. 
Pushing carefully across the river until the starboard 
lead showed thirteen feet, Captain Craven headed up- 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. ii, p. 67. 


stream, and again brought his broadside to bear on 
Fort St. Philip. A torrent of grape and canister was 
then poured into that work and completely silenced it. 
By the flashes of the guns the enemy could be seen 
running to cover. After passing out of range of the 
forts the Brooklyn destroyed several gunboats. She 
had now been under fire about an hour and a half, and 
had eight men killed and twenty-six wounded. 

The Richmond, Commander James Alden, the third 
vessel of the second division, passed up with less diffi- 
culty. Like the others, she got out of line soon after 
starting, and was carried close to Fort Jackson at a 
time when the guns in that fort were nearly silenced by 
the fire from the mortars and their tenders. Her loss 
was two killed and four wounded. Much injury to the 
men was saved by a carefully prepared splinter-netting. 
At one point between the guns the netting was forced 
out to its utmost tension ; "indeed," says Commander 
Alden, "large pieces of plank were thus prevented 
from sweeping the deck and perhaps destroying the 
men at the guns." 

Commander Bell, leading the third division in the 
Sciota, got under fire a little before 4 A. M. and passed 
the forts with slight damage. Following him came the 
Iroquois, Commander Decamp, which hotly engaged 
the forts. Shortly afterward she was attacked by the 
McRae and another war vessel, which, coming up on 
her quarter and stern, poured in a destructive fire of 
grape, copper slugs and langrage. One 11 -inch shell 
and a stand of canister, skillfully aimed, drove off the 
McRae and mortally wounded her commander, Lieu- 
tenant Huger. Huger was serving in the Iroquois when 
he resigned his commission in the United States navy. 
The command of his vessel then fell upon Lieutenant 
Read, who fought his ship gallantly to the end. The 
Iroquois, although passing within fifty yards of Fort 
Jackson, received no injury from that work, but suf- 
fered severely from the raking fire of Fort St. Philip. 


Through a misunderstanding of the order " Starboard ! " 
as " Stop her ! " the Iroquois was carried close alongside 
the Louisiana. Half of the Confederate crew, sup- 
posing that an attempt at boarding was to be made, ran 
outside of her casemate to repel boarders, and the Lou- 
isiana double-shotted her guns and delivered a heavy 
fire at the Iroquois. After getting beyond the line of 
fire of the forts, the Iroquois was attacked by five or 
six steamers, but as she brought her broadsides into 
play they were sent down the stream in a crippled con- 
dition. Four miles above this point Commander De- 
camp captured gunboat No. 3, which was armed with 
one 24-pounder howitzer and was well supplied with 
fixed ammunition and small arms. Lieutenant Hen- 
derson, with four hundred and thirty soldiers, also was 
captured. In passing the forts the Iroquois was badly 
injured in her hull, her bowsprit and jib boom were 
struck by heavy shot, and all the boats were smashed 
to pieces. Her loss was eight killed and twenty-four 

The Winona took her station astern of the Itasca, 
and was following her red light when she became en- 
tangled in a mass of logs and driftwood held together 
by chains in the moorings of the hulks. While en- 
deavoring to back clear of this, she fouled her consort 
on the starboard bow, causing a delay of nearly half 
an hour. Although the larger part of the fleet by this 
time had passed the forts, Lieutenant Nichols pushed 
ahead. But day was fast breaking, and by the time 
the Winona had passed the obstruction she stood out in 
bold relief against the bright sky, presenting a fair mark 
to the enemy's gunners. Fort Jackson opened on her, 
and the first shot killed one man and wounded another, 
while the third and fourth shot killed or wounded 
all the men of the 30- pounder except one. In spite of 
this disastrous fire, Lieutenant Nichols pressed on to 
Fort St. Philip ; but his vessel and the Itasca soon be- 
came the center of such a terrific fire that Commander 


Porter signaled them to retire. The Winona had three 
killed and had five wounded, while she had been 
"hulled several times, and the decks were wet fore 
and aft from the spray of the falling shot." 1 The 
Itasca received fourteen shot, one in her boiler, and 
was so injured that Lieutenant Caldwell ran her ashore 
below the mortar boat to prevent sinking. The Kenne- 
bec also failed to pass the forts. The Pinola, which 
was in line astern of the Iroquois, had her starboard 
quarter boat crushed by a chain on the hulks. When 
abreast of Fort Jackson, Lieutenant Crosby opened 
with his 11 -inch Dahlgren and Parrott guns, the flashes 
of the Confederate guns being the only mark presented 
to the gunners. The enemy promptly replied, but, 
miscalculating the distance, sent most of his shot over 
the Pinola, so that only two of them struck her hull. 

Lieutenant Crosby then ran within one hundred 
and fifty yards of Fort St. Philip, where the fire-rafts 
exposed his vessel to the enemy's view. The Confed- 
erates opened a heavy fire, and one shot, entering her 
starboard quarter, cut away part of the wheel and 
wounded several men, including Quartermaster Wil- 
liam Ackworth. Another shot entered the hull at the 
water line on the starboard side, eight inches forward 
of the boiler, passed through the coal-bunkers, cut the 
sounding-well in two, and lodged in the pump-well. 
A third shot cut away the top of the steam-escape 
pipe, and the starboard chain cable from the anchor, 
while another passed entirely through the hull imme- 
diately over the magazine. After these narrow escapes 
the Pinola passed beyond the line of fire, and in the 
early dawn sighted a steamer which was thought to 
be the Iroquois. Discovering her to be the Governor 
Moore, however, Lieutenant Crosby gave her a shot 
from his 11 -inch Dahlgren and Parrott guns, both of 
which took effect near the water line. At this moment 

1 Official report of Lieutenant Nichols. 

1862. AT THE END OF THE LINE. 349 

the dark hull of the Manassas was discovered in the 
Pinola's wake, coming up the river under a full head 
of steam. Lieutenant Crosby immediately opened on 
the dangerous ram, but before he could come to close 
quarters the Mississippi dashed past for the purpose 
of running into the iron craft. Just as all were ex- 
pecting to see the Manassas crushed, she sheered to 
one side and ran ashore, where her crew escaped. The 
Mississippi, balked of her prey, checked her swift 
course down-stream, ran up to the ram, and riddled 
her with shot. 

At five o'clock in the morning the Cayuga reached 
the Confederate batteries at Chalmette, where, after an 
exchange of shot, the regiment under the command 
of Colonel Szymanaski surrendered to Captain Bailey. 
Farragut's fleet did not anchor off New Orleans until 
one o'clock on the afternoon of April 25th. New Or- 
leans was surrendered on the 29th, Forts Jackson and 
St. Philip having surrendered the day before. The 
total loss in the National fleet was thirty-seven killed 
and one hundred and forty-seven wounded, while that 
of the Confederate land forces was twelve killed and 
forty wounded. The loss in the Confederate flotilla 
can not be accurately determined, but it must have 
been equal to that of the Nationalists. 



DRIVEN from one stronghold after another by the 
National gunboats on the upper Mississippi, and com- 
pelled by the genius of Farragut to abandon New Or- 
leans, Baton Rouge and Natchez on the lower Missis- 
sippi, the Confederates gradually concentrated around 
Vicksburg. By the time the National forces were ready 
to make a serious demonstration against this place, 
many of the troops, guns and munitions of war that 
had been scattered over the Western States of the Con- 
federacy were massed at Vicksburg, so that it became 
one of the most formidable strongholds the world has 
ever seen. On the other hand, while the Confederates 
were growing stronger by concentration after each de- 
feat, the Nationalists were becoming weaker as their 
forces were spread over a larger territory and they 
were required to guard many points on the river and 
the Gulf. Besides this, Farragut's vessels, which had 
not been designed for river service, were greatly in 
need of repairs. The many collisions between vessels 
of the same squadron, caused by the swift current in 
narrow waters, their frequent grounding on shoals, and 
the heavy impact of enormous logs carried down stream 
in the swift current, strained the hulls and perceptibly 
weakened the ships. The constant exposure to the 
enemy's shot and the wear and tear on the engines, 
many of which were old and built for lighter service, 
also were beginning to be felt. 

The great difficulty of patroling such a vast and 
intricate river system in the heart of an enemy's coun- 



try was further enhanced by the difficulty of obtaining 
a coal-supply. The towing and guarding of coal-ves- 
sels over a distance of many hundred miles against a 
swift current, with the men constantly exposed to 
sharpshooters and the sudden fire of masked batteries, 
was in itself a work of appalling magnitude. But one 
of the most serious tasks which the commanders of 
both the lower and the upper Mississippi fleets had to 
perform was to guard the health of their men, most of 
whom were from the North and, being unaccustomed 
to the peculiar climate of the Mississippi Valley, fell 
easy victims to disease. On the 25th of July nearly 
half of the men in the upper flotilla were reported 
unfit for duty and there was nearly as much illness 
among Farragut's crews. The time of enlistment for 
many of the men had expired, and much difficulty was 
experienced in keeping the complements of the vessels 
even partially filled. As it was, several of the Na- 
tional craft went into action short-handed. 

Notwithstanding these serious obstacles, Farragut 
determined to push his advantage. Personally he be- 
lieved it to be impossible to hold the points along the 
river and attack Vicksburg with any hope of perma- 
nent success without the co-operation of a strong land 
force. He wrote to the Navy Department : "The Gov- 
ernment officials appear to think we can do anything. 
They expect me to navigate the Mississippi, nine hun- 
dred miles, in the face of batteries, ironclad rams, etc. ; 
and yet, with all the ironclad vessels they have North, 
they could not get to Norfolk or Richmond. The iron- 
clads, with the exception of the Monitor, were all 
knocked to pieces. Yet I am expected to take New 
Orleans, and go up and release Foote from his perilous 
situation at Fort Pillow, when he is backed by the 
army and has ironclad boats built for the river service, 
while our ships are in danger of getting aground and 
remaining there till next year ; or, what is more likely, 
be burned to prevent them from falling into the enemy's 


hands." But he had received peremptory orders from 
Washington to "clear the Mississippi," and, like the 
true seaman he was, he gallantly proceeded to obey. 

Seeing that New Orleans was securely in the hands 
of the army, Farragut ordered the Brooklyn, Captain 
Thomas Tingey Craven, up the river. Baton Rouge and 
Natchez surrendered without opposition. On the 22d 
of May Commander Samuel Phillips Lee summoned 
Vicksburg to surrender, but was met with a prompt 
refusal, while the attack on the gunboats WissaJdckon 
and Itasca on June 9th, by a battery of rifled guns that 
the enemy had hastily thrown up at Grand Gulf, plain- 
ly indicated that the Confederates had not yet given 
up the fight, and showed how easily they could erect 
batteries on almost any commanding point along the 
river and make it dangerous for vessels to pass. The 
Brooklyn and the RicJimond anchored below Vicks- 
burg on the 18th of June, and soon afterward Farragut 
with his other ships and the mortar steamers Octorara, 
Miami, Jackson, Westfield, Clifton, Harriet Lane and 
Owasco, and seventeen mortar schooners under Com- 
mander Porter, arrived, and on the 26th the mortars 
began shelling the works. 

The promptness of Farragut' s attack prevented the 
enemy from fortifying Vicksburg as well as they did a 
few months later, but as it was, its defenses were for- 
midable. They consisted of one 9-inch and three 8-inch 
guns, and one 18-pounder rifled gun mounted in a bat- 
tery on the highest point of the bluff above the town, 
where they could deliver a plunging fire and where the 
guns in the vessels could not reach them. Near by was 
a battery of four 24-pounders, two of them rifled, and 
half a mile below the town was a water-battery mount- 
ing four 42-pounders and two rifled 32-pounders, com- 
manded by Captain Todd, a brother-in-law of President 
Lincoln. Besides these batteries, there were two 10- 
inch and one 8-inch, one 42-pounder, five 32-pounders, 
and two rifled 12-pounders along the bluff where it 


would be difficult for a passing vessel to discover them. 
These guns were spread over a distance of three miles. 
The current of the river at this place ran at least three 
miles an hour. 

At three o'clock on the morning of June 28th Far- 
ragut got under way with the intention of running the 
batteries, as he had done with such astonishing suc- 
cess at New Orleans. He arranged his squadron in 
two columns, the Richmond, the Hartford and the 
Brooklyn forming the starboard line, or that nearest 
to the enemy, while the port column consisted of the 
Iroquois, Commander James Shedden Palmer, and the 
Oneida, which were to steam ahead of the Richmond 
and keep off her port bow ; the Wissahickon and the 
Sciota, which were to take a position between the 
Richmond and the Hartford ; the Winona and the 
Pinola, between the Hartford and the Brooklyn ; and 
the Kennebec and the Katalidin, taking a position on 
the port quarter of the Brooklyn. As these vessels 
drew in range about 4 A. M. the mortar flotilla opened 
a heavy fire, while the mortar steamers moved up the 
river on the Hartford's starboard quarter, and, taking 
a position about fourteen hundred yards from the 
water-battery, kept up a spirited fire until the ves- 
sels were beyond the reach of the enemy's guns. As 
the two columns came within range they suffered 
from a severe plunging and raking fire, but when 
fairly abreast of the enemy they silenced the lower 

Observing that he wai getting too far in advance of 
his vessels, Farragut gave the order to slow down, and 
at times he came to a full stop, so as to keep as com- 
pact a line as possible and to give the vessels the ad- 
vantage of mutual support. Commander Palmer, of the 
Iroquois, when he reached the sharp bend in the river 
above the town, stopped his engines and drifted down 
within supporting distance of the flagship. Not under- 
standing Palmer's object, Farragut called out through 




his trumpet, "Captain Palmer, what do you mean by 
disobeying my orders ? " Palmer replied : "I thought 
that you had more fire than you could stand, and so I 
came down to draw off a part of it." Farragut never 
forgot the incident. By 6 A. M. all the vessels had 
passed and anchored above Vicksburg except three. 
The Brooklyn, the Kennebec and the Katahdin, which 
brought up the rear of the National line, through a 
misunderstanding, remained two hours before the bat- 
teries and then retired below. In this affair the loss in 
the fleet was seven killed and thirty wounded. The 
Clifton received a shot in her boiler and eight men 
were killed by the escaping steam, making fifteen men 
in all killed. The Confederates reported no losses. 

On the 1st of July Farragut's vessels joined the 
flotilla under Captain Charles H. Davis, and the com- 
bined fleets took a position above Vicksburg, about 
three miles below the point where the Yazoo River 
flows into the Mississippi, the war vessels being moored 
on the eastern bank and the transports on the western. 
Learning that the Confederates were completing the 
ram Arkansas, up Yazoo River, Captain Davis, on the 
14th of July, ordered the Carondelet, Captain Henry 
Walke, the Tyler, Lieutenant-Commander William 
Gwin, 1 and the steam ram Queen of the West, Colonel 
Ellet, having sharpshooters aboard, to ascend the Yazoo 
and reconnoiter. The Arkansas was one of two rams 
that were being built to destroy the National flotilla 
in the Mississippi River. These rams, not quite com- 
pleted, were at Memphis, and were nearly captured in 
the battle of Memphis. As it was, one of them, the 
Tennessee, was burned, while the Arkansas just es- 
caped and was taken up the Yazoo ; showing how 
valuable were the prompt and decisive movements of 
the Union gunboats. In constructing these boats the 
Confederates experienced their usual difficulty in build- 

1 These officers received their new ranks July 16, 1862. 

1862. THE RAM ARKANSAS. 355 

ing ironclads. The country was scoured for miles for 
iron, worn-out railroad tracks forming a part of the 
casemate. When the Arkansas went into action she 
was manned by inexperienced men, whose hands were 
blistered and bleeding from the little exercise they had 
undergone in hauling on the gun tackles. The Arkan- 
sas was constructed for a seagoing ship after the 
general plan of the Merrimac, being one hundred and 
eighty feet over all, and armed with two 8-inch colum- 
biads, four 6 '4-inch rifled guns, two 82- pounders and 
two 9-inch Dahlgren shell guns. Her heavy wooden 
casemate, which on the sides was perpendicular, was 
inclined at the bow and stern, and was protected by 
railroad iron laid in horizontal courses, dovetailed and 
forming a nearly solid mass of iron three inches thick. 
In the casemate between the ports were bales of com- 
pressed cotton sheathed in wood so as to guard against 
fire. Her bow was armed with a sharp cast-iron beak. 
The vessel had twin screws but her engines, which 
were below the water line, w r ere too light for her and 
frequently broke down. Her captain was Commander 
Isaac Napoleon Brown, formerly of the United States 

Captain Walke's vessels got under way at 4 A. M. 
July 15th. "All was calm, bright and beautiful. The 
majestic forest echoed with the sweet warbling of its 
wild birds, and its dewy leaves sparkled in the sun- 
beams. All seemed inviting the mind to peaceful re- 
flection and to stimulate it with hopes of future hap- 
piness at home." * There had not been the slightest 
intimation that the Arkansas was expected. Suddenly, 
when the National gunboats had proceeded about six 
miles up the Yazoo, they met the ironclacj coming 
down under a full head of steam. At this moment the 
Tyler was about one mile and the Queen of the West 
two miles in advance of the Carondelet, and being un- 

1 Bear-Admiral Walke's Naval Scenes, p. 304. 




fit for a battle with a vessel of this type, the Tyler 
gave the alarm and retreated. Captain Walke, realiz- 




' * T'^ 1 

ing the hopelessness of a struggle between his vessels 
and a craft of the Merrimac class, and having so 


many of his men prostrated by the river fever that 
he could not man more than one division of guns, de- 
cided to fall back on the fleet. It would have been cer- 
tain destruction for the Carondelet to have continued 
up the river, for by so doing she presented her square 
bow as a broad target to the Arkansas '$ ram, and would 
easily have been cut down and sunk. 

Walke's only course was to retreat. The stern of 
his vessel had recently been strengthened with fenders 
and barricades, but it had the weakest battery. The 
Queen of the West opened a brisk lire on the ram and 
then fled down the river to give the alarm, while the 
Tyler, in spite of the fact that she was filled with troops 
who were exposed on her decks, pluckily kept her 
place beside her consort, and the two vessels opened as 
heavy a fire at a distance of five hundred to fifty yards 
as they could against their advancing foe. One of 
their shot struck the Arkansas' pilot-house, mortally 
wounding Chief Pilot John Hodges (who was looking 
through the peephole) and injuring Commander Brown 
and the Yazoo River pilot, J. H. Shacklett, with splin- 
ters. Commander Brown had a severe contusion on 
the top of his head, and soon afterward a musket shot 
grazed his left temple. He fell insensible through the 
hatchway to the deck below. But in spite of this seri- 
ous loss the Confederate ironclad kept steadily on her 
course, evidently with the intention of boarding the 
Carondelet. As the distance between the two vessels 
diminished, Captain Walke, who was constantly on 
deck, called his men to repel boarders. The Confed- 
erates did not make the attempt to board, however, 
and the Nationalists returned to their guns. The 
Carondelet, then passing an island, crowded the ram 
to the northern bank of the river, and the Arkansas 
gradually forged ahead, when the Carondelet fired her 
bow guns at the ram, but having her wheel-rope cut 
away for the third time she ran aground. At one time 
the colors of the Carondelet became entangled with the 


staff, and one of the men was trying to release it. Ob- 
serving the man, but not immediately understanding 
his object, Captain Walke, as he came from his bow 
guns, called out, "I'll shoot the first man that lowers 
that flag." It probably was this circumstance that led 
Commander Brown to think that the National gunboat 
lowered her colors. The CarondeleVs flag was not low- 

The Arkansas, with her colors shot away and 
smokestack damaged, continued down the river in 
chase of the Tyler, which vessel, although suffering 
heavy losses, kept up the heroic fight. The Carondelet 
received injuries in her hull and machinery. Thirteen 
shot went through her. The crew of the Carondelet 
saw a man thrown overboard from the ram, whose peo- 
ple also were seen to be bailing. This man had reck- 
lessly thrust his head out of a porthole and was cut in 
two by a cannon ball. His head and shoulders fell 
into the river and his legs and body were immediately 
thrown after them. At the time of this battle two of 
the Carondelefs 84-pounder rifled guns had been re- 
placed by a 50- and a 30-pounder rifled gun. Walke 
and Brown were old friends, having been messmates in 
a voyage around the world. They had not met since 
that voyage, and were not aware of each other's pres- 
ence until after the battle. 

So unexpected was the approach of the ram that 
the only vessel in the National fleet that had steam up 
ready for immediate action was the General Bragg. 
As the Arkansas entered the Mississippi she turned 
her head downstream with the intention of running 
through the National fleet and reaching the batteries 
at Yicksburg. By this time her smokestack had been 
riddled and her steam had gone down so that she 
could make only one mile an hour, and this with the 
current gave her a speed of about three miles an hour. 
On went the ironclad, firing from her bow guns as rap- 
idly as possible, to which the National vessels responded 


with a terrific fire, but most of their missiles fell harm- 
lessly from the mailed sides. Two 11-inch shells, 
however, pierced her armor, exploded, and one of them 
killed or wounded sixteen of her people, besides set- 
ting fire to the cotton backing. Few of the vessels 
were able to fire at the ram more than one or two 
broadsides. Many of the guns were fired at close quar- 
ters, but most of the solid shot glanced off the case- 
mate, while the shells were shivered into a thousand 
pieces by the concussion. 

An officer in the Arkansas, describing the running 
of the gantlet, says: "We were passing one of the 
large sloops of war when a heavy shot struck the side 
abreast of my bow gun, the concussion knocking over 
a man who was engaged in taking a shot from the rack. 
He rubbed his hip, which had been hurt, and said, 
'they would hardly strike twice in a place.' He was 
mistaken, poor fellow ! for immediately a shell entered 
the breach made by the shot and, imbedding itself in 
the cotton lining of the inside bulwark proper, exploded 
with terrible effect. I found myself standing in a dense, 
suffocating smoke, with my cap gone and hair and 
beard singed. The smoke soon cleared away, and I 
found but one man (Quartermaster Curtis) left. Six- 
teen were killed and wounded by that shell, and the 
ship set on fire. Stevens, ever cool and thoughtful, 
ran to the engine-room hatch, seized the hose, and 
dragged it to the aperture. In a few moments the fire 
was extinguished without an alarm having been cre- 
ated. The columbiad was fired but once after its crew 
was disabled. By the aid of an army captain, Curtis 
and myself succeeded in getting a shot down the gun, 
with which he struck the Benton. The ill luck which 
befell the crew of the bow gun was soon to be followed 
by a similar misfortune to the crew of my broadside 
gun. An 11-inch shot broke through immediately 
above the port, bringing with it a shower of iron and 
wooden splinters, which struck down every man at a 


gun. My master's mate, Mr. Wilson, was painfully 
wounded in the nose, and I had my left arm smashed. 
Curtis was the only sound man in the division when 
we mustered the crew to quarters at Vicksburg. Nor 
did the mischief of the last shot end with my poor 
gun's crew. It passed across the deck, through the 
smokestack, and killed eight and wounded seven men 
at Scales's gun. Fortunately, he was untouched him- 
self, and afterward did excellent service at Grimball's 

" Stationed on the ladder leading to the berth deck 
was a quartermaster named Eaton. He was assigned 
the duty of passing shells from the forward shell room, 
and also had a kind of superintendence over the boys 
who came for powder. Eaton was a character. He 
had thick, rough, red hair, an immense muscular frame, 
and a will and a courage rarely encountered. Nothing 
daunted him, and the hotter the fight, the fiercer grew 
Eaton. From his one eye he glared furiously on all 
who seemed inclined to shirk, and his voice grew louder 
and more distinct as the shot rattled and crashed upon 
our mail. At one instant you would hear him pass the 
word down the hatch, '9-inch shell, 5-second fuse. 
Here you are, my lad, with your rifled shell; take 
it and go back, quick. What's the matter that you 
can't get that gun out?' and, like a cat, he would 
spring from his place and throw his weight on the side 
tackle, and the gun was sure to go out. ' What are 
you doing here wounded 1 Where are you hurt 3 Go 
back to your gun, or I'll murder you on the spot ! 
Here's your 9-inch shell. Mind, shipmate' (to a 
wounded man), ' the ladder is bloody ; don't slip ; let 
me help you.' " 

While the Arkansas was running the terrible gant- 
let her colors, which had been hoisted a second time, 
were carried away again. Midshipman Dabney M. 
Scales hastened out on the casemate, where he was ex- 
posed to as terrific a fire as was ever concentrated on 


one ship, and bravely hoisted the Confederate colors. 
The flag of the Arkansas was again carried away, and 
young Scales was about to replace it for the second 
time when his superior officer ordered him back. After 
each discharge the Arkansas closed her ports, thus 
presenting an almost impenetrable mass of iron. One 
port was left open for an instant, and a shot entering 
killed and wounded a number of men. Had the Arkan- 
sas been subjected to this fire any length of time she 
would have been destroyed ; but as the vessels of the 
squadron were unable to follow her, she passed them 
in a short time and was moored under the Yicksburg 
batteries. Commander Brown afterward said that w r hen 
he saw the National fleet he had no hope of seeing 
Vicksburg. That belief was shared by many of his 
officers. An attempt was made by the Lancaster to 
ram, but she was disabled by a shot, and escaping 
steam scalded a number of her people, two of them 

Determined that the audacious ram should not get 
off thus easily, Farragut immediately began prepara- 
tions for following and destroying her under the guns 
of Yicksburg, his plan being to have each of his vessels 
fire at the Arkansas as they passed. Late in the after- 
noon Captain Davis moved his flotilla down and began 
a bombardment of the upper batteries by way of a 
diversion, and at dark Farragut's fleet, with the ram 
Sumter, Lieutenant-Commander Henry Erben, ran past 
the batteries. Anticipating this move, the Confeder- 
ates moved the Arkansas, after dark, to a place where 
she could not be so readily seen ; but Farragut discov- 
ered the change, and many of his ships delivered an 
effective fire upon her. Her casemate was badly shat- 
tered, the iron being loosened so as to render her unfit 
for service, and afterward most of her men were sent 
to assist in working the shore batteries. One 11 -inch 
shot pierced her casemate and killed or wounded sev- 
eral men. In this second passage of the Yicksburg 


batteries the National vessels had five killed and six- 
teen wounded, while the flotilla under Davis lost thir- 
teen killed, thirty-four wounded and ten missing. Of 
this loss the Carondelet, in her action with the ram, 
had four killed, six wounded and two drowned, and 
the Tyler eight killed and sixteen wounded. The loss 
in the Arkansas is placed at ten killed and fifteen 

Still determined on completing the destruction of 
the Arkansas, Commodore William D. Porter, in the 
Essex, with the Queen of the West, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Alfred E. Ellet, at dawn of July 22d boldly ran under 
the batteries of Vicksburg to attack the ram, while 
the Benton, the Cincinnati and the Louisville opened 
a heavy fire on the upper batteries. As Commodore 
Porter was approaching the ram, Commander Brown 
slackened his forward moorings so that the head of his 
vessel swung out into the stream, thus presenting her 
sharp ram to the square bow of the National gunboat, 
which was coming down at a high speed with a view 
of ramming. Seeing that his own vessel would be 
sunk in such a collision, Porter at a distance of fifty 
yards fired three solid 9-inch shot at the Arkansas, 
one of which struck her casemate a foot beyond the 
forward port, cutting off the ends of the railroad iron 
and drove the pieces diagonally across the gunroom. 
The shot pierced the casemate, split upon the breech of 
the starboard after-gun and killed eight and wounded 
six of her complement of forty-one men. At the same 
time Porter changed his course as rapidly as his clumsy 
craft would admit, and so far avoided a collision as to 
graze the port side of the Confederate ironclad, and his 
vessel was carried ashore just astern of the Arkansas. 

In this critical position the Essex remained fully 
ten minutes exposed to a heavy fire, but getting afloat 
again she continued her course down the river and 
soon ran out of range. The Queen of the West suc- 
ceeded in giving the Arkansas a heavy blow, and for 


a moment the Confederates believed that their vessel 
was destroyed. The Nationalist ram then backed 
off and struck again, but the iron-bound hull of the 
Arkansas remained intact. All this time the Union 
ram had been subjected to a terrific fire. Large holes 
were yawning in her hull, one of her steam pipes had 
been carried away and her smokestacks were perforated 
like a nutmeg grater. As his vessel had been struck 
about twenty-five times, and was leaking seriously, 
Ellet endeavored to escape up stream, but, although 
exposed to a heavy fire, he managed to rejoin the flo- 
tilla above Vicksburg. One heavy shot passed through 
an iron safe and dismounted a gun. On the 3d of 
August the Arkansas, with two gunboats, left Vicks- 
burg to assist a detachment of troops under General 
Breckenridge in making an attack on the National gar- 
rison at Baton Rouge. The attack was made on the 5th 
of August, but the Confederates were repelled, the gun- 
boats KataJidin and Kineo supporting the land forces 
with a heavy fire. The Arkansas was detained from 
participating in this affair by her machinery breaking 
down several times, and finally she ran aground. On 
the approach of the Essex, whose commander had been 
on the watch for the ironclad, Lieutenant H. K. Stevens, 
then commanding the Arkansas, escaped with his men 
on shore and blew her up. 

It became more and more evident to the Government 
that it was impossible to hold the points on the river 
captured by the navy without the co-operation of a 
land force, and as the troops could not be spared im- 
mediately, the flotilla under Davis retired to Helena 
and the lower squadron to New Orleans, while the 
larger vessels -were detailed on blockade duty. Several 
expeditions were undertaken by the navy, however, 
with a view of preventing the enemy from fortifying 
the banks. On the 14th of August, Lieutenant Com- 
mander Phelps, with the gunboats Benton, Mound City 
and General Bragg, and the rams Monarch, Samson 


and Lioness, with a land force under Colonel Woods, 
left Helena, and, going down the Mississippi, dispersed 
several bodies of Confederate troops and captured two 
steamers. Entering Yazoo River, he destroyed a bat- 
tery about twenty miles up the stream. In all, about 
half a million dollars' worth of public property was 
destroyed in this expedition. On January 15, 1863, 
the gunboats Calhoun, Estrella, and Kinsman de- 
stroyed the Confederate steamer Cotton in Bayou 
Teche. Lieutenant-Commander Thomas McKean Buch- 
anan, the senior officer in the squadron, was killed. 
Farragut called him "one of our most gallant and per- 
severing young officers." 

On the 1st of October, 1862, the Mississippi flotilla 
was transferred from the Army to the Navy Depart- 
ment. Meantime two new types of war vessel had been 
added to the fleet. At the suggestion of Captain Davis 
a number of light-draft stern-wheel steamers were pur- 
chased, and were covered from bow to stern, to the 
height of eleven feet, with iron plate a half to three 
quarters of an inch thick. These were called tinclads. 
They drew not over three feet, were designed for opera- 
tions in shallow waters and were armed with six to 
eight 24-pounder brass howitzers each, intended prin- 
cipally to disperse sharpshooters and troops with light- 
field pieces on the banks of narrow streams. Another 
class of war vessels was designed for heavy fighting. 
They were the Lafayette, the Tuscumbia, the Indian- 
ola, the Ghoctaw and the Cliillicothe. These were flat- 
bottomed vessels drawing from five to seven feet of 
water (the Lafayette and Choctaw drew nine feet), hav- 
ing side wheels three quarters of the way aft, each 
wheel acting independently of the other, which gave 
greater rapidity in turning. 

Two of these vessels the Indlanola and the Tus- 
cumbia also had propellers, and were regarded as un- 
usually efficient. The casemate on the forward deck 
was plated with two to three inches of iron, while the 


forward plating in some of the craft was six inches 
thick. Sliding shutters, three inches thick, covered 
the ports when the guns were run in. Between the 
side wheels in the two larger vessels there was a wooden 
casemate plated with 2-inch iron on the after end and 
with 1-inch iron on each side. The Tuscumbia car- 
ried three 11-inch guns in her forward casemate and 
two rifled 100-pounders in the after casemate. The 
Indianola carried two 11 -inch guns in the forward and 
two 9-inch guns in the after casemate. The Chillicothe 
had two 11-inch guns, and the CJioctaw three 9-inch 
guns and one rifled 100-pounder in the forward case- 
mate. She also had a second casemate forward of the 
wheels, mounting two 24-pounder howitzers, and a third 
casemate abaft the wheel containing two 30-pounder 
Parrott rifled guns. The Lafayette carried two 11 -inch 
Dahlgren guns forward, four 9-inch guns in broadside, 
and two 24-pounder howitzers and two 100-pounder 
Parrott guns in the stern. The Samson had been fitted 
as a floating machine-shop to accompany the flotilla 
and repair damages, while the steamer Black HawTc, 
fitted as a school ship, carried an apparatus for raising 
sunken vessels. 

Commander David Dixon Porter, with the local rank 
of Acting Rear- Admiral, succeeded Captain Davis Oc- 
tober 15, 1862, and on the 21st of November he ordered 
Captain Walke to blockade Yazoo River and destroy 
any batteries he might find. Arriving at the mouth of 
the river, Captain Walke sent the light-draft steamers 
Signal, Acting-Master Scot, and Marmora, Acting- 
Master Letty, some miles up the river, where they de- 
stroyed several torpedoes and returned. On December 
12th Walke sent them up again, accompanied by the 
Cairo, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas Self ridge, Jr., 
the Pittsburgh, Lieutenant Hoel, and the Queen of the 
West. While these vessels were engaged eighteen or 
twenty miles up the river in lifting the torpedoes (demi- 
johns filled with powder to be ignited by a wire that was 


operated by a Confederate naval officer concealed on 
shore), one or two of them exploded under the Cairo's 
bow, and in twelve minutes she sank in thirty-six feet 
of water. In spite of this disaster the remaining gun- 
boats proceeded with the work. On December 26th 
they came within reach of the batteries at Drumgoold's 
Bluff, by which time Porter had arrived with the other 
gunboats. Taking a position twelve hundred yards 
distant, the gunboats opened fire, while National troops 
under General William Tecumseh Sherman attacked 
the works from the rear on the 29th, but were repelled. 
In this affair the Benton was struck twenty-five times, 
and her commander, Lieutenant-Commander William 
Gwin, was mortally wounded, Master-at-Arms Robert 
Boyle was killed, and eight men were wounded, one of 
them mortally. The flotilla then retired to the Missis- 

The capture of the transport Blue Wing with its 
cargo of valuable stores by a Confederate expedition 
fitted out at Arkansas Post, induced the Nationalists 
to send an expedition against that place. Arkansas 
Post was defended by a bastioned fort on the left bank 
of Arkansas River, mounting three 9 inch guns, one 
8-inch shell gun, four rifled and four smooth-bore guns 
and six light guns. Rifle pits also were dug around 
the fort. The place was defended by Lieutenant John 
W. Dunnington, formerly of the United States Navy, 
with five thousand men. On January 9, 1863, Porter, 
with the De Kalb, Lieutenant-Commander Walker, 
the Louisville, Lieutenant-Commander E. K. Owen, the 
Cincinnati, Lieutenant George M. Bache, and the light- 
draft gunboats Black Hawk, Lexington, Rattler, Glide, 
Signal, Forest Rose, Romeo, Juliet and Marmora, to- 
gether with the transports conveying troops under 
General McClernand, appeared before the fort, and 
while the troops were being landed four miles below, 
the ironclads, with the Rattler, Lieutenant-Commander 
Watson Smith, moved up the river and at 5.30 P. M. 


opened a heavy fire. The three ironclads approached, 
bows on, within four hundred yards of the earthwork, 
while the lighter gunboats, with the Black Hawk and 
the Lexington, took a position a short distance behind 
them and threw shell and shrapnel. 

Before the attack was over, Lieutenant-Commander 
Smith ran past the fort and opened an enfilading fire, 
but becoming entangled in driftwood he was obliged 
to return, suffering a considerable loss. At 1.30 p. M. 
on the following day the gunboats renewed the attack 
and the troops began the assault in the rear. At 4 
p. M. the Rattler, the Glide, Lieutenant Wood worth, 
and the Monarch, Colonel Charles Ellet, ran by the 
fort and destroyed a ferry ten miles above. At 4.40 
p. M., when the troops were about to make an assault, 
the fort surrendered. In this affair the De Kalb sus- 
tained some damage in her hull, one of her 32-pounder 
guns was dismounted and one 10-inch gun was de- 
stroyed. The other ironclads also were injured in their 
hulls. The injuries to the men in the flotilla were con- 
fined to the De Kalb and the Louisville, the casualties 
being six killed and twenty- five wounded. 

