Chapter 44: battle of Mobile Bay.
- Defences of Mobile Bay.
-- Farragut's fleet crosses the bar and makes reconnaissance.
-- Confederate iron-clads.
-- forts Morgan, Gaines and Powell and light-house battery.
-- bombardment of Fort Powell.
-- evacuation of Fort.
-- iron-clad Tennessee makes her appearance.
-- arrival of monitors.
-- co-operation of General Canby.
-- preparing to attack forts.
-- Farragut issues his famous orders of combat.
-- bombarding Fort Morgan.
-- the Tennessee engaged.
-- the Tecumseh sunk.
-- “D — n the torpedoes — follow me!”
-- Farragut in the rigging of the Hartford passing Fort.
-- the Selma surrenders.
-- the Morgan and Gaines ashore.
-- the Tennessee engages fleet.
-- remarkable combat.
-- the Monongahela and Lackawanna damaged.
-- the Tennessee and Hartford fight at close quarters.
-- game to the last.
-- the Tennessee surrenders.
-- incidents of battle.
-- the wounded transferred to Pensacola.
-- names of killed and wounded.
-- Farragut's detailed report of battle.
-- reports of officers.
-- Farragut returns thanks to officers and men.
-- individual acts of heroism.
-- incidents attending sinking of Tecumseh.
-- surrender of Fort Gaines
-- bombardment of Fort Morgan.
-- surrender of Fort.
-- list of officers of the Tennessee and Selma.
-- wanton destruction of property at Fort Morgan.
-- list of killed and wounded.
-- loss of the Phillippi.
-- history and description of Confederate iron-clad Tennessee.
-- list of vessels and officers of West Gulf Squadron, January 1st, 1864.
In January, 1864, Admiral Farragut
began to turn his attention to the forts in Mobile Bay
, which up to that time had been a complete protection to the blockade-runners, which passed in and out almost with impunity in spite of the greatest watchfulness on the part of the blockading fleet.
There were several channels in the Bay
with wide shoal grounds in and about their approaches, over which the Confederate
light-draft vessels could pass, but where the Federal
ships-of-war could not follow them.
The city of Mobile
, in consequence, became one of the most important rendezvous for blockade-runners, as it was situated some miles up the bay, and could only be reached through tortuous channels, with which only experienced pilots were familiar.
The people of Mobile
felt quite secure against any attempt on the part of the Union
gun-boats to pass their defences, and the blockade-runners laid as safely at their wharves as if they had been in the docks of Liverpool
While the forts at the entrance of Mobile Bay
remained intact, the Confederates
could continue to supply their armies through Mobile City and the numerous railroads running from it to all parts of the South
After the fall of Port Hudson
, General Banks
, in New Orleans, had at his disposal over 50,000 troops; and General Grant
, at that time having in his mind the idea of sending Sherman
on the celebrated march to the sea, had urgently requested the authorities at Washington
with a sufficient force to capture that place; while at the same time the Secretary of the Navy
offered naval co-operation with Farragut
's fleet, which was then disengaged from operations on the Mississippi River
, and principally employed in watching Mobile
and blockading the coast of Texas
The Navy Department, as well as General Grant
, was unsuccessful in obtaining an order from the War Department for Banks
to proceed to Mobile
, and act there in conjunction with the Navy; and the fatal move up Red River
having been decided upon, all other objects were for the time being passed over, until the anxiety of the Government
became concentrated upon the problem of how to relieve that expedition from the unfortunate position in which General Banks
' measures had placed it.
itself was poorly fortified against a land attack, and the Confederates
had not more than 10,000 men in and about the city, and the majority of these were artillerists.
Notwithstanding the fact that the weakness of the city was well known to him, General Banks
turned away from the rich prize which he might so easily have taken, and embarked on the unwise expedition into the Red River
region, from which his army was only extricated through the presence of the naval force — which for a time was also seriously embarrassed.
The Navy Department, finding that no co-operation could be expected from General Banks
, directed Farragut
(January, 1864) to prepare his vessels for an attack on the forts in Mobile Bay
, and promised that a land force should be forthcoming at the time the fleet was ready to commence operations.
On the morning of January 20th Farragut
crossed the bar of Mobile Bay
in the Octorara
, taking the Itasca
in company in case of accidents, and made a thorough reconnaissance of the bay and of all the forts commanding its approaches.
He moved up to within three and one-half miles of the enemy's works, where he was able to verify the reports of refugees who had brought him a statement of the condition of the Confederate
He could count the number of guns and see the men standing by them.
A line of piles, which extended from Fort Gaines
to the channel opposite Fort Morgan
, was also plainly visible, and showed the intention of the enemy to compel all entering vessels to pass close under the guns of the latter work.
At that time Farragut
had not an ironclad, and, being convinced that it would be madness to attack these forts without such aid, made his wants known to the Navy Department, and the vessels were eventually supplied.
The reconnaissance made by the Admiral
satisfied him that he had a difficult task before him. Two heavy works protected the entrance to Mobile Bay
--the former mounting 21 guns and the latter 48, while Fort Powell, higher up the bay, commanded the fairway leading to Mobile
A better idea of the situation of these works can be obtained by examining the accompanying chart than from any written description, and the reader is referred to the plan for information, without which he could form but a small idea of the defences of Mooile Bay and the difficulties attending an attack on them.
The lines of piles, extending from the head of the eastern bank to the edge of the tortuous and shallow channel near Fort Gaines
, rendered it impossible for any vessel to pass between the bank and the channel; indeed, only vessels of the lightest draft of water would have dared to make such an attempt under ordinary circumstances.
Every effort had been made by the Confederate engineers to make the channel between Gaines
impassable; but its depth in some places was as much as 60 feet, the bottom was bad (drift-sand, in fact), and the action of ebb and flow, with that of heavy winds, rendered it almost impossible to obstruct it effectually.
Even in time of peace it would have been an immense undertaking, requiring time and taxing the ingenuity of the engineers to the utmost.
Not only that, it would have required means which were not at the disposal of the Confederates
Many plans were offered, but the chief engineer
of the Department rejected them all and undertook to defend the pass with torpedoes, but, with an order from the Department commander to leave a gap in the line of torpedoes, 500 yards wide, through which blockade-runners could pass in safety between Mobile Point
and a buoy marking the eastern end of the lines of torpedoes; which arrangement it was foolishly supposed would keep out a fleet commanded by a man like Farragut
who had already earned the sobriquet
of “The old Salamander.”
Besides the forts above mentioned, the following auxiliary defences were possessed by the Confederates
: Steam ram Tennessee
, 235 feet in length, casemate plated with three thicknesses of 2-inch plates or six inches of iron, speed 7 1/2 knots; battery, four 10-inch columbiads of 16,000 lbs. and two 7 1/2-inch Brooke
rifles of 19,000 lbs. The Tennessee
was the flag-ship of Admiral Franklin Buchanan
, and was commanded by Commander J. D. Johnston
The following gun-boats also belonged
's little squadron: The Morgan
, Commander Bennet
, Commander Murphy
, and Gaines
, Commander Harris
. Two rams, the Tuscaloosa
, were building at Mobile
, but they were never finished, and Buchanan
received no assistance from them.
The guns of Fort Morgan
were mounted as follows: Bastion No. 1
(N. E.), two 32-pounders of 7,000 lbs., one 24-pound rifle throwing Read & Slater
's projectiles, shaped like Minie-balls; East curtain, three 10-inch sea-coast mortars, one 32-pounder of 7,000 lbs.; Bastion No. 2
(E. S. E.), one 10-inch columbiad, two 32-pounders of 7,000 lbs.; Bastion No. 3
, two 32-pounders of 7,000 lbs. (rifled), one 10-inch columbiad of 16,000 lbs.; South curtain, two 24-pounders of 11,000 lbs. (rifled, throwing 68-pound projectiles), one 10-inch columbiad of 16,000 lbs.; Bastion No. 4
, one 24-pounder (rifled), one 10-inch columbiad of 16,000 lbs., two 32-pounders of 7,000 lbs. (rifled); West curtain, facing the channel, two Blakely
rifles throwing shell of 160 lbs. and shot of 169 lbs., three 10-inch columbiads of 16,000 lbs.; Bastion No. 5
, two 32-pounders, smoothbore; North curtain, one 8-inch smoothbore.
On each flank of each bastion there were two 24-pounders, making in all 20 flank casemate guns.
Light-house battery eleven 32-pounders of 7,000 tons.
mounted one 10-inch columbiad of 14,000 lbs., fourteen 32-pounders, smooth-bore, one 32-pounder, (rifled), and five 24-pound siege-pieces.
These were the guns under which an attacking fleet would have to pass, besides the Confederate
gun-boats, which could take good positions under the guns of the forts, and rake the Federal
vessels as they approached.
Taking into consideration the fact that he had only wooden ships at first, Farragut
was wise to delay his attack until the arrival of the iron-clads.
In addition to the two forts above mentioned was Fort Powell, situated at Grant's Pass
This could inflict no damage to a fleet passing Morgan
, but could annoy an enemy after he had passed up as far as the anchoring ground.
While waiting for the iron-clads, Farragut
thought he would try and batter this fort down or injure its guns, and make it untenable; but the attempt was not a success.
The attack was made in the latter part of February, but discontinued as soon as the difficulties of the operation were realized.
continued to apply to the Department for even one iron-clad, with which e was willing to undertake the attack, supposing the iron-clad ram Tennessee
would be over the Dog River
bar by the time he was ready to advance with his fleet.
's idea was to have a combined attack by the Army and Navy — the land forces to operate in the rear of forts Gaines
by the Big Dauphine Island
and Mobile Point
— and great expectations were laid on a contingent being sent from General Banks
' army, but that officer had gone into the Red River
country and met. with such disasters as made co-operation impossible.
The Confederate papers magnified the want of success on the part of General Banks
, and made the most of it for their side, until they really believed all through the Southwest
that they had gained a brilliant victory, when the truth was simply that the Federal General
did not hold on to the victory which his troops had won.
Great rejoicing was also kept up in the South
in consequence of the success of the Albemarle
and the capture of Plymouth
Many were made to believe that a new and favorable turn had been given to their affairs, and that if the opportunity was followed up it would lead to further successes in Louisiana
A pressure was brought to bear on Admiral Buchanan
to expedite the completion of the iron-clad Tennessee
, with the expectation that this vessel would demolish Farragut
and his fleet, proceed to New Orleans, capture the Union fleet at that place, prevent Banks
from reaching the city again, and finally restore the Confederate
This may seem a wild scheme, but it might have been successful.
was a brave and energetic officer, capable of undertaking any enterprise, and could he have succeeded in getting all his ironclads and gun — boats ready in time, he would have been more than a match for the force which Farragut
had on hand in February.
himself fully appreciated his situation.
From his experience in the Mississippi River
, where the ram Arkansas
attacked the two Federal fleets (Davis
' and his own), he saw plainly what would be the result of a contest between wooden vessels and iron-clads.
In his letters to the Navy Department the Admiral
deeply regrets his inability to obtain even one of the iron-clads on the Mississippi
, and remarks, “it appears that it takes us twice as long to build an iron-clad as any one else.
