by the egress of our rams, not only might this grand fleet have been destroyed, but the 20,000 troops on Morris' Island
been left at our mercy.
Quietly manouvreing and observing the enemy, I was half an hour more waiting on time and tide.
The music of drum and fife had just ceased, and the nine o'clock gun had been fired from the admiral's ship, as a signal for all unnecessary lights to be extinguished and for the men not on watch to retire for sleep.
I thought the proper time for attack had arrived.
The admiral's ship, “New Ironsides,” (the most powerful vessel in the world,) lay in the midst of the fleet, her starboard-side presented to my view.
I determined to pay her the highest compliment.
I had been informed, through prisoners lately captured from the fleet, that they were expecting an attack from torpedo boats, and were prepared for it. I could, therefore, hardly expect to accomplish my object without encountering some danger from riflemen, and perhaps a discharge of grape or canisier from the howitzers.
My guns were loaded with buck-shot.
I knew that if the officer of the deck could be disabled to begin with, it would cause them some confusion and increase our chance for escape, so I determined that if the occasion offered, I would commence by firing the first shot.
Accordingly, having on a full head of steam, I took charge of the helm, it being so arranged that I could sit on deck and work the wheel with my feet.
Then directing the engineer and fireman to keep below and give me all the speed possible, I gave a double-barrel gun to the pilot, with instructions not to fire until I should do so, and steered directly for the moniter.
I intended to strike her just under the gang-way, but the tide still running out, carried us to a point nearer the quarter.
Thus we rapidly approached the enemy.
When within about 300 yards of her a sentinel hailed us: Boat ahoy!
repeating the hail several times very rapidly.
We were coming towards them with all speed, and I made no answer, but cocked both barrels of my gun. The officer of the deck next made his appearance, and loudly demanded “What boat is that?”
Being now within forty yards of the ship, and plenty of headway to carry us on, I thought it about time the fight should commence, and fired my gun. The officer of the deck fell back mortally wounded (poor fellow), and I ordered the engine stopped.
The next moment the torpedo struck the vessel and exploded.
What amount of direct damage the