On the 12th the De Kalb and the Cincinnati, with 
the transports and troops under General Gorman, 
pushed up White River and reached St. Charles on the 
morning of the 14th. This place was found to be de- 
serted, the Confederates having retreated up the river 
in the Blue Wing, taking with them a field battery 
and two 8-inch guns. Leaving the Cincinnati at St. 
Charles, the De Kalb with the transports hastened up 
the river in chase and reached Duval's Bluff (fifty 
miles farther) at three o'clock in the afternoon of the 
16th, and found that the Blue Wing had left that 
place only a few minutes before, but the two 8-inch 
guns had been landed and were captured while the 
enemy was putting them in a railroad car. The guns 
were destroyed, and the gunboats returned to Vicks- 


At 4.30 A. M., February 3d, the Queen of the West, 
Colonel Charles Rivers Ellet, went down the river to 
run the Vicksburg batteries. Owing to some difficulty 
with the wheel, it was broad daylight before she ap- 
proached them ; but her intrepid commander kept 
steadily on his course, in spite of the angry protests 
of all the Confederate guns. When opposite Vicks- 
burg he deliberately rounded to and rammed the 
steamer Vicksburg that was moored to the bank. At 
this moment two shells entered the cotton- protected 
bulwarks of the Queen of the West and started a 
fire near her starboard wheel, while at the same time 
the flashes of her guns set the ram on fire forward. 
Hastening downstream, Colonel Ellet cut his cotton 
bales adrift and arrived below Vicksburg in safety, 
although his vessel had been struck twelve times by 
heavy shot and one of his guns had been dismounted. 
Continuing down the river the same day, he was fired 
upon by two batteries, but no injury was done, and on 
the next day, when fifteen miles below the mouth of 
Red River, he captured the steamers A. W. Balser and 
Moro, laden with stores for the Confederate army. 
Retracing his course up the river, Colonel Ellet cap- 
tured seven Confederate officers and a third steamer, 
the Berwick Bay, laden with stores. 

Having burned his prizes and replenished his coal- 
bunkers from a barge that had been floated past Vicks- 
burg on the night of February 7th, Colonel Ellet in 
company with the De Soto, a small ferry-boat partially 
protected with cotton and iron, and the barge, went 
down the river, destroying all craft and property that 
fell in his way. Proceeding up Red River to Atcha- 
falaya Bayou, he left the De Soto and the barge at that 
point, entered the bayou and destroyed a large quan- 
tity of Government property, including a train of army 
wagons and seventy barrels of beef. At one time the 
Queen of the West was fired on by guerrillas and one 
of her officers was wounded. Returning to Red River, 


the Queen of the West, with the De Soto, pushed up 
that stream and on the morning of February 14th seized 
the transport Era No. 5, with two Confederate officers. 
On rounding a bluff near Gordon's Landing, seventy- 
five miles from the mouth of the river, the Queen of 
the West was suddenly fired upon by a battery of four 
32- pounders, and in attempting to back out of range 
she ran aground in easy reach of the enemy. A shot 
soon severed a steam-pipe and compelled the crew to 
abandon the ship. This was done without attempting 
to burn it, as Ellet was unable to remove a wounded 
officer. There being only one boat in the Queen of the 
West, most of her men escaped to the De Soto on bales 
of cotton. 

In her haste to retreat down the river, the De Soto 
ran into a bank and lost her rudder, so that the fugi- 
tives were compelled to drift with the current, picking 
up, from time to time, fugitives from the Queen of the 
West as they floated down the stream on bales of cot- 
ton. When ten miles from the place of the disaster 
the De Soto was overtaken by her yawl, which had 
been sent to bring off some of the men from the Queen 
of the West. Reaching the place where they had left 
the Era No. 5, the fugitives burned the De Soto and 
continued their flight in the transport, reaching the 
Mississippi on the 15th. On the next day, when eight 
miles below Natchez, they met the Indianola, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander George Brown, who on the night 
of February 12th, with a coal barge on each side, had 
run the Vicksburg batteries unscathed. The two Na- 
tional vessels now turned downstream, and at Ellis Cliff 
met the Confederate gunboat Webb, which was in hot 
pursuit of the Era No. 5. A chase followed, but the 
Webb soon distanced the Indianola, encumbered as she 
was with the coal barges. Arriving at the mouth of 
Red River, Brown, on the 18th of February, sent the 
Era No. 5 to communicate with the army near Vicks- 
burg while he prepared his vessel for an attack from 


the Webb and the Queen of the West by filling his 
gangways and casemates with cotton. 

When a little below New Carthage, at 9.30 p. M., 
February 24th, the Indianola discovered several steam- 
ers in chase of her. They were the Queen of the West, 
Captain James McCloskey ; the Webb, Captain Charles 
Pierce ; the cottonclad steamer Dr. Batey, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Brand, having on board two hundred and fifty 
riflemen under Major J. L. Brent ; and the tender 
Grand Era. The Confederates determined to attack 
under cover of darkness, when the National gunboat 
could not fire with accuracy. When a little above 
Palmyra Island the Queen of the West, leading the 
other Confederate vessels by five hundred yards, at- 
tempted to ram the Indianola abaft the port wheel, 
but, by backing, Lieutenant-Commander Brown re- 
ceived the blow on the coal barge, which was crushed 
in, and, being cut adrift, sank. Making downstream, 
the Indianola met the Webb, which was coming up the 
river at full speed, and a head-on collision took place, 
the bow of the latter being crushed in eight feet, but 
as this part of her hull had been filled in solid she did 
not sink. The Indianola was not seriously injured. 
The Webb aimed a second blow, but succeeded only in 
carrying away the second barge. 

By this time the Queen of the West had turned and 
was now coming downstream at full speed with the 
intention of ramming the Indianola again, but the 
National gunboat also had turned and was heading up- 
stream, so that the Confederate ram struck the Indian- 
ola a glancing blow on the starboard bow, and as the 
Queen of the West passed, Lieutenant-Commander 
Brown sent two 9-inch shot into her, killing two and 
w r ounding four men besides disabling two guns. In the 
uncertain light it was exceedingly difficult for those 
peering out of the narrow sight-holes in the pilot house 
of the Indianola to keep track of so many lively foes, 
and it was impossible to fire with any accuracy except 


at close quarters. The Indianola soon received another 
blow from the Queen of the West just abaft the wheel- 
house, which disabled the starboard rudder. Almost 
at the same instant the Webb struck her stern, caus- 
ing the water to rush in at an alarming rate. Thus 
disabled, Brown ran aground on the west bank and 
surrendered, but the Confederates towed their prize 
over to the east bank, where she sank near Jefferson 
Davis' plantation. In this affair the Indianola had 
one killed, one wounded and seven missing, while the 
Confederate loss is reported at two killed and five 

As the Confederates were attempting to raise the 
Indianola two days later, the Nationalists above 
Vicksburg made a dummy monitor by placing pork 
barrels on a coal-barge so as to resemble smokestacks, 
and building fires in mud furnaces sent her down the 
river at daylight. As she neared the Vicksburg bat- 
teries a terrific fire was opened on her, but she passed 
unscathed and ran ashore about two and a half miles 
above the Indianola. When the Confederate com- 
manders saw the "terrible-looking" monitor coming 
down they fled precipitately, leaving the Indianola 
to her fate, and on the following day, although the 
dummy monitor was still hard and fast aground, they 
destroyed their prize. Two months afterward, or April 
14, the Queen of the West, then commanded by Captain 
Fuller, was destroyed in Grand Lake (in Bayou Atcha- 
falaya), after a spirited action, by National gunboats, 
JSstrella, Calhoun, and Arizona, under the command 
of Commander Cook. 

By cutting the levee near Delta so as to flood the 
surrounding country, it was hoped to enter Yazoo 
River through Moon Lake, Cold Water and the Tal- 
lahatchie Rivers and attack Vicksburg from that side. 
Under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel James H. 
Wilson, of the engineers, the work of cutting the levee 
was begun February 2d, and the river was let in on the 


following evening, but it took several days for the 
water to attain its level in the vast territory flooded. 
Late in February the following gunboats under the 
command of Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, 
and transports with six thousand troops, were detailed 
by Porter for this service : Rattler, flagship ; Chilli- 
cothe, Lieutenant-Commander James P. Foster ; De 
Kalb. Lieutenant-Commander John G. Walker ; Mar- 
mora, Signal, Romeo, Petrel, Forest Rose, and the rams 
Lioness and Fulton. After nearly four days' struggle 
against overhanging trees and masses of driftwood, the 
vessels got as far as Cold Water River. When the 
Confederates learned of the expedition they felled 
enormous trees across the stream, which so delayed the 
gunboats that it was March 6th before they entered 
Tallahatchie River. 

By this time many of the transports and several of 
the gunboats had been seriously injured by this "land 
cruise." The smokestacks of the Romeo were carried 
away, the Petrel lost her wheel and the Chillicothe 
had a plank started under water by running on the 
stump of a tree. But despite these injuries the vessels 
pushed on and approached Fort Pemberton on the llth 
of March. This fort was hastily constructed of earth 
and cotton and mounted one 6'4-inch rifled gun, some 
field pieces, and three 20-pounder Parrott rifled guns, 
under the command of Lieutenant F. E. Shepperd, of 
the Confederate Navy. The channel was obstructed 
by a raft and the hull of the Star of the West, the little 
steamer that had been fired on by the Confederates in 
Charleston early in 1861. 

As the river was so narrow at this point that only 
one gunboat at a time could act freely, the CTiillicotJie, 
at 10 A. M. on March llth, advanced and opened a 
heavy fire on Fort Pemberton, but in a short time she 
was struck twice on the turret, and she retired in order 
to get cotton bales for additional protection. At 4.25 
P. M. she returned with the De Kalb, but soon after- 


ward a shell struck the muzzle of her port 11-inch gun 
just as the gunners had entered a shell and were strip- 
ping the patch from the fuse. Both shells exploded at 
the same instant, killing two men and wounding eleven. 
After the Chillicothe had received a shot that killed a 
man she drew out of range, Lieutenant-Commander 
Foster reporting four killed and fifteen wounded. The 
next day was spent in preparing for another attack, 
and at 11.30 A. M. on March 13th the Chillicothe and 
the De Kalb again came into action. After maintain- 
ing a severe fire until 2 P. M. the Chillicothe retired, 
having been struck forty-four times ; but the De Kalb 
still kept up the fight, firing every fifteen minutes, 
although getting no reply. The attack was renewed 
on the following day by the Chillicothe and the De 
Kalb, but they were badly cut up and compelled to 
retire, the former having four killed and sixteen wound- 
ed, and the latter three killed and three wounded. On 
March 15th a gun from the De Kalb was landed and 
placed in a battery, but on the 18th the expedition was 
abandoned and the gunboats retreated. 

Meantime Porter, with the Louisville, Lieutenant- 
Commander E. K. Owen ; the Cincinnati. Lieutenant 
George M. Bache ; the Carondelet, Lieutenant John 
M. Murphy ; the Mound City, Lieutenant Byron Wil- 
son ; the Pittsburgh, Lieutenant William R. Hoel, and 
four mortar boats and four tugs, attempted to reach 
the Yazoo below Yazoo City. Entering Steele's Bayou 
March 16th, the vessels forced their way through the 
bushes and trees of Black Bayou and up Deer Creek 
to Rolling Fork, where the enemy began felling trees, 
not only to prevent a further advance, but to cut off 
the retreat of the gunboats. Finding that it was im- 
possible to carry out his plans, Porter, on the 20th of 
March, began a difficult retreat and narrowly escaped 
losing his entire squadron. 



WHILE this indecisive warfare was taking place in 
the upper Mississippi, Farragut was attending to his 
extensive command in the Gulf ; but on the 14th of 
March, 1863, he appeared with his fleet at Port Hudson 
and determined to run past the place. The batteries at 
this point, on a bluff about a hundred feet high, mount- 
ed two 10-inch and two 8-inch columbiads, two 42- 
pounders, two 32-pounders, three 24-pounders and 
eight rifled guns. The National vessels formed in 
pairs, each of the heavier ones taking a gunboat on its 
port side, excepting the Mississippi: the Hartford 
(flagship), Captain James Shedden Palmer, and the 
Albatross, Lieutenant-Commander John E. Hart ; the 
Richmond (the slowest ship), Captain James Alden, 
and the Genesee (the fastest vessel), Commander Wil- 
liam Henry Macomb ; the Monongahela, Captain James 
Paterson McKinstry, and the Kineo, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander John Watters; and the Mississippi, Captain 
Melancton Smith. 

As these vessels drew near the enemy at eleven 
o'clock that night, six mortar schooners, with the Es- 
sex, Commander Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell, 
and the Sachem, took a position and opened a heavy 
fire on the lower batteries. When the fleet was in 
range the batteries opened a fire, to which the ships 
responded with their bow guns and the howitzers in 
their tops. Large bonfires were lighted along the 
shores, and the dense smoke in the damp night air set- 
tled on the river, causing an impenetrable gloom and 



throwing the line of battle into confusion. Being in the 
lead, the Hartford was able to push ahead of the smoke; 
but when she got to the bend in the river her bow 
was caught by the five-mile current and she was nearly 
carried ashore, her stern actually touching ground 
under the guns of a battery. By the assistance of her 
consort the flagship backed clear and again headed up- 
stream, passing beyond the line of fire with only one 
man killed and two wounded. One marine fell over- 
board, and although his cries for help were heard in 
the other ships, he could not be saved. Just as the 
Richmond and the Genesee had reached the last bat- 
tery and were about to turn, a plunging shot came into 
the berth deck of the former, pierced a pile of hawsers 
and clothes bags, entered the engine room, displaced the 
starboard safety valve, and, twisting the lever of the 
port safety valve, threw it partly open. The escaping 
steam quickly filled the fire room and berth deck and 
reduced the pressure to nine pounds, which made it 
impossible for the Richmond to stem the current, even 
with the aid of her consort, and she was compelled 
to retreat. In doing this Captain Alden had to run 
the gantlet of the enemy's batteries again, besides 
taking great risks of being fired into by the other Union 
vessels. The RicJimond had three men killed and fif- 
teen wounded, Lieutenant-Commander Andrew Boyd 
Cummings being among the latter. He was mortally 
hurt while cheering his men. 

When the MonongaTiela and the Kineo were under 
fire of one of the heaviest Confederate batteries, a shot 
disabled the latter's rudder, and soon afterward the 
Monongahela ran aground. The Kineo, still having 
headway, broke adrift from her consort and also ran 
aground a short distance below. At this moment a 
shot carried away the bridge under Captain McKinstry, 
throwing him to the deck, disabled. Lieutenant Na- 
thaniel W. Thomas succeeded to the command of the 
ship and conducted himself with credit. The Monon- 


gahela remained in this condition nearly half an hour, 
when the Klneo, getting afloat again, managed to tow 
her off ; but Lieutenant-Commander Watters, finding 
that it was impossible to steer his craft, drifted out of 
action. No one on board was injured. The Monon- 
galiela continued up the river until near the bend, 
when a crank-pin became heated and she also drifted 
helplessly out of action, sustaining a loss of six killed 
and twenty-one wounded. 

The Mississippi, which was the last vessel in line, 
passed the batteries and was approaching the bend at 
full speed when she ran hard and fast aground. After 
thirty-five minutes spent in a vain endeavor to get her 
afloat, during which she was subjected to a terrific fire, 
Captain Smith decided to abandon her, and when every 
one had been set ashore a fire was started in the for- 
ward storeroom ; but before the flames had made seri- 
ous headway three shot pierced the hull below the 
water line and the inrushing water extinguished the 
flames. The ship was then fired aft, and when assured 
that she would be destroyed Captain Smith left her. 
At 3 A. M. she drifted down the river, and at 6.30 A. M. 
blew up. Her loss was reported to be twenty-five killed 
and many wounded. Such was the fate of Perry's flag- 
ship in his expedition to Japan. The Missouri, a sister 
ship, was burned twenty years before at Gibraltar. 

After communicating with General Banks, Farragut 
proceeded up the river with the Hartford and the Al- 
batross. At Grand Gulf these vessels were fired on by 
four rifled guns and sustained a loss of two killed and 
six wounded. Farragut arrived below Yicksburg March 
20th, where he was joined by the ram Switzerland, 
Colonel Charles Rivers Ellet, which ran the batteries 
on the 25th. The ram Lancaster, Lieutenant-Colonel 
John A. Ellet, also attempted to run the gantlet, but 
she was sunk, her men floating down the river on bales 
of cotton. On the 31st of March the three vessels went 
down the river, destroying a large number of boats, and 


at Grand Gulf the Confederate batteries fired on them, 
killing one man in the Switzerland. Reaching Port 
Hudson on April 6th, Farragut was anxious to com- 
municate with the rest of his squadron and General 
Banks, from whom he had been separated three weeks. 
As the ordinary means of signaling were futile, Farra- 
gut's secretary, Mr. Gabaudan, on the night of April 
7th got into a skiff covered with twigs so as to resem- 
ble driftwood, and, lying in the bottom with a revolver 
and a paddle by his side, he floated past the batteries 
unmolested, although at one time some Confederate 
sentinels put off in a boat to examine his craft. On 
the 8th of April Farragut captured a Confederate 
steamer at the mouth of Red River, and from this time 
a vigorous patrol of that stream was maintained and 
the enemy's communications interrupted. Soon after- 
ward Farragut returned to the Gulf, leaving Porter in 
charge of the fleet in the upper Mississippi. 

On the night of April 16th Porter ran the batteries 
at Vicksburg with the gunboats Benton (flagship), Lieu- 
tenant-Commander James A. Greer; the Lafayette, 
Captain Henry Walke ; the Louisville, Lieutenant- 
Commander Elias K. Owen ; the Mound City, Lieuten- 
ant Byron Wilson ; the Pittsburgh, Acting- Volunteer- 
Lieutenant William R. Hoel ; the Carondelet, Acting- 
Lieutenant John McLeod Murphy ; the Tuscumbia, 
Lieutenant-Commander James W. Shirk ; the General 
Price, Commander Selim E. Woodworth ; and the army 
transports Silver Wave, Henry Clay and Forest Queen 
and the tug Joy. An officer in the Lafayette wrote : 
"The firing began at 10.55 P. M. and continued about 
an hour and a quarter, during which a perfect tornado 
of shot and shell continued to shriek over our deck and 
among all the vessels of the fleet. Five hundred, per- 
haps a thousand, shot were discharged, but not more 
than one in ten struck or did any damage to the fleet. 
They mostly went over. On running out the guns a 
good view could be had through the ports of the rebel 


batteries, which now flashed like a thunderstorm along 
the river as far as the eye could see ; but the incessant 
spatter of rifle balls, the spray from falling shot, the 
thunder of steel-pointed projectiles upon our sides, did 
not incline one to take a very protracted view of the 
scenery. A few discharges of grape, shrapnel and per- 
cussion shell was all we could afford at the time to be- 
stow upon our rebel friends in exchange for their com- 
pliments. At each round the Confederate artillerymen 
gave a shout, which seemed surprisingly near. At one 
time we could not have been one hundred yards from 
the Vicksburg wharves. Our vessel, with the steamer 
and barge lashed to our starboard side, became almost 
unmanageable, drifted in the eddy and turned her head 
square round, looking the batteries in the face. At 
this time we seemed to be receiving their concentrated 
flre at less than a hundred yards from the shore. The 
smoke from our own and the rebel guns, with the glare 
of the burning buildings from the opposite shore, ren- 
dered it difficult for the pilots to make out the direction 
we were going. The enemy, supposing we were disabled, 
set up a fiendish yell of triumph. We soon, however, 
backed round, and once more presented our broadside 
to them, and slowly drifted past, as if in contempt of 
their impotent efforts. Shells burst all around the 
pilot-house, and at one time John Denning, our pilot, 
was literally baptized with fire. He thought himself 
killed, but he brushed the fire from his head and found 
he was unhurt." The vessels passed without serious 
injury, excepting the transport Henry Clay, which took 
fire and sank. On the night of the 22d six more army 
transports ran the batteries, but one of them sank. 

On the 29th of April the gunboats Benton, Tuscum- 
bia, Louisville, Carondelet, Lafayette, Mound City 
and Pittsburgh attacked the Confederate batteries at 
Grand Gulf, which now mounted two 8-inch and two 
7-inch rifled guns, one rifled 100-pounder gun, two 32- 
pounders, one 30-pounder rifled gun and five light guns. 


After a spirited fire of five and a half hours, when the 
enemy was nearly silenced, Porter retired with a loss 
of seven killed and nineteen wounded in the Benton, 
five killed and twenty-four wounded in the Tuscumbia, 
six killed and thirteen wounded in the Pittsburgh and 
one wounded in the Lafayette. On the same night 
Porter ran the batteries, with the loss of one killed in 
the Mound City, and assisted the army in crossing the 
river at Bruinsburg. On the 30th of April the gunboats 
above Vicksburg, under the command of Lieutenant- 
Commander Kidder Randolph Breese, opened a heavy 
fire on Haines's Bluff to divert the enemy's attention 
from Grand Gulf. The Choctaw, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Francis Munroe Ramsay, was struck forty- six 
times. Early in May the enemy evacuated Grand Gulf. 

On the 4th of May the gunboats Albatross, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander John E. Hart, Calhoun, Clifton, 
Arizona and Estrella, Lieutenant-Commander Au- 
gustus P. Cooke, attacked Fort De Russy. The Al- 
batross, running within five hundred yards of the 
battery, for forty minutes maintained a spirited fire, 
when she was compelled to retire, having been hulled 
eleven times and having two men killed and four 
wounded. The Benton, the Lafayette, the Pittsburgh 
and the General Price, under Porter, came to their 
assistance the next day, but the fort was found to be 
deserted, and shortly afterward Alexandria was occu- 
pied by the National forces. 

While making a reconnoissance down the Atcha- 
falaya, the Switzerland, Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Ellet, 
was fired upon at Simmesport by Confederate artillery, 
June 3, 1863, and several of her men were injured. 
The next day Captain Walke, in the Lafayette, with 
the Pittsburgh, shelled the Confederates from their 
position and destroyed their camp. 

During the attack on Port Hudson, May 27th, a 
battery of four 9-inch shell guns was handled with 
great spirit by a detachment of seamen from the Rich- 


mond and the Essex, under the command of Lieuten- 
ant-Commander Edward Terry, while from May 23d to 
June 26th half a dozen mortar schooners, with the Es- 
sex and Carondelet, kept up a heavy fire on Port Hud- 
son. The De Kalb, Lieutenant-Commander John G. 
Walker, destroyed property in Yazoo City and a vessel 
three hundred and ten feet long. 

On the day when Grant assaulted Vicksburg, May 
22d, the gunboats under Porter opened a heavy fire on 
the enemy and received some damage in return. While 
engaging the batteries on the 27th of May, the Cincin- 
nati, Lieutenant George M. Bache, was pierced below 
the water line by several shot. When the vessel was 
under this heavy fire Quartermaster Frank Bois went 
out of the casemate and coolly nailed the colors to the 
stump of the flagstaff. Before the Cincinnati could 
be properly secured to the bank she sank. Her loss 
was five killed, fourteen wounded and fifteen missing. 
During the siege of Vicksburg thirteen heavy guns 
were landed from the flotilla and did good service 
under Lieutenant-Commanders Thomas Oliver Self- 
ridge, Jr., and John G. Walker, and Acting-Masters 
Charles B. Dahlgren and J. Frank Keed. These guns 
fired one thousand shells into Vicksburg. A 9-inch, a 
10- inch and a 100-pounder rifled gun on a scow, under 
the 'orders of Lieutenant-Commander Francis M. Ram- 
say, enfiladed the batteries. In his official report Porter 
says : " The mortar-boats were under charge of Gun- 
ner Eugene Mack, who for thirty days stood at his 
post, the firing continuing night and day. He per- 
formed his duty well, and merits approval. The labor 
was extremely hard, and every man at the mortars was 
laid up with sickness owing to excessive labor. After 
Mr. Mack was taken ill, Ensign Miller took charge and 
conducted the firing with marked ability. We know 
that nothing conduced more to the end of the siege than 
the mortar-firing, which demoralized the Confederates, 
killed and wounded a number of persons, killed the 


cattle, destroyed property of all kinds and set the city 
on fire. On the last two days we were enabled to reach 
the outer works of the enemy by firing heavy charges 
of twenty-six pounds of powder ; the distance was three 
miles, and the falling of shells was very annoying to the 
rebels. To use the words of the Confederate officer, * our 
shells intruded everywhere.' " On July 4, 1803, Vicks- 
burg surrendered, and five days later Port Hudson fell. 

While the siege of Port Hudson was in progress the 
Princess Royal, Commander Melanchton Brooks Wool- 
sey, and the Winona, Lieutenant-Commander Aaron 
Ward Weaver, gave great assistance, repelling the Con- 
federate attack on the fort at Donaldsonville, June 28th. 
The Kineo arrived on the scene later. Two days before 
the surrender of Port Hudson the Monongahela, Com- 
mander Abner Read, was fired upon by a masked bat- 
tery of fieldpieces, by which two of her men were killed 
and four wounded, among the latter being her com- 
mander (mortally) and Captain Thornton A. Jenkins. 

On the day that Vicksburg fell an overwhelming 
force of Confederate troops made a sudden attack on 
the garrison of four thousand men, under Major- 
General B. M. Prentiss, at Helena, Having broken 
through the National center, the Confederates were 
pressing down a hillside, confident of capturing the 
post. At this moment Lieutenant-Commander James 
M. Pritchett, commanding the Tyler, took a position 
where his guns bore on the enemy and then opened a 
terrific fire. " The slaughter of the enemy at this time 
was terrible, and all unite in describing the horrors of 
that hillside and the ravines after the battle as baffling 
description, the killed being literally torn to pieces by 
shell, and the avenging fire of the gunboat pursued the 
enemy two or three miles to his reserve forces, creating 
a panic there which added not a little to the end of 
victory." 1 The enemy was repelled with a loss of four 

1 Official report of Lieutenant-Commander S. Ledyard Phelps. 


hundred killed and eleven hundred prisoners. This 
was the third instance in which this gallant little gun- 
boat figured prominently in retrieving the fortunes of 
the Union army first at Belmont, again at Pittsburg 
Landing and finally at Helena. Shortly afterward the 
De Kalb, while ascending Yazoo River, was sunk by 
a torpedo. A month before this, June 6th, the Choc- 
taw, Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay, rendered ma- 
terial assistance in routing the Confederates after their 
successful attack on a brigade of negro troops at Mil- 
liken's Bend. About six weeks later Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., entered Red River 
and proceeded up Tensas River as far as Tensas Lake, 
and by Ouachita River reached Harrisonburg, destroy- 
ing much public property and four steamers. In Au- 
gust, Lieutenant Bache went two hundred and fifty 
miles up White River with the gunboats Lexington, 
Cricket and Marmora. The Cricket went forty miles 
up Little Red River and returned, having one man 
killed and eight wounded by sharpshooters. 

Early in March, 1864, Rear- Admiral Porter accom- 
panied General Banks' expedition against Shreveport 
up Red River, with the following gunboats : Essex, 
Commander Robert Townseud ; Eastport, Lieutenant- 
Commander S. Ledyard Phelps ; Black Hawk, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander K. Randolph Breese ; Lafayette, 
Lieutenant-Commander James P. Foster ; Benton, 
Lieutenant-Commander James A. Greer ; Louisville, 
Lieutenant-Commander Elias K. Owen ; Carondelet, 
Lieutenant-Commander John G. Mitchell ; Osage, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr. ; Ouachita, 
Lieutenant-Commander Byron Wilson ; Lexington, 
Lieutenant George M. Bache ; Chillicothe, Acting- 
Volunteer-Lieutenant Joseph Couthony ; Pittsburgh, 
Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant WilliarnR. Hoel; Mound 
City, Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant Amos R. Lang- 
thorne ; Neosho, Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant Samuel 
Howard ; Ozark, Acting-Master George W. Browne ; 


Fort Hindman, Acting- Volunteer- Lieu tenant John 
Pearce ; Cricket, Acting-Master Henry H. Gorringe ; 
Gazelle, Acting- Master Charles Thatcher. This magni- 
ficent flotilla, with a large fleet of transports, began the 
ascent of Red River on the 12th of March. Lieutenant- 
Commander Phelps, with the lighter gunboats, forcing 
his way through the obstructions eight miles below 
Fort De Russy, arrived opposite that place on the 14th, 
and dropped a few shells just before the fort was car- 
ried by troops who had marched from Sirnmesport. 

The expedition reached Alexandria on the loth and 
the 16th, where a garrison was established, and Porter, 
with the Cricket, the Fort Hindman, the Lexington, 
the Osage, the Neosho and the CTiillicothe, pressed for- 
ward, and in spite of the low water and extremely diffi- 
cult navigation reached Springfield Landing on the 10th 
of April. There he learned that the National troops 
had been checked at Pleasant Hill and were retreating, 
which compelled the gunboats to begin their difficult 
retreat of four hundred miles in the heart of the ene- 
my's country. On the 12th of April two thousand Con- 
federate troops made a furious attack on the Osage, the 
Lexington and six transports (the Osage and two of the 
transports being aground), but were repelled with heavy 
loss. On the 15th the Eastport was sunk by a torpedo, 
but after great exertions by her officers and crew she 
was raised on the 21st and moved some distance down 
the stream. The vessel had been so damaged, however, 
that on the 26th Lieutenant Phelps destroyed her. At 
this moment the gunboats accompanying her the 
Cricket, the Juliet and the Fort Hindman and two 
pump -boats were attacked by the Confederates, but the 
enemy was repelled. Five miles above Cane River these 
vessels were roughly handled by a heavy battery. Por- 
ter, being in the Cricket, made a dash past the battery, 
and although his vessel was struck thirty-eight times 
and sustained a loss of twenty-five killed or wounded 
in a crew of fifty, he rejoined his squadron. The Juliet 


had fifteen killed or wounded, and the Fort Hindman 
three killed and five wounded. 

When the vessels reached Alexandria it was found 
that the water had fallen so low that it was impossible 
to pass the rapids. Destruction seemed to await this 
magnificent fleet, but under the direction of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Joseph Bailey, and with the assistance of sev- 
eral hundred troops from a Maine regiment, a dam was 
built across the stream, and from the 9th to the 13th of 
May the gunboats were passed over the rapids and 
saved. For this invaluable service Bailey was promoted 
to the rank of Brigadier- General. The Pittsburgh, the 
Mound City, the Louisville, the Carondelet and the 
OzarTc were stripped of their iron plating, which, to- 
gether with eleven 32-pounders, was thrown into the 
river. Before the fleet reach a place of safety the 
gunboats Comngton, Lieutenant Lord, and Signal, 
Lieutenant Morgan, and the transport Warner were 
attacked, and after a heroic defense they were cap- 
tured, the Comngton having had forty-four killed, 
wounded or missing out of a complement of seventy- 
six men. From this time to the close of the war Red 
River remained in Confederate hands, but w r as carefully 
blockaded. Porter was relieved of his command, and 
Captain Alexander M. Pennock was left in charge. 

While stationed at Tunica Bend, near Port Hudson, 
the tinclad Naiad, Ac ting- Master Hubbell, and the 
General Bragg were suddenly fired upon at daylight, x 
June 24th, by a battery of 6-pounders that had been 
captured from General Banks. The National gunboats 
promptly responded, and for about an hour maintained 
a heavy fire, when at the approach of the monitor 
Winnebago the enemy fled. The General Bragg was 
uninjured, but the Naiad was badly cut up, having 
her pilot-house, armory and dispensary destroyed. 
One of her pilots was mortally wounded, and Mr. Hub- 
bell was severely injured below the right knee. 

On the 24th of June, 1864, Lieutenant Bache left 


Duval's Bluff with a number of troops in transports 
convoyed by the Tyler and the tinclads Naumkeag 
and Fawn, but before he had gone twenty miles he 
picked up two men who had escaped from the light- 
draught steamer Queen City, which had been captured 
by the Confederates only five hours before. Sending 
back the transports, Lieutenant Bache formed his three 
vessels in line of battle and boldly attacked a battery 
of seven field-pieces and two thousand Confederate 
troops who were advantageously posted near Clarendon. 
Steaming past the battery, the Tyler and the Fawn re- 
ceived shot in their pilot-houses, and the latter's pilot 
was killed. Soon afterward another shot entered the 
Fawn's pilot-house. The Tyler and Naumkeag, after 
passing the battery, returned to the assistance of 
their consort and put the enemy to flight. This was 
the battery that had taken the Queen City by surprise 
and disabled her engines at the first fire, and killed two 
and wounded eight of her men. The other boats had 
three killed and fifteen wounded. 

On the 1st of November Captain Samuel Phillips 
Lee succeeded to the command of the Western flotilla. 
The removal of the seat of war to the east of Mis- 
sissippi River made the patrol of the Western waters 
even more hazardous than before, as roving bands of 
guerillas were able to plant masked batteries along the 
banks and open fire on unsuspecting gunboats and trans- 
ports. Early in November the Confederates erected a 
battery on the upper Tennessee, which cut off eight 
transports and the little gunboats Key West, Elfin and 
TawaTi, commanded by Lieutenant King, from the sup- 
port of the larger Union gunboats below. The gunboat 
Undine also fell into the hands of the enemy and was 
destroyed. On November 4th, Lieutenant-Commanders 
Shirk and Leroy Fitch attacked the batteries with 
some light gunboats, while Lieutenant King opened 
fire from above ; but although fighting gallantly and 
being repeatedly struck, the gunboats could not dis- 



lodge the enemy. To prevent his vessels from falling 
into the hands of the Confederates, Lieutenant King 
destroyed them. 

Acting-Master Gilbert Morton, on October 28th, ren- 
dered valuable assistance to the Union troops under 
General Granger when they were attacked by the Con- 
federates above Muscle Shoals. On December 4th, Fitch, 
with the Carondelet and the Fair play, opened an 
effective fire on Hood's troops that were advancing 
upon Nashville. On the 6th he engaged a battery with 
the Neosho and the Carondelet, the former being struck 
by more than a hundred shot. Our gunboats also 
played an important part in the attack on Hood's army 
on the 15th, Lieutenant Moreau Forrest assisting greatly 
in cutting off the enemy's retreat. 

In April, 1865, the Webb, Lieutenant-Commander 
Charles W. Read, ran the blockade at the mouth of 
the Red River and attempted to get to sea with a load 
of cotton, and actually got twenty-three miles beyond 
New Orleans before she was captured. In June, 
1865, the small Confederate naval force in Red River 
surrendered, and on the 14th of August Captain Lee 
was relieved of his command and most of the vessels 
of the Western flotilla were sold. 



WHILE these stirring scenes were taking place In 
the United States an incident occurred in Japan which 
was attended with most serious circumstances. At the 
outbreak of the civil war the Government ordered the 
steam frigate Wyoming, Commander David Stockton 
McDougal, to cruise in Asiatic waters and keep a 
sharp lookout for Confederate commerce destroyers. 
McDougal entered the navy in 1828, and when Mare 
Island was purchased by the Government for a navy 
yard he was in command of the storeship Warren at 
San Francisco, Commander David Glasgow Farragut 
being ordered to that station. As the place then was 
destitute of quarters for officers, Farragut and his 
family became the guests of McDougal aboard the 
Warren. 1 In 1860 McDougal was ordered to com- 
mand the Wyoming, then at Panama, in place of Cap- 
tain John K. Mitchell, who entered the Confederate 
service. The Wyoming was a sister ship to the Kear- 
sarge, which also was engaged in the same duty in 
European waters. She carried two 11-inch Dahlgren 
guns on pivots amidship, and had four 32-pounders in 
the broadside. Her complement was one hundred and 
sixty men. 