It looks as if the fates and contractors were against us. While the Confederates
are bending their whole energies to the war, our people are expecting the war to close by default; and, if they do not awake to the sense of their danger soon, it will be so.”
was fully aware of what would
be the result if Buchanan
crossed the Dog River
bar with the Tennessee
(The three latter vessels were reported to be plated with nearly the thickness of iron carried by the Tennessee
Continuous reports came from Mobile
that the ram Tennessee
was preparing to cross the Dog River
bar by means of camels, and that Buchanan
, with his wellknown energy, was pushing the work on his iron clads night and day. Farragut
knew as well as any one the determination and energy of the man he expected to contend with, and under the circumstances his position was not an enviable one.
He seemed to have the idea that the capture of Fort Powell was a most desirable thing, and would tend to keep the Confederate Navy up the river if he could succeed in getting possession of it; and from the 22d of February to the 2d of March he kept up a fire on this fort from rifles, smooth-bores and mortars from a distance of 4,000 yards--the nearest point attainable.
Fort Powell was built on an oyster bank.
The Confederate engineers had exhibited great skill in its construction, and it was impervious to shot and shell.
It was built to guard Grant's Pass
, the entrance from Mississippi Sound
to Mobile Bay
, and it was very important that it should be well built and armed.
A Confederate writer says:
Admiral Farragut opened from his mortars and gun-boats a tire on the small fort that would have battered any stone or brick structure into a mass of ruins.
The firing, especially that of the 13-inch mortars could (in accuracy) not have been surpassed: one shell after another falling on the earth-cover of the bomb-proof, penetrating as deep as three and a half feet, exploding and making a crater of seven feet in diameter.
This bombardment was steadily kept up from February 22d till March 2d, without making any impression whatever on the fort; not a single gun had been dismounted, not a single traverse had been seriously damaged, nor had the parapet and bombproof lost any of their strength; all damage done by the exploding shells being at once repaired by throwing sand-bags into the open craters.
But one man had been killed, another wounded, and the brave commander of the fort, Lieutenant-Colonel James M. Williams.
of the 21st Alabama regiment, paid for his temerity, in unnecessarily exposing himself to the shower of the enemy's iron missiles, with the loss of his coat-tail.
The wharf and quarters on the east face of the fort had been considerably damaged by the bombardment.
When Farragut had forced his way into the Bay of Mobile, an evacuation of Fort Powell was the only means to save its garrison from capture, and the place was abandoned after preparations for blowing up the magazine had been so well made that its explosion took place hardly half-an-hour after Lieutenant-Colonel Williams (the last man) had left the fort.
's chief motive in making this attack was to get the gun-boats into Mobile Bay
through Grant's Pass
, and to endeavor to destroy the Tennessee
while she had the camels under her in crossing the Dog River
From all accounts Buchanan
was working energetically to bring the Tennessee
and her consorts face to face with the Union fleet, which he felt sure of driving from before Mobile
He then intended to proceed to Pensacola
and raise the siege in that quarter.
There is no doubt that, had he succeeded in finishing his four iron-clads in time, Farragut
would have either been destroyed or the siege of Mobile
The account of the sinking of the Southfield
by the ram Albemarle
in the Sounds
of North Carolina
, on the 17th of April, and the stubborn battle made by the Albemarle
against the comparatively heavy force of gun-boats on May 5th, in which the ram moved off apparently unharmed after a three hours fight at close quarters, had been received in the South
and also in the fleet; and while this news encouraged the Confederate Admiral
to fresh exertions, it, on the other hand, made Farragut
feel more anxious that he should be supplied with iron-clads to meet the new naval force of the Confederates
, the like of which had not been so near completion since the war began.
well, and was aware that in point of courage, energy and skill he had few equals, and no superiors; and that, if he did succeed in getting his vessels over Dog River
bar, he would come out with the intention of conquering or being destroyed, the latter contingency not being likely in Farragut
's then weak condition.
By some authorities it is stated that the Tennessee
made her appearance in Mobile Bay
on the 17th of March; but we think there must be some mistake about this, for, as late as the 9th of May, Farragut
wrote to the Department that “the late accounts from Mobile
agree in representing Buchanan
as making great exertions to get camels large enough to float the ram” Tennessee
over Dog River
No one doubted but that Buchanan
would be successful if any one could be, and Farragut
expected that he would come out and attack him with his whole force of ironclads, besides the three gun-boats, and so wrote urgent letters in the middle of May to the Navy Department, requesting that ironclads be sent him. It was the most uncomfortable position that any officer was placed in during the war, when told by the Department as late as June, 1864, that the vessels could not be furnished because the contractors had not come up to their contract.
But the Admiral
bore it all bravely, and with his usual equanimity prepared his wooden ships to do the best they could in the coming conflict.
Not until May 25th does Farragut
speak of the Tennessee
having arrived in the Mobile Roads
, and anchored under the guns of Fort Morgan
He went in as close as he could, examined her with good glasses, and satisfied himself that all that had been said about her formidable character was true.
He had been deceived so many times by what were supposed to be iron-clads, that he was glad to have his mind settled on this question, and to know that this was really the Tennessee
without her consorts.
On June 2d, refugees, who stated that they were from Mobile
, two or three days before, reported that, besides the Tennessee
, a vessel called the Baltic
, the ironclads Tuscaloosa
, and three gun-boats had also crossed the bar and entered the lower bay; the Nashville
was not yet over the bar, but she was all ready with the camels under her by this time; her bow, stern and pilot-house were only partly plated.
Two more rams were reported to be at Mobile
, not yet plated, and one just completed at Selma
and aground above Mobile
They also reported at Mobile
“four ironplated floating batteries, one of them sunk.”
These reports were constantly brought down concerning Buchanan
's force, and they were far from reassuring to the Union
commander, who up to this time had not received a single iron-clad.
It was not until July 26th that the arrival of the Monitor Manhattan
She was under Sand Island
, in charge of gun-boats.
The two double-turreted Monitors, Winnebago
, sent from Admiral Porter
's fleet on the Mississippi
, were in New Orleans, and would be off Mobile
about the 30th of July.
was not yet heard from, and the Army which Farragut
had asked for to co-operate with him was still in New Orleans.
When the latter should arrive, Farragut
would be quite ready to commence operations against the defences of Mobile
The arrival of the Manhattan
was an assurance that Buchanan
would not leave the bay to attack the Federal
wooden ships, which Buchanan
at no time had any idea of doing.
His policy was to fight Farragut
's fleet, under the cover of the forts, in the narrow channel which had been left by the Confederate engineers.
The only thing wanting to make Farragut
satisfied with his condition was the arrival of the Tecumseh
, and this took place on the 4th of August.
He now determined to make his attack as soon as possible.
As soon as General Canby
had arrived in New Orleans with the troops which General Banks
left crossing the Atchafalaya River
communicated with him and requested that two or three thousand troops be sent to co-operate with him in an attack on Mobile
These troops were promised without hesitation on the 8th of July, in an interview held on board the Hartford
, between the Admiral
and Generals Canby
; but circumstances soon obliged General Canby
to say that he could only spare troops enough to invest one fort.
then suggested that it should be Fort Gaines
, and engaged at the same time to have a naval force in the Sounds
ready to protect the landing of the Army on Dauphine Island, in the rear of the fort.
Lieutenant-Commander J. C. P. De Krafft
, in the Conemaugh
, was assigned to this duty.
It was arranged between Farragut
and General Granger
that the attack should take place on the 4th day of August, but owing to unforeseen circumstances it was delayed until the 5th.
This delay turned out to be fortunate, for on the 4th the Confederates
were engaged in throwing more troops and supplies into Fort Gaines
, all of which were captured.
At 5:40 A. M. on the 5th of August, 1864, all the vessels outside of the bar, which were to participate in the battle, got underway in the following order, two abreast, lashed together:
, Captain James Alden
, with the Octorara
-Commander C. H. Greene
, on the port side.
, Captain Percival Drayton
, with the Metacomet
, Lieutenant-Commander James E. Jouett
, Captain Thornton A. Jenkins
, with the Port Royal
, Lieutenant-Commander Bancroft Gherardi
, Captain J. B. Marchand
, with the Seminole
, Commander E. Donaldson
, Commander J. H. Strong
, with the Kennebec
, Lieutenant-Commander W. P. McCann
, Commander Wm. E. LeRoy
, and the Itasca
. Lieutenant-Commander George Brown
, Commander J. R. M. Mullany
, and the Galena
-Commander C. H. Wells
The iron-clads, Tecumseh
, Commander T. A. M. Craven
, Commander J. W. A. Nicholson
, Commander T. H. Stevens
, and Chickasaw
, Lieutenant-Commander George H. Perkins
, were already inside the bar, and they were ordered to take up their positions on the starboard hand of the wooden vessels, between them and Fort Morgan
, for the double purpose of keeping down the fire
of the water battery and fort, and of attacking the ram Tennessee
as soon as the fort was passed.
The commanding officers
of the ships urgently requested Farragut
to allow Captain Alden
, in the Brooklyn
, to lead the attacking column, as this vessel had four chase-guns and an ingenious apparatus for picking up torpedoes, and because, in their judgment, the flag-ship should not lead and be too much exposed.
The proper place for the flag-ship was, in fact, the middle of the line, but Farragut
would only yield so far as to have one ship in advance of him. He did not believe in the principle that a flag-officer should not lead.
He considered it one of the privileges of high rank in the Navy, and that, it was an honor to be sought by every one who desired to set a proper example to those under his command.
Before going into action the Admiral
had issued orders making his commanding officers acquainted with his plan of combat and steaming.
His orders for battle had a determination in them which showed that he meant to destroy the enemy or be destroyed himself.
There was a vigor and coolness about them which cannot but commend them to officers of the Navy, and they will offer good examples in the future for those who would not otherwise appreciate all his precautions, but who are convinced by the resulting events how necessary they were on this occasion.
It was no ordinary battle that was to be fought.
Four iron-clads and a fleet of wooden vessels fourteen in number, the heaviest carrying only 26 guns, were about to attack forts that were originally constructed with the purpose of keeping out of Mobile
the heaviest vessels then known (ships-of-the-line and frigates) that could pass the bar into Mobile Bay
, or that might attempt to enfilade Fort Morgan
from outside the bar to the eastward.
had been-planned and built by the best engineer in the United States Army, and they had been strengthened and improved in every way by the Confederates
To crown all, these forts mounted not only the heaviest guns made in the country, but were well provided with the latest improved rifle-cannon of English manufacture, which had been brought over in blockade runners.
The impediments in the channel have been already mentioned, but what number of torpedoes had been planted no one knew.
All these drawbacks against a passage by the forts did not cast a cloud over the countenance of any officer or man in the fleet.
They were all as anxious for the combat as was their commanding officer, who had passed through too many battles within the last two years to feel dismayed at the idea of running through a lot of piles and sunken torpedoes.
Every officer was on the alert; the ear of every sailor was attentive to catch the sound of the first tap of the drum (the call to quarters); and one, to look at all those eager faces on the poop and forecastle of every ship, would suppose this to be some grand gala day. It was indeed a gala day, for every one could see in the cheerful and determined look of their great commander that this would be a (lay of glorious victory, that the frowning forts and darklooking Tennessee
, though barring the way and threatening destruction, would be swept away, if “hearts of oak in wooden hulls” could do it. All longed to see the defiant Confederate flag, which had waved so long unmolested, hauled down, and the last ram the Confederates
ever built consigned to the fate of her predecessors.