About the time of the Wyoming's arrival in Eastern 
waters the edict of the Mikado of Japan expelling 
foreigners was in force. Availing themselves of the 
opportunity this edict gave them to embroil the 

1 Mrs. D. McDougal Van Voorhis to the author. 



Mikado in trouble with some foreign power, the 
Choshiu clansmen began the erection of batteries at 
the Straits of Shimonoseki. "The Straits of Shimono- 
seki form the western entrance into the inland sea and 
divide the great islands of Hondo and Kiushiu. They 
are three miles long and from one half to one mile 
wide, the navigable channel being from three to seven 
hundred feet wide. The town, of eighteen thousand 
inhabitants, consists chiefly of one very long street at 
the foot of bold bluffs, except that in the center the 
houses completely encircle and cover two or three 
small hills, and cluster thickly in a ravine. . . . Some 
have called it * the Gibraltar of the Japanese Medi- 
terranean.' The tide in its ebb and flow runs like a 
mill race at the rate of five miles an hour, and the 
violent oscillations acting upon the numerous sunken 
rocks and shoals have, in the course of centuries, fur- 
nished an appalling list of wrecks and great loss of life. 
Every landmark in the region is eloquent or ominous 
with traditions of gloom. ... On one of the rocky 
ledges stands the monument of the young Emperor 
Antoku, drowned in the great naval battle (A. D. 1185) 
between the Genji and the Heike, the white and red 
flags, where possibly one thousand war ships fought 
together." 1 

On commanding bluffs from fifty to one hundrecL^ 
feet high and overlooking this "terror to navigation " 
the Choshiu men erected seven batteries mounting from 
two to seven guns each, mostly 32-pounders, and a few 
12- and 24-pounders. Some of the guns were 8-inch 
Dahlgrens, a present from our Government. Besides 
this the warlike clansmen had purchased the iron 
steamer Lancefield, the bark Daniel Webster and the 
brig LanricJc. On the steamer they mounted four 
guns, on the bark six and on the brig four, mostly 24- 

1 William Elliot Griffis, in Century Magazine. 


On June 25, 1863, the clansmen had the first oppor- 
tunity to show their power. On that day the Ameri- 
can steamer Pembroke, from Yokohama for Nagasaki, 
entered the straits, but instead of attempting the pas- 
sage when the tide was in force, she followed the cus- 
tom of dropping anchor and waiting for slack water. 
Soon after the Pembroke came to, the Daniel Webster 
moved by and dropped anchor a short distance from 
her. No suspicions of foul play seem to have been 
entertained by the master of the Pembroke, for he had 
shown his colors, and his pilot had been furnished by 
the Government at Tokio. 

About an hour after midnight the bark, without the 
slightest warning, opened fire on the Pembroke, and 
soon the Lanrick approached, her crew shouting, and 
anchoring near the bark, opened on the steamer. 
Realizing that the Japanese were determined to sink 
his vessel, the master of the Pembroke retraced his 
course and eluded his assailants. Complaint was made 
to the officials at Tokio, and indemnity to the amount 
of ten thousand dollars was demanded and paid. 

Two weeks after the attack on the Pembroke, or 
July 8th, the French dispatch boat Kien-cJiang an- 
chored at the entrance to the straits to await the turn 
of the tide, just as the American steamer had done. 
Without warning, the batteries opened fire, seven shot 
taking effect. The Frenchmen then lowered a boat to 
inquire the reason for the attack, but it had scarcely 
left the ship's side when it was sunk by a shot and 
several of the men killed. With great difficulty the 
Kien-chang, in a sinking condition, reached Nagasaki, 
where the affair was reported to the commander of the 
Dutch cruiser Medusa, Captain de Cassembroot. 

The Medusa approached the straits in daylight on 
July llth. "No sooner was the Medusa opposite to 
the brig, than the Lanrick, which flew the flag of 
Nagato, the bark Daniel Webster and the heavy bat- 
tery of Sennenji, mounting six guns, opened simul- 


taneously. In a few minutes the frigate was within 
the concentrated fire of six batteries. What most 
astonished the Hollanders were the projectiles, such 
size and weight being undreamed of. The splendid 
abilities of the Japanese artillerists and the rapidity of 
their fire were astonishing. To find 6- and 8-inch 
shells exploding on their ship was a novelty to the 
Dutchmen in the Eastern World, and showed that the 
Japanese were up to the times. With his port broad- 
side Captain de Cassembroot illustrated true 'Dutch 
courage' for an hour and a half. Unable on account 
of his draft to attack the ships directly, he passed on 
his way. The Medusa was hit thirty-one times. Seven 
shots pierced the hull, sending bolts and splinters in 
showers about the decks. Three 8-inch shells burst on 
board. The long-boat, cutter and smokestack were 
ruined. Four men were killed and five wounded." 1 
For this service although it is difficult to discover just 
what service was performed Captain de Cassembroot, 
on his return to Europe, was knighted and his crew 
received medals of honor. The Medusa was a much 
heavier war ship than the Wyoming. 

Nine days after this the French gunboat Tancrede 
while swiftly steaming through the straits was fired 
upon and struck three times ; and not long afterward a 
Japanese steamer mistaken for a foreigner was at- 
tacked, burned and sunk by the batteries, the bodies 
of nine officers and nineteen seamen who were killed 
being swept out to sea. 

This firing on unsuspecting vessels from a safe emi- 
nence of fifty to one hundred feet, of course, was great 
sport for the Choshiu clansmen, but their day of reck- 
oning was coming. The word "reckoning" having 
been ascribed by our English cousins as being charac- 
teristically Yankee, we need feel no surprise in finding 
the avenger to be the American war craft Wyoming. 

1 William Elliot Griffis, in Century Magazine. 

1863. McDOUGAL IN ACTION. 391 

Commander McDougal was a true American sea- 
man. He was a man who did not know what fear 
was, which, combined with a clear insight into the 
motives for action, made an ideal officer. He was a 
contemporary of Rear- Admirals John Rodgers, Middle- 
ton, Alden and Case. While on board the Natchez, 
in the harbor of Pensacola, engaged in surveying, he 
gave an exhibition of dauntless courage which was a 
marked characteristic all his life. The bay at the time 
was alive with sharks, especially around the ship, 
where they swarmed ready to snatch the mess refuse 
thrown overboard. One day the cry "Man over- 
board ! " startled the ship's company. Without hesi- 
tation McDougal whipped off his coat, jumped into 
the water, and managed to keep the man afloat and 
fight off the sharks until a boat came to the rescue. 1 

When the news of the attack on the Pembroke 
reached Commander McDougal he was under orders to 
return home with the Wyoming, but this affair deter- 
mined him in proceeding immediately to the scene of 
hostilities. Accordingly he dropped anchor at the 
eastern end of the straits on the evening of July 15th, 
having first learned that the Lancefield drew no more 
water than his ship. Early the next morning the 
Wyoming rounded a point of land, when one of the 
batteries opened fire, the first shot striking the ship 
just above the engine room, cutting away some rigging 
ample evidence of the accuracy of Japanese gunners. 
Making no reply to this, the Wyoming steamed on 
until she rounded another promontory, when she came 
in full sight of the town and within long range of all 
the batteries and the Japanese war ships. 

Then began the serious work of the day. The 
shrewd American commander had noticed a line of 
stakes driven into the mud, evidently marking the edge 

1 Mrs. D. McDougal Van Voorhis (daughter of Rear-Admiral Mc- 
Dougal) to the author. 


of the main channel. Rightly guessing that the enemy 
had long got the precise range of this water way, Mc- 
Dougal ordered his pilots to take his ship toward the 
northern shore, close under the batteries on that side. 
The Daniel Webster was anchored close to the town, 
the Lanrick about fifty yards beyond, and a length 
ahead and near her was the Lancefield. All these 
vessels were rigged with kedge anchors and grappling 
irons at their yardarms ready to close on the Wyo- 
ming and carry her by boarding. Their decks were 
crowded with men, shouting and defying the Ameri- 
cans to come on. 

Making directly for these vessels, McDougal shook 
out his colors but reserved his fire, intending to attack 
the vessels first and give his attention to the batteries 
afterward. The sight of the American flags seemed to 
have acted like oil on the fire, for now the Japanese 
opened from other batteries with savage ferocity. Mc- 
Dougal's shift from the main channel somewhat dis- 
concerted their plans, as seen by the fact that most of 
their shot took effect in the Wyoming's rigging. Ob- 
serving a good opportunity to deliver a few blows, 
McDougal opened with his pivots and starboard guns, 
and with such effect that one battery was torn to 
pieces and silenced at the first broadside. 

Keeping steadily on for the ships, the Wyoming 
when nearly abreast of the squadron was fired upon 
by the Daniel Webster, by which two men, William 
Clark and George Watson, who were stationed near 
the Wyoming's anchor, were killed, the latter by a 
chain shot. About the same time a shot from one of 
the batteries came aboard and killed a marine sta- 
tioned at the gangway. The Americans were now fir- 
ing from every gun in the ship, and with splendid 
effect, as was shown by the clouds of earth and broken 
gun mountings that were hurled into the air. 

Aided by the strong tide the Wyoming swiftly 
passed down the straits, so that the Japanese gunners 


in the ships, although firing with admirable rapidity, 
could discharge no more than three broadsides. One 
of their shells killed all the crew of the forward 32- 
pounder excepting three men. The captain of the 
gun, William Thompson, had his left arm torn off. 
Observing that the tackle of this gun had been carried 
away, one of the American seamen, Charles J. Murphy, 
though badly wounded, bent on new tackle and fought 
the gun short-handed until Lieutenant Barton sent him 
a few men from the pivot gun. About that time Bar- 
ton's sword-guard was struck by a piece of shell and 
bent out of shape. 

The Wyoming had now passed the ships, when she 
rounded to with the intention of making a target of 
them, but at this critical juncture she ran aground 
where six batteries and the squadron could concentrate 
their fire upon her, and for a moment it looked very 
much like defeat. The Lancefield was now observed 
to slip her cable and steam over to the northern shore, 
probably with a view of gathering headway for ram- 
ming the helpless American. Realizing the danger, 
McDougal directed all his attention to the steamer, 
hoping to disable her before she could do the threat- 
ened mischief. 

Meantime the Wyoming's engines had been re- 
versed, and after a powerful effort she was backed 
clear of the mud and into deep water. Manoeuvring 
as well as the five-knot current and sunken rocks 
would admit of, McDougal got his two pivot guns into 
play on the Lancefield, and soon 11-inch shells were 
doing their awful work on the hull of the steamer. The 
second carefully aimed shell from the forward pivot 
gun crashed through the side of the Lancefield, one 
foot above the water line, pierced the boiler, and came 
out on the other side, tearing a great hole in the hull. 
As if not satisfied with this work, the shell speeded 
over the water and exploded in the town a quarter of a 
mile away. 


In an instant the Lancefield was enveloped in a mass 
of steam, smoke, flame and cinders. A native boat put 
off from her side with a crowd of men, while scores of 
other men threw themselves into the sea. Two more 
shells were then sent into the Lancefield to insure her 
destruction. The pivot guns were then turned on the 
Daniel Webster, which ship had been keeping up a 
destructive fire. A few well-directed shells settled her 
fate, and she followed the Lancefield to the bottom. 
McDougal was now able to devote his entire energy to 
the shore batteries. He deliberately retraced his course 
through the straits, keeping up a most effective fire, so 
much so that, although greatly exposed, his vessel was 
scarcely injured. 

After passing the last battery and getting beyond 
the reach of the Japanese guns the Wyoming came to 
and the men had time to count their losses. The ac- 
tion had lasted just one hour and ten minutes, in which 
time the ship had been struck more than twenty times, 
ten shot having pierced her hull. Six holes were found 
in the smokestack, four shot had taken effect in both 
main and fore masts and the rigging was badly injured. 
The ship had fired fifty-five rounds, or nearly one for 
every minute of the action. Six men were killed and 
four wounded. A coal heaver named Michael Lynch 
had both legs taken off below the knees. He walked 
half the length of the deck and complained of his " toes 
hurting him*" before he died. Four days later the 
French frigate Semiramis and gunboat Tancrede en- 
tered the straits, and after landing a detachment of 
two hundred and fifty men captured the batteries. 

Speaking of this brilliant action, Griffis says: "To 
the Choshiu clansmen, brave and capable as they them- 
selves were, it seemed as though McDougal possessed 
more than human nerve in thus running his vessel into 
the fierce fire which they had prepared for him. Long 
afterward they spoke respectfully of the 'American 
devils.' They had fought the Dutch frigate, and four 

1863. McDOUGAL'S PLUCK. 395 

days later were chastised at one point by the French, 
but neither of these combats, carried on in mid-chan- 
nel at long range, or by a charge after the single bat- 
tery had been emptied by long bombardment, so im- 
pressed the thinking men of Japan's most intellectual 
clan as that of the commander of a single ship coolly 
and of choice meeting such overwhelming odds at close 
quarters and winning so surprising a victory. The 
Choshiu men were noted for their thinking and for the 
power of profiting by their reverses, and this time their 
profit was great. 

"Yet this act of McDougal was not a mere 'run- 
ning amuck,' a rash plunge ; it was as cool and scien- 
tific a movement, albeit one requiring as much nerve 
and courage, as Cushing's attack on the Albemarle. 
With Japanese prison cages and torture all foreigners 
in Japan of that day were acquainted by daily report. 
Even casual walks around Yokohama had made the 
American officers familiar with the pillories near the 
blood pits, which were almost daily decorated with hu- 
man heads. Besides, it had been immemorial law and 
custom for the beaten party in Japan to perform Tiara- 
Mri ; or, failing, to suffer decapitation. It was a clear 
knowledge of these facts that led McDougal, while 
shrinking from nothing within the bounds of possibil- 
ity, to give an order not mentioned in his amazingly 
modest official report. He had only a few days before 
seen the American flag hauled down and the legation 
of the United States driven from the capital, and this 
was humiliation enough for McDougal. Hence he de- 
termined neither to see nor to have the like thing done 
on the ship he commanded. If boarded or overwhelmed, 
or made helpless by grounding or a shot in the boilers, 
it was his deliberate purpose to blow up the ship and 
all on board, the officer of the powder division being 
instructed to that effect." 

Speaking of this action, Assistant Secretary of the 
Navy Theodore Roosevelt, in a private interview, said, 


"Had that action occurred at any other time than dur- 
ing the civil war its fame would have been echoed all 
over the world." During her protracted search for the 
Alabama in Eastern seas the Wyoming experienced 
the usual covert hostility on the part of British fort 
officials. On one occasion, when entering Singapore, 
she was mistaken for the famous Confederate cruiser, 
the result being that every courtesy was shown to her, 
the English merchants "sending files of late papers, 
flowers, etc." 1 

Commander Charles J. McDougal, the only son of 
McDougal, was drowned March 28, 1881, when off Cape 
Meudocino serving as a lighthouse inspector. 

The executive officer of the Wyoming in this affair 
was Lieutenant George W. Young ; Lieutenant William 
Barton, navigator, was in charge of the forward divis- 
ion of guns, and Acting- Master John C. Mills com- 
manded the after division ; E. R. Denby was surgeon, 
George Cochran paymaster (now pay director), Philip 
Inch (now chief engineer) was engineer and Walter 
Pierce was ensign. 

1 Mrs. D. McDougal Van Voorhis to the author. 



IN the earlier part of the civil war Mobile Bay was 
far removed from the more active naval operations in 
the Gulf, and nothing disturbed the quiet of that im- 
portant seaport except the occasional rush of the swift 
ocean racers that stole past the blockading squadron 
and attempted to gain the harbor. Three large rivers 
entered this bay, giving unusual facilities for reaching 
the interior, and made Mobile the second port of the 
Confederacy. The enemy kept up water communica- 
tions with New Orleans by means of Mississippi Sound 
until the capture of the steamer Anna, early in De- 
cember, 1861, and soon afterward that of the P. C. 
Wallace by the National gunboat New London, made 
this route too hazardous. 

The first active fighting before Mobile occurred on 
the 29th of January, 1862, when the schooner Wilder, 
with a valuable cargo from Havana, was chased ashore 
while flying British colors. As the National boats 
were removing the cargo a company of Confederate 
rangers, under the command of Captain Cottrill, has- 
tened down from Mobile, opened a brisk fire, and 
drove off the launches with a loss of fifteen to twenty- 
five killed or wounded. In the night the gunboats 
towed off the Wilder. On the following 28th of June 
the British steamer Ann, from St. Thomas, laden with 
a valuable cargo of war materials, attempted to run 
the blockade under cover of darkness, but was chased 
ashore. Her crew escaped after endeavoring to scuttle 
the steamer, but her water-tight compartments kept her 


308 OFF MOBILE BAY. 1862-1864. 

afloat and she was captured by the gunboats. August 
30th the Winona exchanged a few shells with Fort 
Morgan, without much injury to either side, and on 
Christmas eve, 1862, the Florida, which had run into 
the port on September 4th, opened a long-distance can- 
nonade with the New London near Sand Island. 

When New Orleans fell, in April, 1862, the Confed- 
erates fully believed that the next point of attack 
would be Mobile, and they hastened their preparations 
accordingly. Realizing the importance of this port, 
the authorities at Richmond, early in 1863, ordered 
Admiral Franklin Buchanan, who commanded the 
Merrimac on the first day of her celebrated battle in 
Hampton Roads, to take command of the naval forces 
in Mobile Bay. In the spring of 1863 five gunboats 
were in course of construction under the direction of 
Commander Ebenezer Farrand, at Selma, one hundred 
and fifty miles up the Alabama River, which at that 
time was the largest naval station in the South. The 
ablest engineers in the Confederacy were engaged in 
the construction of these vessels. In the winter of 
1863-'64 the ram Tennessee, the most formidable iron- 
clad completed by the South, was built at SeJma. The 
Tennessee was of the type of the Merrimac, but im- 
proved. She was two hundred and nine feet over 
all, had forty-eight feet beam, and drew over thirteen 
feet of water. Her casemate, which rose eight feet 
above the deck, was placed amidships and sloped at 
an angle of thirty-three degrees to the deck. It was 
seventy-eight feet and eight inches long by twenty- 
nine feet wide, inside measurement, and was constructed 
of yellow-pine beams thirteen inches thick, placed ver- 
tically. Over this were five and a half inches of the 
same wood in horizontal courses, and on top of that 
four inches of oak in vertical courses. Within, the case- 
mate was sheathed with two and a half inches of oak. 

Over this twenty-five inches of solid wood back- 
ing were laid five inches of iron plating on the sides 


and stern, and six inches at the forward end of the 
casemate. These plates were of the toughest malle- 
able iron, made at the Atlanta rolling-mills, two inches 
thick, seven inches wide, and twenty-one feet long ; 
but where the plating was only five inches deep there 
was a single layer of plates one inch thick. This plat- 
ing was secured by iron bolts having a diameter of one 
inch and a quarter, which ran entirely through the 
wood backing and were fastened on the inside of the 
casemate with nuts and washers. The pilot-house was 
formed by carrying the forward end of the casemate 
two feet higher, and was pierced with slits so as to en- 
able the line of vision to extend on all sides. The top 
of the casemate and pilot-house were covered with 
heavy iron grating, while the deck outside the case- 
mate was protected by two inches of iron. As an ad- 
ditional protection, netting was stretched along the 
four sides of the casemate within to prevent splinters 
from injuring the gun-crews. 

The iron-plated casemate extended two feet below 
the water line, and was then bent at the same angle so 
as to meet the hull seven feet below water, thus form- 
ing a solid knuckle ten feet thick, which protected the 
hull from ramming. This knuckle was carried all 
around the ship, and, being covered with four inches 
of iron, it made a formidable ram at the bow. Massive 
sliding shutters five inches thick covered the gun ports 
when the guns were run in. This formidable craft was 
armed with one 7-inch Brooke rifled gun in the bow 
and one in the stern, and on each broadside she carried 
two 6.4-inch rifled guns which were cast in the foundry 
at Selma, under the supervision of Commander Catesby 
ap Rogers Jones. The command of this vessel was 
given to Commander James D. Johnston. 

The two defective points about the Tennessee were 
her low speed and exposed steering-gear. Her high- 
pressure engines were designed for a river steamer, and 
on her trial trip in March she made only six knots an 

400 OFF MOBILE BAY. 1864. 

hour. Her steering-gear was laid outside the casemate 
and was exposed to an enemy's shot. But these de- 
fects were owing to the lack of facilities for construc- 
tions of this kind. In his official report Admiral Bu- 
chanan says : "I seriously felt the want of experienced 
officers during the action." The crew, as finally brought 
together, consisted of eighteen officers and one hundred 
and ten men. 

The conditions under which this craft was built 
were singularly like those under which the brigs Law- 
rence and Niagara were constructed by Master-Com- 
mandant Oliver Hazard Perry on Lake Erie in 1813. 
In both cases the vessels were literally hewn out of the 
forest, and as the brigs had to be lifted over the bar at 
Presque Isle, or Erie, on camels, so it became neces- 
sary to raise the Tennessee five feet in order to get her 
over the bar at Dog River, where there were only nine 
feet of water. The Southern papers expressed the im- 
patience of the people at these delays in harsh criti- 
cisms, and were daily urging Admiral Buchanan to 
attack the National fleet. After great exertions the 
timber for the floats was sawed out of the forest, ten 
miles up the river, and floated down to Mobile, but just 
before they were ready for use they were destroyed by 
fire, and the tedious operation had to be repeated. 

Besides the Tennessee the Confederates had three 
gunboats, which took a share in the battle of August 
5th. They were unarmored except around the boilers 
and machinery. The first of these was the side-wheel 
steamer Morgan, Lieutenant George W. Harrison, 
mounting two 7-inch rifled guns and four 32-pounders. 
The Gaines, Lieutenant J. W. Bennett, also was a side- 
wheel steamer, and mounted one 8-inch rifled gun and 
five 32-pounders. The Selma, Lieutenant Peter U. 
Murphy, was an open-deck steamer mounting one 6- 
inch, two 9-inch and one 8-inch smooth-bore shell guns. 
The last was a heavily built steamer, but the other two 
were entirely unsuited for war purposes. 


It was Admiral Buchanan's intention to take the 
blockading ships by surprise. The night of May 18th 
was selected for the attack, and, having been buoyed 
up, the ram was taken in tow by two steamers, one 
containing her coal and the other her ammunition, and 
carried over the bar and down the bay toward the Na- 
tional fleet. All haste was made to prepare her for the 
fight, and while she was being towed down the channel 
her crew was busily engaged in taking on board her 
coal and ammunition. According to the programme 
laid out by the Southern papers, the Tennessee was to 
destroy the fleet off Mobile Bay, immediately capture 
Fort Pickens at Pensacola, and then proceed north- 
ward or to New Orleans. It was midnight before 
the vessels reached a point down the bay where there 
was sufficient water to float the Tennessee, but the tide 
had fallen so low that when the floats were cast off the 
ram was found to be hard and fast aground. Before 
she could be got off daylight revealed her to the Union 
fleet, and the advantage of taking it by surprise was 
lost. When the next tide floated the Tennessee she 
was carried down the channel and anchored under the 
guns of Fort Morgan, where she remained until the 5th 
of August, her crew improving the interim with daily 
practice at the great guns. 

Returning from a brief visit in the North, where he 
had been resting after his brillliant cervices in Missis- 
sippi River, Farragut resumed command of the Gulf 
squadron January 18, 1864, the senior officer of the 
blockading squadron off Mobile at that time being Cap- 
tain Thornton A. Jenkins, of the Richmond. On the 
20th of January, Farragut, in the Octorara, Lieutenant- 
Commander Lowe, with the Itasca in company, made 
a reconnoissance in Mobile Bay, and reported that "if 
I had one ironclad I could destroy their whole force." 
Early in the year Farragut visited the several stations 
of his extensive command, using a light river steamer 
called the Tennessee as his flagship ; but from the 


402 OFF MOBILE BAY. 1864. 

middle of May he spent most of his time off Mobile. 
He had heard many rumors regarding the strength of 
its land and water defenses, and, knowing that the 
Confederates were strengthening them by every means 
in their power from day to day, he was anxious to 
make his attack early in the spring; but the Red 
River expedition drew away the only available troops, 
and the ironclads necessary for the attack on Mobile 
did not arrive until late in the summer. He wrote re- 
peatedly to the Government, begging that at least " one 
of the many ironclads that are off Charleston and in 
the Mississippi," and a few thousand troops, might be 
placed under his orders. 

By August the defenses of Mobile were among the 
most formidable in the South. A brick fort on Dau- 
phin Island, called Fort Gaines, built on the ruins of 
Fort Tombigbee, defended by eight hundred and sixty- 
four men under the command of Colonel Charles D. 
Anderson, mounted three 10-inch columbiads, four 32- 
pounder rifled guns, and twenty smooth-bore guns 
of 32, 24 and 18-pound calibers. Fort Powell com- 
manded the principal pass to Mississippi Sound, and 
mounted one 10-inch and one 8-inch columbiad and 
four rifled guns. The principal fortification was Fort 
Morgan, which was an old-fashioned pentagonal brick 
work, mounting its guns in three tiers with a full 
scarp brick wall four feet eight inches thick, the entire 
front being protected by enormous piles of sand-bags. 
This fort was built on the site of the little redoubt 
called Fort Bowyer, which repelled the British fleet in 
1814 with the loss of the war ship Hermes and two hun- 
dred men. Fort Morgan proper mounted seven 10-inch, 
three 8-inch and twenty-two 32-pounder smooth-bore 
guns, and two 8-inch, two 6.5-inch and four 5.82-inch 
rifled guns. The exterior batteries mounted four 10- 
inch columbiads, one 8-inch rifled gun and two rifled 
32-pounders. Within the fort was a citadel, loopholed 
for musketry, the brick walls being four feet thick. 


This fort was commanded by Brigadier-General Rich- 
ard L. Page, who had six hundred and forty men. 

From Fort Gaines to the edge of the ship channel 
was a double line of stakes, the heads of which were 
just visible at low water, which prevented light-draught 
steamers from entering the bay. Across the ship chan- 
nel the Confederates had planted a double row of tor- 
pedoes, extending from the western edge of the ship 
channel to within three hundred feet of the water bat- 
tery at Fort Morgan, the termination of the line being 
indicated by a red buoy. This passage was left clear 
for blockade-runners. Forty- six of these torpedoes 
were lager-beer kegs filled with powder. Four or five 
sensitive primers were placed on the upper side, which 
would be exploded by a vessel striking them. One 
hundred and thirty-four of the torpedoes were tins 
shaped like a truncated cone, the lower part being 
filled with powder, and the upper part used as an air- 
chamber for floating the machine. They were an- 
chored with old grate bars. The torpedo would be 
exploded by a passing vessel knocking off a cast- 
iron cap which pulled the trigger. There were also 
nine submarine mortar batteries in course of construc- 
tion, under the direction of Brigadier- General G. J. 
Rains, and three of them were completed to close the 
ship channel. 1 Lieutenant-Commander Jouett and 
Lieutenant Watson spent some time in dragging for 
the torpedoes. They were about seven feet under 
water, the fuse being on the upper point of the cone. 
One of these fuses was sent to Farragut. He placed 
it on his cabin table, but, rolling off, it fell to the deck 
and exploded. "Young man," said Farragut to the 
person who sent the fuse, "don't send any more of 
those infernal machines to me. When it exploded I 
thought some one had shot me." 

The Confederates made more than one attempt to 

1 Official report of Brigadier-General Rains. 

404: OFF MOBILE BAY. 1864. 

inflict injury on the blockading squadron off Mobile. 
Lieutenant James McC. Baker and his brother, Page 
M. Baker, offered to go out in a boat on a dark night 
with a spar torpedo. Having selected the ship, Lieu- 
tenant Baker was to keep the boat in position while 
his brother was to dive overboard and explode a tor- 
pedo under the ship's water line. The capture of the 
Creole under the guns of Fort Pickens by these young 
officers, and their other gallant exploits during the 
war, sufficiently demonstrated their ability and pluck 
to carry out this project, but they failed to get the 
necessary permission. To guard against such attacks 
as these, Farragut reluctantly resorted to torpedoes. 
He wrote : " I have always deemed it [torpedo warfare] 
unworthy of a chivalrous nation, but it does not do to 
give your enemy such a decided superiority over you." 

An attempt was made on the 28th of February, 
1864, by the light-draught steamers of the Union squad- 
ron to enter Mobile Bay from Mississippi Sound, but 
the vessels could not get within effective range of Fort 
Powell, and they retired without accomplishing their 
purpose. Several shot were exchanged, and four 100- 
pound shells struck the mortar schooner John Griffiths 
in succession, but fortunately none of them exploded, 
and only one man was hurt. The attack, however, 
served to divert the enemy's attention from Sherman, 
who was then making a raid in Mississippi. 

On the night of July 5th Lieutenant John Critten- 
den Watson volunteered to lead a boat party against a 
blockade-runner that was beached under the guns of 
Fort Morgan. Watson was accompanied by Lieutenant 
Herbert B. Tyson and Ensigns Dana, Whiting, Glidden 
and Pendleton, and Master's-Mate Herrick, while the 
Metacomet, Lieutenant-Commander James Edward Jou- 
ett, and the Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander William 
Penn McCann, stood in to assist the attacking party. 
Under cover of darkness the men pulled boldly under 
the guns of the fort, boarded the blockade-runner, fired 


her and returned to the fleet without the loss of a man. 
Watson also made night explorations in an open boat 
under the guns of Fort Morgan to determine the posi- 
tion of torpedoes. 

By the 4th of August the Union fleet had been in- 
creased to twenty-one wooden vessels and four iron- 
clads. Farragut had intended to go in that day, but 
as the monitor Tecumseh and the Richmond did not 
arrive in time the attack was postponed until the next 
day. It was only by the greatest exertions that the 
commanders of these vessels, which were at Pensacola, 
arrived off Mobile on the night of August 4th. Farra- 
gut's plan was to pass up the channel close under the 
guns of Fort Morgan, and in his general orders he in- 
structed the several commanders to place nets in posi- 
tion to catch splinters, and to lay chains and sand-bags 
along their decks so as to protect the machinery from 
plunging shot. He said : "Hang the sheet chains over 
the side. Land your starboard boats or lower them on 
the port side, and lower the port boats down to the 
water's edge. Place a leadsman and a pilot in the port- 
quarter boat or the one most convenient to the com- 
mander." While at Pensacola the Richmond took 
aboard three thousand bags of sand, which were piled 
in a barricade several feet thick around the starboard 
side from the port bow to the port quarter and from 
berth to spar decks, so as to afford additional protec- 
tion from a raking fire. Many of the commanders filled 
their vacant ports on the starboard side with guns from 
the port batteries. Some of the boats were lowered 
with sails under them, to take up the concussion and 
to catch them in case the falls w r ere shot away. 

The vessels were ordered to sail in pairs, lashed 
together, the larger ship on the starboard and the 
smaller vessel on the port side, so that in case either 
became disabled the other could be depended upon 
for carrying them along : The Brooklyn, Captain 
James Alden, with the Octorara, Lieutenant- Com- 

406 FF MOBILE BAY. 1864. 

mander Charles H. Greene ; the Hartford, flagship, 
Captain Percival Drayton, with the 6-gun double- 
ender side- wheel steamer Metacomet, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Jouett ; the 20-gun sloop-of-war Richmond, 
Captain Thornton Alexander Jenkins, with the 6-gun 
side- wheel steamer Port Royal, Lieutenant-Commander 
Bancroft Gherardi ; the 8-gun sloop-of-war Lackawan- 
na, Captain John Bonne tt Marchand, with the 8-gun 
propeller Seminole, Commander Edward Donaldson; 
the 8-gun sloop-of-war Monongahela, Commander 
James Hooker Strong, with the 5-gun propeller Kenne- 
bec, Lieutenant-Commander McCann ; the 11 -gun sloop- 
of-war Ossipee, Commander William Edgar Le Roy, 
with the 5-gun propeller Itasca, Lieutenant-Command- 
er George Brown ; the 9-gun sloop-of-war Oneida, 
Commander James Robert Madison Mullany, with the 
10-gun propeller Galena, Lieutenant-Commander Clark 
Henry Wells. Farragut at first had intended to lead 
the ships in the Hartford, but, yielding to the earnest 
solicitations of the officers, he consented to let the 
Brooklyn take the post of danger, as she was fitted 
with an apparatus for catching torpedoes, and had 
four bow guns which could be used to advantage while 
approaching the fort. The monitors were to go in sin- 
gle file, a little ahead of the wooden ships, in the 
following order: the Tecumseh, Commander Tunis 
Augustus Maedonough Craven, the Manhattan, Com- 
mander James William Augustus Nicholson, the Win- 
nebago, Commander Thomas Holdup Stevens, and the 
CMckasaw, Lieutenant-Commander George Hamilton 

In order that the fleet might hold rapid communi- 
cation with the land forces, a number of army signal 
officers were sent from New Orleans in a tugboat and 
were distributed among the principal vessels. Fifteen 
hundred soldiers were landed on Dauphin Island un- 
der cover of the guns of the Conemaugh, Lieutenant- 
Commander James Charles Philip DeKrafft, August 


3d. The steamers Genesee, Pinola, Pembina, Sebago, 
Tennessee and Bienmlle, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant-Commander Edward C. Graf ton, were instructed 
to take a position southeast of Fort Morgan and keep 
up a flank fire, but they were unable to get near enough 
to the enemy to take an important part in the action. 

On the afternoon of August 4th, Farragut, with 
the commanders of his vessels, ran into the harbor in 
the tender Cowslip to make a final inspection of the 
defenses. All around the bay seemed to be quiet 
and in readiness to receive the long-expected attack. 
The triple tier of cannon at Fort Morgan, protected 
by immense piles of sand-bags, frowned upon the 
little tender, while the three saucy-looking gunboats 
and the bow of the formidable ram Tennessee, just 
poking its nose around the point of land, like a great 
tiger awaiting its prey, lay above the fort in quiet 
readiness. While the Cowslip was making this re- 
connoissance a Confederate transport came down the 
bay and began landing troops and provisions with an- 
other transport at Fort Gaines. Commander Stevens, 
of the Winnebago, was ordered to drive her off, but 
was cautioned not to approach the fort nearer than a 
mile. His orders read : "Get back to your anchorage 
before night. We go in a little after daylight in the 
morning, so don't use up your crew too much." Run- 
ning up to easy range of Fort Gaines, Stevens opened 
a well-directed fire on the transports, and drove them 
up the bay. The Cowslip then returned to the flag- 
ship, and after Farragut had given his final instruc- 
tions to his commanders they returned to their several 



PREPARATIONS for the great battle of Mobile Bay 
were now completed. Every precaution that a saga- 
cious commander could devise had been taken, and on 
the night of August 4th the fleet rode quietly at anchor, 
with top-lights glimmering and twinkling through the 
rigging as the ships gently swayed with the ocean swell, 
in readiness for the morrow. Every one felt the seri- 
ousness of the work before him. The seamen dis- 
cussed the chances of a battle in quiet tones, or were 
leaving last messages or some keepsake with a mess- 
mate, in case " something happens to me." In the 
earlier part of the evening the officers of the flagship 
gathered around the wardroom table, feeling that per- 
haps it was the last time they would be together, and 
spent the first hour in writing home and in making 
their personal arrangements for the battle. This being 
done, " there followed an hour of unrestrained jollity. 
Many an old story was retold and ancient conundrum 
repeated. Old officers forgot for a moment their cus- 
tomary dignity, and it was evident that all were ex- 
hilarated and stimulated by the knowledge of the com- 
ing struggle. There was no other ' stimulation,' for 
the strict naval rules prevented. Finally, after a half 
hour's smoke on the forecastle, all hands turned in." 1 
It rained heavily in the evening, but as the night ad- 
vanced it cleared up, leaving the atmosphere hot, close 
and oppressive, with scarcely a breath of air stirring. 

1 Lieut. Kinney, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. iv, p. 386. 


1864. "IF GOD IS MY LEADER." 499 

As the great ships swung restlessly at their anchors the 
ebbing and flowing tide played around the cables and 
rippled along their black hulls ; the eddies swirling un- 
der their quarters like imps of darkness, and then flit- 
ting on to the next ship. In the distance, just discern- 
ible in the gloom, lay the sullen batteries of Fort 
Morgan, with a double force of sentinels pacing back 
and forth, ready to fire on any adventurous boat party 
or give the alarm at the first approach of the ships. 

The National fleet was one of the most formidable 
collection of war vessels that at that time had ever been 
commanded by one man. Farragut carried in the palm 
of his hand more power for destruction than the com- 
bined English, French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar. 
Yet during the silent watches of that night the great 
admiral was restless. However calm he appeared to 
his officers and men, he was uneasy on the eve of this 
his greatest battle. Descending into the privacy of the 
cabin, he made his personal arrangements for the terri- 
ble ordeal, and wrote to his wife: "I am going into 
Mobile in the morning if God is my leader, as I hope 
he is, and in him I place my trust. If he thinks it is 
the place for me to die, I am ready to submit to his 
will. God bless and preserve you if anything should 
happen to me ! " 

About midnight a fog rolled in from the Gulf and 
enveloped the ships in its dense folds. A little before 
daybreak Farragut sent for his steward and asked how 
the weather was, and learning that a fresh breeze had 
sprung up in the west, which would blow the smoke 
from the ships over Fort Morgan, he quietly remarked, 
"Then we will go in this morning." And soon after- 
ward the merry piping of the boatswain's whistle and 
the hoarse cry of "All hands ahoy! Up all ham- 
mocks ! " resounded in all corners of the flagship, and 
in an instant the sepulchral silence of a few minutes 
before had given place to a most spirited scene. Hun- 
dreds of men hastened up from the berth deck, bearing 


the hammocks in their arms, and deposited them where 
they would best protect the crew from the enemy's 
shot or from splinters, after which they hastened to 
the performance of their various duties. About this 
time the steam launch Loyall, named after Farragut's 
wife, "with its pert howitzer in the bow," came along 
the port side to receive orders. This work in the Hart- 
ford was promptly imitated by all the other vessels in 
the fleet, and for a short time the piping of many silver 
whistles breaking over the peaceful waters resembled 
not a little the chirping of forest birds at daybreak. 