It was a glorious sight to see those brave fellows wearing a smile of joy upon their faces in view of such odds against them — and not knowing how soon they and their comrades would be lying at the bottom of the bay. All could not hope to escape this trying ordeal, when several of the coolest officers calculated that at least six of the ships would be blown up. They never stopped to consider whose fate this would be; all they desired was to grapple with the enemy, and see the Union flag floating over the forts that had been taken from their lawful owners.
Soon the word went forth:
The appended diagram is the plan of attack, and distinctly shows, not only the position of every vessel in the fleet, but also Fort Morgan
, the Confederate ram Tennessee
, and her consorts, the Selma
The Federal vessels having formed line, according to the diagram, moved ahead at about 5:45 A. M., following the Brooklyn
, which vessel took the lead.
Some little delay was now necessary to allow all the ships to get into position, and form a compact line of steaming.
When this was accomplished, the fleet moved on in the direction of Fort Morgan
, which opened fire at 7:07 o'clock, at a distance of about two miles.
, leading the iron-clads, fired the first gun at 6:45, and was followed by the Brooklyn
with her two 100-pounder Parrotts, and then by the Hartford
As the leading vessels approached, they commenced firing their broadside guns, and the remainder of the fleet continued the fire as they got in position to do so effectively.
As the Federal
vessels neared the fort, the ram Tennessee
and the wooden gun
boats opened fire upon them — raking them at every discharge.
At about half-past 7 the battle became general all along the line, as vessel after vessel came near enough to use her guns.
The Monitors had so little speed that the whole fleet was obliged to move slowly, and thus offer a fair mark to the Confederate
gunners; but the thick smoke and the rapid fire of grape from the fleet so disconcerted them, that the flag-ship passed with no great injury or loss of life; a shell which passed through the side and exploded abaft the mainmast, killing and wounding a large portion of No. 7 gun's crew, being the only one that caused much destruction.
At this time the Hartford
had become the leading vessel, owing to the fact that just as the Brooklyn
came abreast of Fort Morgan
, and was keeping up a rapid fire of grape from her broadside guns, which seemed to almost silence the enemy's batteries, the Monitor Tecumseh
--then about three hundred yards ahead, and on the starboard bow of the Brooklyn
--was seen from the latter vessel to careen violently over, and sink almost instantly.
was now somewhat inside the fort, shoal water was reported, and at the same time the smoke cleared away, and revealed a row of suspicious-looking buoys right under the vessel's bow.
The captain of the Brooklyn
now made a mistake; he stopped his vessel and then backed, to avoid leading the fleet into what appeared to be a nest of torpedoes.
His motive was a good one, but this movement was not in the programme.
It was apparent to Farragut
that there was some difficulty ahead, and that the advance of the fleet was arrested, while Fort Morgan
was firing with great effect upon the stationary vessels.
At this moment the Admiral
also witnessed the sinking of the Tecumseh
, with nearly all her officers and crew.
It was an appalling spectacle, and would have daunted many other men. He did not know but that his whole fleet would be blown up in less than a minute, and their hulls and guns lying at the bottom of the bay. He did not hesitate, however, but gave the order to Captain Drayton
: “Pass the Brooklyn
, and take the lead.”
His order was immediately obeyed, and as the flag-ship went by him, Captain Alden
informed the Admiral
that he was “running into a nest of torpedoes.”
“D----n the torpedoes,” he replied, “follow me!”
At the same time he directed the commander of the Metacomet
to send a boat and pick up any of the Tecumseh
's survivors that he could find.
This was a trying time, for, as the ships were moving at a rate of about seven knots at the time the Brooklyn
stopped, the line was thrown into confusion.
, as soon as she stopped, received the concentrated fire of the fort, it being the object of the Confederate
gunners to cripple the leading ships and throw those in the rear into confusion.
Many of the Brooklyn
's crew were killed and wounded by this fire, and her total loss during the engagement was 54 officers and men.
As soon as the Admiral
had passed, Captain Alden
followed in his wake at full speed, and turned northward with him, receiving at the same time several heavy shot from the Tennessee
, which cut his vessel up considerably near the water line, forward.
The battle had been general some time before this, and the rapid and well-aimed fire of the naval gunners drove the enemy from their guns.
The latter had never before witnessed the effect of shell, grape and shrapnel when fired from guns worked by fearless American seamen, who had but one idea, and that was to knock down the offending flag which now floated on the fort where in days of yore the Stars and Stripes
had waved peacefully in the breeze.
All was animation in the fleet; every commander was on the alert to keep his ship in position, and not confuse the ships ahead and astern of him. The gunners were cautioned to throw no shot away, and carefully instructed how to train their guns.
, jumping into the main rigging, where he could see over the smoke, gave orders to steam through the buoys, where the torpedoes were supposed to be placed in the greatest numbers.
At this moment the fire of every gun that could be brought to bear was playing on the fort, and as ship after ship followed in the wake of the Hartford
, and turned up channel, their stern-guns belched forth their deadly missiles, while the fort scarcely fired a gun; the enemy were either killed or sent to cover, though a Confederate writer asserts that not a gun in Fort Morgan
All anxiously watched the Hartford
to see what would be her fate, but the stout old ship that had fairly been bathed in fire on so many occasions, sped safely on, and the road was clear for those who came after.
The line of buoys had been examined on several occasions (in night reconnaissances) by Flag-Lieutenant J. Crittenden Watson
, who was unable to discover any sunken torpedoes, yet the Admiral
had been assured by refugees that such did exist.
He believed, however, that, from their having been for some time under water, they were harmless, and under this idea he determined to take the chances.
Battle of Mobile Bay. Fort Morgan bearing S. E., and sand Island light south by compass.|
At ten minutes before 8 A. M. the Hartford
had fairly passed Fort Morgan
, with the Brooklyn
close behind her. As the flag-ship passed the shore batteries, she came directly under the fire of the gun-boats Selma
and the ram Tennessee
, and being only able to direct her fire on one of them at a time, the shots from the others were delivered with effect, a single shot having killed ten men and wounded five at guns Nos. 1 and 2.
followed the Hartford
for some distance, throwing an occasional shot, while the gun-boat Selma
, keeping on her bow, annoyed her very much by the fire of her three stern-guns.
could not answer this attack, for the reason that her rifle-gun carriage had been crippled by a shell.
The flag-ship was at this time nearly a mile ahead of the fleet, and the Metacomet
, Lieutenant-Commander Jouett
, was ordered to cast off and attack the Selma
This energetic officer lost not a moment in obeying the order, and putting on all steam started in pursuit of the enemy's gun-boats, all three of which were annoying the Hartford
These vessels all retreated up the bay, engaging the Metacomet
with their stern-guns.
At half-past 8 the Gaines
retreated under cover of Fort Morgan
in a crippled condition.
At 9 the Morgan
hauled off to starboard, and at 10 minutes past 9 the Selma
struck her flag to the Metacomet
By this time the whole fleet had passed the obstructions and were beyond the fire of Fort Morgan
, but the rain Tennessee
was steaming about and delivering her heavy rifle-shell with terrible effect.
, as she passed the ram, poured in her broadside of 9-inch shot, but without inflicting any apparent damage, and then passed on after the Hartford
, which had anchored about five miles up the bay.
Whatever may have been Admiral Buchanan
's plan up to this time, he had not yet succeeded in crippling any of the Federal
vessels either with his shot or with his ram. He made an effort to strike the Brooklyn
, but passed astern of her, after which he turned and ran as if to intercept the fleet, which was now passing under a full head of steam, and delivering their broadsides in quick succession.
It was a beautiful sight to see the Union fleet passing on in such good order, and delivering their fire on the enemy's forts, iron-clad or gun-boats, as occasion required, with wonderful precision and effect.
The passage of the fleet had sealed the fate of Mobile
; the surrender of Fort Morgan
was but the matter of a few days; Fort Gaines
could make but a feeble resistance against a combined attack of Army and Navy, and Fort Powell, cut off as it was, would fall without firing a shot.
No doubt Buchanan
realized the situation.
had been captured; the Gaines
, not being as closely pursued as was the Selma
, escaped under cover of Fort Morgan
, where she was afterwards run ashore and burnt, while the Morgan
escaped to Mobile
Nothing was now left for Buchanan
to do but to surrender, or die gloriously fighting to the last.
He chose the latter, but did not choose the right time.
, supposing that the fighting was over for the time being, had anchored and made signal to the fleet to follow his motions.
He expected the Tennessee
to remain under the guns of Fort Morgan
during the remainder of the day; and if she had (done so and attacked the fleet after dark there is no knowing what would have been the result.
The ram would have been the only Confederate vessel engaged, and her commander could therefore treat every vessel he met as an enemy, while the Union vessels would not have been able to use their guns for fear of firing into a consort.
As it was, with the heaviest guns in the fleet pouring shot and shell into her in broad day, she committed great havoc.
Looking upon it as a naval movement, Buchanan
made a great mistake that morning when he went out to attack Farragut
He must have seen that every one of the Union vessels was superior to him in speed, and had nothing to fear from his ram, while the heavy guns of the three remaining Monitors would be brought to bear on him in such a way that his 6-inch armor would be damaged and his port shutters closed.
He might have supposed, too, that Farragut
would not hesitate to ram him, with ships of greater speed than his own — there are a hundred things which one good sailor would expect another to do under certain circumstances.
No one who knew Buchanan
and his professional ability would doubt for a minute that he had considered all these matters.
Perhaps he feared that the forts would be surrendered before sunset, and the powerful Tennessee
, of which so much had been expected, and by which so little had yet been done, surrendered with them.
Whatever was the case, he did not take long to make up his mind.
The fleet had not been anchored more than fifteen minutes when it was reported to Admiral Farragut
that the Tennessee
was coming out from under Fort Morgan
and standing down for the head of the fleet.
Farragut at once divined that it was his enemy's intention to sink the flagship (which would
have been glory enough for one day), but he determined to show the Confederates
that it was an easier matter to sink a frigate at anchor in Hampton Roads
than a live fleet in Mobile Bay
The signal was at once made to get underway, and the crews ran the anchors up to the bows with marvellous rapidity.
The iron-clads, and such wooden vessels as had been prepared with iron prows, were ordered to attack the Tennessee
at once, before she could reach the centre of the fleet, and the wooden vessels were directed to ram the iron-clad and attempt to disable her in that way.
Thus the fleet and the Tennessee
were approaching each other rapidly, while the people in the former were watching keenly for the result, no one being able to form an opinion as to the power of the latter for offensive purposes, or what might be the plan of her commander, who was standing fearlessly on. as if conscious that he was more than a match for the Federals
And now commenced one of the most remarkable combats known throughout the war — in fact, one of the fiercest naval battles on record.
, Commander Strong
, was the first vessel that had the honor of striking the Tennessee
, which she did squarely and fairly, with a good head of steam; but the only result was that the ramming vessel carried away her cast-iron prow, together with the cut-water, without apparently doing the Tennessee
Just afterwards, the Lackawanna
, Captain Marchand
, delivered a blow, going at full speed, crushing in her own stem, but had no other effect on the ram than to give her a heavy list.
then dashed at his enemy with the Hartford
, but only got in a glancing blow, for the Tennessee
avoided his attack by shifting her helm in time.
The flag-ship rasped alongside of her and delivered a broadside from her starboard guns as she passed, but with little or no effect.
This was a reception Buchanan
did not anticipate.
He had calculated on catching the fleet in confusion, and expected to enact again the role of the Albemarle
in the Sounds
of North Carolina
But here the conditions were quite different.
The rattling of the 9-inch shot on the Tennessec
's casements made his vessel fairly quiver, while the ramming demoralized her crew, they having been made to believe that no one would undertake such an adventure.
The Monitors were slow in speed, but they had now reached the Tennessee
's wake, delivering their fire as opportunity offered.
J. W.A. Nicholson
, got close under her stern and fired a raking shot (15-inch), which struck the Tennessee
's port-quarter and carried away her steering gear.
fired altogether six times, and most of her shots took effect.
In the meantime, the Winnebago
were firing as opportunity offered.
The smokestack of the Tennessee
was shot away by the Chickasaw
, which vessel followed her closely, firing solid shot into her until her flag was hauled down.
If the commander of the ram had calculated that he could scatter the gallant officers who were swarming about him, he had reckoned without his host, for never did an iron-clad receive such a battering in so short a time.
Every ship in the fleet tried to get alongside of her to throw in a broadside, but there was not room for all to manoeuvre; and the Lackawanna
, in her desire to have another blow at the enemy, collided with the Hartford
, and cut her down on the quarter to within two feet of the water line.
Meanwhile the Tennessee
was not idle.
All her guns were at work as fast as they could be loaded and fired.
She was like a great buffalo of the plains, with a pack of wolves hanging to its flanks, finally compelled to succumb to superior numbers.
But the ram managed to inflict some dreadful wounds in her last efforts.
While the Hartford
was drifting by her, and from a distance of ten feet or less was pouring in a broadside of 9-inch solid shot, with charges of thirteen pounds of powder, without any effect, the Tennessee
fired a large shell through her side, which burst on the berth-deck, killing and wounding a number of men, the pieces breaking through the spar and berth-decks, passing through the launch and entering the hold among the wounded.
There was no time to think of the danger from shot or shell, for every one's blood was up, and it was determined that the Tennessee
should not escape, if it cost the lives of every one in the fleet.
, after being struck by the Lackawanna
, was at first reported to be sinking; but that report was soon set at rest, and she started for the enemy at full speed, determined this time to crush in her side or be crushed in the attempt.
But as the flag-ship approached the Tennessee
, it was seen that she was flying a white flag, so the former sheered off without delivering the intended blow.
After the Lackawanna
had run into the Hartford
, she was signalled to ram the Tennessee
again, and the gallant Marchand
had started to do it under a full head of steam when the Tennessee
At this particular moment the Confederate iron-clad was sore beset.
, and Winnebago
were hammering her with solid shot and shell; the Ossipee
was approaching her again at full speed, while the Hartford
, and Lackawanna
were bearing down under a press of steam, determined on her destruction; and it is probable that, if the three ships had struck her at the same time, it would have demoralized her crew, if it did not break in her sides.
Her smoke-stack had been shot away, her steering apparatus was disabled, and several of her port shutters driven in or jammed.
Any one could see that the battle was won by the fleet for some time before the Confederate
But one shot was fired by the ram after the Hartford
ran into her, but her crew were game to the last, and took it out in jeering the Yankees
was within a few feet of her, and in another moment would have collided, when the gallant Le Roy
(who never laid aside his politeness under any circumstances) saw the white flag fluttering on the Tennessee
, and stopped and backed his engines.
had done well, though she was not fought with the skill expected from Buchanan
The latter was wounded and had his leg so shattered that it had afterwards to be amputated.
lost only two or three men killed, and five or six wounded; but the crew, no doubt, became demoralized from the terrible pounding they were getting from ships and guns.
The smoke-stack being knocked down, the engine became almost useless; but the best reason for her surrender was that the “Boys in blue” had determined to have her, no matter what the consequences to themselves.
She was only one vessel, it is true, but a vessel capable of resisting the blow of any projectile fired by the Union fleet; while her own projectiles could pass through and through any of the Federal
She was like a knight of the olden time, encased in impenetrable armor and contending with a party of unarmored soldiers.
She was built by the ablest naval officer in the Confederacy
under the belief that she would wipe off the face of the waters anything te Federals could bring against her.
, without doubt, had calculated all his chances, and when he saw the fleet at anchor up the bay, thought he had them all in a cul-de-sac
, and that he would be able to demolish them in a couple of hours.
He was a brave man, too, and in the past had been successful in almost everything he had undertaken; and the capture of the great commander, who had hitherto set all Confederate forts and obstructions at defiance, was to have been the crowning triumph of his life.
How little he must have remembered of the brave officers in that fleet, many of whom had been under his command, if he expected to conquer them without a severe and prolonged struggle!
Sometimes we think he was tired of the unnatural contest which separated him from friends and relations.
Whatever may have been the cause, the Tennessee
did not effect as much as she ought to have done for so powerful a vessel.
She never once struck a vessel of Farragut
's fleet, while she herself was rammed at least four times.
How frail the Federal
wooden ships were was shown when the Lackawanna
moving at low speed, struck the Hartford
, cutting her down nearly to the water's edge, and placed her almost in a sinking condition.
Never did people fight their vessels to more effect than did Farragut
and his officers on this occasion.
The battle was short and decisive; and although the Confederates
claim that their vessels fought desperately from 7 o'clock until 10, the truth is that the last encounter between the ram and the fleet only lasted from 8.50 until 10 o'clock, one hour and ten minutes. Hours and minutes fly fast when under fire and amid the excitement there were incidents enough in this battle to make time pass rapidly.
After the Tennessee
had surrendered, signal was made to the fleet to anchor.
, Lieutenant-Commander Geo. H. Perkins
, took the disabled prize in tow and anchored her near the Hartford
, when Commander Johnston
(formerly of the U. S. Navy), now in command of the Tennessee
, went on board the flag-ship and surrendered his sword and that of Admiral Buchanan
The surgeon of the Tennessee
accompanied him and said that Buchanan
had been severely wounded, and wished to know what was to be done with him. It seems from the statements then presented that
during the engagement remained standing on the casemate of the Tennessee
until he was severely wounded in the left leg, but he refused to surrender until the Tennessee
's steering apparatus was disabled and the ship so filled with smoke — from the loss of the smoke-stack — that his men could hardly breathe or see.
The only shot which penetrated the Tennessee
's armor was one from the 15-inch gun of the Manhattan
, which knocked a hole in the iron plating, leaving an undetached mass of oak and pine splinters projecting about two feet inside of the casemate.
She might have been fought longer if it had not been for the loss of her smokestack and the disarrangement of her steering gear; but these are contingencies to which all ships are liable in action, and they are probabilities that should always be taken into account.
The victory was won, and with the surrender of the Tennessee
ended the career of nearly the last ram owned by the Confederacy
She had made a good fight, but now passed to new owners, and never again struck a blow against the Union
And now was to be exercised that humanity which Union naval officers always extended to their prisoners.
Fleet Surgeon Palmer
, who was on board the Hartford
during the action attending to the suffering wounded, suggested that they should all — of both sides — be sent to Pensacola
, where they would alike be properly cared for; and the Admiral
, whose heart was always open to the calls of humanity, addressed a letter to Brigadier-General R. L. Page
(formerly of the United States Navy, and now commanding Fort Morgan
), informing him that Admiral Buchanan
had been wounded, and desiring to know if he would permit one of his vessels, under a flag of truce, with or without the Union
wounded, to go to Pensacola
, with the understanding that the vessel should take out nothing but the wounded men, and bring nothing back that she did not take out. This permission was accorded by General Page
, and the Metacomet
proceeded on her mission of mercy.
The fleet had lost heavily throughout the engagement, but a greater number were killed during the fight with the Tennessee
than in the passage of the fort, showing the terrible power of this vessel.
Almost every shot she fired after closing with the fleet went to its mark, and, crashing through the wooden sides of the Federal
vessels committed great havoc and destruction on their crowded decks.
The following is a list of the killed and wounded in the fleet: Hartford
, killed 25, wounded 28; Brooklyn
, killed 11, wounded 43; Lackawanna
, killed 4, wounded 35; Oneida
. killed 8, wounded 30; Monongahela
, wounded 6; Metacomet
, killed 1, wounded 2; Ossipee
, killed 1, wounded 7; Richmond
, wounded 2; Galena
, wounded 1; Octorara
, killed 1, wounded 10; Kennebec
, killed 1, wounded 6. Total killed, 52 wounded, 170.
This is a much larger list of casualties than occurred at the battle of New Orleans
, and it gives a fair idea of the sanguinary nature of the conflict.
To the list must be added the 120 lost in the Tecumseh
when she sunk, making a total of 172 killed, and 170 wounded.
The vessels received injuries as follows: Monitors: Tecumseh
, sunk by a torpedo; Manhattan
, struck 9 times; Winnebago
, struck 19 times; Chickasaw
, struck three times by guns of Fort Powell.
, struck 30 times; Octorara
, struck 17 times; Hartford
, struck 20 times; Metacomet
, struck 11 times; Richmond
, no serious damage; Port Royal
, no serious damage; Lackawanna
, struck 5 times; Seminole
, hull not struck; Ossipee
, struck 4 times; Monongahela
, struck 5 times; Kennebec
, struck twice; Itasca
, struck once; Oneida
, one shot in starboard boiler; Galena
, struck 7 times.
Whole number of hits by the enemy, 134.
It would be an impossibility to enumerate the many acts of gallantry performed by the officers and men of the fleet.
and his captains will therefore be left to speak for those under their immediate observation; and, although it will swell this account, we will insert as much of the several reports as will serve to do justice to all, and give the reader a further insight into this famous battle.
, after detailing the movements of the fleet (which have already been described), proceeds as follows:
Extract from the report of Captain Drayton
; commanding United States
Report of Lieutenant Herbert B. Tyson
, commanding 1st Division, on board U. S. S. Hartford
Sir — I respectfully submit the following report of the conduct of the officers and men in the first division during the engagement of yesterday:
Acting-Ensign W. H. Whiting, in charge of the forecastle guns, deserves special mention for his gallantry in serving and working both 100-pounder rifles under the most trying circumstances.
The three captains of guns, Henry Clark, Peter W. Stanley, and W. H. Wright, displayed an amount of courage and coolness which I have rarely seen equalled.
But the two men of whom I wish particularly to speak are Charles Melville and Thomas Fitzpatrick.
A rifle-shell burst between the two forward 9-inch guns, killing and wounding fifteen men. Charles Melville was among the wounded, and was taken down with the rest to the surgeon, but came on deck almost immediately, and although scarcely able to stand, refused to go below, and worked at the gun during the remainder of the action.
Thomas Fitzpatrick, captain of No. 1 gun, was struck several times in the face by splinters, and had his gun disabled by a shell.
In a few minutes he had his gun in working order again, with new truck, breeching, side-tackle, etc., his wounded below, the dead clear, and was fighting his gun as before, setting a splendid example to the remainder of his crew.
His conduct came particularly under my notice and during the entire action was distinguished for coolness and bravery.
The 1st Division had 13 killed and 10 wounded.