By this time the mists of early dawn had been dis- 
pelled by a light southwest breeze, and the rays of the 
morning sun shone over the scene in unimpeded splen- 
dor. In the admiral's cabin, from which had emanated 
the orders changing so suddenly the sleeping fleet into 
a scene of exhilarating activity, all was quiet and com- 
posed. Farragut was breakfasting as calmly as if 
nothing unusual were going on. Finally, at 5.30 A. M., 
while sipping his tea, he remarked to his fleet captain, 
"Well, Dray ton, we might as well get under way." 
In an incredibly short time this simple expression had 
been flashed all over the fleet, and "in one minute" all 
the ships had made answering signals and were getting 
under way. By half past six o'clock the vessels had 
crossed the bar, and after a few minutes' delay they 
drew out in an imposing line of battle and slowly moved 
up the channel. Each ship had colors flying at the 
peak and at each masthead, and as the beautiful folds 
of the American flags were gently tossed about in the 
light breeze, their bright hues gleaming and glancing 
in the sunlight, they presented a vision of beauty never 
to be forgotten. But the ominous absence of the tom- 
pions in the muzzles of the cannon, the silent groups 
of men standing beside the monstrous pivot guns in 
the bows, the lowering of the topmasts and the absence 
of all superfluous rigging, gave the ships a peculiarly 
grim and vicious look and too plainly indicated that 


they were entering the harbor strictly on business. 
On May 27, 1861, the Natchez Courier said, " Fort Mor- 
gan welcomed the Union ships by displaying the United 
States flag with the union down and below the Confed- 
erate flag." The National fleet was now steaming up 
Mobile Bay to inquire about it. 

The scene in the flagship at this stage of the action 
was thrilling. As the noble Hartford drew near to un- 
dergo her part in the battle she seemed to nerve her- 
self for the terrible ordeal. An almost unbroken silence 
pervaded her decks, disturbed only by the lapping of 
the waves against her dark hull as she passed up the 
channel, and the musical calls of the leadsmen in the 
chains: "By the mark three!" or "A quarter less 
four ! " As the men stood at their guns, in momen- 
tary expectation of the order to fire or of being cut 
down by the enemy's shot, they instinctively oast in- 
quiring glances at the determined faces of their officers. 
Serious thoughts were passing through their minds, 
and many faces bore an anxious expression. The good 
and bad deeds of their lives came before them in swift 
review, for they realized that at the next moment they 
might be standing before their Maker. Yet there were 
no signs of flinching. They had been looking forward 
to this fight for months. They had speculated on 
its chances and counted on its costs, and were now 
with minds made up, with set faces and with tense 
nerves deliberately advancing to the great struggle. 
In the cockpit were Surgeon Lansdale and Assistant- 
Surgeon Commons and their aids, with their instru- 
ments spread out for the first victim. As their bloody 
task had not yet begun, they held their watches in 
their hands, to time the different periods of the battle. 
To them, ignorant of everything going on above, each 
minute seemed an hour. 

At the wheel, under the break of the poop-deck, 
snugly barricaded up to their chins with canvas, were 
the veteran seamen McFarland, Wood and Jassin, 


who had been in every engagement of the ship, and on 
their coolness in a great measure depended its safety. 
Grasping the spokes of the wheel with a determined 
clutch, they had ears alone for the captain. On the 
quarter-deck was the commanding figure of Captain 
Drayton, surrounded by his staff officers, Lieutenant 
J. C. Watson, Lieutenant Arthur Reid Yates, whose 
duty was to keep a watch on Farragut and convey his 
orders to all parts of the ship, Secretary McKinley, who 
was busily engaged in taking notes of the battle, and 
Acting-Ensign Henry Howard Brownell. Close to them 
was the Signal-Quartermaster Knowles, who had hoisted 
more than one signal that led to victory. Farragut 
himself had taken a position in the port main shrouds 
on the upper sheer ratline, twenty five feet up, so as to 
command a better view of the battle and at the same 
time be within easy speaking distance of Jouett, who 
had stationed himself on the wheelhouse of the Meta- 
comet. Above Farragut in the top was Martin Free- 
man, the pilot, within easy reach of the admiral. 

There they stood the boy graduate from the acade- 
my beside the weather-beaten tar who had seen service 
in all quarters of the globe, the youthful marine officer 
beside the scarred veteran of a dozen actions, each 
placing implicit confidence in the other, for they well 
knew that a master mind was guiding them. Truly, 
the morale of the ship was superb ! 

At 6.47 A. M., the Tecumseh, being well in the lead 
of the monitors, fired the first two guns of the battle, 
and one of the shells was seen to explode over Fort 
Morgan. This afforded a welcome relief to the dread- 
ful suspense. But she did not repeat this, nor did the 
Union ships or Fort Morgan follow her example, for all 
were anxious to get to close quarters before firing in 
earnest. Fort Morgan maintained its silence so long 
that finally it was thought that the Confederates were 
waiting for the fleet to run into some snare ; but in this 
they were mistaken, for at 7.06 A. M. a puff of white 


' 3 L^ri 8 ^ N '' j *3Ietacomet \ 

/ T YU.-M 'iif V 

i *w / (! ,/l 


\ Pbrt Koyal 


AdmiraVl barge Level 

15. Kennebec 
1. OuApee 

17. Itatca 

18. Ontida 

19. Galena 




1864. THE BATTLE BEGINS. 4.^3 

smoke and a long tongue of flame leaped from the 
parapets, followed a few seconds later by a distant 
boom, and a heavy shell splashed the water near the 
Brooklyn. Another and yet another puff of smoke 
curled up from the parapets, and shot began to fall 
unpleasantly near the ships. 

It was intended that the monitors should take the 
lead and draw the first fire of Fort Morgan, but owing 
to their low speed they were gradually overhauled by 
the wooden ships, and it was not long before the 
Brooklyn began to double on the quarter of the rear 
monitor. About 7.10 A. M. the Brooklyn opened with 
her bow guns, and the other ships followed her exam- 
ple as soon as their forward guns bore. Ten minutes 
later the enemy's gunboats and the ram Tennessee 
moved out from their position behind Fort Morgan, 
and, crossing the channel, took a position within the 
line of torpedoes and opened a raking fire on the ad- 
vancing wooden ships, paying particular attention to 
the Hartford. This fire became more and more de- 
structive as the fleet drew near, for at first the Confeder- 
ates aimed high, and one of their shot struck the fore- 
mast of the Hartford, and soon afterward a 120-pound 
shot lodged in the main topmast, throwing a cloud of 
splinters over the ship. But they soon got a better 
range, and splinters, some veritably logs of wood, be- 
gan to fly around the decks by the cord. The gunboat 
Selma, particularly, was handled with great skill and 
coolness. Before going into action her men were sent 
to breakfast, and several shot had been fired by the 
Union fleet before they were sent to their stations. 

In the Hartford the order to go ahead "Slowly, 
slowly," and to elevate the guns for fourteen hun- 
dred yards, was passed along the deck, but it was 
fully five minutes after Fort Morgan opened before the 
flagship returned the fire. Finally, when the ship 
was in easy range, a bow gun was carefully trained 
and fired, and as she drew nearer to the fort some of 


the other forward guns were brought into action. When 
abreast of the enemy the HartfordSs formidable broad- 
side was in full play. But aside from the booming of 
heavy ordnance, the only sounds that could be heard 
aboard were the quiet orders, "Steady, boys, steady! 
Left tackle a little so, so," and then a murderous 
broadside would leap from the black side of the flag- 
ship, driving the Confederate gunners from their water 
batteries ; but they returned to their guns whenever an 
opportunity was afforded, like the brave fellows they 
were. As the National ships advanced head-on toward 
the enemy they presented an excellent target, for if the 
Confederates missed one vessel they were almost sure 
to rake the one next to it. A shell from their gunboats 
struck the Metacomefs hawse pipe, knocked a piece of 
the pipe upon deck and cut off a man's head. The shell 
then was deflected into the yeoman's storeroom, and 
bursting among the oils, paints and turpentine, set the 
room in a flame. Observing the danger, Ensign George 
E. Wing, who commanded the powder division, with 
his men rushed into the room and fought the flames 
with wet blankets and hammocks. Finally he called 
out, "Batten down the hatches, and leave us to fight 
it out." After a fierce struggle the fire was extin- 
guished. When the heroic men came out of the hatch 
their clothing was scorched, and their faces were black 
with the smoke. 

The terrific cannonading deadened the light breeze, 
and as the smoke of battle collected around the ships 
the gunners in the fort were unable to see them dis- 
tinctly. As the smoke gradually rose higher and 
higher, Farragut, almost unconsciously, climbed up 
the rigging, a ratline at a time, until at last he found 
himself partly above the futtock bands and clinging 
to the futtock shrouds. Here he had free use of both 
hands, either for holding his spyglass or for any other 
purpose. Once or twice he reached through the lubber 
hole and touched the pilot's foot in order to attract his 


attention, for the roar of battle drowned his voice. In 
the earlier part of the battle Captain Drayton, who had 
been keeping a watchful eye on the admiral, fearing 
that some damage to the rigging might cause him to 
fall overboard, ordered Knowles to ascend the rigging 
and secure him to the shrouds. "I went up," said 
Knowles, "with a piece of lead-line and made it fast 
to one of the forward shrouds, and then took it around 
the admiral to the after shroud, making it fast there. 
The admiral said, 'Never mind, I am all right,' but I 
went ahead and obeyed orders." * When the smoke 
of battle compelled Farragut to ascend higher in the 
rigging in order to get a better view of what was going 
on, he unfastened the lashings with his own hands, and 
as he reached the futtock shrouds he passed the line 
two or three times around himself and fastened the 
end to the rigging. 

"About this time," wrote Acting-Ensign Joseph 
Marthon, who was in charge of the howitzer in the 
Hartford's maintop, only a few feet above the admiral, 
"my attention was called to the admiral's position by 
his nailing the top in a low tone of voice, asking * where 
this water was coming from.' Upon looking about, I 
found that the water-breaker placed in the hole of a 
coil of rigging I was sitting on had been capsized by 
a piece of shell knocking a hole in the top, and the 
water was running down on the admiral's head. I in- 
formed him of the fact, and he replied, 'I noticed it 
is not salt,'" 2 

Farragut at 7.15 A. M. signaled for closer order, 
which was gallantly obeyed, each vessel closing up 
within a few yards of the one ahead, so that by 7.20 
A. M. the larger vessels had their broadsides playing on 
the fort with great effect, while the monitors, with the 
exception of the Tecumseh, ran under the guns of the 

1 Loyall Farragut's Life of Admiral Farragut, p. 415. 
s Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. iv, p. 407. 


fort and delivered terrific blows with their enormous 
guns. The Tecumseh, after firing the first two shot at 
the fort, as just narrated, reloaded with sixty pounds 
of powder (the heaviest charge at that time used, al- 
though one hundred pounds afterward were fired in 
each gun) and steel shot, and, with a view of singling 
out the Tennessee and giving battle to her, Commander 
Craven steamed ahead as fast as the foul bottom of the 
monitor would allow, paying no attention to the fort, 
intent only on meeting the huge rain. Farragut wrote : 
" I believe that the Tecumseh would have gone up and 
grappled with and captured the Tennessee. Craven's 
heart was bent upon it." * In order that he might better 
direct the movements of his craft, he had stationed him- 
self in the pilot-house beside the pilot, John Collins. 
Collins was the Metacomeffs pilot, but Jouett gave him 
to Craven, as he hoped to see the two ironclads meet 
on equal terms. When they arrived at the red buoy 
marking the termination of the triple line of torpedoes, 
he turned abruptly to the pilot and said : "It can not 
be possible that the admiral means to have us go inside 
that buoy ; I can not turn my ship there." At this 
moment the ram moved from her position on the east 
of the buoy and shaped her course to the west. Com- 
mander Craven, who had been eagerly watching every 
motion of the ram, observed this change of position, 
and, fearing that Buchanan might be retreating and 
thus deprive the Tecumseh of the opportunity of at- 
tacking him first, he ordered his helm to starboard and 
moved directly for the Tennessee, regardless of the fact 
that his vessel was running into the line of torpedoes. 

It appears that Admiral Buchanan also had posted 
his flagship with a view of engaging the Tecumseh. 
His vessel had been anchored behind a long tongue of 
land on the extremity of which Fort Morgan was situ- 
ated, and when the National ships were observed ad- 

1 Mahan's Life of Farragut, p. 273. 


vancing in battle array he gave the signal to prepare 
for action. His men hurriedly took their coffee and 
hastened to their quarters on the narrow gun-deck of 
the ram, which, surrounded by the massive walls of 
oak, pine and iron, and covered by bars of iron, ap- 
peared more like a dungeon than a ship's deck. Ad- 
miral Buchanan called his crew aft, and, as the rays of 
the sun poured through the iron grating and slowly 
threw its checkered light over the men and decks filled 
with the dreadful paraphernalia of war, he addressed 
them as follows: "Now, men, the enemy is coming, 
and I want you to do your duty ; and you shall not 
have it to say when you leave this vessel that you were 
not near enough to the enemy, for I will mee.t them, 
and then you can fight them alongside of their own 
ships ; and if I fall, lay me on one side and go on with 
the fight, and never mind me, but whip and sink the 
Yankees or fight until you sink yourselves, but do not 

Buchanan then stationed himself in the Tennessee's 
pilot-house, and, like a gladiator warily approaching 
his opponent, fixed his eye on the ominous black tur- 
ret of the Tecumseh, that, revolving on the mailed raft 
propelled by an unseen power and with scarcely per- 
ceptible motion, was every moment creeping closer upon 
him. For the time there seemed to be a lull in the roar 
of battle, as those whose view was- not obstructed by 
the smoke instinctively turned their eyes to these cham- 
pions of the two new types of war vessel approaching 
to grapple in a deadly struggle. Determined to have 
the contest at the closest quarters, Buchanan, scarcely 
taking his eyes off the black wall of the monitor, 
scanned the riveting of the iron plates with the closest 
scrutiny. The craft were now so near that he could 
almost see the whites of the pilot's eyes in the monitor 
gleaming out at him through the massive bars that 
protected the sight-holes of the pilot-house. Buchanan 
now sent the order through Captain Johnston to Lieu- 



tenant Wharton, who was in charge of the forward 
division of guns, "Not to fire until the vessels are in 
actual contact." "Ay, ay, sir," responded the Con- 
federate lieutenant. Wharton had been in all the des- 
perate engagements between the Arkansas and the 
National fleet, and was a cool and determined officer. 
A few minutes later the ironclads had approached so 
near that he instinctively tightened the lock-string of 
the bow gun, which had been carefully trained on the 
Tecumseh. But when the ships were less than a hun- 
dred yards apart there was a sudden muffled explosion, 
like the distant boom of a cannon, and at the same 
instant a great column of water sprang up from the 
bay alongside of the Tecumseh, leaving a chasm. The 
ironclad gave a deep lurch to port, a heavy roll to star- 
board and then her bow sank out of sight. Her stern 
rose bodily out of the water, and the screw, relieved of 
resistance, whirled with tremendous rapidity in the air. 
One or more torpedoes had exploded under her. The 
next instant, or in thirty seconds from the time the 
explosion occurred, the doomed ironclad, with her 
colors still flying, plunged bow-foremost to the bottom 
of the channel, carrying down with her ninety-three 
men out of a crew of one hundred and fourteen. Only 
the day before Craven had been warned of the torpe- 
does, but he replied, "I don't care a pinch of snuff for 
them ! " 

In the midst of this scene of horror one of those 
acts of heroism which furnish the brightest pages of 
naval history stood out with all the brilliancy of a 
great soul. When it was seen that the Tecumseh was 
going down, Commander Craven and the pilot instinc- 
tively made for the opening, through which only one 
man at a time could pass, leading out of the pilot- 
house, into the turret chamber below. Both men ar- 
rived at the opening at the same time. A delay of a 
few seconds meant death for both. With the greatness 
of soul that might be expected of a descendant of 


Captain Thomas Tingey, of the Revolution, Commander 
Craven drew back and quietly said to Collins, " You 
first, sir." "There was nothing after me," said the 
pilot, "for when I reached the last round of the ladder 
the vessel seemed to drop from under me." 1 When 
divers went down to examine the wreck of the Tecum- 
sek, a week afterward, nearly all her officers and men 
were found at their posts. On the night before the 
battle Chief -Engineer John Faron (who, although an 
invalid, left his bed at Pensacola to participate in the 
fight) had received a letter from his young wife in New 
York. When found by the divers he stood with one 
hand on the revolving bar of the turret engine, and 
in the other hand he grasped the letter, which his 
sightless eyes seemed to be reading. 

Farragut, who from his elevated position in the main 
shrouds of the Hartford had seen the disaster, immedi- 
ately hailed Jouett, who was on the starboard wheel- 

1 Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven, a grandson of Captain Thomas 
Tingey, of the United States navy, was born in Portsmouth, N. H., Janu- 
ary 11, 1813. He entered the navy as a midshipman in February, 1829, 
and went through the usual course. In 1841 he was made a lieutenant, 
and served in the Falmouth until 1843, when he was transferred to the 
North Carolina. As a lieutenant in the Dale he performed gallant service 
in the cruise of that vessel in the Gulf of California during the Mexi- 
can War. He returned to the Atlantic seaboard in 1849, and commanded 
various vessels engaged in the coast survey. In 1857 he commanded the 
Atrato in the surveying expedition at the Isthmus of Darien. While in 
command of the Mohawk, off Cuba, he captured a brig having on board 
five hundred slaves. He received a gold medal from the Queen of Spain 
for saving the crew of a Spanish merchant vessel, and about the same time 
the New York Board of Underwriters gave Mrs. Craven a silver service of 
plate for the protection her husband had afforded to merchantmen on the 
high seas. While in command of the Crusader, at the outbreak of the 
civil war, he was instrumental in preserving the fortress at Key West to 
the National cause. In April, 1861, he was made a commander, and cruised 
for Confederate commerce-destroyers. He blockaded the Sumter at Gibral- 
tar for two months, so that her officers and crew deserted her. Return- 
ing home from this service, he was placed in command of the monitor 
Tecumseh and was ordered to join the James River flotilla, but a few 
months afterward he was attached to the Gulf squadron under Farragut. 


house of the Metacomet^ and asked him if he could 
spare a boat for the survivors ; but Jouett had already 
sent a boat, in charge of Acting-Ensign Henry C. 
Neilds, of the Volunteer Corps, to the scene of the dis- 
aster. Notwithstanding the fact that the boat was ex- 
posed "to one of the most galling fires I ever saw," 1 
Mr. Neilds, starting from the port quarter of the Meta- 
comet, pulled under the Hartford's stern and across the 
Brooklyn's bow within a hundred yards of Fort Mor- 
gan, where, observing the boat and surmising her mis- 
sion, General Page gave the order "Don't fire on that 
boat ; she is saving drowning men. " In the haste of 
getting under way Mr. Neilds forgot to hoist his colors, 
and as he was passing the Hartford's broadside an offi- 
cer who commanded the forecastle division of guns in 
the flagship, observing "the boat without a flag and 
knowing nothing of its object, but having torpedoes 
uppermost in his mind, connected its presence with 
them, trained one of his 100- pounders upon it, and was 
about to pull the lock-string, when one of the ship's 
company caught his arm, saying, 'For God's sake, 
don't fire ! it's one of our own boats ! '" Unconscious 
of the narrow escape he had had at the hands of his 
friends, young Neilds soon afterward was hailed by 
some one and told that his colors were not flying, and 
stooping down he hoisted them before the eyes of the 
fleet and the men in the fort. " I can scarcely describe 
how I felt at witnessing this most gallant act," said one 
of the Tennessee's officers. "The muzzle of our gun 
was slowly raised, and the bolt intended for the Te- 
cumseh flew harmlessly over the heads of that glorious 
boat's crew far down the line of our foes." 

Reaching the spot where the TecumseJi had sunk, 
Mr. Neilds picked up an officer, eight men and the 
pilot, and after placing them aboard the Winnelago 
he pulled to the Oneida, in which ship he remained 

Farragut. s Mahan's Gulf and Inland Waters, p. 234. 


as signal officer until the fleet passed the fort. Four 
of the survivors swam to the beach and were made pris- 
oners by the garrison of the fort. When the men in 
the fort saw the fate of the Tecumseh they cheered, 
but General Page promptly checked them, and told 
them to sink the Hartford first and then cheer. Owing 
to the smoke and confusion of battle few of the men 
in the fleet realized the appalling nature of the catas- 
trophe, and, the report having started that the Tecum- 
seh had sunk the Tennessee, many of the crews gave 
cheers, which were taken up by one ship after another 
until nearly the whole fleet joined in a mistaken shout 
of joy. 

Commander Thomas Holdup Stevens, speaking of 
this incident, said : " As I was walking to the after 
turret of the Winnebago, and when about midway be- 
tween the two turrets, I was startled by a series of loud 
cheers and yells coming from all directions seemingly, 
and looking forward to discover the cause, I saw, to my 
consternation, the Tecumseh going down bow foremost, 
with the propeller of the ill fated vessel revolving rap- 
idly in the air. For a moment I was stunned by the 
appalling disaster, whose effects were immediately ob- 
served in the changed condition of the situation, in the 
feeble fire of the wooden ships, which but now were 
belching forth broadsides of destructive missiles, and 
in the sudden increase of the vigorous and pitiless fire 
from the fort, the ram and the Confederate gunboats 
upon our wooden ships." 

About the time of the terrible fate of the Tecum- 
seh torpedoes were reported almost under the bow of 
the Brooklyn, and Captain Alden immediately ordered 
his army signal officers to report to the flagship : " The 
monitors are right ahead ; we cannot go on without 
passing them." Observing that the Brooklyn was sig- 
naling, Farragut ordered his army signal officers to 
come on deck. Lieutenant Kinney obeyed, and, run- 
ning to the forecastle, took the Brooklyn's message. 


Farragut promptly replied, " Order the monitors ahead 
and go on," but the engines of the Brooklyn and the 
Octorara had been reversed, as Captain Alden feared a 
repetition of the Tecumsefts disaster. As these two 
vessels backed down their bows swung round so 
that they lay directly across the channel, exposed to a 
raking fire from the fort and completely blocking the 
progress of the other vessels. As a matter of fact the 
people in the Brooklyn did not see torpedoes at all, 
but simply shell boxes, which they mistook for tor- 
pedo buoys. The Confederate gunboats "fired very 
rapidly, and as they used shells the empty shell boxes 
were thrown overboard, consequently they were in line 
across the channel." 1 

In order to prevent a collision, the Hartford and 
her consort, the Metacomet, which were the next in line, 
reversed their engines also, but before they could come 
to a standstill their momentum and the flood tide had 
carried their bows so near the Brooklyn's stern that a 
collision seemed inevitable. To make matters worse, 
the Richmond and the Port Royal were following close 
in the flagship's wake, and for a time it looked as if the 
fleet was doomed to disaster. The broadsides of the 
heavy ships were now out of range, and, relieved of 
their fire, the Confederates in Fort Morgan returned to 
their guns and opened a terrific cannonade. At this 
moment, says an eye-witness, "the whole fort seemed 
to be enveloped in flame. Looking aloft from the deck 
of the Winnebago while the hulls of our ships were 
obscured by the smoke of battle, I could distinctly see, 
by the flags flying from the different vessels, the con- 
fusion in the order of the fleet, which seemed to be all 
tangled up, as was in reality the fact, and but for 
Farragut's genius for war, which enabled him at once 
to grasp the situation and apply the remedy, the most 
complete and crushing disaster would have followed. 

1 Rear-Admiral Jouett to the author. 


This crisis grew out of the hapless disaster to the Tecum- 
seh, which was thus far-reaching in its effects." 

At this critical period of the battle the National 
vessels suffered their heaviest losses. Believing that 
the leading ship, the Brooklyn, was the Hartford, the 
Confederate gunners in the fort concentrated their fire 
on her, and before the battle was over she was struck 
seventy times. Besides this, the ships were subjected 
to a fearful raking fire from the Confederate gunboats, 
the greatest carnage occurring aboard the Hartford. 
One man had both legs carried away, and, as he threw 
up his hands in agony, another shot took off both his 
arms ; yet he survived his injuries. Another man was 
killed while climbing up the ladder from the berth 
deck. In falling, his body struck Wilson Brown, a 
sailor who w r as stationed at the shell whip, or davit for 
hoisting shells on the berth deck. Brown was knocked 
into the hold, where he lay senseless some minutes, but 
on recovering consciousness he returned to his post. 
The men at the shell whips were twice scattered by 
bursting shells. A shot crashed through the bulwarks 
and swept away all the men that were stationed on that 
side of one of the guns, and about the same time a 
shot came through the bow and took off the head of 
a gunner at one of the forward guns. The foremast was 
twice struck, once slightly, and again by a shell from 
the Selma that came tumbling end over end and buried 
itself butt end first in the heel of the topmast, just at 
the doubling of the mast. Had the shot struck point 
on and so exploded, or had it struck the spar at any 
other place, the entire mast would have been carried 

During the time the fleet was in effective range of 
Fort Morgan, which was about an hour, the fort fired 
four hundred and ninety-one shot, or an average of 
about eight a minute. But there were times when they 
fired with much greater rapidity, and, adding the fire 
of the Confederate gunboats, it will be seen that the 


National ships were literally in a storm of shot, princi- 
pally directed against the Brooklyn and the Hartford. 

While Lieutenant Tyson was commanding a for- 
ward division of guns, a shell exploded between two 
of the guns and killed or wounded fifteen men. The 
decks of the Hartford soon presented a horrible spec- 
tacle. The planks were slippery with blood, which 
ran into the scuppers in a sluggish stream, while frag- 
ments of the human body, tufts of hair, shreds of 
clothing and splashes of blood adhered to the bul- 
warks, masts and other parts of the ship. As fast as 
the men were struck the bodies of those still living 
were hurried to the cockpit to undergo the knife or 
bandage treatment, as their condition demanded, while 
those killed outright were laid in a long row on the 
port side. The sight of these bodies was not calculated 
to raise the spirits of the survivors, and they were 
mercifully concealed from view by a canvas covering. 

While the leading wooden ships were thus en- 
tangled and unable to bring their broadsides into play, 
the remaining monitors were handled with conspicuous 
gallantry. They ran close up to the fort and kept up 
a heavy fire of grape and canister, which acted as a 
partial check on the enemy's gunners and prevented a 
more serious loss of life in the wooden ships. The 
Winnebago was so near the fort that a stone's throw 
would have measured the distance, and at intervals 
above the roar of battle could be distinctly heard the 
officers in the fort directing the fire of the batteries. 
The monitors were repeatedly struck by the heaviest 
shot, and were damaged to a considerable extent. The 
temporary house built on the deck of the Winnebago 
abaft the after turret, for the messing and sleeping 
quarters of the officers was riddled with shot, all the 
boats except one were destroyed, and the davits were 
saved only by having been unshipped and stowed 
away. Her after turret became so jammed that it 
could not be turned, and the gunners could fire only 


when the vessel was headed in the right direction. 
One of the Manhattan's 15-inch guns was disabled 
by a piece of iron falling into the vent. The CJiick- 
asaitfs smokestack was pierced through and through, 
which so affected the draft that her steam went down ; 
but this was partially remedied by throwing tallow and 
coal-tar on the fire. The Winnebago was struck nine- 
teen times, three of the shot penetrating her deck. 

At this stage of the action Commander Stevens, 
whose father had taken a gallant part in the battle of 
Lake Erie in 1813, especially aroused the admiration of 
the officers of the flagship and other vessels of the fleet 
by the cool deliberation with which he walked back 
and forth from one turret to another, exposed to the 
enemy's fire on the deck of the Winnebago. "About 
7.30 A. M., while on deck directing the fire of our guns," 
wrote Rear- Admiral Stevens to the author, "and watch- 
ing the course steered by the pilot of the Winnebago, 
who was in the pilot-house, I became uneasy lest he 
might get too close to the sand point making off south- 
west from the sea face of Fort Morgan, and went from 
the after to the forward turret of the vessel to direct 
him to give the point a little wider berth. By the 
time we were abreast of Fort Morgan we were pouring 
grape and canister, while the sabots from the projec- 
tiles of our heavy vessels, which were firing over us, 
were falling freely upon our decks." 

The view of the battle obtained from the tops of the 
National vessels was one of appalling grandeur. To 
windward the fleet and harbor were spread out in a 
beautiful panorama, the crews being distinctly seen 
firing and reloading their guns, while officers stood at 
the back of their men to see that there was no flinch- 
ing, and others ran to and fro shouting orders in their 
endeavors to prevent a collision. To leeward dense 
volumes of smoke, illuminated by rapid flashes of guns, 
partly obstructed the vision, but in the occasional 
rifts a tall mast with men in the rigging and with 


Old Glory still flying in the breeze would be revealed. 
Above all rose the dreadful roar of the tremendous 
cannonading, whose sharp impact upon the ear, giving 
the peculiar sound of shotted guns, seemed to come 
from all quarters with deafening rapidity, while the 
ships and their masts quivered like aspens from the 
recoil of their murderous broadsides. A glance below 
on the deck of the Hartford revealed the men in their 
different capacities, some loading and aiming the guns, 
some bringing up ammunition, and others carrying 
down the wounded, but all stimulated to their utmost 
exertions by the ever-vigilant officers. Most of the 
men were stripped to the waist, many of them smeared 
with the blood of shipmates whom they had carried 
below. Others, although wounded, refused to go be- 
low, and remained on deck fighting. What a pan- 
demonium ! What a hell upon earth ! ! Shot, shell, 
grape, shrapnel and canister. How they shriek ! how 
the men fight! dragging dead or wounded shipmates 
away, so as not to encumber the guns. Bloody and 
blackened with burned powder, the perspiration run- 
ning down their bodies revealing streaks of white skin, 
causes them to look like fiends. The sight of their 
fallen shipmates arouses the brutish thirst for venge- 
ance, and they load and tire with muttered impreca- 
tions on the enemy. Their officers walk among them, 
with "Steady, boys ! " " Take your time ! " "Be sure 
of your aim ! " " Let each shot tell ! " In the midst of 
all this uproar stand Drayton and his executive officer, 
Kimberly, the latter smiling and twirling his goatee, 
both as cool as if " twa a daily drill." It was in refer- 
ence to the heroism of the crew that Brownell wrote : 

But ah, the pluck of the crew ! 
Had you stood on that deck of ours 
You had seen what men may do. 

The position of the Brooklyn made it impossible 
for the Hartford to take the lead, and when Far- 

1864. "DAMN THE TORPEDOES!" 427 

ragut saw that Captain Alden did not go ahead he 
said to his pilot, " What is the matter with the 
Brooklyn f She must have plenty of water there." 
"Plenty, and to spare, Admiral," replied the pilot. 
The next moment the Brooklyn was signaled, "What's 
the trouble?" "Torpedoes," was the reply. This was 
the critical moment of the battle. There was no time 
for counsel. The ships were fast drifting on the line 
of torpedoes, and were in imminent danger of sink- 
ing each other. Whether the fleet was to suffer an 
inglorious defeat or win a great victory depended upon 
the next order of Admiral Farragut. The tremen- 
dous cheering and renewed firing of the Confederates 
showed that they regarded the victory as theirs. 
Again the message came from the Brooklyn, "Tell 
the admiral that there is a heavy line of torpedoes 
ahead." Taking in the situation at a glance, Farra- 
gut shouted: "Damn the torpedoes! damn the torpe- 
does ! ! * Go ahead, Captain Drayton ! Four bells ! ! " 
The Metacomet then backed at full speed until the 
Hartford was twisted clear of the Brooklyn, when 
Jouett asked if he should go ahead. The Hartford's 
pilot answered with a nod, and held up four fingers, 
meaning four bells (full speed), for the roar of battle 
rendered speaking at that distance difficult, and the 
Hartford cleared the Brooklyn and took the lead. 

" The effect of this order," wrote Rear- Admiral 
Stevens, "was magical in restoring the line of battle. 
Order grew out of chaos, men sprang to their guns 
with renewed vigor, again the air was tilled with burst- 
ing shells and the roar of guns from the Union fleet." 
The position of the Brooklyn rendered it impossible 
for the Hartford to take the lead without passing to 
the west of the red buoy or directly across the fatal 
line of torpedoes which but a few seconds before had 

1 " The only approach to an oath I ever heard him utter." Rear- 
Admiral Jouett. 


sunk the Tecumseh. Farragut's order was one of the 
boldest and most courageous in naval history. Many 
eyes watched the result with painful anxiety. Every 
moment they expected to see the masts of the Hartford 
thrown into the air, her hull rent into fragments, and 
her crew and daring commander blown to atoms. But 
on went the flagship, without delay or hesitation, 
toward the fatal torpedoes. An almost unbroken si- 
lence pervaded her decks as the officers and men, in 
grim silence, stood in momentary expectation of being 
blown into eternity. The frigate soon reached the fatal 
line. Her bow began to pass over the torpedoes. The 
men in the magazines, away down in the bottom of the 
ship, heard strange objects grating along her hull as 
she continued steadily on her course. But fortunately 
none of the machines exploded, and as the grand ship 
of war passed beyond the fatal line in safety the spec- 
tators realized that one of the most daring feats in the 
naval history of the world had been accomplished. 

A Confederate officer who was stationed in the 
water-battery at Fort Morgan says: "The manoeuvring 
of the vessels at this critical juncture was a magnificent 
sight. At first the ships appeared to be in inextricable 
confusion, and at the mercy of the guns. But when 
the Hartford dashed forward they realized that a grand 
tactical movement had been accomplished." ''Farra- 
gut's coolness and quick perception," said General Page, 
" saved the Union fleet from a great disaster, and prob- 
ably from destruction." 

As the Hartford thus took the lead she passed 
about two hundred yards ahead of the Tennessee, 
which was waiting for an opportunity to ram. Lieu- 
tenant Wharton, of the Tennessee, had loaded the 
forward 7-inch rifled gun with a percussion shell, be- 
lieving, and with good reason, that it would sink the 
flagship under the guns of the fort. This done, the 
destruction of the remainder of the fleet seemed to be 
assured. Lieutenant Wharton writes: "I took the 


lock- string from the captain of the gnn myself, took a 
long, deliberate aim, and gave the command : ' Raise ! ' 
' Steady ! ' * Raise ! ' * Little more ! ' ' Ready ! ' ' Fire ! ' 
I was as confident that our shell would tear a hole in 
the Hartford' 1 s side big enough to sink her in a few 
minutes as I was that I had fired it. It did tear the 
hole expected, but it was above the water line. I have 
often speculated since upon the effect of not having 
raised the breech of our bow gun, and thus caused that 
shell to ricochet before striking the Hartford. I wish 
I had let the captain of the gun fire the piece himself." 
Buchanan endeavored to ram the Hartford and sink 
her, as he had sunk the Cumberland at Hampton Roads, 
but Farragut avoided this by turning to one side, and 
continued up the channel. 