From report of Acting-Volunteer Lieutenant George Mundy
, commanding 2d Division U. S. S. Hartford
Sir — I respectfully submit the following report of the conduct of the 2d Division during the emgagement of yesterday, the 5th, with Fort Morgan and the rebel gun-boats and ram “Tennessee:”
But a few moments elapsed after the drum beat to quarters before every man was at his station, the guns cast loose and ready for action.
Every man seemed determined to do his duty, which he did faithfully; not a man shrinking.
Where all did their duty so well, it is hard to discriminate; still it gives me pleasure to mention a few who were the most conspicuous.
Acting-Master's Mate W. H. Childs displayed great courage in assisting me in the Division.
The following men were also honorably mentioned: Charles Lake, Coxwain; Joseph Perry, Quartermaster; James Smith, Captain mizzen-top;
James Bennet, seaman; Owen Holland, 2d Captain mizzen-top; Samuel McFall, Captain after-guard; Beonth Diggings.
O. S.; Augustus Pauly, seaman; Charles Davidson, Captain forecastle; Henry Wright, O. S.; Robert Emerson, Lds.; David Morrow, Quarter-gunner.
From Report of Lieutenant LaRue P. Adams
, commanding 3d Division, U. S. S. Hartford
Sir — I have the honor to submit the following report of the conduct of the officers and men of the Third Division during the engagement of yesterday with Fort Morgan, the rebel gun-boats and the ram:
When the drum beat to quarters, every man was at his station instantly and the guns cleared for action.
We were unable to bring our guns to bear until nearly abreast of the fort.
We then fired with 10-second shell and 40° elevation.
The fire was kept up with great rapidity, using 5-second shell and decreasing the elevation as we neared the fort.
When abreast of it, two rounds of shrapnel, cut for 2-seconds, were fired by us.
As we passed ahead of the Brooklyn, two shells struck No. 7 gun, disabling the crew; but one man escaped uninjured on the right side of that gun. Another shell followed in a few seconds, wounding the captain of No. 7, three men at No. 8, and myself.
Four men were killed and nine wounded in all, and by those three shells. * * * Acting-Master's Mate J. J. Tinelli I cannot fail to mention.
He behaved with great gallantry, encouraging the men by his example, and served the guns of the division with great spirit against the rebel gun-boats and rain after I was sent below.
Men honorably mentioned: Forbes, Ingersoll and Pinto, Gun-Captains; William E. Stanley, Shellman.
From Report of Ensign George B. Glidden
, commanding Master
's Division, U. S. S. Hartford
Sir — I have the honor to submit to you a report of the conduct of the officers and men of the Master's Division during the engagement yesterday with Fort Morgan, the rebel gun-boats and the rain Tennessee.
I have great pleasure in mentioning Acting-Master's Mate G. R. Avery, who assisted in conning the ship during the entire action, for the great coolness he displayed in his — a responsible — position.
Men honorably mentioned: John McFarland, Captam forecastle; James Wood, Quartermaster; Joseph Cassier, Seaman; James Reddington, landsman; Henry Williams, Boatswain's Mate.
From Report of Ensign Wm. Starr Dana
, in charge of Powder Division, U. S. S. Hartford
From Report of Chief-Engineer Thomas Williamson
, U. S. S. Hartford
Sir — The conduct of the officers and men belonging to the engineer's department was characterized by coolness and energy during the engagement of yesterday.
Their duties were performed as if nothing extraordinary was going on.
Acting-Third-Assistant Engineer Wm. G. McEwan deserves special mention for the prompt and efficient manner in which he attended to getting the wounded below, near his station at the berth-deck hose, and he continued to do so until near the close of the action, when he lost his right arm. * * * * The loss in the engineer's department was three men killed and three men wounded.
Men honorably mentioned: Thomas Walkley, first-class fireman; James R. Garrison, coal-heaver; Thomas O'Connell--.
Report of Captain Thornton A. Jenkins
, commanding U. S. S. Richmond
Sir — I have the honor and very great pleasure to report, that in the action this forenoon with the batteries at Fort Morgan and the rebel rain Tennessee, this ship has received no serious damage, and there were no persons killed.
Two men were wounded, but not seriously, and the ship struck a number of times in the hull and rigging.
Reports of Captain J. B. Marchand
, commanding U. S. S. Lackawanna
Sir — I have the honor to report that, about sunrise to-day, this ship was gotten underway, and the Seminole lashed on the port side.
Our position being in the centre of the line of battle, we crossed the bar, and following close on the leading vessels, stood up the channel; and as soon as our guns could be brought to bear, a fire was opened on Fort Morgan with shells, and continued until passing it, when the Seminole was cast off.
Soon after the fleet had passed the Middle Ground, the rebel iron-clad Tennessee commenced
approaching with the design of attacking our vessels, and, in obedience to your signal, I started under the heaviest headway to run her down, and succeeded in striking her at right-angles at the afterend of the casemate.
The concussion was great, but the effect on her was only a heavy list, while our stern was cut and crushed to the plank ends for a distance of three feet above the water's edge to five feet below, and causing a considerable leak in the forward storeroom and peak.
Fortunately our yards and top-masts were down, otherwise they in all probability would have been carried away by the concussion, which caused the ship to rebound and the stern of the Tennessee to recede.
Some panic must have existed on board the enemy, as they fired but two guns through our bows.
After striking, the two swung head and stern alongside of each other, and, as our guns had been pivoted for the opposite side, we succeeded in discharging but one 9-inch shell, that struck one of the enemy's port shutters, which was distant about twelve feet, destroying it, and driving some of the fragments into her casemate.
A few of the enemy were seen through their ports, who were using most opprobrious language.
Our marines opened upon them with muskets; even a spittoon and a holy-stone were thrown at them from our deck, which drove them away.
Upon separating from the Tennessee, our helm was put hard over to make another attempt at running the enemy down; but our great length, and the shallowness of the water, caused us to turn so slowly, that we had not got round until again amongst our fleet, and, unfortunately, we collided with the flag-ship, which was running towards the Tennessee, although every exertion was used to prevent it by backing.
By this accident two of the quarter-deck ports of the Hartford were knocked into one, without this ship sustaining any injury.
After the collision with the flag-ship, I again started to run down the Tennessee, but, whilst still at a distance, she surrendered to our fleet.
Our loss throughout the day was 4 killed and 35 wounded.
Herewith I send the reports of the surgeon, engineer, and board of officers, on the injuries and expenditures.
Under no circumstances could more coolness and bravery have been shown by the crew.
I cannot express my deep feeling for the un-daunted courage and aid given me by all the officers.
Second Lieutenant Hiram Adams of the Army Signal Corps, with two assistants, were on board, and great credit is due them for their promptness in transmitting signals.
Very respectfully, &c.
From Reports of Captain James Alden
, commanding U. S. S. Brooklyn
Sir — In accordance with your instructions, I herewith append a list of the crew who most distinguished themselves for gallantry and good conduct during the action with Fort Morgan and the rebel rain and gun-boats.
Feeling satisfied that they have earned that justly-prized distinction, the “medal of honor,” I trust the Department will confer it upon them:
J. Henry Dennig and Michael Hudson, Sergeants of Marines; Wm. M. Smith and Miles M. Oviatt, Corporals of Marines; Barnett Kenna, Quartermaster; Wm. Halsted, Coxswain; Joseph Brown, Quartermaster; Joseph Irlane, Seaman; Edward Price, Coxswain; Alexander Mack, Captain-of-Top; William Nichols, Quartermaster; Nicholas Irwin, Seaman; John Cooper, Coxswain; John Brown, Captain-of-Forecastle; John Irwin, Coxswain; William Blagden, Ship's Cook; William Madden, Coalheaver; James Machon, boy; William H. Brown, Lds.; James Mifflin, Engineer's Cook; James E. Sterling, Coalheaver; Richard Dennis Boatswain's Mate; Samuel W. Davis,--------, Samuel Todd, Quartermaster.
Extract from report of Commander J. H. Strong
, commanding U. S. S. Monongahela
* * * * * * *
After passing the forts, I saw the rebel ram Tennessee head in for the line.
I then sheered out of the line to run into her, at the same time ordering full speed.
I struck her fair, and swinging round poured in a broadside of solid 11-inch shot, which apparently had but little, if any, effect upon her. Soon after, signal was made to my ship to again run into her. I did so, and was about to try it the third time when she surrendered to the fleet.
During the action my officers and men, without exception, behaved in the most gallant manner.
It would be impossible to make any distinction where all did everything that could have been desired.
I would here mention that a volunteer crew from the U. S. steamer Kennebec, in charge of Acting-Ensign Ellis, came on board, and manned one of my 32-pounder broadside guns during the engagement with Fort Morgan.
Their conduct during the action was gallant, and met with my entire approbation.
I regret to say that my first-lieutenant, Mr. Prentiss, lost a leg in the action, and that fears are entertained for his life. * * *
Reports of Commander William E. LeRoy
, commanding U. S. S. Ossipee
Admiral — I have the honor to report, that in passing the forts, and in the attack upon the ironclad Tennessee, this ship was struck four times in the hull and several times in the rigging, fortunately without disabling the ship.
Our stem is somewhat injured by running against the Tennessee.
Our casualties I am pleased to report as small.
When about running down the Tennessee, she displayed a white flag, but not in time to prevent my colliding with her, having been so disabled by the fire of the fleet and unable longer to continue the contest, and I was fortunate in receiving her surrender from Commander Johnston, her commander--Admiral Buchanan being wounded — a prize to the fleet under your command.
Admiral — In my report of the part this ship took in the passage of Fort Morgan yesterday, I neglected to allude to the efficient manner in which Lieutenant-Commander Geo. Brown, with the Itasca lashed alongside of me, performed his duty of piloting both vessels, etc.
Commander (now Rear-Admiral) J. W. A Nicholson.|
From report of Commander T. H. Stevens
, commanding U. S. Monitor Winnebago
* * * * * * *
At half-past 8 passed Fort Morgan and steamed slowly up the bay. At 10 minutes past 9 the after-turret broke down.
At 15 minutes past 9, received order from flag-ship to attack the rebel ram Tennessee, which surrendered at 45 minutes past 9. Anchored with the fleet at 45 minutes past 10 in the lower fleet anchorage of Mobile Bay.
Enclosed please receive engineer's report of the condition of the turrets, and the gunner's account of ammunition expended.
The Winnebago was struck 19 times, three of the shot having penetrated the deck near the after-turret.
I have to report no casualties.
The officers and men conducted themselves well; and to Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant W. T. Shankland, First-Assistant-Engineer John Purdy, who volunteered for this vessel, and the pilot, Wm. H. Wroten, I am indebted for valuable assistance.
Reports of Commander J. W. A. Nicholson
, commanding U. S. S. Manhattan
Sir — I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this ship in the action of the 5th instant with Fort Morgan and the rebel iron-clad Tennessee:
At 5 minutes past 7 A. M. I opened on the fort, but, owing to the dense smoke from the guns, our firing was necessarily very slow.
After passing Fort Morgan, I devoted my attention entirely to the rebel iron-clad, firing my guns slowly and with great precision.
At 45 minutes past 9 I obtained a raking position under his stern, and fired a solid shot, which struck him on the port-quarter, carrying away his steering gear.
At 57 minutes past 9, when on the point of firing from the same position, he hauled down his colors and surrendered.
I fired at the Tennessee six times, namely, one shell, two solid and three cored shot.
I am satisfied that most, if not all, the serious damage she has sustained was caused by the 15-inch shot of this vessel.