When the Hartford passed the line of torpedoes 
and thus took the lead of the column, she left the 
Brooklyn and her consort, the Octorara, lying with 
their bows toward Fort Morgan, receiving a tremen- 
dous raking fire. The Richmond and her consort, the 
Port Royal, which were close behind, were carried 
rapidly forward by the flood tide, and a collision 
seemed inevitable. Knowing that if the four vessels 
became entangled in the narrow channel or, worse yet, 
if one or more of them were sunk it would prevent 
the other vessels of the fleet from passing up the bay 
to the aid of their flagship, Captain Jenkins gave the 
order for the Richmond and her consort to back. He, 
like the other Union commanders who had seen the 
Hartford pass above the fort, was extremely anxious 
for the admiral's safety, as the smoke of battle made 
it impossible to see all that was occurring above the 
line of torpedoes. He only knew that the terrible ram 
and her three consorts were lying in readiness to at- 
tack the first vessel that passed the fort, and that the 
Hartford and Metacomet were quite alone to contend 
with the enemy's naval force. This fact seems to have 
been uppermost in the minds of the Union officers at 


this period of the battle, and they exerted themselves 
to the utmost to get once more within supporting dis- 
tance of their famous leader. In backing, the Rich- 
mond's bow fell off to port and enabled her gunners 
to open such an effective tire from the starboard bat- 
teries, at a distance of two hundred and fifty yards, that 
the Confederates were again driven from their water- 
battery. The Richmond had her topmasts down, and 
so rapid was her fire at this moment that she was com- 
pletely enveloped in smoke. Admiral Buchanan, of 
the Tennessee, who was well acquainted with Captain 
Jenkins (having had him as a midshipman before the 
war, and again as his first lieutenant during the Mexi- 
can War), lost sight of the Richmond, owing to this 
circumstance, and after the battle he asked: "What 
became of Jenkins ? I saw his vessel go handsomely 
into action and then lost sight of her entirely." 1 The 
Brooklyn was less fortunate in being concealed from 
the enemy, for her tall masts, which had not been low- 
ered before the action, enabled the Confederate gun- 
ners to aim at her with considerable accuracy, and all 
this time she lay bow-on, receiving a dreadful raking 
fire from the fort. 

The situation of the Union vessels, entangled off 
Fort Morgan, was rendered more critical by the shoal 
water ; and while the frequent backing and running 
ahead were going on, Captain Jenkins at one time was 
compelled to navigate his ship with less than afoot of 
water under his keel. Farragut's adage that " the 
safest way to prevent injury from an enemy is to strike 
hard yourself " was never better illustrated than in this 
battle. He had given orders for the vessels to run close 
to Fort Morgan, and to use plenty of grape and shrap- 
nel, and it was this terrible storm of iron and the dense 
volume of smoke from the cannonading that discom- 
fited and blinded the Confederate gunners. Finally, 

1 Mahan's Gulf and Inland Waters, p. 235. 


after great risks of collision, the Richmond and her 
consort were extricated from their perilous position and 
once again were steaming up the channel, with the 
Brooklyn and the rest of the wooden ships close be- 
hind. In this manner the head of the column passed 
the fort, and with the aid of the monitors kept up such 
a terrific fire that the enemy was scarcely able to reply. 

But as the heavier ships passed up the bay and out 
of range, the smaller vessels in the rear of the line 
were severely punished by the guns of the fort. One 
7-inch shell passed through the OneidcCs chain armor 
and pierced her boiler, the escaping steam injuring 
thirteen men. For a moment one of the gun-crews 
wavered, but Commander Mullany cried out, "Back 
to your quarters, men ! " and they returned to their 
stations. Another 7-inch shell exploded in her cabin 
and severed the wheel-ropes, and about the same time 
one of her 11 -inch bow guns and an 8-inch gun were 
disabled. Her consort, the Galena, was uninjured, and 
succeeded in carrying the disabled Oneida past the fort. 

At this stage of the action the Tennessee, having 
missed the Hartford and the Metacomet, was observed 
coming down the channel to attack the remaining ves- 
sels. " As she approached," wrote Captain Jenkins, of 
the Richmond, " every one in the Richmond supposed 
that she would ram the Brooklyn ; that, we thought, 
would be our opportunity, for if she struck the Brook- 
lyn the concussion would throw her port side across 
our path, and, being so near to us, she would not have 
time to straighten up, and we would strike her fairly 
and squarely, and most likely sink her. The guns were 
loaded with solid shot and with the heaviest charges of 
powder ; the forecastle gun crew was ordered to get its 
small arms and fire into her gun ports ; and, as previ- 
ously determined, if we came into collision at any time, 
orders were given to throw gun charges of powder and 
bags from the fore and main yardarms down her smoke- 
stack. To our great surprise, she sheered off from the 


Brooklyn, and at about a hundred yards put two shot 
or shells through and through the Brooklyn's side, 
doing much damage." 1 

After passing the Brooklyn, as just described, the 
ram made for the Richmond and the Port Royal. 
Captain Jenkins had his broadside ready and fired at 
short range, producing no more effect upon the mailed 
side of the ram, however, than so many pebbles. As 
the ram passed the starboard side of the Richmond 
Buchanan fired two shot, but owing to the lively mus- 
ketry fire played into his ports the gunners missed \ 
their aim. One of the shot passed uncomfortably close 
to Lieutenant Terry's head, and the other passed just 
under the feet of the pilot and cut a ratline in the 
port main shrouds. The Richmond fired three full and 
well-aimed broadsides of 9-inch solid shot, each broad- 
side consisting of eleven guns, but without any ap- 
parent effect upon the ram. Like the flagship, the 
Richmond was compelled to cross the line of torpedoes, 
and the men in the Richmond also heard the torpedoes 
scraping along the hull of their vessel. 

As Buchanan approached the next brace of ships in 
the column, the Laclcawanna and the Seminole, he 
suddenly made a sheer as if to ram the former, but 
owing to her imperfect machinery the Tennessee could 
not execute the manoeuvre in time, and only succeeded 
in placing herself athwart the course of the Union 
ships. This gave the Monongahela (which had been 
provided with an artificial iron prow), the ship directly 
behind the Lackawanna, an admirable chance for ram- 
ming, and Commander Strong put his helm to port and 
then sheered around so as to strike the ram at right 
angles. For a moment it seemed as if he would be suc- 
cessful, but the Kennebec, which was lashed alongside, 
prevented him from getting full speed, and he merely 
struck the ram a glancing blow on the port quarter, at 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. iv, p. 393. 


the same time pouring in a broadside of solid 11-inch 
shot, which, like the others, glanced harmlessly off the 
mailed side of the ram. 

This blow had the effect of throwing the Tennessee's 
stern around so that she was again heading straight 
down the channel, but on the port side of the Union 
column. She rasped along the port side of the Ken- 
nebec, scraping the planking and leaving one of her 
boats and an iron davit clinging to the Kennebec as 
a memento of their meeting. A shell from the ram no\v 
exploded on the berth deck of the Kennebcc, wound- 
ing an officer and four men. About this time First- 
Lieutenant Roderick Prentiss, of the Monongahela, 
was mortally wounded, both of his legs being taken off. 
At the moment of the collision with the Monongahela 
the Kennebec 's cutwater passed through the ram's 
barge, completely destroying it. The shell from the 
ram caused a fire on the Kennebec's berth deck, and 
for a moment it seemed as if the vessel would be de- 
stroyed, but by the intrepid efforts of Lieutenant-Com- 
mander McCann and his officers it was extinguished. 

The next ship in line was the Ossipee, which at the 
time the ram changed her position from the starboard 
to the port side of the wooden ships was on the port 
quarter of the Monongahela ; and when Commander 
Le Roy saw his leader preparing to ram, he also fol- 
lowed the Monongahela } s motion. But as the Tennes- 
see swung round under the pressure of the Mononga- 
held's blow, Admiral Buchanan passed between the two 
Union vessels, and two shot from the ram entered be- 
low the Ossipee's spar deck, close together, just abreast 
the forward pivot gun. About this time Lieutenant- 
Commander George Brown, of the Itasca, was painfully 
injured by a splinter. The executive officer of the 
Ossipee, which was lashed alongside, called out to him, 
"What's the matter, Brown? Have you been struck by 
a splinter?" "You may call it a splinter in your big 
vessel," roared Brown in reply, "but aboard this little 



craft it ranks as a log of wood." Running on the star- 
board side of the Oneida, which had been crippled 
early in the action and was in tow of her consort, the 
Galena, Buchanan endeavored several times to fire a 
broadside into her, but his primers failed, so that only 
one gun was discharged, the shot striking the after 11- 
inch pivot gun, which had just been fired. 

At 8.20 A. M. the Confederate ironclad passed under 
the Oneida? s stern and delivered a raking fire, which 
dismounted a 12-pounder howitzer on the poop deck, 
and also carried away Commander Mullany's left arm. 
While David Nay lor, the powder-boy of the 30-pounder 
Parrott gun in the Oneida, was running along the deck 
his passing-box was knocked out of his hands and fell 
overboard into a boat that was towing alongside. He 
jumped overboard after it, recovered his box, and re- 
turned to his duties as though nothing had happened. 

At this stage of the action occurred one of those 
spirited incidents that always appeal to the hearts of 
brave men. Commander Stevens had been the com- 
mander of the Oneida, and was greatly attached to the 
officers and men of that ship. Just before the battle, 
Commander Mullany, whose ship was not fitted for such 
an engagement, earnestly entreated that a suitable vessel 
might be given to him so that he could take part in 
the battle. In response to this request Stevens gave 
up the Oneida and was placed in command of the 
monitor Winnebago, while Mullany took the Oneida, 
and, as we have just seen, lost an arm by his devotion 
to the cause. The other vessels of the Union fleet, 
having their full head of steam, were able to avoid the 
ram, but the Oneida, having her boiler pierced, was 
dependent entirely upon the Galena, which reduced 
the speed of both vessels so much that both were com- 
pletely at the mercy of Buchanan. When Commander 
Stevens saw the predicament of his old ship and for- 
mer crew, he hastened to their defense, and just as the 
Tennessee was passing under the stern of the helpless 


Oneida he placed the Winnebago between the ram and 
the Oneida and harassed Buchanan until the wooden 
vessels were beyond his reach. When the people in the 
Oneida, who had every reason to expect that they would 
be sent to the bottom at the first blow of their huge an- 
tagonist, saw the Winnebago come to their rescue they 
jumped upon the bulwarks and gave three heartfelt 
cheers for their old commander. Stevens, who had re- 
mained outside of the turrets of the Winnebago from 
the beginning of the battle, at this moment was stand- 
ing on the open deck on the starboard side, or that 
nearest to the ram, directing a broadside of solid shot 
to be fired into the enemy. Hearing the cheers, he 
stepped to the port side and took off his hat in ac- 

Lieutenant-Commander George H. Perkins, of the 
Cliickasaw, and Volunteer Lieutenant William Hamil- 
ton were starting for the North on a leave of absence 
just before the battle, but learning that an attack was 
to be made on Mobile, they asked permission to take 
part in the fight. Lieutenant J. C. Watson entered the 
fight under similar circumstances. Farragut wrote of 
him : "I would not advise Watson to go home for the 
world ; it would break his heart. He thinks he is 
bound to see the war out." 

Seeing that her prey was veritably snatched from 
her jaws, the Tennessee ran under the guns of Fort 
Morgan for a "breathing- spell," while the Union ves- 
sels proceeded on their way up the channel. About this 
time the ram's colors were shot away, but they were 
soon replaced. Lieutenant-Commander DeKrafft had 
formed his flotilla in the shape of a crescent and opened 
a spirited fire on Fort Powell. 



WHILE the Hartford was boldly passing through 
the line of torpedoes, the Confederate gunboats Selma, 
Morgan and Gaines seized their opportunity of de- 
livering a terrific raking fire upon the flagship. Know- 
ing that the big sloop-of-war could not readily turn in 
the narrow channel, the commander of the Selma kept 
his vessel from seven hundred to a thousand yards 
straight ahead, so that his stern guns could bear on the 
Hartford, while Farragut could only bring a few bow 
chasers into play, one of which was soon disabled by a 
shell bursting under it. One shot from the Selma 
killed ten men and wounded five in the forecastle divi- 
sion, the fragments of their bodies being blown upon 
the deck of the Metacomet. Many of the gun crews 
were reduced to half of their number. Although most 
of the men were newly enlisted, great steadiness was 
shown by them, and the vacancies were promptly filled 
up. Farragut was able to deliver one or two broad- 
sides at the Gaines, and the splendid marksmanship 
of the Union gunners was never shown to better ad- 
vantage. In less than half an hour the Gaines was 
aground under the guns of Fort Morgan and deserted. 

Finding that the gunboats were occasioning serious 
damage, and observing that the last of the Union ves- 
sels was safely past Fort Morgan, Farragut at 8.02 
A. M. gave the signal, "Gunboats chase enemy's gnn- 
boats." Jouett, of the Metacomet, had repeatedly 
asked for permission to go in chase, and, now that it 
was given, he ordered the men to cut the heavy 



hawsers with sharp broadaxes, and he backed clear 
of the Hartford and went, at 8.05, in chase of the 
gunboats. The Port Royal, the Kennebec and the 
Itasca also joined in the pursuit, but being without 
pilots they accomplished little. The Morgan, taking 
advantage of a heavy rain and a dense fog that came 
over the bay, succeeded in running under the guns of 
Fort Morgan, and on the following night, by going 
slowly and covering her lights, she made her escape 
to Mobile. It was afterward learned that the Mor- 
gan, on receiving a broadside from the Metacomet, 
hauled down her colors, but as the rainstorm came on 
at that moment her surrender was not known, and, re- 
hoisting her flag, she made her escape. The Metacomet, 
being the fastest gunboat in the fleet, soon outstripped 
the others and made after the Selma. As his ship could 
not fire directly ahead, Jouett at first yawed once or 
twice to fire his guns, but finding that he was losing 
ground by so doing he settled down to a dogged pur- 
suit. '' I had given my pilot to the gallant Craven, of 
the ill-fated Tecumseh, and having no time to consult 
the chart and knowing nothing of the channel, and as 
the admiral's instructions were imperative not to allow 
any of the Confederate gunboats to reach Mobile I 
abandoned the attempt to fight with my guns in this 
running chase." Being more familiar with the bay, 
the pilot of the Selma led the Metacomet into shoal 
water. This fact was conveyed to Jouett from time to 
time by the leadsman, until at last less than a foot of 
water under the Metacomefs keel was reported. The 
situation was critical, for the Metacomet was far be- 
yond supporting distance of her consorts, and should 
she run aground the Selma undoubtedly would turn 
back and, selecting a position where the National gun- 
boat could not return the fire, would soon compel her 
surrender. Jouett was an officer, however, who knew 
only one duty "obey orders"; and as the leadsman 
continued to call out the alarming soundings Jouett 


finally exclaimed to his executive officer: "Mr. Sleep- 
er, order that man out of the chains ! He makes me 
nervous " ; and the Metacomet, trembling under the 
heavy pressure of steam, went plowing through the 
soft mud after the Selma. When the squall that for 
a time concealed the enemy's gunboats cleared up, 
Jouett found himself on the starboard bow of the Sel- 
ma, which at 9.10 A. M., surrendered. Her commander, 
P. U. Murphy, had been wounded in the wrist, while 
his executive officer, Lieutenant J. H. Com stock, and 
seven men were killed. "The coolness and prompt- 
ness of Lieutenant-Commander Jouett," wrote Farra- 
gut in his official report, "merit high praise." In this 
fight the Metacomefs rigging was badly cut, and she 
was struck eleven times in the hull. 

Before the war, Commander Murphy, then a lieu- 
tenant, was very kind to Jouett, who was then a mid- 
shipman. Remembering that Murphy was fond of 
good eating, Jouett, while at Pensacola two days be- 
fore the battle r purchased a quantity of crabs and 
oysters and placed them on ice. When he was block- 
ading off Mobile harbor the three Confederate gunboats 
came down and lay under Fort Morgan. Knowing 
who commanded them, Jouett often remarked to the 
officers that he was fond of " Murphy " and that he in- 
tended to catch him, and always kept on hand some 
good wines and cigars for him. It so happened that 
Jouett did catch him, and as soon as the fight was over 
he ordered his steward to prepare a breakfast. When 
the Selma struck her colors, Murphy, who was about 
sixty-five years old, tall, erect and with long snow- 
white hair and beard, having his right arm in a sling, 
came on board the Metacomet to surrender his sword. 
Ascending the gangway, he stepped on deck, when his 
aid advanced and handed him his sword. Jouett had 
sent all the crew forward in order that Murphy might 
not be unnecessarily mortified, and no one was with 
him at the gangway save the officer of the deck and 


Lieutenant Sleeper ; the other officers were on the port 
side of the quarter-deck. Murphy turned, drew him- 
self up to his full height, held out his sword and began 
a nice speech, but Jouett took his hand and, putting 
an arm on his back, said: " I am glad to see you, 
Murphy. Come on ; your breakfast has been waiting 
some time." Going into the cabin, Murphy saw a 
beautiful table laden with oysters, crabs, beefsteaks, 
wines etc. Turning to Jouett in astonishment, he said, 
"Why didn't you let me know you had all this? I 
would have surrendered sooner." And the officers sat 
down at the table as though they had never drawn 
swords against each other. 

With the successful passage of Fort Morgan and 
the dangerous line of torpedoes, the dispersion of the 
Confederate gunboats and the retreat of the Tennes- 
see under the guns of the water-battery, Farragut was 
left in undisputed possession of Mobile Bay, and he 
now brought his fleet to anchor about four miles above 
Fort Morgan. Captain Drayton about this time said 
to him : " What we have done has been well done, sir ; 
but it all counts for nothing so long as the Tennessee 
is there under the guns of Fort Morgan." Farragut 
replied, "I know it, and as soon as the people have 
had their breakfast I am going for her." This plan, 
however, seems to have been abandoned, for he wrote, 
"Had Buchanan remained under the fort I should 
have attacked him, as soon as it became dark, with 
the monitors." His second plan was to change his flag 
to the Manhattan and attack under cover of dark- 
ness and the smoke of battle, when it would be impos- 
sible for the gunners in Fort Morgan to distinguish 
between friend and foe. The belief was prevalent 
among the National officers that the battle, for some 
time at least, was over, and the crews were engaged in 
clearing away the dreadful debris, in washing out the 
blood-stains and in removing the fragments of bodies 
that were strewn over their decks. 



In the distance the ram Tennessee could be seen 
under the guns of Fort Morgan steaming and smoking 
like some huge monster taking breath after a desperate 
struggle. The intense excitement of battle was over, 
the strained nerves were relaxed, and the serious, de- 
termined expression on the faces of the officers had 
changed into smiles of congratulation as those off duty 
assembled in the wardroom to discuss the exciting work 
of the morning or to make inquiry for missing friends. 
The cooks and mess boys were hurrying about the 
decks with their preparations for breakfast. Among 
the men the same air of relaxation and relief was ob- 
servable. Those who had been intrusted with little 
keepsakes intended for some loved one far away in 
the North, in case "something should happen to me," 
were returning them to their owners. But an occa- 
sional stifled groan coming up from the cockpit, as the 
surgeons performed their tasks, was a painful reminder 
of the terrible scenes through which they had just 
passed, while a glance at the long row of mutilated 
bodies under the canvas on the port side served to 
check any undue outburst of merriment, for a true sea- 
man never forgets to respect a dead shipmate. Once 
in" a while a sailor would approach the "dead row" 
with an anxious, troubled face, and, half fearfully 
lifting the canvas, peer at the blanched faces to see if a 
missing messmate was among the dead. 

In the midst of this scene of leisurely recovery from 
the battle, the startling cry, "The ram is coming!" 
passed through, the fleet, and many eyes were instantly 
turned in the direction of Fort Morgan. Slowly creep- 
ing up the channel, with dense volumes of black smoke 
rolling out of her dilapidated smokestack, the Tennes- 
see was seen advancing to renew the contest, while the 
parapets of Fort Morgan, as well as those of Fort 
Gaines and Fort Powell, were seen to be crowded with 
Confederate troops eager to witness the finale of this 
stupendous naval conflict. When the ram was iirst 


seen to be getting under way the National officers 
thought she might be going out to sea to destroy the 
steamers Genesee, Pinola, Penibina, Sebago, Tennessee 
and Bienmlle, which in vain had attempted to bom- 
bard Fort Morgan from that direction, and Farragut 
said, "We must follow her out." But a moment 
later, when he saw that the ram was coming up the 
bay to give battle, he added, "No, Buck's coming 
here. Get under way at once ! We must be ready for 
him ! " 

After running under the guns of Fort Morgan, as 
described in the last chapter, Admiral Buchanan spent 
a half hour in examining the damages of his vessel. 
Captain Johnston went outside the casemate, and after 
making a thorough investigation reported that no seri- 
ous injury had been sustained. Some dents were visi- 
ble in the iron plating, and part of the smokestack was 
gone, but further than this the Tennessee was not ma- 
terially hurt. Learning this, Buchanan said, "Follow 
them up, Johnston ; we can't let them off that way." 
With some difficulty the unwieldy Tennessee brought 
her head round and advanced toward the wooden fleet. 
Buchanan had been worsted in the first contest, when 
he had the powerful support of Fort Morgan's bat- 
teries, three gunboats and the torpedoes. But now he 
was advancing single-handed beyond the support of 
the Confederate batteries, without the assistance of the 
gunboats, and with no torpedoes to depend upon to 
sink the monitors, to give battle to the whole fleet. 
He had once seen the Merrimac defeated by a single 
monitor ; now he was about to engage three monitors 
and nearly a score of heavy war-ships. 

When it was seen that the ram was coming up the 
bay for the purpose of giving battle, the mess gear in 
the Union ships was hastily put aside ; the decks were 
cleared for action, and the ships got under way. The 
anchor of the Hartford was weighed so hurriedly that 
it was left hanging under the bow. The naval signal 


was now given, "Attack the ram, not only with your 
guns, but bows, at full speed ! " and by the more rapid 
system of army signals, the LacTcawanna, the Monon- 
gahela and the monitors were ordered, "to run down 
the ram ! " At this juncture Fleet-Surgeon Palmer 
(who had left his station at Pensacola for the express 
purpose of attending the injured in this battle), having 
cared for the wounded in the flagship, was shoving 
off in the steam barge Loyall for the purpose of visiting 
the wounded in the other vessels, when Farragut called 
out to him, "Go to the monitors and tell them to at- 
tack the Tennessee \ " As the National ironclads were 
some distance apart, the execution of this order in- 
volved much exposure ; but the heroic surgeon carried 
out his instructions to the letter. 

Knowing that it was useless to rely entirely on the 
heavy guns of the wooden ships to disable the Tennes- 
see, Farragut had determined to try the effects of ram- 
ming, and his orders were executed in gallant style. 
Captain Johnston, of the Tennessee, says, " The heav- 
ier vessels seemed to contend with each other for the 
glory." Waiting until the Tennessee was some forty 
yards distant, Commander Strong, about 9.25 A. M., 
ordered full speed on the Monongahela and succeeded 
in striking the ram amidships on the starboard side, 
the shock knocking down many of the men in both 
ships. The collision, which would have sunk any ves- 
sel in the National fleet, occasioned no damage to the 
ram further than starting a Small leak, and after the 
surrender it was almost impossible to tell where the 
blow had been delivered ; but the iron prow of the 
Monongahela was wrenched off and the butt ends of 
the planks on her bow were badly shattered. At the 
time of the collision the Tennessee fired two shells, 
which exploded in the berth deck of the Monongahela, 
wounding an officer and two men. The Union vessel 
then swung round and delivered her starboard broad- 
side, and although fired at a distance of about ten 


yards, the enormous shot glanced harmlessly off the 
sloping sides of the ram. 

Commander Strong was closely followed by the 
Lackawanna, the latter, about 9.30 A. M., striking the 
Tennessee a full blow on the port side at the after end 
of the casemate. The collision caused the ram to heel 
over heavily, and then to swing round, so that the two 
vessels lay side by side, bow and stern, their port sides 
scraping against each other. The LacJcawanna's crew 
poured a sharp tire of musketry into the ports of the 
ram, and John Smith, captain of the Lack alcanna's 
forecastle, threw a holystone through one of the Ten- 
nessee's ports, which struck a Confederate gunner who 
was using abusive language against the Union crew. 
A shell exploding in the LacTcawanna started a fire in 
the shellroom. George Taylor, the armorer, although 
wounded, coolly walked into the room filled with ex- 
plosives and extinguished the flames with his hands. 
Captain Marchand had shifted several of his port guns 
to the starboard side, in order to bear on Fort Morgan 
when passing up the channel, so that at this moment 
only one 9- inch gun could be brought to bear on the 
ram. But this gun did more damage than whole broad- 
sides had accomplished before, for the shot smashed one 
of the ram's shutters, and drove the fragments within 
the shield. Notwithstanding the fact that the Lacka- 
wanna's bow had suffered seriously from the collision, 
it being crushed in for a distance of five feet below and 
three feet above the water line, causing a considerable 
leakage, Captain Marchand manosuvred for another op- 
portunity to ram. These two collisions caused the Ten- 
nessee to leak at the rate of about six inches an hour. 

Admiral Buchanan had determined to come to close 
quarters with the flagship, and, paying no more atten- 
tion to the LacTcawanna than firing two shot through 
her, he headed directly for the Hartford. Farragut 
was equally anxious to get at the ram, and at this 
moment the two flagships were headed for each other 


at full speed. It was impossible in that short distance 
for the Hartford to circle round so as to ram the Ten- 
nessee on her side, and the only safety for the Union 
admiral was to continue on his present course. A bow- 
on collision seemed unavoidable, and the other ships 
could do nothing but pour in futile broadsides. The 
only hope for the Hartford was that the iron beak of 
the Tennessee would penetrate so far that she would 
be unable to back clear of the wreck, and the two ships 
would be dragged down together. 

Seeing that a collision was imminent, Fleet-Captain 
Drayton hastened to the Hartford's forecastle, while 
Farragut sprang to the port-quarter rail, holding to the 
mizzen rigging. Observing his exposed position, Flag- 
Lieutenant Watson approached the admiral, and, pass- 
ing a rope's end around his body, secured him to the 
rigging. For some unexplained reason the Tennessee 
avoided a head-on collision by slightly changing her 
course just before the vessels were in contact, so that 
the Hartford's port bow scraped against the port beam 
of the ram. The vessels were now so near that Farra- 
gut, from his position in the mizzen rigging, could 
easily have stepped aboard the ram ; and the Hartford's 
anchor, which had been left hanging tinder her bow, 
was caught between the two vessels as they came to- 
gether, and was bent out of shape. Several of the 
Hartford's 9-inch guns were loaded with solid shot and 
the heaviest charge of powder, and were discharged 
at the ram, but although the vessels were not ten feet 
apart the missiles did no perceptible injury. The ram 
attempted to return the broadside, and her gun-ham- 
mers were heard by the people in the Hartford giving 
ominous clicks, but the powder failed to ignite. One 
of the ram's guns, however, was fired, the shell from 
which entered the Hartford's berth deck, killed an 
officer and four men and wounded eight. This gun, the 
last that the Tennessee fired, was so close that the flash 
scorched the Hartfords side. 




All this time the LacTcawanna had been manoeu- 
vring for another chance to ram, and, seizing what ap- 
peared to be a favorable opportunity, Captain Mar- 
chand ordered full speed. Unfortunately, the Hart- 
ford, after her collision with the Tennessee, had put 
her helm to starboard and was making a circle, also 


Diagram showing the different points at which the Tennessee iras rammed 
by Farragufs vessels. 

with a view of butting the enemy again. At this mo- 
ment she got in the way of the Lackawanna, the latter 
striking the flagship just forward of the mizzenmast 
on the starboard side near the spot where Farragut 
stood, narrowly missing him. The bow of the LacJca- 
wanna crushed in the side of the flagship within two 


feet of the water line, knocking two ports into one 
and upsetting a Dahlgren gun. For a moment there 
was some confusion, as it was feared the ship was sink- 
ing, and orders were given to lower the port boats. At 
the moment of the collision Farragut was standing on 
the poop deck, and he immediately climbed over the 
side into the starboard mizzen rigging to ascertain the 
extent of the damage. The cry immediately rang out 
above the din of battle, "Save the admiral ! Save the 
admiral ! " but finding that the Hartford could float, 
Farragut again appeared to the view of his men, allayed 
their fears for his safety, and gave the order for full 
speed and ram again. 

The Lackawanna now resumed her efforts to secure 
a position to butt the Tennessee, and a few minutes 
later another collision between the two wooden ves- 
sels seemed unavoidable. "And now," wrote Lieu- 
tenant Kinney, 1 " the admiral became a trifle excited. 
He had no idea of whipping the rebels, to be himself 
sunk by friends, nor did he realize at the moment that 
the Hartford was as much to blame as the LacJca- 
wanna. Turning to the writer, he inquired, ' Can you 
say For God's sake by signal?' 'Yes, sir,' was the 
reply. ' Then say to the Lackawanna, For God's sake, 
get out of our way and anchor ! ' In my haste to send 
the message, I brought the end of my signal staff down 
with considerable violence upon the head of the ad- 
miral, who was standing nearer than I thought, caus- 
ing him to wince perceptibly. It was a hasty mes- 
sage, for the fault was equally divided, each ship 
being too eager to reach the enemy, and it turned out 
all right, by a fortunate accident, that Captain Mar- 
chand never received it. 

Up to this time the Tennessee had been dealing with 
wooden ships, and had it not been for her low speed 
and defective guns, she would have sent the fleet to 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. iv, p. 897. 


the bottom in a few minutes. But while this desper- 
ate and unequal contest had been going on, the three 
monitors were approaching to take part in the fight. 
Scarcely had the Monongahela cleared the Tennessee, 
after ramming, when Lieutenant Wharton, of the Ten- 
nessee, glancing out of the side of one of his gun ports, 
caught a glimpse of a " hideous-looking monster [the 
Manhattan] creeping up on our port side, whose slowly 
revolving turret revealed the cavernous depths of a 
mammoth gun. ' Stand clear of the port side ! ' I 
shouted. A moment afterward a thunderous report 
shook us all, while a blast of dense sulphurous smoke 
covered our portholes, and four hundred and forty 
pounds of iron, impelled by sixty pounds of powder, 
admitted daylight through our sides where, before it 
struck us, there had been over two feet of solid wood 
covered with five inches of solid iron. This was the 
only 15-inch shot that hit us fair. It did not come 
through ; the inside netting caught the splinters, and 
there were no casualties from it." 

The Chickasaw, having received less injury than the 
other monitors, passed the Tennessee on the port side, 
and after firing her guns she ran under the ram's stern 
and doggedly held that position to the close of the 
fight, keeping up a terrific fire from her 11 -inch guns. 
From that time Lieutenant-Commander Perkins was 
never more than fifty yards from his antagonist, and 
frequently the vessels were in actual contact. He 
planted fifty-two 11-inch solid shot on the Tennessee's 
casemate, most of them on the after end, where the 
greatest injury was done and many plates were started. 
That night, when the Metacomet was taking the Na- 
tional and Confederate wounded to Pensacola, the pilot 
of the Tennessee asked Lieutenant-Commander Jouett, 
"Who commanded the monitor that got under our 
stern ? Damn him, he stuck to us like a leech ! " 

The Winnebago and the Manhattan also were 
pounding away at the ram whenever their partially 


disabled batteries bore. The Manhattan was able to 
fire only six shot at the Tennessee, one of which, how- 
ever, pierced the mailing on the port side of the ram 
and shattered the oak and pine backing, though the 
shot itself did not penetrate. 

About this time the position of the men within the 
casemate of the Tennessee began to be alarming. 
Early in the action the pilot had been wounded by 
having the trapdoor on the top of the pilot house 
knocked down upon his head by a shot that struck 
it on the edge while it was thrown back to admit of 
his seeing more clearly the position of the vessels. Up 
to this stage of the action the massive walls of the case- 
mate had afforded ample protection to the men, and 
they peered out of their portholes and saw their mis- 
siles crash through the wooden ships with deadly effect, 
while they were safe from the heaviest shot. But the 
persistent hammering of the National ships began to 
change the situation. Within a few feet of one of the 
after gun ports nine 11-inch solid shot crashed against 
the casemate, and the carriage of one of the guns had 
been disabled and nearly all the iron plates on the after 
side of the casemate had been started. Three of the 
port shutters were jammed so that the guns could not 
be used for the remainder of ttie action. The atmos- 
phere within the casemate, which early in the fight had 
been over 100, had risen to 120. The shock of the 
rammings the Tennessee had received broke off the 
smokestack under the casemate, and the coal smoke 
began to pour into the gunroom and stifle the gunners, 
which, added to the smoke from exploding powder, 
made their position almost intolerable, and for relief 
many of the men stripped to the waist. "Frequently 
during the contest we were surrounded by the enemy, 
and all our guns were in action almost at the same mo- 
ment." ' A well-directed shot from the Chickasaw 

1 Official report of Admiral Buchanan. 


jammed the Tennessee's stern- port shutter so that the 
gun could not be run in or out, and it was not long be- 
fore the rudder chains, which were exposed on the deck 
of the Tennessee, were shot away. Relieving-tackles 
for steering the ship were adjusted, but these also, in 
a short time, were carried away. 

Seeing that the battle was against him and that there 
was no hope of contending successfully against the fleet, 
Buchanan now ordered Johnston to steer for Fort Mor- 
gan, with a view of seeking the shelter of its guns. 
Buchanan at this time was directing a gun, when a 
shot from the ChicJcasaw jammed the shutter so that it 
could not be moved. He sent to the engine-room for a 
machinist to push out the pin of the shutter, hoping 
that it would fall away, thus leaving the port open ; 
and while the machinist was endeavoring to do this a 
heavy shot struck the edge of the port cover outside 
where the man was working. The concussion muti- 
lated the man in a horrible manner, scattering the frag- 
ments of his body all over the deck, which afterward 
were shoveled into a bucket and thrown overboard. 
The same shot mortally wounded one of the gun crew, 
and drove the washers and nuts across the deck with 
such force as to break Buchanan's leg below the knee. 
He was carried to the surgeon's table below, and while 
his wound was being dressed he sent for Johnston (who 
after the accident to the pilot had been directing the 
movements of the ram from the pilot-house), and said : 
"Well, Johnston, they've got me. You'll have to look 
out for her now." 

When the command of the Tennessee devolved upon 
Captain Johnston her condition was indeed desperate. 
The forward and after port covers were jammed so that 
the guns were useless. The steam, owing to the wreck 
of the smokestack, was going down. Shot were rain- 
ing on the after part of the casemate so that it must 
soon have fallen in and exposed the men to the dread- 
ful effect of shells exploding in their confined space. 


For some time the Tennessee was heading aimlessly 
about the bay, with the monitors and the wooden ships 
relentlessly pursuing her and keeping up a terrific fire 
and seeking opportunities to ram. Captain Johnston 
now made a personal examination of the broken wheel 
chains, and found it was impossible to repair them 
without sending a man outside the casemate, which 
was constantly swept by a storm of iron, and finally 
the tiller was unshipped from the rudder head. 

After enduring this fearful battering twenty min- 
utes without being able to fire a gun or to direct the 
movements of his vessel, Captain Johnston went below 
to consult with Admiral Buchanan, who said, "Well, 
Johnston, if you can not do them any further injury you 
had better surrender." Johnston then returned to the 
pilot-house to see if he could get another shot, and 
finding that this was impossible, he went on top of the 
casemate and took down the flag, which had been at- 
tached to a gun scraper and thrust through the grating. 
The National vessels did not immediately understand 
that a surrender had been made, and continued their 
fire. Captain Johnston then w r ent on the casemate, and 
at 10 A. M. exhibited a white flag, when the firing 

But at this moment the Ossipee had seized a favor- 
able opportunity for ramming, and was coming down 
on the Tennessee at right angles under a full head of 
steam, on the starboard side. Commander Le Roy, of 
the Ossipee, in passing the Winnebago, exchanged a 
pleasant greeting with Commander Stevens, who was 
still outside his turrets. Observing a man on the Ten- 
nessee's casemate waving a white flag, and recognizing 
him as Captain Johnston, Commander Le Roy put his 
helm over and reversed his engines, but was too late to 
avoid a collision. As the vessels came into contact, 
the Union officer came out on his forecastle deck and 
called out: "This is the United States steamer Ossi- 
pee. Hello, Johnston ! how are you ? I'll send a boat 


alongside for you. Le Roy, don't you know me ? " 
These two officers had been warm friends in the navy 
before the war. A moment later a boat put out from 
the Ossipee and Johnston was cordially received by 
Le Roy. An officer now hoisted the National colors 
over the battered casemate of the ram, on seeing which 
cheers upon cheers burst from the victorious crews. 
The ChicJcasaw then took the Tennessee in tow and 
anchored her near the Hartford. 

In this desperate battle the Hartford was struck 
twenty times, the Brooklyn thirty, the Octorara seven- 
teen, the Metacomet eleven, the LacJcawanna five, the 
Ossipee four, the Monongahela five, the Kennebec two, 
and the Galena seven times. Of the monitors, the 
Manhattan was struck nine times, the Winnebago 
nineteen times and the CMcJcasaw three times. Near- 
ly all the plating of the Tennessee on the after end of 
the casemate was started, one bolt had been driven in, 
several nuts and washers had been knocked off, the 
steering-rods had been cut off near the after pivot gun 
and the carriage of that gun was damaged ; but there 
was no visible injury from the ramming by the Hart- 
ford, the Monongahela and the LacTcawanna. " Fif- 
ty-three shot-marks in all were counted on the Tennes- 
see's shield, three of which had penetrated so far as 
to cause splinters to fly on board, and the washers from 
the ends of the bolts wounded several men." l 

The loss in the National fleet was : Hartford, twen- 
ty-five killed and twenty-eight wounded ; Brooklyn, 
eleven killed and forty- three wounded ; LacJcawanna, 
four killed and thirty-five wounded ; Oneida, eight 
killed and thirty wounded ; Monongahela, six wound- 
ed ; Metacomet, one killed and two wounded ; Ossipee, 
one killed and seven wounded ; Richmond, two wound- 
ed ; Galena, one wounded ; Octorara, one killed and 
ten wounded ; Kennebec, one killed and six wounded ; 

1 Official report of Captain Johnston. 


total, fifty-two killed and one hundred and seventy 
wounded. The Tennessee had two killed and nine 
wounded ; the Gaines, two killed and three wounded ; 
the Selma, eight killed and seven wounded ; the Mor- 
gan, one wounded ; total Confederate loss, twelve 
killed and twenty wounded. Two hundred and eighty 
prisoners were taken. Ninety-three men were drowned 
in the TecumseTi, and four were captured. 

That night the Metacomet carried all the wounded 
to Pensacola, being piloted through the torpedoes by 
the Tennessee's pilot. Rear-Admiral Jouett writes : 
"I was detailed by Admiral Farragut to take the 
wounded of both sides to Pensacola. The awnings and 
side curtains were all spread, and the Metacomet be- 
came a hospital ship. Admiral Buchanan was wound- 
ed in the knee, as he had been in the fight between the 
Merrimac and the Monitor. Captain Mullany, of the 
Oneida, lost an arm, and there were many others 
wounded. They lay in cots on the quarter-deck, sling- 
ing side by side, chatting familiarly, taking medicine, 
tea, coffee or wine, as the doctor thought best. 'Twas 
amusing to hear those poor fellows, who but an hour 
ago were trying to kill each other, now spinning yarns 
of olden times." Among the Union wounded were 
Lieutenant Adams and Mr. Heginbotham, the latter 
being hurt mortally. Another one of the wounded was 
an Irish lad who had been stationed at a shell whip 
during the action, hoisting ammunition to the deck. 
While he had his hands above his head, in the act of 
hoisting, a shell cut off both his arms at the elbows. 
Another man had lost both his legs in the Hartford, 
and after the war the two men entered into a peculiar 
partnership, putting what was left of their bodies 
together as capital (one man supplying the legs and the 
other the arms) and selling pictures of Admiral Farra- 
gut in the streets of New York. As the Metacomet 
was swinging from the wharf at Pensacola on her re- 
turn trip to Mobile, Midshipman Carter, of the Ten- 


nessee, called out to Jouett, "Don't attempt to fire 
No. 2 starboard gun, as there is a shell jammed in the 
bore, and the gun will burst and kill some one." 

Hearing from Dr. Conrad of the condition of Ad- 
miral Buchanan, Farragut ordered his fleet surgeon to 
go aboard the Tennessee and personally attend him. 
Surgeon Palmer ran alongside the battered ram in the 
steam barge Loyall, but such was the slope of the Ten- 
nessee^ s sides that the boat could not get near enough 
for him to step aboard, and it required a long jump. 
Gaining the Tennessee's deck, Palmer climbed through 
one of the gun ports, and, picking his path across the 
piles of wreckage that encumbered the deck, he found 
his way to the Confederate admiral. Preparations had 
been made to amputate his leg, but on Dr. Palmer's 
advice the operation was postponed and the limb was 
saved. In his official report Buchanan said, "We 
have received all the attention and consideration we 
could desire or accept from Fleet- Surgeon Palmer." 
Lieutenant Giraud, of the Ossipee, attended by Captain 
Heywood, of the marines, and a guard, was sent to re- 
ceive Buchanan's sword ; and when Captain Heywood 
met Buchanan he could not refrain from reminding the 
Confederate admiral that they had met before when the 
Cumberland was sunk by the Merrimac. 

Farragut spoke of all his officers "as deserving 
my warmest commendation, not only for the untiring 
zeal with which they prepared their ships for the con- 
test, but for their skill and daring in carrying out my 
orders during the engagement." He particularly com- 
mended the gallantry of Captains Percival Drayton and 
Thornton A. Jenkins ; Commanders Mullany, Nichol- 
son, and Stevens; Lieutenant-Commanders Jouett and 
Perkins ; Lieutenants Watson and Yates ; Acting-En- 
signs Henry C. Nields, Bogart and Heginbotham ; En- 
sign Henry Howard Brownell, Secretary McKinley, the 
pilot Martin Freeman, Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenants 
William Hamilton and P. Giraud. Of his crew he 


said: "I have never seen a crew come up like ours. 
They are ahead of the old set in small arms, and fully 
equal to them at the great guns. They arrived here a 
mere lot of boys and young men, and have now fattened 
up and knocked the 9-inch guns about like 24-pounders, 
to the astonishment of everybody. There was but one 
man who showed fear, and he was allowed to resign. 
This was the most desperate battle I ever fought since 
the days of the old Essex" l 

At half past two that afternoon Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Perkins got under way in the Chickasaw and 
for an hour bombarded Fort Powell, and on the follow- 
ing night the fort was abandoned by the Confederates 
and blown up. The next day Acting-Volunteer- Lieu- 
tenant Pomeroy, of the Estrella, hoisted the National 
ensign over the fort. On the 6th of August the Chicka- 

1 Aside from the officers, the men who won especial distinction in this 
great battle were : Wilson Brown,* Thomas Fitzpatrick,* Martin Freeman, 
James R. Garrison,* John Lawson,* John McFarland, Charles Melville,* 
Thomas O'Connell,* William Pelham, William A. Stanley,* all in the 
Hartford. John Brown, William Blageen, William H. Brown,* John 
Cooper, J. Henry Denig, Richard Dennis, Samuel W. Davis, Michael Hud- 
son, William Halstead. Joseph Irlam, Nicholas Irwin, John Irving, Burnett 
Kenna, Alexander Mack,* William Madden, James Machon, James Mifflin, 
William Nichols, Miles M.Oviatt, Edward Price, William M. Smith, James 
E. Sterling,* Samuel Todd, all in the Brooklyn. Thomas Atkinson, Robert 
Brown, Cornelius Cronin, Thomas Cripps, James B. Chandler,* William 
W. Call, William Densmore, Adam Duncan, Charles Deakin,* William 
Doolin,* Thomas Hayes, Hugh Hamilton, James Mclntosh, John H. 
James,* William Jones, James H. Morgan, Andrew Miller, James Martin, 
George Parks, Hendrick Sharp, Walter B. Smith, Lebbeus Simpkins, 
Oloff Smith, John Smith, James Smith, David Sprowle, Alexander H. 
Truett, all of the Richmond. John M. Burns,* Michael Cassidy, Louis G. 
Chaput,* Adam McCullock,* Patrick Dougherty, John Edwards,* Samuel 
W. Kinnaird, William Phinney, John Smith, George Taylor,* James 
Ward,* Daniel Whitfield, all of the Lackawanna. William Gardner, 
John E. Jones,* Thomas Kendrick, William Newland, David Naylor, John 
Preston.* James S. Roantree, James Sheridan,* Charles B. Woram, all of 
the Oneida. Andrew Jones of the Chickasaw. Those marked with an 
asterisk either left the sick-bay to take part in the battle, or continued to 
fight after being wounded, many of them leaving the surgeon's table to 
return to the deck. 


saw opened fire on Fort Gaines, which surrendered on 
the following morning. This left only Fort Morgan in 
the possession of the enemy, and on the 22d of August 
the fleet, assisted by land forces under General Granger 
and a siege train that had been sent from New Orleans, 
opened fire upon it, and in twelve hours threw three 
thousand missiles into and around the works. The 
next day it surrendered, and this effectually closed 
Mobile as a port for blockade-runners. Soon after this 
brilliant victory Admiral Farragut went North, and 
Captain James S. Palmer assumed command of the 
fleet. In February, 1865, he was relieved by Acting- 
Rear-Admiral Henry K. Thatcher, although Palmer 
still remained in the fleet. 

In the spring of 1865 the naval force in Mobile Bay 
materially assisted the National troops under General 
Canby in reducing the city of Mobile. The vessels 
taking part in this affair were the Octorara, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander W. W. Low ; the monitors KicJcapoo, 
Lieu tenant- Commander M. P. Jones ; Osage, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander William W. Gamble ; Milwaukee, 
Lieutenant-Commander James H. Gillis ; Winnebago, 
Lieutenant-Commander W. A. Kirkland ; and CMcka- 
saw, Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Perkins. On the 
27th of March these vessels moved up Dog River and 
opened fire on the Confederate batteries. While the 
Winnebago and the Milwaukee were returning from 
Spanish Fort, on the 28th of March, after shelling a 
transport two miles up the river, the Milwaukee, when 
some two hundred yards from the Union fleet, struck 
a torpedo about forty feet from her stern on the port 
side, and although her bow remained above water 
nearly an hour afterward, her stern sank in three min- 
utes. All her people fortunately escaped. Lieutenant- 
Commander Gillis afterward commanded a naval bat- 
tery, and rendered conspicuous service. It was known " 
that many torpedoes had been planted in these waters, 
but it was thought that the drag-nets had removed 


them. On the 29th of March the Winnebago dragged 
her anchor in the fresh breeze, and in order to avoid a 
collision the Osage tripped anchor and moved ahead, 
but just as she was anchoring again she struck a tor- 
pedo and sank almost immediately. None of her men 
were drowned, but five of them were killed and eleven 
wounded by the force of the explosion. A few days 
after this April 1st the steamer RodolpTi, having on 
board a machine for raising the Milwaukee, was also 
struck by a torpedo thirty feet aft from her bow, which 
caused her to sink in a few minutes. The explosion 
killed four men and wounded eleven. 

On the 8th of April Spanish Fort surrendered. 
Commander Pierce Crosby was ordered to proceed in 
the Metacomet and clear the river of torpedoes (which 
the enemy still continued to send down), and he suc- 
ceeded in lifting over a hundred and fifty of them. On 
the 10th the ironclads and the Octorara moved up the 
river and shelled the earthworks named Huger and 
Tracy, which were abandoned on the following evening. 
On the 12th, Commander Palmer, in the Octorara, ac- 
companied by the ironclads, moved up the river within 
easy shelling distance of Mobile, while Admiral Thatch- 
er, conveying eight thousand troops under General 
Granger, crossed the bay in the gunboats ; but the city, 
having been evacuated by the Confederate troops, sur- 
rendered without further resistance. 

While engaged in the work of clearing these waters 
of torpedoes, the tugboats Ida, AUTiea and one of the 
Cincinnati's launches were blown up, eight men being 
killed and five wounded ; and on the 14th of April the 
gunboat Scioto had six men killed and five wounded 
by a torpedo. 



FROM the time Sumter was fired on a sentimental 
interest centered around Charleston, both among the 
Nationalists and the Southerners, and it became the 
scene of one of the most obstinate sieges in history. 
In December, 1861, and January,. 1862, a number of 
old whalers filled with stones were sunk in the main 
ship channel of Charleston and in Sullivan Island chan- 
nel, with a view of closing the port to blockade-run- 
ners This aroused a storm of opposition in Europe, as 
it was feared that it would destroy the harbor ; but as a 
matter of fact the obstructions proved to be of the most 
temporary character. Many of the blockade-runners 
had been built in England with a view of entering the 
shallow harbors and rivers on the Southern coast, so 
that few of them found it necessary to take the chan- 
nels in Charleston harbor. Furthermore, this "stone 
fleet " caused better and deeper channels to be formed. 

A blockading force was maintained off Charleston 
early in the war, under the command of Rear-Admiral 
Samuel Francis Dupont, but it was not until 1863 that 
any important naval actions took place off that port. 
Early on the morning of January 31st of this year two 
ironclad rams, built somewhat in the style of the Merri- 
mac, came out and gave battle to the blockading squad- 
ron. These vessels the Palmetto State, Commodore 
Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham, and the CTiicora, Captain 
John Randolph Tucker had been built by James M. 
Eason, after plans submitted by John L. Porter, who 
was identified with the construction of the Merrimac. 



They were one hundred and fifty feet over all, had 
thirty-five feet beam and drew twelve feet of water. 
Both vessels were covered with two layers of 2-inch 
iron, which were laid on twenty-two inches of pine and 
oak backing. The iron plating was continued five feet 
below the water line, and also covered the ram, which 
was a formidable elongation of the bow. Under favor- 
able conditions they could steam seven knots. The 
Confederates also were building the ironclads Charles- 
ton and Columbia, which were plated with six inches 
of iron, the ladies of Charleston contributing the money 
for the former. The Palmetto State was armed with 
one 80-pounder and one 60-pounder rifled gun and 
two 8-inch shell guns, while the Chicora carried two 
9-inch guns and four 32-pounders, which had been 
hooped and rifled to fire a 60-pound projectile. 

At the time the Palmetto State and the Chicora 
came out of Charleston harbor, two of the most power- 
ful vessels of the Union squadron, the Powhatan and 
the Canandaigua, were coaling at Port Royal, so that 
only the following gunboats were off the port : Housa- 
tonic, Ottawa, Unadilla, Mercedita, Keystone State, 
Quaker City, Memphis, Augusta, Stettin and Flag. 
Of these vessels, only the Housatonic, the Ottawa and 
the Unadilla were built for war purposes. 

The sea was enveloped in a dense fog, so that the 
first intimation the Nationalists had of the attack 
was about 4.30 A. M., when the Mercedita, Captain 
Henry S. Stellwagen, discovered a strange craft loom- 
ing out of the mist off to the starboard, making di- 
rectly .toward her. The people in the Union steamer 
called out : ' ' What steamer is that ? Drop your anchor 
or you will be into us ! " Commodore Ingraham replied, 
"The Confederate States' steamer Palmetto /State, "and 
almost at the same instant he fired a 7- inch shell into 
the Mercedita, which killed a gunner, and, piercing the 
condenser and steam drum of her port boiler, exploded, 
blowing a hole four feet square in the opposite side near 

Map of Charleston Harbor and vicinity. 


the water line. The escaping steam killed several men 
and scalded three others. The Confederates then called 
on the disabled steamer to surrender and send a boat 
aboard. Lieutenant Abbott accordingly went aboard 
and gave a parole for all the officers and men in the 
Union vessel. Not stopping to secure her prize, the 
Palmetto State joined the Cliicora in an attack upon 
the Keystone State, Commander William Edgar Le 
Roy, whose people had been aroused by the report of 
the gun, and soon discovered above the fog the smoke 
of a tugboat as they supposed approaching from the 
direction of the Mercedita. 

Meantime, lights in a dark object moving a little 
ahead of the Mercedita were discovered, and Com- 
mander Le Roy ordered his cables to be slipped, steam 
got up, and the forward rifled gun to be trained on the 
vessel approaching from the Mercedita. Hailing the 
stranger and getting an unsatisfactory answer, the Key- 
stone State fired her forward gun, and about the same 
instant the Confederate steamer sent a shell into the 
forward hold of the Union vessel, setting her on fire. 
Directing his men to fire as the guns bore, Le Roy put 
his helm aport and held a northeasterly course until 
he found the water shoaling, when he headed his vessel 
southeast. After ten minutes in this direction the 
flames in the hold had been extinguished, and the 
Keystone State made for a black smoke with the inten- 
tion of ramming. The two vessels exchanged shot at 
about 6.17 A. M., when a shell entered the port side of 
the Keystone State, destroyed the steam-pipes, emptied 
the port boiler and filled the vessel with steam, while 
two shot pierced the hull under the water line. As the 
ship heeled heavily to starboard and eighteen inches 
of water were reported in the well, it was thought that 
she was sinking and preparations were made for aban- 
doning her. All this time the stranger was firing into 
the Keystone State, killing or wounding men at each 
shot. Seeing the hopelessness of the struggle, Le Roy 


hauled down his colors, but as the enemy continued 
to fire he rehoisted the flag and renewed the action 
from his stern guns. After exchanging a few shot with 
several other Union vessels the Confederate vessels re- 
turned to Charleston. 

The fog hung over the sea all that morning, and it 
was not until late in the afternoon that the ironclads 
could be seen at anchor near Fort Moultrie. Com- 
mander Le Roy ran in his port guns, so as to heel the 
ship over, thus raising the two shot-holes above the 
water line, and in this condition was towed to Port 
Royal, where the Mercedita also arrived. The Key- 
stone State had twenty killed and twenty wounded, 
Assistant-Surgeon J. H. Gotwold being among the 
former. Most of the injuries were caused by steam. 
The Confederates reported that the rams were unin- 
jured, but they did not again attempt to come out of 
the harbor. The partial success of this dashing affair 
so elated the Confederates that they declared the 
blockade raised, and that the National vessels had 
been driven out of sight. The dense fog hanging over 
the coast might, in truth, have rendered the blockading 
squadron invisible to those on shore, as the proclama- 
tion of General Beauregard and Commodore Ingraham 
declared, but when the fog rose late in the afternoon 
a strong blockading force was seen to be on hand. 

On the evening before this attack the gunboat Isaac 
Smith, Acting-Lieutenant F. S. Conover, while making 
a reconnoissance up the Stono River in company with 
the McDonough, Lieutenant-Commander George Ba- 
con, was fired upon by a masked battery on James 
Island, and almost at the same moment two other bat- 
teries opened on her. Conover attempted to retreat, 
but a shot disabled his vessel's machinery, so that he 
was compelled to surrender, having eight men killed 
and seventeen wounded. The Isaac Smith was taken 
into the Confederate service under the name Stono. 
In May, 1862, the gunboats Unadilla, Pembina and 


Ottawa, under the orders of Commander Marchand, 
went up the Stono as far as Legareville and captured a 
picket guard. 

Anxious to test the monitors that were detailed for 
the Atlantic blockade, Rear- Admiral Dupont, in Janu- 
ary, 1863, ordered the MontauTc, Commander John 
Lorimer Worden, mounting one 15-inch and one 11- 
inch gun, one of the first to arrive, to Ossabaw Sound 
to attack Fort McAllister. This fortification mounted 
nine guns and was commanded by Captain George W. 
Anderson, Jr. Another object Dupont had in view 
was the destruction of the blockade-runner Nashville, 
which had been fitted as a cruiser and was in the Great 
Ogeechee River, waiting for an opportunity to get to 
sea. This vessel, owing to the extreme vigilance of 
Lieutenant-Commander John Lee Davis, of the Wissa- 
TiicJcon, and Lieutenant John S. Barnes, of the Dawn 
(afterward commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Gib- 
son), had been kept in port eight months. To render 
her position more secure, Fort McAllister had been 
strengthened, and a diagonal line of piles was driven 
across the channel and a line of torpedoes planted. 

At 7 A. M., January 27th, the Montauk, handsomely 
supported by the gunboats Seneca, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander William Gibson, Wissahickon, Dawn and 
Williams, opened fire on the fort, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Davis having reconnoitered the waters the 
night before in boats and destroyed the enemy's range 
marks. Having expended his shells, Commander Wor- 
den about noon retired and signaled the gunboats to 
follow. In this affair the ironclad was struck thirteen 
times, but none of the Nationalists were injured. 
These vessels renewed the attack on February 1st, but 
although Captain Anderson reported that "at times 
the fire was terrible," and that the " mortar firing was 
unusually fine, a large number of shells bursting over 
the battery," yet no damage was done which could 
not be repaired at night. The Confederate loss was 


one officer killed, seven men wounded and one gun dis- 
abled. Although struck forty-six times in this second 
attack, the MontauTc escaped without serious injury. 

Discovering that Captain Baker, commander of the 
NasJimlle, on the evening of February 27th had run 
his ship aground, Commander Worden, early on the 
morning of February 28th, moved close up to the line 
of piles, where he could reach the stranded cruiser 
across a marsh, a distance of twelve hundred yards, 
with his guns. Only her upper decks were visible 
from the turret of the monitor. At this moment the 
Union gunboats opened a heavy fire on Fort McAllis- 
ter, while Worden coolly set about making a target of 
the Nashville, in spite of a furious protest from Fort 
McAllister. A few shells soon determined the range, 
and then one of the most beautiful exhibitions of tar- 
get firing in the war was given. In twenty minutes 
Commander Worden had the Nashville on fire aft, 
forward and amidships, in spite of the fog that at one 
time obstructed the view, and in fifty minutes the flames 
reached the magazine and she blew up. So excited and 
exasperated were the Confederates at the audacious at- 
tack of the monitor that the fire from Fort McAllister 
was wild, and only five shot struck the MontauJz. This 
was one of the brilliant achievements of the civil war. 
More than one victory has been won by tireless watch- 
ing. Finding that he could make no serious impression 
on Fort McAllister, Worden, instead of wasting his 
powder, quietly bided his time. When the Nashville 
grounded his quick eye took in the situation at a 
glance. He seized his opportunity and snatched a 
brilliant victory from 'a tedious and unusually inglori- 
ous blockade. When the Montauk was retiring from 
this attack a hole was blown in her bottom by a tor- 
pedo. Worden promptly ran her ashore and had 
pieces of boiler iron bolted over the wound, and con- 
tinued on his station. 

Anxious to subject the new monitors to a further 


test, and at the same time give their officers and crews 
a chance to become more familiar with the novel craft 
before beginning serious operations off Charleston, Du- 
pont ordered the Passaic, Captain Percival Drayton, 
the Patapsco, Commander Daniel Am men, and the 
NaTiant, Commander John A. Downes, with three 13- 
inch mortar schooners, to join the MontauTc in an at- 
tack upon Fort McAllister. This was done with great 
spirit on March 30th, but the shoaling water and the 
line of piles prevented the ironclads from approaching 
nearer than twelve hundred yards, while the mortar 
schooners took a position at four thousand yards. For 
eight hours the monitors kept up a heavy tire, but al- 
though great craters were made in the parapets and two 
guns were disabled, no serious injury was inflicted. As 
Captain Drayton boldly took a position in front of the 
fort, where seven guns bore on him, his vessel was se- 
verely handled. She was struck thirty-four times. 
One mortar shell tilled with sand landed on her deck 
and would have penetrated had it not struck a beam. 
The deck of the monitor was badly shattered in other 
places. The remaining ironclads came out of the action 
without serious injury. During the attack the gun- 
boats Seneca, Wissahickon and Dawn took a position 
two miles from the fort, to signal the effect of the shells. 
The ironclads that were built for the Atlantic 
blockade arrived in the spring of 1863, and by April 
7th Admiral Dupont, in obedience to instructions 
from Washington, made an attack on Charleston. He 
formed his line of battle with the Weehawken, Captain 
John Rodgers, leading, followed by the Passaic, Cap- 
tain Percival Drayton ; the Montauk, Captain John 
Lorimer Worden ; the Patapsco, Commander Daniel 
Ammen ; the New Ironsides (flagship), Commander 
Thomas Turner ; the CatsTcill, Commander George 
Washington Rodgers ; the Nantucket, Commander 
Donald McNeil Fairfax; the Nahant, Commander 
John A. Downes ; and the KeoTcuJc, Commander Alex- 


ander Golden Rhind. All these vessels, excepting the 
New Ironsides and the Keokuk, were ironclads of the 
monitor type, and were armed with one 15-inch and one 
11-inch gun each, excepting the Patapsco, which carried 
a 150-pounder rifled gun in place of the 11-inch gnn. 
The New Ironsides, named after the famous 44-gun 
frigate Constitution, was protected with four and a 
half inches of iron. She was armed with two 150- 
pounder rifled guns and fourteen 11-inch guns. The 
Keokuk also was an experiment in iron-clad ships. She 
was one hundred and fifty-nine feet over all, had thirty- 
nine feet beam, eight feet draft and carried two turrets, 
in which were two 11-inch guns. The number of guns 
in the attacking fleet was seven 15-inch, twenty-two 11- 
inch and four 150-pounder rifled guns ; in all, thirty- 
three guns. 

The defenses of Charleston at this time were of the 
most formidable character. The harbor was fairly 
bristling with cannon, while the waters were filled 
with piles and rope obstructions and thickly planted 
with dangerous torpedoes. The guns bearing on the 
ironclads were ten 10-inch columbiads, two 9-inch Dahl- 
gren guns, twenty 8-inch guns, two 7-inch rifled guns, 
six rifled 42-pounders, eight rifled 32-pounders, fifteen 
32-pounders, one rifled 24-pounder, and five 10-inch 
mortars ; in all, sixty-nine guns. 

Having received instructions to pay no attention to 
the guns on Morris Island, but to concentrate their fire 
on the center embrasure of Fort Sumter, the National 
vessels got under way at 1.15 P. M. ; but so much delay 
was caused by the cumbrous torpedo-catcher that had 
been rigged on the bow of the WeehawTcen that it was 
2.50 P. M. before the vessels were in gunshot of Fort 
Moultrie. Soon afterward the ironclads were subjected 
to a terrific cross fire, and as the Confederates had 
long since determined the exact range, they fired with 
great accuracy. The WeehawTcen opened at 3.05 P. M., 
and ran close up to the rope obstructions between 


Forts Sumter and Moultrie, when a torpedo exploded 
near her bow ; but aside from straining the vessel a 
little it did no serious damage. Observing a row of 
casks ahead, and thinking it imprudent to entangle 
his vessel in the rope obstructions, Captain Rodgers 
turned the bow of his monitor seaward, but still kept 
up a heavy fire. The vessels following the Weehaw- 
Tceris lead were subjected to the same destructive fire. 
In order to avoid a collision with the Nahant, the 
Keokuk ran ahead and was exposed to a terrific tire. 
In thirty minutes she was struck ninety times, nine- 
teen shot piercing her hull at the water line, while her 
turrets were riddled. Seeing that it was impossible to 
keep her afloat, Commander Rhind steamed out of 
range and anchored, and on the following morning, in 
spite of all efforts, she sank off Morris Island. 

After braving the fire of sixty- nine guns for about 
an hour the ironclads retired, some of them seriously 
injured. During the attack the New Ironsides for an 
hour held a position directly over a boiler-iron torpedo 
containing two thousand pounds of powder, which was 
connected by wires with the shore. The Confederates 
made every effort to explode the machine, but without 
success, and the operator was accused of treachery, un- 
til it was learned that one of the wires had been severed 
by an ordnance wagon passing over it. 

After this unsuccessful attack on Fort Sumter, 
Dupont, by the special direction of President Lincoln, 
kept up a formidable demonstration before Charles- 
ton, so as to divert the enemy's attention from other 
points. Learning that the Confederates were com- 
pleting an ironclad of the Merrimac type at Savannah, 
with which they expected to raise the blockade, Du- 
pont ordered the Weehaicken, Captain John Rodgers, 
and the Nahant, Commander Downes, to Wassaw 
Sound to head it off. This ironclad, christened At- 
lanta, had been the British steamer Fingal, purchased 
on the Clyde in September, 1861. At that time she 


was a new ship and had made one or two trips to the 
north of Scotland, at which time her log gave her thir- 
teen knots an hour. In October, 1861, the Fingal 
sailed from Greenock, Scotland, with a number of 
Confederate officers aboard, and running into Holy- 
head, on a stormy night, she accidentally sank an Aus- 
trian brig, the Siccardi. Taking aboard some Con- 
federate officers at this point, she arrived at Bermuda, 
November 2d, and afterward reached Savannah. 

She made several efforts to run the blockade, but 
the National vessels so vigilantly guarded the coast 
that the Confederates found it impossible to get her to 
sea. She was then cut down to the main deck, which 
was widened amidships and overlaid with a foot of 
wood and iron plating, and upon this foundation was 
built the casemate, the sides of which inclined at an 
angle of thirty- three degrees. She was two hundred 
and four feet over all, had forty-one feet beam and 
drew fifteen feet nine inches of water, but her speed 
had been reduced to less than eight knots an hour. 
Yet even this speed would have made her a dangerous 
antagonist for the slow-going monitors. The top of the 
casemate was flat, and the pilot house rose three feet 
above it. The casemate was covered with four inches of 
iron plates in two layers, laid on top of three inches of 
oak and fifteen inches of pine. The Atlanta was fitted 
with a formidable ram and a spar torpedo. Her arma- 
ment consisted of two 7-inch Brooke rifled guns, mount- 
ed on pivots in the bow and stern, and two 6 '4-inch 
Brooke rifled guns in the broadside. The 7-inch guns 
could be used with broadside guns, so that there were 
three guns to each broadside. The Confederates were 
also building the Georgia after the same plan. This 
vessel was two hundred and fifty feet over all and had 
sixty feet beam, while her casemate was twelve feet high. 
The Atlanta, commanded by Lieutenant William A. 
Webb, was designed as a seagoing cruiser, and had twen- 
ty-one officers and one hundred and twenty-one men. 


Shortly after daylight, June 17th, the Atlanta was 
discovered coming down Wilmington River, accom- 
panied by several steamers filled with people eager to 
witness the expected victory over the monitors. On 
making out the ironclad, the Weehawken and the Na- 
Tiant slipped their cables and ran down to the east end 
of Wassaw Island, where there was more room for 
manoeuvring. Having led the Atlanta far enough out, 
the monitors, about 4.30 A.M., advanced to meet the 
enemy. While yet a mile and a half away Lieutenant 
Webb fired a rifled shell, which struck the water be- 
yond the Weehawken and near the Nahant. Rodgers 
being considerably in advance of his consort, at 5.15 
A. M. fired a shot at a distance of three hundred yards. 
This missile knocked a hole in the Atlanta's casemate, 
scattering a great quantity of wood and iron splinters 
over her gun deck, wounding sixteen men and prostrat- 
ing about forty. Another shot from the Weehawken 
struck the top of the pilot house, crushing and driving 
down the bars on the top and sides, and wounding 
both pilots and two helmsmen. The Weehawken fired 
three more shots, one of them smashing a port shutter 
and starting the joint of the casemate with the deck. 

The Atlanta fired in all eight shot, none of which 
struck the monitors. At 5.30 A. M., after an action of 
only fifteen minutes, Lieutenant Webb hauled down 
his colors. A prize crew was placed aboard the At- 
lanta, and she was taken to Port Royal. She was re- 
paired, and in February, 1864, she was stationed at 
Hampton Roads. 

On July 4, 1863, Rear- Admiral John Adolphe Ber- 
nard Dahlgren arrived at Port Royal, and on the 6th 
he succeeded Dupont in command of the fleet. With 
a view of making a combined naval and land attack 
on Morris Island, the monitors, at 4 A. M., July 10th, 
crossed the bar in the following order Catskill (flag- 
ship), Montauk (now commanded by Commander Fair- 
fax), Nahant, Weehawken (now commanded by Com- 


mander Edmund R. Colhoun) and attacked the Con- 
federate fortifications at the southern end of Morris 
Island. At the same time General Gillmore opened fire 
from the batteries he had erected on the northern end 
of Folly Island. After four hours of firing the Confed- 
erate batteries were silenced and the National troops 
took possession. The ironclads then advanced upon 
Fort Wagner, which mounted ten or twelve heavy 
guns, and, taking a position as close as the shoal waters 
would permit, at 9.30, opened fire. In spite of the suf- 
focating heat, to which the men in the National vessels 
were little accustomed, a severe fire was maintained 
until noon, when, two engineers and several firemen in 
the CatsTclll being prostrated by the fearful heat, the 
monitors dropped out of action to allow their crews to 
rest, after which the fight was renewed until 6 p. M., 
when the vessels retired, having fired five hundred 
and thirty-four shells and shrapnel. The CatsTtill, be- 
ing the flagship, received the largest share of the 
enemy's attention, and was struck sixty times. The 
side of her pilot house was bulged in, but the vessel 
was not disabled. The other monitors escaped the 
WeehawTcen without a shot striking her, the Montauk 
struck only twice, and the Nahant six times. Our 
troops assaulted Fort Wagner on the llth, but were 
repelled with heavy losses. On that and the following 
day the ships shelled the Confederate works. 

With a view of diverting the enemy's attention from 
Morris Island, the troops under General A. H. Terry 
were sent up Stono River, accompanied by the Pawnee, 
Commander George B. Balch, the McDonough, Lieu- 
tenant Bacon, and the Marblehead, Lieutenant Scott. 
On July 9th the monitor Nantucket, the Pawnee, the 
McDonough and the Williams opened fire on James 
Island while the troops landed. , Two days later a Con- 
federate battery opened on the army transport Hunter, 
to which the McDonough and the Williams promptly 
responded. Early on the 16th the enemy opened on 


the Pawnee and the Marblehead, disabling the steering 
wheel in the former. The fire of the Pawnee checked 
the advance of the Confederate troops. 

On the 18th of July another naval and land attack 
was made on Fort Wagner, the vessels firing with great 
precision. At 4 P. M. they ran in with the flood tide 
within three hundred yards of the fort and silenced its 
guns. At the same time the gunboats Paul Jones, 
Commander Rhind ; Ottawa, Lieutenant-Commander 
AVilliam Danforth Whiting; Seneca, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander William Gibson ; Chippewa, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Thomas Cadwalader Harris ; WissaMckon, 
Lieutenant-Commander John Lee Davis, fired with 
their pivot guns at long range. General Gillmore had 
erected batteries on Morris Island, about a thousand 
yards south of Fort Wagner, and opened an effective 
fire. As evening came on the National troops made 
another assault, but were again repelled. 

On the night of August 7th the Confederates cap- 
tured a Federal barge and its crew between James and 
Morris Islands. On the following night Lieutenant 
Philip Porcher, in the Juno, while steaming below 
Morris Island, captured the first launch of the Wabash 
and a 12-pound howitzer. Twelve men of the launch's 
crew threw themselves overboard, five being drowned 
and seven being rescued by the other picket boats. 
The remaining eleven were captured. On August 4th 
a picket boat captured a Confederate launch in which 
was Major W. F. Warley of their artillery. 

Several attempts were made by the Confederates to 
destroy the National vessels by torpedoes, their efforts 
being directed chiefly against the New Ironsides. On 
the night of October 5th Lieutenant William T. Glassell, 
in command of a David torpedo boat, managed to get 
alongside of the New Ironsides and exploded a torpedo 
three feet under water, but, although giving the massive 
ship a bad shaking up, it did no vital injury. The 
torpedo boat was destroyed and Lieutenant Glassell 


was made a prisoner. Expeditions also were organized 
to surprise some of the monitors and " smother " them 
by wedging the turrets, covering the hatchways with 
tarpaulins and throwing explosives down the smoke- 
stacks. On the night of April 12th one of these expe- 
ditions was ready to start, but at the last moment the 
men were recalled. 

The naval and land attack on Fort Wagner was not 
renewed until August 17th, when the ironclads Wee- 
hawken (flagship), Catskill, Nahant, MontauJc and New 
Ironsides ran in with the flood tide within four hun- 
dred and fifty yards of the enemy's batteries and opened 
a heavy fire. The gunboats Canandaigua, Mahaska, 
Cimmerone, Ottawa, Wissahickon, Dai CMng and 
Lodona opened fire at a greater distance. In two 
hours Fort Wagner was silenced. Fort Moultrie occa- 
sionally reached the New Ironsides with her shot. 
While the bombardment was in progress the pilot house 
of the Catskill was struck by a heavy shot, and Com- 
mander George Washington Rodgers and Acting- As- 
sistant- Paymaster Josiah G. Woodbury were killed, 
while Pilot Penton and Master's-Mate Wescott were 
wounded. After transferring their bodies to a tugboat 
the Catskill resumed her fire. At one time Dahlgren, 
transferring his flag to the Passaic, accompanied by 
the Patapsco, ran within two thousand yards of Sumter 
and opened an effective fire. From this time the land 
batteries kept up a constant fire on the forts and bat- 

Another attack was made on Sumter by five moni- 
tors on August 23d. Before daybreak they ran within 
range and kept up a heavy fire until 6 A. M. A night 
attack was made by all the ironclads on September 2d, 
and in five hours two hundred and forty-five shot were 
fired at the enemy. In this affair the ironclads were 
hit seventy-one times, one shot driving an iron fragment 
in the Weehawken, which broke Captain Badger's leg. 
During these attacks the four rifled guns that had been 

1863. BOAT ATTACK. 4-^ 

landed and fired nnder the direction of Commander 
Foxhall A. Parker did good service. 