This ship was struck by the enemy's shot nine times, causing no material damage; but of this I will make a separate report.
No person was injured on board.
Officers and men all did their duty; but I especially recommend Acting-Ensign John B. Trott, who was stationed at the wheel steering the ship himself, for the admirable manner in which he performed his duty.
Also Acting-Master Robert B. Ely, for the manner in which he worked his guns.
Both of these gentlemen, I think, are worthy of being advanced a grade in the service.
One of the 15-inch carriages is temporarily disabled by the breaking of some bolts.
Sir — Of the six 15-inch projectiles fired from this vessel at the rebel iron-clad Tennessee, I claim four as having struck, doing most of the real injuries that she has sustained, namely, first, one shot on port-beam, going entirely through the armor and crushing the wood backing, making a hole completely through the vessel; second, one shot near the first, but higher up, and further forward, making a deep indentation, and then glancing over the ship; third, a shell striking her stern port-shutter, disabling it, so that the gun could not be used; fourth, a shot striking her stern, ripping up the deck-plating, carrying away her steering gear, and then striking her armor at the angle of the port quarter, crushing it, and starting the wood backing through to the inside.
From report of Lieutenant
-Commander C. H. Wells
, commanding U. S. S. Galena
Sir — I herewith report to you the part which this steamer took in passing Forts Morgan and Gaines yesterday:
* * * * * * *
I take pleasure in bringing to your notice the executive officer of this vessel, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant C. W. Wilson, who faithfully carried out my orders in passing Fort Morgan, as well as in the exhibition of coolness and bravery.
Acting-Master D. C. Kells, Acting-Ensigns Pease and Miner, and Acting-Master's Mates Tuttle and Delano, I would also recommend to your favorable notice for their good conduct under the fire of the enemy.
Mr. Buehler, First-Assistant Engineer and Acting-Chief, managed the engineer's department in a highly creditable manner, in which he was sustained by the Assistant-Engineers Greenleaf, Scott, Burns and Weecker.
Acting-Assistant Paymaster Kitchen, and Lesley G. Morrow, Captain's Clerk, remained on deck during the action, and contributed their parts to my entire satisfaction.
Acting-Assistant Surgeon George P. Wright not only attended to our three cases of wounded (one mortally), but gave his professional services to the Oneida, to several of their wounded who came on board this steamer.
The crew manifested the utmost courage throughout the affair, which will always reflect creditably upon you and the Navy of the United States.
From report of Lieutenant-Commander James E. Jouett
, commanding U. S. S. Metacomet
* * * * * * *
At 40 minutes past 7 the Brooklyn backed down the line, when the Hartford shot ahead, leading the fleet in past the forts.
At this time a shell from the rebel gun-boat Selma passed through this vessel into the forward storeroom, killing one man and wounding another, and setting the ship on fire.
By prompt action on the part of Acting-Ensign G. E. Wing, in charge of powder division, we succeeded in extinguishing it.
At 5 minutes past 8 cast off from the Hartford and steamed for the rebel gun-boats, who were annoying the fleet by a raking fire.
They steamed up the bay, engaging us with their stern guns, of which they had three each.
At half-past 8 the Gaines retreated under cover of the fort in a crippled condition.
At 9 the Morgan hauled off to starboard, and at 10 minutes past 9 the Selma struck her flag to this ship.
I immediately dispatched a boat, in charge of Acting-Master N. M. Dyer, to take charge of the prize, and to send her Captain and First-Lieutenant on board.
He hoisted the American flag, and reported Captain Murphy wounded and the First-Lieutenant killed.
He transferred fifty of her crew to this vessel, and at 50 minutes past 9, Captain P. U. Murphy came on board and surrendered his sword and vessel.
She had five killed and ten wounded, including the Captain, two of whom have since died.
The dead and wounded were attended to. The remainder of her crew and officers were sent to the Port Royal.
Put engineers and firemen on board and steamed to the fleet, reporting the capture of the Confederate steamer Selma, which vessel mounted two 9-inch Dahlgren smooth-bore, one 6 1/2 --inch rifle and one 8 1/2 --inch smooth-bore, all on pivot, with a crew, all told, of 94 men.
I am much indebted to the executive officer, H. J. Sleeper, for his cool, prompt, and officer-like conduct; he is a valuable officer.
For the efficient handling of the vessel, I am much indebted to Acting-Master N. M. Dyer, who had permission to go North on leave, but volunteered to remain to assist in the attack upon the forts.
Acting-Ensign John White was cool and deliberate, working his rifle-gun with good effect.
Acting-Master's Mates Goodwin and Miller performed their duties with promptness and zeal, making good shots with their 9-inch guns.
Acting-Third-Assistant Engineer King, who was much exposed at the engine-bell, never failed to pull the proper bell; and to the efficient arrangement of the engineer department and the prompt answer to the bells, I am indebted to First-Assistant Engineer Atkins.
The gunner, Mr. Lamen, attended in both shell-rooms and magazines, forward and aft, and kept the guns more than supplied.
I cannot close this long report without calling your attention to Assistant-Surgeon Payne, of this vessel.
By his report we had one killed and two wounded. That evening there were placed on board this vessel some sixty badly wounded officers and men, to be conveyed to Pensacola.
He was untiring in his attention, watching and tending them at all times.
He deserves especial mention for his great and successful exertions.
This ship was struck eleven times, doing but little damage; shots mostly above the hull.
I herewith submit the reports of the executive officer and surgeon.
Report of Lieutenant-Commander Bancroft Gherardi
, commanding U. S. S. Port Royal
Sir — I have the honor to inform you that on the morning of the 5th instant I took my position on the port side of the U. S. steamer Richmond, as her consort.
I was able to open fire but twice — once as the rebel iron-clad Tennessee passed down the line; the second time as we kept away on a northwest course, I was able to bring the 10-inch pivot-gun to bear on Fort Morgan, and the rifled guns to bear on Fort Gaines.
Report of Lieutenant
-Commander C. H. Greene
, commanding U. S. S. Octorara
Sir — I have the honor to forward to you the various reports of damages and casualties on board.
I bear cheerful testimony to the good conduct of officers and men; part of the latter volunteered to work one of the Brooklyns' guns, and although I have not yet heard of them from Captain Alden, I have every reason to believe they bore their part well.
To Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant Urann, executive officer, I am much indebted for his zeal and efforts in having the ship ready to go under fire.
Acting-Master Billings, a volunteer from the Vincennes, kept his post faithfully, and though quite severely hurt, still remained.
To Acting-Master Young, Acting-Ensigns Dodge and McEntee, my thanks are due for their steadiness and promptness at their quarters.
The engineer department, under the charge of Mr. Shipman, Acting-Chief-Engineer, was well attended to, and his subordinates' conduct met my approbation.
To Assistant-Surgeon Dodge and Paymaster Pynchon, and, in fact, all, I tender my hearty thanks.
From Report of Lieutenant-Commander William P. McCann
, commanding U. S. S. Kennebec
* * * * * * * * *
The officers and crew of the Kennebec performed their duties gallantly under the enemy's fire.
When lashed alongside the Monongahela I sent Acting-Ensign J. D. Ellis, in charge of a gun's crew, to work a gun there, under the observation of Captain Strong, where he acted nobly.
I beg leave to call your attention to the good conduct of Acting-Ensign H. E. Tinkham, who, when seriously wounded by the explosion of a shell from the rebel ram Tennessee,and when the vessel was supposed to be on fire, refused to leave his station.
It affords me pleasure to bring to your favorable notice Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant Edward Baker, the executive officer, Acting-Ensign J. J. Butler and Second-Assistant Engineer L. W. Robinson.
Acting-Assistant Surgeon George W. Hatch rendered the most prompt assistance to the wounded.
The crew fully sustained the proud reputation of the American sailor for courage and bravery.
From Report of Lieutenant-Commander George Brown
, commanding U. S. S. Itasca
* * * * * *
After passing Fort Morgan, I cast off from the Ossipee, and started under sail and a full head of steam in pursuit of the rebel gun-boats Morgan and Selma, that were being engaged by the Metacomet; but before I came within range the Morgan had succeeded in getting in such a position that I could not cut off her retreat toward Fort Morgan, and the Selma had struck her flag to the Metacomet.
I take pleasure in testifying to the spirited willingness and desire manifested by all under my command to take a more active part in the engagement; but the duty assigned us prevented us from using our guns in passing Fort Morgan except for the purpose of increasing the density of smoke.
I am happy to be able to report that no casualties occurred.
The vessel was struck once in the mainmast.
Report of Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Perkins
, commanding U. S. Monitor Chickasaw
Sir — I have the honor to submit the following report:
At 6 A. M., on Friday, August 5th, in obedience to orders, I got underway, and took my position in the rear of the “ Winnebago,” on the right of the line.
I passed the forts with the rest of the fleet, firing as rapidly as possible.
Afterwards, in obedience to orders, I attacked the rebel rain Tennessee, following her up closely, shooting away her smoke-stack,and firing solid shot at her till her flag was hauled down and a white flag raised.
Her steering gear being shot away, I took her in tow and brought her to anchor near the Hartford.
In the afternoon of the same day, I got underway, and brought a large barge, the Ingomar.
out from under the guns of Fort Powell, exchanging several shot and being struck three times.
On the morning of the 6th, I proceeded again to Fort Powell, which I found deserted and blown up. I towed out another barge.
In the afternoon I advanced and shelled Fort Gaines.
Too much praise cannot be given to all the officers and men for their coolness and efficiency under fire, and their endurance while at quarters.
I would mention in particular Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant William Hamilton, the executive officer, who, when on his way home, condemned by medical survey, volunteered for this vessel.
I owe much to him, his energy, in fitting out the vessel, and for his gallantry and coolness during the fight.
Acting-Master E. D. Percy, who also volunteered for the vessel, and commanded the guns in the after-turret, and Gunner J. A. McDonald, who commanded the forward-turret, deserve especial mention for the skill and rapidity with which they fought their batteries.
Chief-Boatswain's Mate Andrew Jones and Master-at-Arms James Seanor, who, although their time was out, volunteered for the fight from the Vincennes, are entitled to honorable mention.
During the entire action the vessel was struck a number of times, the smoke-stack was shot almost entirely away, and one shot penetrated the deck on the starboard bow. No serious injury was suffered, and there were no casualties among officers or men.
From Report of Lieutenant Charles L. Huntington
, executive officer of the U. S. S. Oneida
* * * * * * *
The ram, passing astern, delivered two raking fires into us, one of which disabled the 12-pdr.
howitzer on the poop, severely wounding Commander Mullany; the effect of the other one I am unable to state, but think the only damage from it was to our rigging.
The command of the ship now devolved upon me, and the management of the two vessels upon Lieutenant-Commander Wells, of the Galena.
The battery was gallantly served while passing the forts, but the enemy raked us several times after our guns could not be brought to bear.
In passing the fort we received a shell forward on the berth-deck, which exploded, knocking out a dead-light on the port side, [and] starting a fire on the top of the magazine.
Owing to the presence of mind of Acting-Ensign Hall, commanding the powder division, and Gunner William Parker, the fire was promptly extinguished.
and the supply of powder was as rapid as ever before.
At 35 minutes past 8 signal was made that the captain was wounded, and also that our boiler was disabled; not being answered from the flag-ship, hauled down signals.