On the night of September 6th the Confederates 
evacuated Morris Island. On the following night the 
Weehawken, in attempting to pass into the harbor be- 
tween Sumter and Cumming's Point, grounded and re- 
mained in that position until daylight. As soon as she 
was discovered the Confederates opened from their 
batteries on Sullivan and James Islands. The monitor 
responded as well as she could, and some of her shells 
caused an explosion in Fort Moultrie, destroyed an 
8-inch columbiad, killed sixteen men and wounded 
twelve. The New Ironsides, Captain Rowan, with the 
other monitors, observing the perilous position of their 
consort, ran in and opened a heavy fire on the enemy 
until the Weehawken was floated off. On this day the 
Patapsco made a handsome dash into the harbor to 
examine the obstructions. 

With a view of surprising Fort Sumter, a boat ex- 
pedition under the command of Commander Thomas 
Holdup Stevens attacked the fort on the night of Sep- 
tember 8th. The boats moved in five divisions, com- 
manded by Lieutenant-Commander Edward P. Wil- 
liams, Lieutenants George C. Remey, S. W. Preston 
and Francis J. Higginson, and Ensign Charles H. 
Craven. There was also a detachment of marines 
under Captain McCawley, making a total force of four 
hundred men. Unfortunately, the Confederates had 
learned of the proposed attack. The boats in tow of 
a tug, when about eight hundred yards from Sumter, 
dropped the line, and, receiving their final instructions 
and the watchword, pulled for the fort. Lieutenant 
Higginson's division was to make a diversion toward 
the northwest front, while the main attack was to be 
made on the southeast front. Through a misunder- 
standing, however, the boats followed Higginson's di- 
vision. When they approached the fort a heavy fire 
of shell, hand grenades and small arms was opened, 


while the Confederate gunboats and rams poured in a 
cross fire. Several of the boats got their men ashore, 
where they were promptly captured, but the others, 
finding that the Confederates were prepared, retreated. 
The Nationalists had three men killed, while thirteen 
officers and one hundred and two men were made pris- 

The army batteries again opened on Fort Sumter, 
October 26th, while the Patapsco and the LehigJi 
opened a cross fire with the 150-pounder rifled guns. 

On the 6th of December, while the commander of 
the Weehawken, Commander Jesse Duncan, was aboard 
the flagship, the monitor suddenly sank. The disaster 
was due to leaks in the vessel. The monitors gen- 
erally had been trimmed so that the stern would be 
deeper than the bow, by which means all water ac- 
cumulating from leaks would run aft and could be 
thrown out by powerful pumps. The Weehawken, 
however, had been taking aboard a number of heavy 
shells. The ironclads frequently had been compelled 
to run out of action for want of ammunition, and to 
increase her supply the WeeJiawkeri s forward hold 
was filled with 15-inch shells. This brought her bow 
down so much that the water did not run aft freely. 
In the heavy swells the vessel took in considerable 
quantities of water through the hawse holes, which, 
accumulating in the forward extremity of the vessel, 
gradually brought her down by the head. This pre- 
vented the pumps from reaching the water that accu- 
mulated. The increase of water in the vessel was so 
gradual that there was no apprehension of danger un- 
til a few minutes before she went down, when the sig- 
nal "Assistance required" was given. Five minutes 
afterward the WeeTiawTcen rolled heavily to starboard, 
and, gradually settling, she rose to an upright position 
and plunged to the bottom, carrying down four officers 
and twenty seamen. 

At .six o'clock on Christmas morning the Marble- 


head, Lieutenant-Commander Meade, while at anchor 
near Legareville had an engagement of an hour and a 
half with the Confederate batteries on John's Island. 
Hearing the sound of shotted guns, Commander Balch, 
in the Pawnee, with the mortar schooner Williams, 
Acting-Master Freeman, got under way and opened a 
cross fire on the Confederates, driving them from their 
guns. In this affair the Marblehead had three men 
killed and four wounded, and her hull had been struck 
twenty times. 

While lying off Charleston on the night of April 
18th, the WabasTi was approached by a torpedo boat, 
but by slipping her cables and going ahead she avoided 
trouble. A round shot struck the machine, and it 
was seen no more. On the 9th of July a naval force 
assisted General Schimmelfennig, who commanded the 
troops in an attack on James Island. 

On the morning of November 5th the Palapsco de- 
stroyed a sloop that had run aground near Fort Moul- 
trie. Five days later the Pontiac, while endeavoring 
to pick up her anchor near Moultrie, was struck by a 
rifled shell, which killed five men and wounded seven. 
On the night of the 15th of January, 1865, the Patapsco, 
while on picket duty near the line of obstructions, was 
struck by a torpedo and sank in fifteen seconds, in five 
fathoms of water. Of her crew, numbering one hundred 
and seven men, only five officers and thirty-eight men 

On the 17th of February, 1864, the Housatonic was 
sunk by a torpedo boat. This submarine craft had a 
singular history. She was built in Mobile, in 1863, and 
was designed to dive under water, the motive power be- 
ing a propeller worked by eight men. While on her trial 
trip she sank, the crew of ten men suffocating. Being 
raised, she was taken to Charleston in 1864, where she 
was sunk by the wash of a passing steamer, her crew, 
with the exception of Lieutenant Payne, going down 
with her. She was raised, but while at the wharf near 


Fort Sumter sank for the third time, carrying down 
all her men excepting Lieutenant Payne and two sea- 
men. Soon afterward she made several successful dives 
in Stono River, but at last stuck her nose in the mud 
at the bottom of the river and the crew suffocated. 
For the fourth time she was raised, but in attempting 
to dive under a schooner for practice she fouled the 
cables, and again the crew perished. After being under 
water a week she was raised, and Lieutenant George E. 
Dixon, with Captain J. F. Carlson and five men, volun- 
teered to go in her and blow up the Housatonic, in 
spite of the fact that the torpedo boat had already 
been the coffin of over thirty men. The daring men 
set out a little before nine o'clock, February 17th, and 
came near the Federal ship before discovery, and ex- 
ploded the torpedo. The Housatonic sank quickly, 
carrying down Ensign Hazeltine and four men, while 
the rest of the crew took refuge in the rigging, which 
remained above water when the hull touched bottom. 
The torpedo boat, however, never came to the surface 
again. After the war, when the wrecks off Charleston 
were being removed, the boat was discovered on the 
bottom about a hundred feet from the Housatonic ; all 
her men were at their stations. 

On the approach of General Sherman's army the 
Confederates, on February 17th, evacuated Charleston. 



THE loss of Roanoke Island and its adjacent waters 
was a severer blow to the Confederates than the Na- 
tional Government at first realized. Roanoke Island 
was the key to all the rear defenses of Norfolk, and ten 
of the most important rivers in North Carolina flowed 
into Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, by means of which 
the Nationalists could make their way far into the 
interior. The Albemarle and Chesapeake and the 
Northwest and Norfolk Canals and two railroads 
the Petersburg and Norfolk and the Seaboard and 
Roanoke were largely in their power, and the com- 
mand of General Huger was cut off from its most effi- 
cient means of transportation. Gosport Navy Yard 
and the Confederate forces at that point were endan- 

Realizing the importance of these sounds, the Con- 
federates made several gallant efforts to recover them. 
On March 14, 1863, they made a sudden attack on Fort 
Anderson, which the Nationalists had built on the River 
Neuse, opposite New Berne, and bombarded the place 
for several hours ; but with the assistance of the gun- 
boats Hetzel and Hunchback this attack was repelled. 
On January 30, 1864, the Confederates made another 
dashing attempt to recapture the place. The gunboats 
LocTcwood, Commodore Hull and Underwriter were 
guarding the river side of the town. A boat-expedi- 
tion under the command of Commander John Taylor 
Wood made a night attack on the Underwriter, then 
commanded by Acting-Master Jacob Westervelt, and 


476 THE RAM ALBEMARLE. 1863. ! 

in the desperate fight that took place on the decks of j 
the gunboat the Nationalists were finally overpowered, 
having had nine killed, twenty wounded and nineteen | 
made prisoners, while the Confederate loss was six 
killed and twenty-two wounded. The Confederates de- 
stroyed the Underwriter and escaped. 

Recognizing the necessity of an ironclad of the Mer- 
rimac type to co-operate with them on these sounds, the ! 
Confederates began the construction of several such ves- 
sels, which, it was confidently asserted, would make short 
work of the frail wooden gunboats that composed the Na- 
tional fleet in the North Carolina waters. Early in 1863 
they began work on the Albemarle, at Edward's Ferry, 
some miles up the Roanoke. The building of the craft 
proceeded under great difficulties. Several contracts 
for construction of war- vessels were made, but were 
broken off on account of the activity of the National 
forces. The greatest difficulty in the case of the Albe- 
marle was in securing iron, and the country was ran- 
sacked for miles around for bolts, bars and metal in 
every form for the construction of the ironclad. Captain 
Cooke, who was chiefly interested in the Albemarle, be- 
came known as the " Ironmonger Captain." The keel 
was laid in an open cornfield, while an ordinary black- 
smith' s outfit constituted the plant for building. Even 
the most enthusiastic had little hopes of a successful 
war-ship constructed under such circumstances. The 
contractor was Gilbert Elliott, and the plans were per- 
fected by Chief-Constructor John L. Porter, who also 
was concerned in the building of the Merrimac. The 
craft was one hundred and twenty-two feet overall, had 
forty-five feet beam and drew eight feet of water. The 
casemate, built of massive pine timbers, covered with 
four-inch planking, was sixty feet long and was covered 
with two layers of 2-inch iron. The vessel was pro- 
pelled by twin screws, operated by engines of two 
hundred horse power each. She was armed with an 
Armstrong 100-pounder in the bow and one in the 


stern, while the casemate was so pierced that they could 
be used as broadside or quarter guns. 

On April 17th and 18th the Confederate troops under 
General Hoke made a desperate attack on Plymouth. 
The wooden gunboats Miami and Southfield, mounting 
five 9-inch guns and a rifled 100-pounder each, were in 
the river, under the command of Lieutenant Charles W. 
Flusser, and gave great assistance in checking the Con- 
federate assaults. Lieutenant Flusser was aware that 
the Albemarle was nearly completed, but obstructions 
had been placed across the river a little above the town, 
which would prevent her coming down and taking part 
in the attack. The unusually high water in the river, 
however, enabled the ram to float over the obstructions, 
and on the night of April 18, 1864, under the command 
of Captain James Wallace Cooke, she approached the 
Union vessels. Down to the moment of going into ac- 
tion the men had been at work completing the ship. 
John N. Maffitt, of the Confederate navy, says: "At 
early dawn on the 18th steam was up, ten portable 
forges, with numerous sledge hammers, were placed on 
board, and thus equipped the never- failing Cooke start- 
ed on his voyage in a floating workshop. ... On the 
turtle-back numerous stages were suspended, thronged 
with sailors wielding sledge hammers. Upon the pilot 
house stood Captain Cooke, giving directions. Some 
of the crew were being exercised at one of the big guns. 
4 Drive in spike No. 10 !' sang out the commander. 
' On nut below and screw up ! Serve vent and sponge ! 
Load with cartridge ! ' was the next command. ' Drive 
in No. 11, port side so ! On nut and screw up hard ! 
Load with shell Prime ! ' And in this seeming babel 
of words the floating monster glided by on her trial 
trip and into action." 

At midnight, April 19th, the Albemarle was discov- 
ered by the picket boats. In case the ram succeeded 
in passing the obstruction Lieutenant Flusser had con- 
nected the Miami and the Southfield with long spars 


and chains, intending to hold the ironclad between the 
two vessels, which would in some degree counterbal- 
ance the Confederate advantage of armor plating. As 
soon as Captain Cooke found that he had been discov- 
ered, he hugged the southern shore, so as to avoid run- 
ning between the two gunboats, and when nearly abreast 
of them he put on a full head of steam, and, running 
diagonally across the river, passed the Miami's bow 
and rammed the Southfield. The iron beak of the Albe- 
marle struck the starboard bow and entered the fire 
room of the gunboat, and the chain plates on the for- 
ward deck of the ram became entangled with the 
Southfield's hull. As the South-field settled and grad- 
ually sank she carried down the bow of the ironclad, 
so that the water poured through the forward open 
ports, and both vessels would have sunk had not the 
Southfield, on touching bottom, rolled over and released 
the Albemarle. 

Both gunboats, as soon as the ironclad was discov- 
ered, had opened a heavy fire with shells ; but these, 
on striking the iron casemate, were shivered into thou- 
sands of pieces. Lieutenant Flusser, who stood behind 
a gun in the Miami, fired a heavy shell at a distance of 
a few feet at the Albemarle, but the missile was only 
shattered into fragments, which, bounding back, killed 
Flusser, tearing him almost to pieces, and wounded a 
dozen other men. When it was seen that the South- 
field would sink, the lashings were cut and many of 
the Southfield^ s crew jumped on the Miami's deck. 
Some of the Miami's people attempted to board the 
ram, but were repelled. Realizing the hopelessness of 
the struggle, the Miami with two tugboats retreated 
down the river, exchanging shot with the ram as long 
as the guns bore. On the following day Plymouth sur- 
rendered to General Hoke. The Bombshell had been 
sunk by the Confederate land artillery. This vessel 
was an ordinary canal-boat mounting one gun and two 
light pieces. She had been purchased for the Burnside 


expedition together with four other vessels of this class, 
which bore the warlike names of Grapeshot, Shrapnel, 
Grenade and Rocket. These vessels were officered and 
manned by the Marine Artillery Corps under Colonel 
Haward, formerly of the revenue service. The Con- 
federates afterward raised the Bombshell. 

The Nationalists rightly conjectured that this was 
only a beginning of the programme laid out for the 
Albemarle, and that in a short time she might be ex- 
pected in the sound to give battle to the wooden gun- 
boats. In anticipation of this, Captain Melancton 
Smith stationed the double-ender gunboats Mattabe- 
sett, Commander John C. Febiger ; Sassacus, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander Francis A. Roe ; Wyalusing, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander Walter W. Queen ; and Miami, 
Acting- Volunteer- Lieutenant Charles A. French : and 
the ferryboats Commodore Hull, Acting-Master Francis 
Josselyn ; Whitehead, Acting-Ensign G. W. Barrett ; and 
Ceres, Acting-Master H. H. Foster, at the mouth of the 
Roanoke to watch for the Albemarle. The armament 
of the double-enders consisted of two 100-pounder Par- 
rott guns, four 9-inch, four 24 pounders and two 12- 
pounder howitzers. The Sassacus carried two addi- 
tional 20-pounders, while the Miami had been fitted 
with a torpedo, which was to be exploded under the 
hull of the ironclad, and she was also provided with a 
net, which was to entangle the propellers. 

On May 5th the Albemarle came out of Roanoke 
River, accompanied by the Bombshell, filled with two 
hundred sharpshooters, and the transport Cotton Plant, 
for the purpose of escorting military supplies to Alliga- 
tor River by order of Commander R. F. Pinckney, 
commander of the Confederate naval force in North 
Carolina waters. On the completion of this errand, 
Captain Cooke intended to make an extended cruise on 
the sound against the Union gunboats. As soon as the 
Confederate vessels were discovered, Captain Smith 
got his little squadron under way, and shortly before 


5 P. M. drew near the enemy, then fourteen miles from 
the mouth of the Roanoke. It was reported that 
thirty armed launches, then being fitted out in Chowan 
River under Lieutenant R. B. Minor, would come out 
and join the Albemarle. The smaller Union vessels 
were directed to look out for them, the Bombshell and 
the Cotton Plant, while the larger vessels were to pass 
the ram, deliver their broadsides, and then, turning, 
repeat the manoeuvre. While they were yet at some 
distance a puff of white smoke and a faint flash from 
the Albemarle's forward gun were seen, showing that 
the Confederates had opened the battle. This was 
quickly followed by another discharge, and two shells 
skillfully aimed cut away the rails and spars and 
wounded six men at the Mattabesetff s rifled pivot gun. 

The Mattabesett, followed by her consorts, avoided 
the Albemarle's attempt to ram, and passing, delivered 
broadsides of solid 9-inch and 100-pound shot. These 
missiles, although delivered at short range and with 
full charges of powder, glanced harmlessly from the 
iron casemate. The gunboats then turned and endeav- 
ored to renew the action on the other side, but the 
Albemarle also turned, thus forming the ships in a cir- 
cle. Well knowing that he could not hope to inflict 
serious injury by cannon-fire alone, Captain Smith had 
instructed his vessels to attempt ramming. The Sas- 
sacus, after passing the Albemarle, captured the 
Bombshell. About this time she was four hundred 
yards from the ironclad, and observing her change 
course a little so as to avoid ramming from the Matta- 
besett, Roe saw his opportunity to strike a full blow 
on the broadside. He ordered his engineer to put oil 
and waste on the fires so as to get a full head of steam. 
Then, backing until he had secured the right position, 
he gave the order for full speed. 

On went the swift Sassacus at the top of her speed, 
aimed straight for the ram's side, and all hands were 
ordered to lie down just before the collision took place. 

1864. ROE'S HEROIC DASH. 4 81 

The Sassacus struck the ironclad at right angles on 
the starboard side just abaft the casemate. The shock 
was terrific, careening the Albemarle over and tearing 
away the bow of the Sassacus. The Sassacus swung 
alongside, and her paddle-wheel, continuing to revolve, 
struck the deck of the ironclad and forced the vessel 
several feet below the surface of the water, and many 
of the Confederates believed they were sinking. The 
Albemarle righted, however, and it was discovered that 
she had not been seriously injured. About the time of 
the collision the Confederates fired 100-pound shot, 
which crashed through the wooden side of the Sassa- 
cus as if it had been so much paper. Assistant-Sur- 
geon Edgar Holden, who was in the Sassacus, said : 
"Through the starboard shutter, which had been partly 
jarred off by the concussion, I saw the port of the ram 
not ten feet away. It opened, and like a flash of light- 
ning I saw the grim muzzle of the cannon, the gun's 
crew naked to the waist and blackened with powder ; 
then a blaze, a roar and the rush of the shell as it 
crashed through, whirling me round and dashing me 
to the deck." 1 

The Confederates followed this up with a shot that 
pierced one of the boilers of the Sassacus, and in an 
instant the lower deck was filled with steam, which 
scalded many of the crew. The enemy then attempted 
to board, but was repelled. The disabled Sassacus 
slowly drifted out of action, but heroically kept up a 
fire as long as she was in range. But another danger 
threatened the gunboat. In order to ram the ironclad, 
Captain Roe had ordered a full head of steam. The 
lower decks were now filled with steam and the remain- 
ing boilers were in danger of exploding. Realizing 
the peril First-Assistant-Engineer James M. Hobby 
called on his men to follow him into the fire-room and 
draw the fires. This was done none too soon, and, 

1 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. iv, p. 629. 


blinded and helpless, the heroic engineer was then 
brought back to the deck. 

The other vessels of the squadron kept up a heavy 
fire on the ironclad, but were unable to injure their 
shot-proof antagonist. As night came on, the Albe- 
marle retired up the river. She had been severely 
battered, but not disabled. One of her two guns had its 
muzzle cracked, her smokestack was riddled, her tiller 
had been disabled and everything exposed outside of 
her casemate had been swept away. With a few re- 
pairs, she was once more as formidable as ever. On 
May 24th she came down the river to drag for torpedoes, 
but finding the Whitehead on guard she retreated. In 
this desperate battle the Mattabesett had two men killed 
and six wounded ; the Sassacus, one killed, six wound- 
ed and thirteen scalded ; the Wyalusing, one killed. 

Although driven from the sound, the Albemarle 
was a constant menace to the fleet. An attempt was 
made on May 25th to destroy her with torpedoes. A 
party of volunteers from the Wyalusing consisting of 
Coxswain John W. Lloyd, firemen Allen Crawford and 
John Laverty, and coal-heavers Charles Baldwin and 
Benjamin Lloyd pulled up a branch of the Roanoke 
in a boat containing two torpedoes. Reaching a point 
opposite Plymouth, eight miles from the mouth, where 
the ram was moored, the men landed, and, carrying the 
torpedoes across the intervening swamp on a stretcher, 
they reached the Roanoke. Swimming across the 
river, John W. Lloyd and Baldwin hauled the torpe- 
does to the Plymouth side. The machines were then 
connected by a bridle and floated downstream, guided 
by Baldwin, with the intention of exploding them 
across the bow of the ram ; but when within a few 
yards of the ironclad the line fouled a schooner, and 
at the same time Baldwin was discovered by a sentry 
on the wharf and a volley of musketry was fired. 
The men then scattered, and after wandering several 
days in the swamps they regained their vessels. 


Hearing that the Confederates had nearly com- 
pleted a sister ship to the Albemarle, the Government 
decided to attempt her destruction at her moorings. 
Two steam picket boats with spar torpedoes attached, 
which were the invention of First- Assistant-Engineer 
John L. Lay and were introduced by Chief-Engineer 
William Willis Wiley Wood, were fitted out under 
the direction of Edward Gregory in New York. The 
bows of the boats were decked over, and the engines 
were so constructed that when they were covered with 
tarpaulins all light and sound were shut in, and at low 
speed they made scarcely any noise. A 12-pounder 
howitzer was mounted in the bow, and a spar was fitted 
on the starboard bow, at the end of which a torpedo 
was to be attached. 

Lieutenant William Barker dishing was selected 
to command the expedition. This officer, although 
only twenty-one years old, was celebrated for the many 
daring and successful expeditions he had led while in 
command of the Mont f cello off Cape Fear River. On 
the night of February 28, 1864, accompanied by Act- 
ing-Ensign J. E. Jones, Acting-Master's Mate William 
L. Howarth and twenty men, in two boats, he boldly 
passed Fort Caswell and landed in front of the hotel 
at Smithville, opposite which were the barracks in 
which the garrison of about a thousand men was quar- 
tered. Concealing his companions under the bank, 
Gushing, with two officers and a seaman, entered Gen- 
eral Hebert's headquarters and captured an engineer 
officer. General Hebert himself was absent. Return- 
ing to the boat with his prisoner, Gushing pulled be- 
yond the fort before the Confederates could fire on 
him, although the alarm had been given. 

On the night of the following June 23d Gushing 
again entered the river with Howarth and fifteen men 
in a boat, for the purpose of destroying the ironclad 
ram Raleigh, which the Confederates had constructed 
for the purpose of raising the blockade. This vessel, 

484: THE RAM ALBEMARLB. 1864. 

on the night of May 6, 1864, under the command of 
Captain William F. Lynch, and accompanied by two 
small river steamers, the Tadkin and the Equator, and 
under cover of darkness, attacked the blockading ves- 
sels. After exchanging shot with the National vessels 
without much damage on either side, the Raleigh re- 
turned to the river, but in crossing the bar she strained 
herself. It was deemed necessary to destroy this iron- 
clad, and Gushing volunteered for the hazardous service. 
When the boat was fifteen miles from the starting-point 
the moon revealed it to the enemy. Pulling downstream 
as if retreating until he reached the shade on the oppo- 
site bank, Gushing again headed upstream unobserved, 
and at daybreak, when within seven miles of Wilming- 
ton, he hid his boat in a swamp. On the following 
night he captured a fishing party and compelled them 
to act as guides, and with their aid he thoroughly ex- 
amined the obstructions in the river three miles below 
the town. The next morning Gushing moved up one 
of the creeks until he came to a road, where he left his 
men and landed. Reaching the main road between 
Wilmington and Fort Fisher, he captured a courier 
with valuable information. Two hours later he at- 
tempted to seize another courier from the town, but, 
although chase was given on horseback, the courier 
escaped. Howarth then disguised himself in the 
clothes of the first courier, went to a store, and secured 
provisions without exciting suspicion, although con- 
versing freely with the people he met. Having as- 
certained that the Raleigh had been destroyed by 
the Confederates, the adventurers on the third night 
set out on their return. When they reached the 
mouth of the river they were discovered and surround- 
ed by nine guard boats and a schooner filled with 
troops. With indomitable pluck Gushing made a 
dash for the western bar, hotly pursued by the Con- 
federate boats. Availing himself of the shade, he 
suddenly changed his course for New Inlet, and after 


an absence of three days lie rejoined his ship without 

On the completion of the picket boats in New York 
they were taken to Norfolk by way of the canals, but 
in crossing Chesapeake Bay one of them was lost. 
From Norfolk they reached Albemarle Sound by the 
canal in October, and Lieutenant Gushing reported to 
Commander Macomb, of the Shamrock, who was then 
the senior officer in these waters. At this time the 
Albemarle was commanded by Captain Alexander F. 
Warley, who in the ram Manassas had taken a dis- 
tinguished part in opposing the passage of Farragut's 
ships at New Orleans. Every precaution had been 
taken by the Confederates to prevent the Albemarle 
from being blown up by torpedoes. She was moored 
to the wharf at Plymouth, where a thousand soldiers 
remained on guard, and a double line of sentries was 
stationed along the river. Her crew, now reduced to 
sixty men, was extremely vigilant. As an additional 
protection, cypress logs connected by chains and 
boomed off some distance from her hull made it im- 
possible for a torpedo boat to approach within striking 
distance. At this point the river is about one hundred 
and fifty yards wide, and a gun was kept constantly 
loaded and trained, so as to sweep the bend around 
which an attacking party must come. 

After several days spent in final preparations, the 
picket boat, in tow of the Otsego, was taken near the 
mouth of Roanoke River. On the night of October 
26th Gushing went up the stream under favorable cir- 
cumstances, but before he had proceeded far he ran 
aground, and before he could get afloat again it was 
too late to carry out his plans, and he returned to the 
Otsego. The night of October 27th came on dark and 
stormy, and about midnight Cushing again set out, 
having in tow a small cutter, for the purpose of captur- 
ing the Confederate guard in a schooner anchored near 
the Southfield and preventing them from sending up 


an alarm rocket. Cashing had with him in the picket 
boat Acting-Ensign William L. Howarth, Acting-Mas- 
ter's-Mates Thomas S. Gay and John Woodman, Act- 
ing-Assistant-Paymaster Francis H. Swan, Acting- 
Third-Assistant-Engineers Charles L. Steever and Wil- 
liam Stotesbury, and eight men : Samuel Higgins, first 
class fireman ; Richard Hamilton, coal-heaver ; Wil- 
liam Smith, Bernard Harley, Edward J. Hough ton, or- 
dinary seamen ; Lorenzo Deming, Henry Wilkes and 
Robert H. King, landsmen. Cushing took his station 
in the stern. On his right was the imperturbable 
Howarth, and next to Howarth was Woodman, who 
was familiar with the river. Behind Cushing and a 
little to his right was Swan. The engineer and fire- 
men were at their usual stations, while forward on the 
deck beside the howitzer was Gay. The plan of attack 
was to land a short distance below the ram and board 
her from the wharf, carry her by surprise and take 
her downstream. If unable to do this, Cushing deter- 
mined to blow her up. 

The night was dark, with occasional squalls of 
rain. Creeping cautiously up the river, the launch 
hugged the shore as closely as possible, so as to avail 
herself of the shadows of the trees for concealment. 
As the adventurers began to draw near the object of 
the expedition strict silence was observed, even the 
most necessary orders being given in a whisper, and 
the speed of the launch was reduced so as to lessen 
the chances of the sound of machinery or the churning 
of the screw being heard by the pickets who were 
known to be guarding each shore. Onward glided the 
phantom boat in sepulchral silence. The rippling of 
the dainty waves against her bow, parting in graceful, 
slanting lines and lapping the banks, was scarcely 
heard in the stillness of the night. 

About 2.30 A. M. they were a mile below Plymouth, 
when the dark outlines of the wrecked Soutlifield 
(which the Confederates had attempted to raise), with 

1864. THE ALARM GIVEN. 437 

her hurricane deck out of water, began to assume 
shape, standing out ghostly and forbidding, as if a 
warning of what might be the fate of the audacious 
launch. Twenty-five Confederate soldiers had been 
stationed under a lieutenant in a schooner anchored 
near the wreck with a fieldpiece and a rocket. As the 
picket boat passed within thirty yards of the South- 
field the men nerved themselves in readiness to board 
in case of discovery. But they were not challenged, 
although the outlines of the wrecked steamer were 
perfectly distinct, and the launch must have been visi- 
ble from the shore. The guards were drowsy. En- 
couraged by this success, Gushing determined to land 
near the wharf, take the Albemarle by surprise, cut her 
moorings, and bring her into the sound. 

Passing the SoutJifield with this object in view, the 
two boats rounded the bend of the river, which was 
commanded by the cannon, and came in full view of 
the town. At this place the Confederates had been in 
the habit of keeping fires all night, in order to discover 
the approach of an enemy, but on this occasion the 
fires had been allowed to go almost out, so that only a 
faint glimmer fell over the river. Avoiding this light 
as much as possible, dishing crept stealthily toward 
the shore, intending to land. 

The dark, gloomy outlines of the ram could now be 
distinctly seen at the wharf like some huge leviathan 
asleep. At this moment, when the adventurers began 
to hope that the surprise would be complete, a dog on 
shore began a furious barking and aroused the sentry. 
Quickly discovering the strange boats, the sentinels 
challenged, but no answer was given. Another chal- 
lenge came, quickly followed by the sharp crack of a 
musket. In an instant the midnight quiet was changed 
into a hubbub of wild excitement. Other dogs joined 
in the barking, sentinels suddenly loomed up on both 
sides of the river, alarm rattles were sprung and bells 
were jangled, where but a moment before all had been 


profound silence. Fuel was immediately heaped on 
the smoldering tires, which soon illuminated the river 
for miles. Soldiers, hastily aroused from sleep, were 
seizing arms and rushing to their quarters, while the 
harsh cries of the officers could be heard. 

Knowing that it was useless to maintain further se- 
crecy, Gushing shouted out, "Ahead fast ! " at the same 
time cutting the tow line, and ordering the cutter to go 
down the river and capture the picket guard near the 
Southfield. The launch was now going through the 
water at full speed. Coming within a short distance 
of the ram, Gushing discovered for the first time that 
it was protected by a cordon of timber. Believing that 
the logs had been in the water long enough to become 
slimy, he sheered off one hundred yards so as to gather 
headway. Making a broad sweep out on the river, he 
attained the desired position, and then came down at 
full speed, hoping to slip over the logs and get within 
the barricades, where he could use his torpedo. As 
the launch cam,e down a volley greeted her, filling the 
back of Cushing's coat with buckshot and tearing off 
the sole of his shoe, while the ominous snapping of the 
primers of the Confederate cannon showed that the 
great guns had missed fire. Paymaster Swan was 
slightly wounded, but no one was seriously injured. 

As the launch approached the Albemarle, Gushing 
called out : "Leave the ram ! We're going to blow you 
up ! " Others of the party gave the Confederates simi- 
lar advice, more with a view of inducing them to leave 
the vessel, however, than from any philanthropic mo- 
tive of sparing lives other than their own. Just then 
the launch fired her howitzer. Passing over the logs 
she approached the side of the ram where her men 
found themselves looking down the yawning muzzle of 
a cannon not ten feet away. 

At this moment Gushing lowered the torpedo spar, 
and when assured that it was well under the ram's 
overhang he detached it with a vigorous pull. The 


torpedo slowly rose, and when he felt it touch the 
Albemarle's bottom he pulled the trigger line. A dull, 
muffled explosion was heard, a column of water shot 
upward, the ram careened and "a hole in her bottom 
big enough to drive a wagon in" was made. 1 The tor- 
pedo had been exploded none too soon, for almost at 
the same instant the Confederates fired a rifled gun 
loaded with 100 pounds of canister, the muzzle of the 
gun being only a few feet from the adventurers. The 
report was terrific. It seemed as if the launch had 
been blown to pieces, but fortunately the explosion of 
the torpedo a fraction of a second before the gun was 
fired destroyed the aim of the gunners. Had there 
been a second's delay in exploding the torpedo the 
entire boat's company would have been blown into 
eternity ; but everything had been arranged under the 
immediate supervision of Gushing, and the programme 
had been carried out to the letter without the slightest 
hitch or delay. 

The Confederates twice called on the party to sur- 
render, and several of the men did so ; but Gushing, 
having accomplished his purpose, called on every man 
to save himself, and, taking off his sword, revolver, 
shoes and coat, he jumped into the river and boldly 
struck off downstream. After swimming half a mile 
he met Woodman, who was almost exhausted, and 
helped him along a short distance, when Gushing also 
became exhausted. Being unable to get to shore, 
Woodman was drowned, and it was only with great 
difficulty that Gushing managed to reach the bank. 
At daylight he hid himself in a swamp near the fort. 
Meeting a negro, from whom he learned that the Albe- 
marle had sunk, Gushing, on the following night, es- 
caped down the river, and securing a skiff rejoined 
the squadron, almost dead with exhaustion and ex- 
posure. Samuel Higgins, the fireman, was drowned. 

Report of the Albemarle's carpen 



The others surrendered, and were taken ashore in 

For this brilliant service Gushing received a vote of 
thanks from Congress and was promoted to the rank of 
lieutenant-commander. In many respects the destruc- 
tion of the Albemarle was similar to Stephen Decatur's 
destruction of the frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of 
Tripoli in 1804. Lord Nelson at that time declared it 
to be "the most heroic act of the age" ; while Captain 
Warley, of the Albemarle, generously admitted that 
"a more gallant thing was not done during the war." 
The Albemarle was raised and taken to Norfolk, where 
in 1867 she was stripped and sold. 

Learning that the Albemarle was destroyed, Com- 
mander W. H. Macomb, on October 30th, attempted to 
reach Plymouth with his flotilla, but the Confederates 
had effectually blocked the channel by sinking the 
guard schooner near the wreck of the Southfield. On 
October 31st he passed into Roanoke River by Middle 
River, and engaged the Confederate batteries in a spir- 
ited cannon fire at comparatively short range, and for 
over an hour dropped shells in and around the Confed- 
erate works. Finally one shell exploded the enemy's 
magazine, upon which the Confederates retreated. The 
vessels engaged were the double- enders Shamrock 
(flagship), Lieutenant Ruf us K. Duer ; Otsego, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander H. N. T. Arnold ; Wyalusing, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander Earl English ; Tacony, Lieutenant- 
Commander W. T. Truxtun ; the gunboats Commodore 
Hull, Acting-Master Francis Josselyn, and Whitehead, 
Acting-Master Gr. W. Barrett ; and the tugs Belle, Act- 
ing-Master James Gr. Green, and Bazley, Acting- Master 
Mark D. Ames. The National loss in this affair was 
six killed and nine wounded. Afterward the Otsego 
and the Bazley were sunk by torpedoes. 



THE brilliant victories of Stringham, Dupont and 
Farragut at Hatteras, Port Royal and New Orleans 
early in the war compelled the Confederates to aban- 
don many of their strongholds on the Atlantic and 
Gulf coasts and to concentrate their energies on a few 
important ports. This resulted in the extraordinary 
strength of Mobile on the Gulf and Savannah, Charleston 
and AVilmington on the Atlantic. From the beginning 
of the war the Government endeavored to maintain a 
vigorous blockade on the southern coast, a distance of 
about three thousand miles. In many places the coast 
line was doubled and penetrated by innumerable inlets 
and intricate channels that gave great facilities to the 
blockade-runner, the South Atlantic squadron alone 
having more than twenty gmall inlets to guard. One 
of the most important objects of the blockade was the 
interruption of commerce between the seceding States 
and Europe. The States of the Confederacy, being 
largely agricultural, had always been dependent on the 
outside world for manufactured articles, and as they 
had little floating capital it was necessary for them to 
realize on their crops. 

Ever since Admiral Warren, in 1813, issued his proc- 
lamation declaring the United States to be in a state 
of blockade, it has been acknowledged that a blockade 
to be binding must be effective ; and when President 
Lincoln, six days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, 
declared the Southern States to be blockaded, he un- 
dertook a task that called for all the maritime re- 



sources of the North. Four neutral ports near the 
coast of the Confederacy speedily became headquarters 
of the blockade-runners. They were Matamoras in 
Mexico on the Rio Grande, Nassau in the Bahamas, 
Havana and Bermuda. These places, excepting Ha- 
vana, were insignificant towns until the outbreak of the 
war, when they suddenly sprang into prominence. 