About a quarter past 9 repeated signals and they were not answered, but signal was made from the flag-ship to run down at full speed the enemy's principal vessel.
Answered the signal, but I am sure the Admiral understands we could not obey it; we had no speed.
At 10 o'clock A. M., the Itasca, Lieutenant-Commander Brown, took us in tow and carried us to an anchorage.
At 11, anchored in 3 1/4 fathoms of water, with thirty fathoms of chain ready for slipping.
The officers and crew of the Oneida are proud to have served in your fleet, and they are proud of their gallant commander, J. R. M. Mullany, who gave us all such a noble example of unflinching courage and heroism.
His coolness in action could not possibly have been surpassed.
Having scarcely become acquainted with Commander Mullany, he having only been on board two days, the highest compliment
that can be paid him is the confidence and spirit with which the crew went into action.
Too much praise cannot be awarded to Lieutenant C. S. Cotton, Lieutenant E. N. Kellogg and Acting-Ensign John Sears, commanding gun divisions, for the admirable examples of courage they afforded their men, and for their skill in directing the fire of the guns.
The conduct of Acting-Ensign Charles V. Gridley (regular) is beyond all praise.
He had charge of the Master's division, and assisted in conning the ship from the top gallant forecastle.
Acting-Ensign Hall's conduct has been previously mentioned.
His duties were performed in the most satisfactory manner, and, under Almighty God, we probably owe to his presence of mind at the time of the fire on the berth-deck the safety of the ship.
Acting-Master's Mates Edward Bird, Daniel Clark, and John Devereaux behaved courageously.
Gunner Wm. Parker and Boatswain Hallowell Dickinson merit mention for their good conduct.
I leave it to Chief-Engineer W. H. Hunt to speak of the officers and men under his immediate supervision, but must speak of him personally in this report.
He was cool and collected during the whole affair, and his gallantry was particularly apparent at the time of the accident to our starboard boiler.
Mr. Hunt was scalded severely in both arms.
Surgeon John Y. Taylor had a severe task imposed upon him, but his whole duty by the wounded was done quietly and skillfully.
Medical assistance was offered from the Galena; it was accepted, and Acting-Assistant Surgeon Geo. P. Wright came on board, for which we owe him our thanks.
At the time that our boiler was exploded, five of our wounded men went on board the Galena; four subsequently returned — the other was suffering much pain, and remained on board until transferred to the Metacomet.
The safety of the ship after the explosion depended upon the Galena.
That we are here, quietly at anchor, attests how nobly Lieutenant-Commander Clark H. Wells stood by us.
Assistant-Paymaster Geo. R. Martin assisted the surgeon materially.
He also superintended putting out a fire that broke out in the cabin.
Paymaster's Clerk W. P. Treadwell rendered great service in passing orders to the bell, until he was required below to assist in caring for the wounded.
He was quite badly scalded himself.
Mr. Geo. A. Ebbetts, Captain's Clerk, behaved splendidly.
He was knocked down at the same time that Captain Mullany was wounded.
Whenever he could be spared from below, after this accident, he cheerfully rendered assistance in carrying orders.
The pilot, Mr. John V. Grivet, served part of the time on board the “ Galena,” and part of the time on this ship.
That part of his conduct which came under my observation merits praise.
For the crew, they stood to their guns most nobly.
Many deserve mention, but I shall only name those that came under my own observation.
The following men are then honorably mentioned by Lieutenant Huntington
James Sheridan and John E. Jones, Quartermasters; William Gardner, Seaman; John Preston, Landsman; William Newland, Ordinary Seaman; David Nailor, Landsman; Charles Wooram, Ordinary Seaman; Thomas Kendrick, Coxswain.
The marines conducted themselves with the usual distinguished gallantry of their corps.
Sergeant James S. Roantree is particularly deserving of notice.
Additional Reports of Captain T. A. Jenkins
, commanding U. S. S. Richmond
Sir — I have the honor to report that in obedience to your general order and plan of battle for attacking Fort Morgan and the rebel fleet, Lieutenant-Commander Bancroft Gherardi, commanding the United States Steamer Port Royal, reported himself with his vessel to me ready for action a little before daylight this morning.
The Port Royal was lashed on the port side of this vessel, with her stern pivot-gun sufficiently far aft of the quarter of this ship to enable it to be used against the enemy as effectively as one of my own broadside guns.
To Lieutenant-Commander Gherardi I am greatly indebted for his cool and courageous conduct, from the moment the attack commenced to the time that his vessel was cast off by my order to go in chase of the enemy's three wooden gun-boats, the Morgan, Gaines and Selma.
My orders on board of this ship to the helmsman, and to the officer stationed at the engine-bell, were repeated by him on board of his own vessel, and the soundings passed from his own vessel to this with a coolness and clearness of voice that could not but excite my admiration.
The after pivot-gun of the Port Royal (the only one that could be brought to bear upon the enemy's batteries from that vessel) was worked most effectively.
Sir — In my report of the 5th instant I expressed my great admiration of and thanks for the cool and courageous conduct of every officer and of every man serving on board of this ship in the terrible conflict with the rebel batteries at Fort Morgan, the iron-clad Tennessee, and gun-boats Selma, Morgan and Gaines, on the morning of that day.
I consider it, however, but an act of plain and simple duty on my part to go further now, and respectfully invite your attention, and that of the Department through you, to the highly meritorious conduct of the under-mentioned petty-officers and seamen on board of this ship, who exhibited on that memorable occeasion, and in conflict with the rebels
previously, a will and determination and set an example to their shipmates and messmates worthy, in my opinion, of the highest commendation.
The following are then honorably mentioned:
Wm. Densmore, Chief Boatswain's Mate; Adam Duncan and Charles Deakin, Boatswain's Mates; Cornelius Cronin, Chief Quartermaster; William Wells, Quartermaster; Henry Sharp, Seaman; Walter B. Smith, Ordinary Seaman; George Parks, Captain of Forecastle; Thomas Hayes, Lebeus Simkins, Oloff Smith and Alex. H. Truett, Coxswains; Robert Brown and John H. James, Captains of Top; Thomas Cripps and John Brazell, Quartermasters; James H. Morgan and John Smith, Captains of Top; James B. Chandler, Coxswain; William Jones, Captain of Top; William Doolan, Coalheaver; James Smith, Captain of Forecastle; Hugh Hamilton, Coxswain; James McIntosh, Captain of Top; William M. Carr, Master-at-Arms; Thomas Atkinson, Yeoman; David Sprowls, Orderly Sergeant; Andrew Miller and James Martin, Sergeants of Marines.
From the additional Report of Captain Percival Drayton
, commanding Hartford
Sir — I beg leave to call your attention to the conduct of the following petty officers and others of this vessel during the action of the 5th instant, which, I think, entitles then to the medal of honor:
Thomas Fitzpatrick, Coxswain; Charles Melville, Ordinary Seaman William E. Stanley, Shellman; William Pelham, Landsman; John McFarlan, Captain of Forecastle; James R. Garrison and Thomas O'Connell, Coalheavers; Wilson Brown and John Lamson, Landsmen; George Mellage, Paymaster's Steward.
From additional Reports of Captain J. B. Marchand
of the Lackawanna
Sir — In the action of the 5th instant the follow.
ing-named petty officers, and others of inferior rating, were conspicuous for their energy and bravery, and deserve medals of honor; but under the fourth rule of the general order of the Navy Department, No. 10, dated April 3d, 1863, their special signal acts of valor cannot be cited so as to authorize me to recommend their obtaining medals.
The following are then honorably mentioned:
William Phinney, Boatswain Mate; John Smith, Captain Forecastle; Samuel W. Kinnaird, Robert Dougherty, Michael Cassidy, Landsmen.
Sir — I respectfully bring to your attention the following petty officers, etc., of this ship, who evinced in the battle of the 5th instant signal acts of bravery which would justly entitle them to medals of honor: George Taylor, Armorer; Lewis Copat, Landsman James Ward, Quarter-gunner; Daniel Whitfield, Quartermaster; John M. Burns, Seaman; John Edwards, Captain of Top; Adam McCullock, Seaman.
On August 6th, the Admiral
returned thanks in a general order
to the officers and men who had so ably supported him during the late conflict, as follows:
It is not always that the sailors and petty officers who have taken part in a naval battle have full justice done them, although they may have shown as much courage as any of their officers.
There never was a case where sailors showed more true heroism than at the battle of Mobile Bay
, especially in the exacting moment when the Tennessee
made her attack upon the fleet.
Men, who were so seriously wounded that they could not stand, would crawl back to their guns, and though they could do no work would cheer on and inspire their comrades.
Men in their last moments would give forth a faint cheer when they heard that the Tennessee
was being beaten, and die with a smile on their lips.
If a comrade fell at his post, another from a gun that could not be brought to bear would spring to take his place, laying him tenderly aside and swearing to avenge his death.
It is not always in the excitement of battle that these heroic acts are noticed, and it is with pleasure that we here publish the reports of those officers who thought enough of their sailors to mention those among them who had especially distinguished themselves.
The medal of honor was as much as they could expect, but these badges were as much prized as were the decorations which Napoleon served out to his brave soldiers after a victory.
He knew the secret of touching men's hearts on the battle-field, and to this he owed the many victories won for him by his soldiers.
It is not the value of the medal, for it is only made of copper; it is the fact that a sailor's services are noticed that makes him the happiest of men, and he treasures up the mementoes of his services with care and pride.
While the fleet was darting ahead under a sharp fire from Fort Morgan
, and just as the Brooklyn
stopped her engines, the Tecumseh
, struck by a torpedo, went down almost instantly, carrying with her nearly all her brave officers and men. It was an appalling sight to look upon, but it did not for one moment throw the fleet into confusion.
The commanders followed their brave leader, not thinking for a moment of the possible consequences.
, even at that trying moment, did not fail to remember what was due to humanity, but hailed Lieutenant-Commander Jouett
of the Metacomet
, and directed him to send a boat to pick up the few men who could be seen struggling in the water.
This was done with a promptitude that reflected great credit on the discipline of the Metacomet
Acting-Ensign Henry C. Nields
had charge of the boat that went on this perilous service, and steering right for the struggling men in the water, under as heavy a fire from Fort Morgan
as any officer ever went through, found his reward in the rescue of ten men. who, but for the coolness he displayed and the encouragement he gave his brave boat's crew to spring to their oars, would have soon followed their shipmates to a watery grave.
This was done within three hundred yards of the fort, with shot and shell falling thickly about him. Ensign Nields
, not only received the warmest commendations from Admiral Farragut
, but the highest admiration that could be felt by every officer in the fleet.
Such acts of gallantry, connected with a mission of mercy, should obtain the greatest rewards.
The following survivors of the Tecumseh
were picked up by the Metacomet
's boat: Acting-Ensign John J. P. Zettich
, Quartermasters C. V. Dean
and William Roberts
; Seamen James McDonald
, George Major
and James Thorn
; Ordinary Seaman Charles Packard
; Landsman William Fadden
; Coal-heaver William C. West
, and Pilot John Collins
In addition to these, there were picked up by one of the Tecumseh
's boats: Acting-Masters C. F. Langley
and Gardner Cottrell
's Mate S. S. Shinn
, Quarter-gunner John Gould
, Seamen Frank Commins
, Richard Collins
and Peter Parkes
Four men, whose names are unknown, swam ashore and were captured by the Confederates
state in their joint report that the Tecumseh
was nearly abreast of Fort Morgan
, and about 150 yards from the beach, when it was reported to Commander Craven
that there was a row of buoys, stretching from the shore a distance from one to two hundred yards. He immediately ordered full speed and attempted to pass between two of the buoys.