At first the blockade was irregular and imperfect, 
but as the squadrons were increased from time to time 
it was vigorously maintained. The Atlantic squadron 
was divided into the North and South Atlantic block- 
ading squadrons, the former being directed against the 
coast of North Carolina and Virginia, while the latter 
cruised from the northern coast of South Carolina to 
Florida. On September 23d, Flag-Officer Goldsborough 
assumed command of the North Atlantic blockading 
squadron, and on October 29th Flag-Officer Dupont 
commanded the South Atlantic blockading squadron. 
That the blockade was rigorously and effectively main- 
tained will be seen from the number of prizes taken or 
destroyed. At Wilmington, sixty-five blockade-run- 
ners were intercepted, while the total number of prizes 
made during the war was fifteen hundred and four, of 
which three hundred and fifty-five were destroyed, and 
the others, valued at thirty-two million dollars, were 
brought into port. Early in March, 1862, Flag-Officer 
Dupont occupied Fernandina and St. Augustine, Fla., 
with little opposition. Commander Christopher Ray- 
mond Perry Rodgers hastened up the river with the 
Ottawa and the steam launches and captured St. Mary's. 
Acting- Lieutenant Thomas A. Budd and Acting-Master 
S. W. Mather, commanders of the Union steamers Pen- 
guin and Henry Andrew, while examining an aban- 
doned earthwork near Mosquito inlet, March 22d, were 
fired upon from an ambush and killed. Three of the 
crew were killed and two were wounded and taken 
prisoners. Fort Clinch and Brunswick were occupied. 

While a boat's crew from the PocaJiontas was 


ashore, February 11, 1862, to procure fresh beef near 
Brunswick, it was fired upon by forty Confederate sol- 
diers in ambush and two of the crew were killed and 
six wounded. Assistant-Surgeon Archibald C. Rhoades 
refused a summons to surrender, and by the aid of Pay- 
master Kitchen regained the vessel with the rest of the 

On April 10th, Commander Rodgers, with Lieuten- 
ant John Irwin, Acting-Master Robertson, Acting- 
Midshipmen Mortimer L. Johnson ancj Frederick Pear- 
son, Captain of Forecastle Lewis A. Brown, Quarter- 
master George H. Wood and a detachment of seamen 
from the Wabash, landed on Tybee Island with three 
30-pounder Parrott guns and one 24-poimder, and as- 
sisted the army in the capture of Fort Pulaski. 

Although Hatteras and Port Royal had been cap- 
tured, the Confederates were constantly on the watch 
for an opportunity to retake these posts. To guard 
against this danger Dupont kept his gunboats and 
launches constantly engaged in patroling the intri- 
cate water-ways and sounds that girded the Southern 
coast. This service was attended with much hardship 
and exposure. The first move of the Confederates 
after losing Port Royal was to cut off that place from 
inland communications, by placing obstructions in the 
Coosaw River and Whale Branch and by erecting bat- 
teries at Port Royal Ferry and near Seabrook. This 
they believed would prevent the gunboats from ascend- 
ing those streams, and would enable them to throw a 
large force upon Port Royal Island and capture a regi- 
ment of soldiers holding Beaufort. Commander Rodg- 
ers was directed to co-operate with the troops under 
General Stevens in an attack on these works with the 
following vessels : the Ottawa, Lieutenant Thomas 
Holdup Stevens ; the Pembina, Lieutenant John Pine 
Bankhead ; the Seneca, Lieutenant Daniel Ammen ; 
the armed ferryboat Ellen, Acting-Lieutenant Budd ; 
and the tugboat Hale, Acting-Master Foster. Added 


to this force were four boats from the WdbasTi, each 
armed with a howitzer, uiider the command of Lieu- 
tenants John Henry Upshur, Stephen Bleecker Luce, 
John Irwin and Acting-Master Louis Kempff. In 
order that the enemy might not be forewarned of the > 
attack, these vessels did not leave Beaufort until dark, 
December 31, 1861. Early on the morning of Janu- 
ary 1, 1862, the troops were landed, together with two 
howitzers and a body of seamen under Lieutenant 
Irwin. In spite of every precaution the Confederates 
had learned of the intended expedition and were pre- 
pared to dispute the landing. They were soon put to 
flight, however, by a fire from the gunboats. The next 
morning they appeared in force but were again dis- 

Captain Charles H. Davis got under way for a re- 
connoissance near Savannah, January 26, 1862, with 
the gunboats Ottawa and Seneca, and the steamers 
Isaac Smith, Lieutenant James William Augustus 
Nicholson, Potomska, Lieutenant Pendleton Gaines 
Watmough, Ellen, Acting- Lieutenant Budd, Western 
World, Acting- Master Samuel B. Gregory, two armed 
launches of the Wabash, and the transports Cosmo- 
politan, Delaware and Boston, having on board two 
thousand four hundred troops under Brigadier-General 
Horatio Governeur Wright. As the vessels entered 
Little Tybee River Fort Pulaski did not fire on them, 
as it had no guns mounted on that side. Anchor- 
ing near a line of piles beyond Wilmington Island, 
Captain Davis sent out boat parties to explore the 
creeks and inlets. The approach of the expedition 
caused great excitement at Savannah. At five o'clock 
in the evening several Confederate steamers came in 
sight, and as they had it in their power to select posi- 
tions and give battle it was thought that an engage- 
ment would result. At 11.16 the next morning these 
steamers, having scows in tow, passed down the river 
and opened a spirited fire on the Union flotilla. Three 


of the steamers passed down to Fort Pulaski, but the 
other two were driven back. 

Acting-Master William I). Urann, of the Crusader, 
while assisting a Government agent at North Edisto, 
was severely wounded by the enemy. At three o'clock 
on the morning of April 19th a force of sixty men 
reached the neighborhood and after a short skirmish 
put the Confederates to flight. In this affair three of 
our seamen were wounded. On the 26th of April the 
Wamsutta, Lieutenant Alexander Aldebaran Semmes, 
with the Potomska, went up the Riceborough River and 
at Woodville Island was fired upon with musketry, by 
which two men were killed. The Unionists returned 
the fire and soon routed the enemy. On the 29th of 
April, while a boat crew from the Hale was destroying 
a battery at the junction of the Dawho and South 
Edisto Rivers, the Hale was fired upon by a Confeder- 
ate battery. The Unionists returned the fire and routed 
the enemy. Twenty men then landed and destroyed 
the battery, which consisted of two 24-pounders. Com- 
mander George Aldrich Prentiss in the Albatross, ac- 
companied by the Norwich, made a reconnoissance at 
Georgetown, S. C., on May 21st. On the following day 
while they were passing the town a woman appeared 
in the belfry of the church and displayed the Confeder- 
ate flag. The Union vessel did not notice the incident, 
as, said Commander Prentiss, "a contest in the streets 
would have compelled me to destroy the city." 

Commander Charles Steedman in the Port Royal, 
with the armed steamer Darlington, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Williams, and the Hale, Lieutenant Alfred T. 
Snell, on the 5th of October attacked some batteries the 
enemy had erected on St. John's Bluff, about seven 
miles from the mouth of St. John's River. The Con- 
federates were quickly driven from their works and the 
guns were seized. The steamer Morton was also cap- 
tured farther up the river. In the latter part of No- 
vember, 1862, the Albatross, Lieutenant Commander 


John E. Hart, destroyed extensive salt works at St. 
Andrew's Bay, Florida. 

In the summer of 1862 Farragut sent several light 
squadrons to cruise along the coast of Texas. One of 
these, under the command of Acting- Volunteer-Lieu- 
tenant John W. Kittredge, captured Corpus Christi; 
another, under Commander William Bainbridge Ren- 
shaw, took Galveston ; and a third, consisting of the 
light gunboats Kensington, Acting- Master Crocker, and 
Rachel Seaman, Acting-Master Quincey A. Hooper, 
and a launch with the mortar schooner Henry Janes, 
was sent to Sabine Pass. On August 12th the yacht 
Corypheus, armed with a 30-pounder Parrott gun, 
with the Elmer, chased several Confederate vessels 
ashore near Corpus Christi. Four days later a squad- 
ron consisting of the Corypheus. the Sachem and the 
schooner Reindeer was fired upon by a battery and 
the Sachem was injured, while the magazine of the 
Corypheus exploded. After silencing the battery the 
vessels retired out of range, but on the following day 
Kittredge gallantly came into action again. Thirty 
men with a 12-pounder howitzer were landed and by 
the aid of the cruisers succeeded in repelling an attack 
of one hundred and fifty infantry and afterward a 
charge of two hundred and fifty cavalry. Seeing that 
it was impossible to hold the town without troops, Kit- 
tredge retired, shortly after which he and seven men 
were surprised and made prisoners. 

The vessels ordered to Sabine Pass opened fire on 
the fort defending that place September 24th. It 
mounted four 32-pounders, while the vessels could 
use only a 20-pounder rifled gun and two 32-pounders. 
The Confederates responded briskly, but during the 
night they retired. 

At half past one o'clock New Year's morning, 18G3, 
the Confederate cotton-protected steamers Bayou City 
(carrying a 68-pounder gun and two hundred soldiers) 
and Neptune (armed with two small howitzers and 


carrying one hundred and sixty men) made an attack 
on the Union squadron off Galveston, which at that 
time consisted of the gunboats Westfield, Harriet 
Lane, Clifton, Owasco, Sachem and Corypheus. At 
the same time Confederate troops made an attack on 
the Union garrison, which was quartered on a wharf. 
The Sachem and the Corypheus took a position close 
inshore to assist the troops. About daylight the Har- 
riet Lane, Commander Jonathan May hew Wainwright, 
approached the Confederate steamers, opening fire with 
her bow gun. The Bayou City replied with her 68- 
pounder, but at the third discharge it burst. Wain- 
wright rammed the Bayou City and carried away her 
wheel-guard, at the same time pouring in a broadside. 
The Neptune rammed the National gunboat, but was 
so injured by the collision that she hauled off and sank 
near the scene of action. As her upper deck remained 
above water the troops were still able to fire on the 
Union vessel. Running alongside and making fast, the 
soldiers in the Bayou City poured volley after volley 
into the Harriet Lane, mortally wounding Wainwright 
and Lieutenant-Commander Edward Lea, together with 
several of the men, upon which the vessel surren- 
dered. At the time of the attack the Westfield was 
aground at another entrance to the bay, and the Clif- 
ton went to her assistance. Finding he could not get 
his vessel afloat, Commander Renshaw blew her up, 
but in doing so he, with Lieutenant Charles W. Zim- 
merman, Acting-Second- Assistant-Engineer William R. 
Greene and about thirreen of the crew, was killed. 
The surviving senior officer of the National squadron, 
Lieutenant-Commander Law, of the Clifton, believing 
that none of his vessels could cope with the Harriet 
Lane, retired and raised the blockade. 

The occupation of Mexico by the French, June 10, 
1863, and the efforts of the French agents to detach 
Texas from both the United States and the Confederacy, 
made it desirable to have a demonstration in that quar- 



ter, and on September 5th Major-General Franklin 
with four thousand National troops sailed from New 
Orleans for Sabine Pass, accompanied by the gunboats 
Clifton, Sachem, Arizona and Granite City, under the 
command of Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant Frederick 
Crocker. Crossing the bar at Sabine Pass September 
8th, the gunboats, at 3.30 P. M., opened as heavy a fire 
as their light armaments would permit, but in half an 
hour a shot pierced the Sachem? s boiler, and shortly 
afterward the Clifton grounded and also received a shot 
in her boiler. Both vessels maintained a spirited fire- 
to the last, but in thirty minutes they were compelled 
to surrender, upon which the expedition was aban- 
doned. The Clifton had ten killed and nine wounded, 
and the Sachem seven killed and a number injured. 
Thirty-nine men were reported missing. The sailing 
vessel Morning Light and the schooner Velocity also 
were captured off Sabine Pass. 

Repelled at Sabine Pass, the Nationalists next or- 
ganized an expedition for the purpose of making a 
landing near the Rio Grande, and on October 26th 
three thousand five hundred soldiers under Generals 
Banks and Dana sailed from New Orleans under con- 
voy of the MonongaJiela, Commander James Hooker 
Strong, the Owasco and the Virginia. On November 
2d they effected a landing on Brazos Island, near the 
mouth of the Rio Grande. Leaving a garrison at 
Brownsville, the expedition cruised along the coast to 
Corpus Christi, on Mustang Island, where troops were 
landed and captured a 3-gun battery. Matagorda Bay 
also was taken without serious opposition. 

The naval operations in the Chesapeake and ad- 
joining waters were closed with a number of spirited 
actions. On April 19, 1863, a flotilla consisting of eight 
small gunboats, under the command of Lieutenant Ros- 
well H. Lamson, assisted three hundred men under 
General Getty in capturing a battery at Hill's Point, 
while on the 22d Lieutenant William Barker Cushing 



led a successful land expedition to Chuckatuck. While 
engaged in a reconnoissance up the James River, Au- 
gust 4th, the ferryboat Commodore Barney was se- 
riously injured by a torpedo. On the following morn- 
ing the monitor Sangamori, the Commodore Barney 
and the small steamer Cohasset, under the command 
of Captain Guert Gansevoort, had two indecisive en- 
gagements with masked batteries, in one of which the 
Commodore Barney had a shot through her boiler. 
The National loss was three killed and three wounded. 
While exploring Four Mile Creek, May 6, 1864, the 
little gunboat Commodore Jones was blown up by a 
torpedo and half of her people were killed or wounded, 
I and two days later the Shawsheen was destroyed by a 
shore battery. 

The torpedo that destroyed the Commodore Jones 
was an electric mine, and marks a new eia in this de- 
partment of naval warfare. In the autumn of 1862 
the Confederates organized an electrical torpedo de- 
partment, placing at the head of it Lieutenant Hunter 
Davidson, who commanded the forward division of 
guns in the Merrimac in her action with the Monitor, 
March 9, 1862. It is instructive to note, in the light of 
the present developments, the objections that were 
raised against this "uncivilized and illegitimate" 
method of warfare, not only by the Nationalists but 
by the Confederates themselves. Hunter Davidson 
says : " One of the Northern commanders sent word to 
me that I was not engaged in civilized or legitimate 
warfare, and that he would not respect a flag of truce 
if I came with it, which amused me very much at the 
time, in view of General Grant's explosion of the mine 
at Petersburg. . . . Papers were picked up on the 
banks of the James River after the destruction of the 
Commodore Jones offering a reward of twenty-five 
thousand dollars for my head, but I never believed 
this was done with any other motive than to intimi- 
date. My own brother naval officers used to look at 


me at times with expressions of pity and even con- 
tempt, and the Confederate States navy chief of ord- 
nance told the Secretary of the Navy that it was ' abom- 
inable that the labor and resources of the country should 
be wasted in such nonsense.'" 1 

In spite of opposition from within and without the 
Confederates pushed their torpedo work with remark- 
able success, considering their lack of skilled mechan- 
ics, materials and machinery, it being necessary to 
send to Europe or North for the insulated wires for 
the electric torpedoes. The destruction of the Commo- 
dore Jones was caused by a torpedo mine containing 
eighteen hundred pounds of sporting powder and 
placed in six fathoms of water. It was ignited under 
the personal direction of Hunter Davidson, who says : 
" The explosion was effected at midday, when the gun- 
boat was accompanied by a powerful fleet. In the 
fleet was a servant of mine, a negro boy, who warned 
the officers that they were on dangerous ground. I 
was aware that the negro had deserted in the direction 
of the fleet, and for that reason had wires leading to 
the batteries on both sides of the river, believing that 
if the Nationalists cut the wires on the high left bank 
they would be content with that and proceed, not sup- 
posing that there was a battery with mines on the 
other side also, which was a swamp. 

"My surmise was somewhat correct, for had 
battery station on the left bank been occupied we 
should have been discovered, as at one time the Com- 
modore Jones was high enough upstream to have 
looked into the station. She could have been de- 
stroyed sooner, but we were waiting for an ironclad. 
The orders given on board were distinctly heard by us, 
and it was in consequence of certain orders that the 
Commodore Jones was destroyed as she dropped back 
and over the mine. . . . Many valuable articles from 

1 Hunter Davidson to the author. 

1863-18G5. TORPEDO WARFARE. 501 

the wreck were picked up, especially official correspond- 
ence of importance to the Confederate Government. 
The captain's trunk, private correspondence, Bible, etc., 
were carefully packed up and sent at once to Major 
Mnlford, of the United States flag of truce steamer." 

Mr. Davidson also succeeded in exploding a fifty 
pound torpedo under the frigate Minnesota, near 
where a great quantity of shot and shell were stored 
in her hold ready for transportation southward. Mr. 
Davidson says: "The torpedo was too small. I 
thought so at the time. I could not get a larger 
steamer suitable for the purpose, and the one I used 
would not manoeuvre with a larger torpedo down in an 
ordinary seaway in such open waters as the mouth of 
the James. ... It must be considered that I had to 
explode my torpedo against perpendicular sides. . . . 
As to being drawn into the hole in case I had made 
one in the side of the Minnesota, I had provided 
for that by previous practice of direct ramming at an 
angle, always stopping the engine before striking, and 
instructing the engineer to go full speed astern as soon 
as he felt the blow, without waiting for orders. 

" My torpedo struck the side of the Minnesota and 
exploded in just about one second after contact an 
excellent result for the fuse of that day. The pole 
was shattered to pieces and the little steamer driven 
back forcibly. When she backed off about fifty yards 
and stopped to reverse and go ahead, her single cylinder 
engine caught 'on centre' and there we remained it 
seemed to me about forty years under the fire of the 
Minnesota. The engineer, Mr. Wright, one of the 
bravest and coolest men I ever knew, got the engine 
free again, having to feel for the different parts in the 
dark. The little steamer was peppered all over with 
bullets, several passing through my clothes, but we got 
off without any injury. I then steered in the direc- 
tion of Norfolk to throw pursuers off the scent, which 
proved successful." 

502 ATLANTIC AND GULF COASTS. 1883-186.-) 

Mr. Davidson adds : " Mr. Mallory, the Secretary oi 
the Navy, in writing me after the war, uses these words : 
' The destruction of the Commodore Jones, the leading 
vessel of Lee's fleet, which was ascending the James 
River to co-operate with General Butler in the attack 
on Drewry's Bluff, by causing the retirement of that 
fleet, undoubtedly caved Drewry's Bluff, the key of* 
Richmond.' And in the same letter he adds : ' I always 
regarded the submarine department under your com- * 
mand as equal in importance to any division of the i 

"Admiral Porter states that the man who fired the 
torpedo that destroyed the Commodore Jones was shot 
from one of Lee's boats. This is a mistake. He was 
still living in 1889. The man shot was a carpenter of < 
no torpedo importance." 

On the destruction of the Merrimac, or Virginia, 
the Confederates set about building other ironclads of 
the same type in the James, and by 1864 they had com- 
pleted the Fredericksburg, the Richmond and the Vir- 
ginia No. %, the last being the most formidable of all, ' 
having six inches of armor on her sides and eight on \ 
her ends, and carrying two 8-inch and six 6-inch Brooke : 
rifled guns. The Nationalists had stationed the moni- 
tors Tecumseh, Canonicus and Saugus, the turret ship ; 
Onondaga, and the captured ram Atlanta with a view 
of meeting the Confederate ironclads. On January 23,^ 
1865, while all the Union ironclads, except the Onon- 
daga, Commander William A. Parker, were absent, the 
enemy's rams, under the command of Commodore John 
K. Mitchell, came down the river, but the Virginia 
No. 2 and the Richmond ran aground. In this condi- 
tion they were subjected to a heavy fire from the Union 
batteries and the Onondaga, and when floated off they 
retired up the river. 

The blockade of Wilmington, N. C., had been main- 
tained during the war by a force numbering from 
thirty to forty vessels, yet a large percentage of the 



blockade runners succeeded in getting into and out of 
the harbor. The two widely separated entrances of 
the port afforded the Confederates unusual facilities for 
eluding the vigilance of our officers, and toward the 
close of 1864 it was decided to make a determined at- 
tack upon the forts guarding the place. These con- 
sisted of Fort Caswell, guarding the southern entrance 
of Cape Fear River, and Fort Fisher, at the northern 
entrance. The latter was one of the most formidable 
earthworks on the Atlantic coast. Every art of engi- 
neering had been used to make it impregnable. The 
parapets were twenty-five feet thick, with an average 
height of twenty feet, while the traverses, ten feet 
higher, were ten to twelve feet thick. The fort mounted 
forty-four guns. Its commander was Colonel William 
Lamb. A combined navy and army expedition was 
projected against this place under the command of 
Rear- Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Ben 
jamin Franklin Butler, and an imposing fleet of about 
one hundred and fifty vessels was collected in Hamp- 
ton Roads. 

As a preliminary blow, the old steamer Louisiana 
was filled with powder, which was to be exploded 
under the walls of the fort. Notwithstanding the fate 
of Lieutenant Somers and his gallant shipmates in the 
ketch Intrepid, which was blown up with all hands in 
the harbor of Tripoli in 1804, Commander Alexander 
Colden Rhind, Lieutenant Samuel W. Preston, Sec- 
ond-Assistant-Engineer Anthony T. E. Mullen and 
Master's-Mate Boyden, with seven men, volunteered 
for service in this floating mine. On the night of De- 
cember 23, 1864, the Louisiana, in tow of the Wil- 
derness, Acting-Master Arey, having the Gettysburg, 
Lieutenant Lamson, in company, set out on her per- 
ilous mission. She was towed near her station and 
guided by Mr. Bradford, of the Coast Survey, and Mr. 
Bowen, the pilot. At 11.30 P. M. the Louisiana 
dropped her towline and steamed boldly toward Fort 


Fisher. When four hundred yards from the fort the 
steamer anchored and the sailors were put into a boat, I 
while Commander Rhind and Lieutenant Preston pro- 
ceeded to light the fuses, which had been arranged by | 
Engineer Mullen. These officers then got into a boat! 
and reached the Wilderness at midnight. The vessel j> 
then steamed out to sea at full speed, and when twelve 
miles out hove to. At 1.40 A. M. the powder blew up, | 
inflicting little or no injury upon the enemy. 

At daylight, December 24th, the fleet stood in to j. 
begin the attack on Fort Fisher. The signal to en- ! 
gage the fort was given at 11.30 A. M., and for the next \ 
few hours one of the most stupendous cannonades in j 
history was witnessed. The fort seemed to be literally j 
covered with bursting shells, which dug tremendous \ 
craters in the parapets. But aside from exploding two J 
servipe magazines and burning several buildings the 
bombardment did no material injury, and at sunset 
Porter signaled the vessels to retire. As little diffi- i 
culty was found in silencing the guns of the fort, the 
National vessels were scarcely injured by the enemy's 
shot. The Osceola was struck by a shell, which came 
near her magazine and caused a serious leak. The 
Mackinaw's boiler was exploded by a shell, but she 
fought the battle out. The principal injuries in the 
Union fleet were caused by the bursting of guns, most 
of them 100- pounder rifled Parrott guns. In this way 
eight men were killed and eleven wounded in the 
Ticonderoga, two killed and three wounded in the 
Yantic, five killed and eight wounded in the Juniata, 
one killed in the Mackinaw and one wounded in the 
Quaker City. On the following day, December 25th, 
the bombardment was renewed. Seventeen gunboats 
under the command of Captain Oliver S. Glisson, aided 
by the Brooklyn, covered the landing of the troops. 
About three thousand men were landed, but on a 
close inspection of the fort General Butler deemed it 
unadvisable to attack. After a bombardment of seven 

1865. FORT FISHER. 505 

hours the fleet retired again, and the attack was post- 
poned. In these affairs the fleet lost twenty men 
killed and sixfy- three wounded, while the Confederate 
loss was six killed and fifty-two wounded. Eight of 
the forty-four guns of the fort were rendered unserv- 

A second expedition against Fort Fisher sailed on 
January 12th, and on January 13th six thousand men 
were landed, General Alfred Howe Terry commanding 
the troops. 1 At 3.30 p. M. the fleet got under way and 

1 The vessels engaged in the expedition were the Colorado, Commodore 
Henry Knox Thatcher; New Ironsides, Commodore William Itadford ; Min- 
nesota, Commodore Joseph Lanman ; Powhatan, Commodore James Find- 
lay Schenck; Susquehanna, Commodore Sylvanus William Godon; Santi- 
ago de Cuba, Captain Oliver S. Glisson ; Wabash, Captain Melancton Smith ; 
Fort Jackson, Captain Benjamin Franklin Sands; Vanderbilt, Captain 
Charles W. Pickering; Shenandoah,C&\>\.&\n Daniel Boone Ridgely; Ti- 
conderoga, Captain Charles Steedman; Brooklyn, Captain James Alden ; 
Tuscorara. Commander James Madison Frailey; Monadnock, Commander 
Enoch Greenleaf Parrott ; Rhode Island, Commander Stephen Decatur 
Trenchard; Nereu*, Commander John Camming Howell ; Mohican, Com- 
mander Daniel Ammen; losco, Commander John Guest; Pawtuxet, Com- 
mander James Hanna Spotts ; Osceola, Commander John Mellen Brady 
Clitz ; Mackinaw, Commander John C. Beaumont; Saugus, Commander 
Edmund R. Colhoun; Pontoosnc, Commander William Grenville Temple; 
R. R. Cuyhr, Commander Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell; Juniata, 
Lieutenant-Commander Thomas Stowell Phelps; Yantic, Lieutenant- 
Commander Thomas Cadwalader Harris; Chippewa, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Edward Eells Potter; Sassacus, Lieutenant-Commander John 
Lee Davis: Tacony, Lieutenant-Commander Wiliara Talbot Truxtun ; 
Kansas, Lieutenant-Commander Pendleton Gaines Watmough; Unadil- 
la, Lieutenant-Commander Francis Munroe Ramsay; Maratanza, Lieu- 
tenant-Commander George W. Young ; Maumee, Lieutenant-Commander 
Ralph Chandler: Pequot, Lieutenant-Commander Daniel Lawrence Braine ; 
Canonicus, Lieutenant-Commander George Eugene Belknap; Mahopac, 
Lieutenant-Commander Aaron Ward Weaver; Huron, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Thomas Oliver Selfridge, Jr.; Seneca, Lieutenant-Commander 
Montgomery Sicard ; Monticello, Lieutenant William Barker Gushing; 
Gettysburg, Lieutenant Roswell H. Lamson ; Montgomery, Acting- Volun- 
teer-Lieutenant Thomas C. Dunn. The reserve division under the com- 
mand of Lieutenant-Commander John Henry Upshur, in the Frolic (for- 
merly the A. D. Fam*). consisted of the Britannia, Acting-\ olunteer- 
Lieutenant W. B. Sheldon; the Tristam Shandy, Acting-Volunteer-Lieu- 
tenant Francis M. Green ; the Lillian, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant T. A. 


began the bombardment. Again the terrific cannonad- 
ing of December 24th and 25th was exhibited. As 
evening came on the fleet retired, but the ironclads 
maintained a desultory fire all night. The bombard- 
ment was renewed on the 14th. In the evening Gen- 
eral Terry made arrangements with Porter for a com- 
bined naval and army attack on the morning of the 
15th. Sixteen hundred sailors and four hundred ma- 
rines were landed under the command of Lieutenant- 
Commander Kidder Randolph Breese and Lieutenant- 
Commander James Parker, Lieutenant - Commander 
Upshur covering the landing with the light gunboats. 
At 9 A. M., January 15th, the vessels opened fire, which 
they kept up until 3 P. M., when they ceased in order 
that the land forces might rush to the assault. The 
attacking column of the army, which was lying con- 
cealed under the river bank, charged the left flank of 
the fort, w r hile the naval column came up on the open 
beach, where it was entirely exposed. Colonel Lamb, 
commander of the fort, had stationed most of his men 
to sweep the approach from the beach. The sailors 
were divided into three divisions, Lieutenant Cushman 
commanding the first, Lieutenant-Commander Parker 
the second, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O. Sel- 
f ridge, Jr., the third, w r hile the marines were under the 
command of Captain L. L. Dawson. The seamen were 
repelled with a loss of eighty-two killed and two hun- 
dred and sixty-nine wounded. The troops, having less 
resistance, carried the fort. Among the killed were 
Lieutenants Samuel W. Preston and Benjamin H. Por- 
ter, Assistant-Surgeon William Longshaw, Jr., and 

Harris; the Aries, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant Francis S. Wells; the 
Governor Buckingham, Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant John Macdiarmid; 
the Alabama, Acting- Volunteer-Lieutenant A. R. Langthorn ; the Fort 
Donelson, Acting-Volunteer-Master G. W. Frost ; the Wilderness, Acting- 
Master Henry Arey ; the Nansemond, Acting-Master James H. Porter ; the 
Little Ada, Acting- Master Samuel P. Crafts; the ^olus, Acting-Master 
Edward S. Keyser ; and the Republic, Acting-Ensign John W. Bennett. 
The Malvern was Porter's flagship. 



Acting-Ensign Robert Wiley. An explosion of a maga- 
zine in the fort on the 16th killed two hundred men. 
Among the wounded were Paymaster Jewett and En- 
sign Leighton, Lieutenant-Commander Allen, Lieuten- 
ants Bache, Lamson and Baury, Ensigns Evans, Harris, 
Chester, Bertwhistle, O'Connor, Coffin and Wood, Act- 
ing-Master Louch and Masters-Mates Green, Sims and 
Aldrich. The assaulting columns of the army were 
led by Generals Comstock and Ames. The losses to 
the troops were about seven hundred killed or wounded. 
The place was garrisoned with fewer than two thousand 
men, including officers. 

On February 17th Rear-Admiral Porter attacked 
Fort Anderson, which was halfway between Fort Fisher 
and Wilmington. The attacking vessels were the Mon- 
tauk and the gunboats Pawtucret, Lenapee, Unadilla, 
Pequot, Mackinaw, Huron, Sassacus, Pontoosuc, 
Maratanza, Osccola, S?iawmut, Seneca, Nyack, Chip- 
pewa and Little Ada. The attack was begun on the 
18th, and a heavy fire was maintained until three o'clock 
in the afternoon, when the fort was silenced. The 
Confederates abandoned the place during the night. 
The gunboats had three men killed and four wounded. 
While the river was being dragged for torpedoes on 
the 20th and 21st, one of the machines exploded under 
the bow of the Shawmut, killing two men and wound- 
ing an officer and one man. On the 22d, Porter at- 
tacked Fort Strong at Big Island. Before the enemy 
was driven from his guns the Sassacus was badly in- 
jured by several shot, one of them at the water line. 
On the night of the 20th a torpedo that the Confeder- 
ates had floated down from Wilmington struck the 
wheel of the Osceola, blowing the wheelhouse to pieces, 
but, although doing considerable damage, it did not 
injure the hull. 



AT the outbreak of the civil war the commerce of 
the United States was next to the largest in the world, 
and as most of it was tributary to the Northern States 
the leaders of the Confederacy from the first exerted 
themselves to fit out commerce-destroyers. One of the 
first of these vessels to get to sea was the Sumter, for- 
merly the Habana of the line running between New 
Orleans and Havana. She was armed with an 8- inch 
pivot gun and four 24-pounder howitzers. On June 18, 
1861, under the command of Captain Raphael Semmes, 
she dropped down from New Orleans to the Head of 
the Passes, but it was several weeks before she could 
evade the blockading squadron. Finally, while the 
Brooklyn was in chase of a sail, she made a dash for 
the bar, and, although closely pursued, got to sea. 
Within a week the Sumter made eight prizes. During 
the two months she cruised along the South American 
coast she stopped at Curagao, Trinidad, and Maranham, 
where, although her character was well known, she \\;is 
cordially received and every facility was given to her. 

The Sumter put into St. Pierre, Martinique, for coal 
and supplies, November 9th, where she received the 
usual hospitalities in spite of the neutrality of the port. 
Five days later Commander James Shedden Palmer, in 
the Iroquois, appeared off the port, and learning that 
the rule forbidding the stronger vessel to leave the port 
within twenty-four hours of the other would be en- 
forced, he took a position off the harbor, intending to 
blockade the cruiser. Arrangements had been made 



with the master of an American schooner in port to 
signal to the Iroquois the direction the Sumter took in 
case she attempted to get to sea at night. On the night 
of November 23d Semmes headed for the southern part 
of the roads, which are twelve miles wide, and observ- 
ing that the schooner was signaling, he divined its ob- 
ject, and, waiting until he was sure that the Iroquois 
w r as making for the southern entrance, suddenly turned 
back, and, favored by a squall of rain, made his escape 
by the northern side of the harbor. 

Taking three prizes on his way across the Atlantic, 
Semmes docked at Cadiz and then ran round to Gibral- 
tar, taking two more merchantmen. At this place he 
was blockaded by the Tuscarora, the Kearsarge and 
the Ino, and finding that it was impossible to escape, 
he sold his vessel and disbanded the crew. Later in 
the war the Sumter became a blockade-runner. The 
total number of prizes taken by this vessel was fifteen, 
of which six were released in Cuban ports, seven were 
burned, one ransomed and one recaptured. 

Having few vessels in their own ports suitable for 
commerce-destroyers, the leaders of the Confederacy 
purchased, through their agents and middlemen, ves- 
sels in England, which, sailing without guns, ammuni- 
tion or crews, were met, sometimes at sea and other 
times in out-of-the-way places, by another vessel laden 
with armament and stores, and thus became Confeder- 
ate cruisers. The principal agent for these transactions 
for the Confederate States in England was Captain 
James D. Bulloch, while Commodore Samuel Barron 
represented the Confederacy in France. The condi- 
tions under which these vessels were secured, equipped 
and commissioned were sufficiently like those obtained 
by Benjamin Franklin in France during the Revolution 
to warrant the designation "cruisers." 

The first of this class of Confederate cruisers was 
the Florida, built at Liverpool, 1861-'62, exactly on 
the lines of the British gunboat of that day, under the 


name of Oreto, ostensibly for the Italian Government. 
Although our minister to England, Charles Francis 
Adams, laid conclusive evidence before the British 
Government that the Oreto was in reality a Confederate 
cruiser, and in spite of the fact that the Italian consul 
disclaimed all knowledge of the vessel, she was allowed 
to clear from Liverpool, March 22, 1862, consigned to 
Adderly & Co., of Nassau, the correspondents of 
Fraser, Trenholm & Co., of Liverpool, the w r ell-known 
financial agents of the Confederate Government. On 
April 28th the Oreto arrived at Nassau, where she was 
joined by the English steamer Bahama from Hartle- 
pool, England, laden with guns, ammunition and a 
complete outfit for a cruiser. In order to keep up a 
semblance of complying with the laws of neutrals, the 
Orcto, when she began taking aboard her armament, 
was libeled, but was quickly released by the sympa- 
thetic jury, and on August 7th, under Commander 
John Newland Maffitt, sailed for an uninhabited island 
in the Bahamas, where her two rifled 7-inch guns and 
six 6-inch guns, together with the ammunition, were 
taken aboard, and she began her career as the Confed- 
erate cruiser Florida. At this time the vessel had 
only twenty-two men for a crew, and this number was 
reduced by yellow fever to only three or four efficient 

Touching at Cardenas, Cuba, where he got a re-en- 
forcement of twelve men, Maffitt stood over to Mobile, 
sighting that port September 4th. The blockading 
squadron, under the command of Commander George 
Henry Preble, at that time consisted of the Oneida and 
the Winona. As the Florida was constructed on the 
lines of the English cruisers that were constantly in- 
specting the blockade about that time, Maffitt hoisted 
English colors, and in broad daylight stood for the 
Union vessels. Deceived by this, Preble went to quar- 
ters and approached the Florida, believing her to be 
an English man-of-war. When near enough he hailed 


the stranger, but no attention was paid to it. The 
Oneida then fired three shots in succession across the 
Florida's bow without getting an answer, upon which 
Preble fired his broadside, but the Florida still con- 
tinued on her swift course. The Oneida, the Winona, 
and the schooner Rachel Seaman (the last having just 
arrived off the port) fired as rapidly as possible, but the 
Florida was speeding away at fourteen knots an hour 
to the seven of the Union vessels, and although some- 
what damaged she gained the port. 

Speaking of the injuries the Florida received from 
this fire, one of her midshipmen, G. Terry Sinclair, 
records: "We received one 11-inch shell opposite our 
port gangway, near the water line. It passed through 
our coal bunker, painfully wounding one man and 
beheading another, thence to the berth deck, where our 
men had previously been ordered as a place of safety. 
Fortunately this shell did not explode, the fuse having 
been knocked out, probably by contact with the ship's 
side. Another shell entered the cabin and, passing