When in their range, a torpedo was exploded directly under the turret.
blowing a large hole in the bottom of the vessel, through which the water rushed with great rapidity.
Finding that the vessel was sinking, the order was given to leave quarters, and from that moment every one used the utmost exertions to clear himself from the wreck.
After being carried down several times they were picked up in a drowning condition, as before stated.
was with the pilot in the pilot-house when the torpedo exploded under the vessel, but his chivalric spirit caused him to lose his life.
He insisted on the pilot taking precedence in descending the ladder.
They both reached the turret, but as the pilot passed through the porthole the vessel keeled over and went down, taking with her as gallant an officer as there was in the American Navy
One moment more and his life would have been saved to adorn the list of officers of which he was so bright a member.
The example shown by Craven
on this occasion should be chronicled in every story of the war. No more chivalrous event occurred during the four years conflict.
After the capture of the Tennessee
, and when the fleet had anchored, the Chickasaw
, Lieutenant-Commander Geo. H. Perkins
, was sent to fire on Fort Powell and to bring off a large barge lying near it. This duty was handsomely performed, the fort was well battered and the barge brought away.
The enemy, using their guns with spirit, gave the Chickasaw
some ugly wounds in her armor; but, seeing the inequality of a conflict with the fleet, the commander of the fort evacuated it on the night of the 5th, when it soon after blew up. The guns were, however, left intact, and several covered barges were captured that made good workshops for the fleet.
On the afternoon of the 6th, the Chickasaw
was sent in to shell Fort Gaines
, and this was so effectually done that Colonel Anderson
, the commander, soon came to terms.
He had not much of a garrison — most of his men being raw recruits and boys — but he seems to have been a sensible man, for on the morning of the 7th he sent a communication to Admiral Farragut
offering to surrender, and requesting that he be given the best conditions.
was sent for by the Admiral
to meet Colonel Anderson
and Major Brown
on board the flag-ship, where an agreement was signed, by which Fort Gaines
was surrendered unconditionally.
All private property (except arms) was to
be respected, and the inmates of the fort were to remain prisoners-of-war.
On August 8th, Fleet-Captain Drayton
, on the part of the Navy, and Colonel Myer
, on the part of the Army, proceeded to the fort to carry out the stipulations of the agreement, and at 9:45 A. M. they received its surrender.
and hoisted the Union flag amid the prolonged cheers of the sailors of the fleet.
No cheers were ever given with more ardor, for this victory was seen to be another of the severe death-blows given to an enemy whose end was very near.
This was the close of the battle on the water.
was still to be reduced, but any one could see that this event would be but a matter of a short time.
There was no hope for the defenders of the fort, strong as it was, for it was cut off from all succor.
The Navy commanded it and the waters of Mobile Bay
, and the army having landed in its rear, shut it out from all hope of reinforcements or supplies.
Preparations were being made to invest it by land and sea, with as little loss of life as possible to the Union
There was the great and impregnable Tennessee
lying at anchor among the fleet as harmless as a Chinese junk, with the American
flag flying where the Confederate Stars and Bars
was wont to wave.
was captured, the Gaines
burnt, and the Morgan
was the only vessel of Buchanan
's fleet that had escaped.
She ran up to Mobile
the night after the battle by keeping close in shore.
As soon as the fate of their Navy and the two forts was known at Mobile
, the Confederates
sunk the Nashville
right across the narrow channel under commanding guns — and thus completely blocked the way to the city.
But this did not help them any. The days of blockade-runners were over.
No more would those snug-looking clippers slip into the bay at night in spite of a most watchful blockade, and, carrying their welcome cargoes into the port of Mobile
, supply the Confederacy
with food, clothing and munitions of war. The steam locomotive no longer blew its shrillest whistle as it started from Mobile
with a rich load of provisions and arms for the city of Richmond
, to en-enable their brave and desperate soldiers to sustain the lost cause by a few spasmodic efforts that could be of no service to them.
And here the reader will see the benefit the battle of Mobile Bay
was to the Union
and the injury it was to the Confederacy
, and Farragut
once more earned the plaudits of the nation by his successful conflict against desperate odds.
The people of the North
rejoiced heartily when they heard of this famous victory, while the people of the South
were proportionally depressed.
They had counted so much on Buchanan
(who was very popular among them) and on his fleet, that this last blow almost deprived them of all hope; but they fought on to the last with unequalled energy and bravery.
This victory atoned for the effects of the misadventures with the ram Albemarle
in the sounds of North Carolina
The Southerners had made great capital out of that affair, and so rejoiced over it that the people of the North
were disposed to regard it as more important than the Navy Department chose to acknowledge; and the press of the North
, always prone to take sides against Federal officers, published reports that were wholly unreliable.
And herein lay the difference between the North
and the South
Though the latter might be fighting in a bad cause, yet the people stood by each other like a band of brothers, and when their officers met with defeats they did not raise a howl from one end of the Confederacy
to the other — they smoothed them over, and often claimed them as victories.
But it was otherwise with the press of the North
They had very little consideration for those who were fighting their battles, while they were comfortable at home, with substitutes in the field.
They all wanted to dictate to their military leaders, and found fault oftener than they praised, while half the time they were not properly informed in regard to matters on which they were expressing opinions.
As soon as Secretary Welles
heard of the results of the battle of Mobile Bay
, he forwarded to Admiral Farragut
the following congratulatory letter:
remained yet to be captured, and all the necessary steps were being taken to bring about this desired object.
The Army, under General Granger
, had been transferred from Dauphine Island to its rear.
had also landed four 9-inch guns in the rear of the fort, under the command of Lieutenant H. B. Tyson
, of the Hartford
, and manned with crews from the Hartford
On the 21st of August, General Granger
informed him that his guns were all in battery and would be ready to open upon the enemy's works on the morning of the 22d.
, in consequence, directed the Monitors
and other vessels carrying suitable guns to move up and be ready to open upon the fort at the same time with the army batteries.
At daylight, on the 22d, the bombardment began from the shore batteries, the Monitors
and ships inside the Bay of Mobile
and those outside.
and it presented a most magnificent sight.
No hotter bombardment was ever kept up for twenty-four hours.
At half-past 8 P. M., the citadel of the fort burst out in flames, adding its bright light to the grandeur of the scene, and illuminating the bay, where the cannon of the fleet, directed by practiced hands, were belching forth their deadly missiles, which sped on their destructive way unerringly.
When the fire broke out, General Granger
ordered the rear batteries to redouble their fire.
At 6 A. M. on the 23d an explosion took place in the enemy's work, and at half-past 6 a white flag was displayed on the parapet of Fort Morgan
immediately sent Fleet-Captain Drayton
to join General Granger
and arrange the terms of surrender; which were that the fort, its garrison and: all public property should be surrendered, unconditionally, at 2 o'clock on that day, to the Army and naval forces of the United States
These terms were accepted by Brigadier-General R. L. Page
, of the Confederate
service (formerly a Commander in the United States Navy). The garrison was sent to New Orleans in company with the crews of the ram Tennessee
and the gunboat Selma
List of the officers of the Tennessee
, Franklin Buchanan
; Commander, James D. Johnston
, Wm. L. Bradford
, A. P. Wharton
, E. G. McDermott
; Masters, J. R. De Moley
and H. W. Perron
; Fleet Surgeon, R. C. Bowles
; Engineers, G. D. Lining
, J. O'Connell
, John Hays
, O. Benson
and W. B. Patterson
's Clerk, J. H. Cohen
's Mates, W. A. Forrest
and R. M. Carter
; Boatswain, John McCudie
; Gunner, H. S. Smith
of the Selma
, Peter U. Murphy
; Lieutenant, J. H. Comstock
tried to obtain more favorable terms, but without success.
He had held out bravely against the bombardment, and thought.
perhaps, that he and his officers should have received some favors on that account; but then, again, he had caused an unnecessary loss of life by persisting in defending a fort that was virtually in the power of the Federal
forces, and which he knew could not by any possibility escape capture.
The defence was gallant, but it was an unnecessary display of bravery, as the end proved.
reported that after the assembling of the Confederate
officers outside of the works, to deliver Fort Morgan
to its conquerors, it was discovered, on an examination of the interior, that most of the guns were spiked and many of the gun-carriages wantonly injured, and arms, ammunition, provisions, etc., destroyed, and that there was every reason to believe that this was done after the white flag had been displayed.
It was also discovered that General Page
and several of his officers had no swords to deliver, and, further, that some of those that were surrendered were broken.
He draws attention to the different course pursued by Colonel Anderson
, who commanded at Fort Gaines
, and turned over everything in good order.
reflects very severely on General Page
and his officers for their wanton destruction of property; but it must be remembered that this was done at Fort Morgan
in the excitement of battle, and it might have been done without the General
's knowledge by young officers who had had no extensive military training, and who were not posted as to the proprieties of the occasion.
We do not like to believe that General Page
lent himself to such improper
proceedings, for while he was in the United States Navy he was looked upon by all who knew him as the soul of honor, and although he committed the gravest fault when he abjured the flag under which he was born, educated and cherished, yet there were so many others of world-wide reputations who set the example and carried men away with their wild secession sophistries, that he could have erred on that one subject without forfeiting an honorable name.
The fact of his not having a sword to deliver might have been an accident.
It would have been very foolish in an officer of his age to suppose that he could in this way free himself from any odium that might attach to defeat, or gain any applause even from his warmest admirers.
No matter what happened, Fort Morgan
was won in the most handsome manner, and Farragut
was once more entitled to the heartiest congratulations of his countrymen.
This, his last great achievement, had placed him in the foremost rank of naval officers, and the following letter from the Hon. Secretary of the Navy scarcely states the value of the service he had rendered to the Union
As soon as Fort Morgan
had surrendered, Farragut
ordered the channel raked for torpedoes.
Twenty-one were taken up, but most of them had lain so long in the water that they had, fortunately, become harmless.
In consequence of this, the seamen became somewhat careless in handling them, and one torpedo exploded, killing and wounding the following named persons:
Killed — C. E. Milliken
Mortally wounded — Isaac Young (Ord
Sea.); John Miller
(Sea.), Robert G. White
(Sea.), George Thompson
(Sea.)--all of U. S. S. Seminole
Wounded seriously--Pilot Martin Freeman
, U. S. S. Hartford
; Acting-Ensign John White
; H. J. O'Brien
); William Howard
(Lds.); James McDonald
(Sea.), all of the Metacomet
; and Boatswain Charles White
, of the Seminole
Slightly wounded — Henry Chester
(Sea.); Edward Mann
(O. S.); Thomas Webster
(Lds.)--U. S. S. Seminole
These men had passed through all the danger of battle, and had stood to their guns like heroes, and now, when they might hope to live and enjoy part of the honor won in this great victory, they were snatched from life or maimed forever by an infernal machine, which the officers of the Union Navy
, as a rule, disdained to use — trusting rather to hearts of steel and wooden ships with which to win their victories.
We place their names on the roll of fame as worthy to be remembered by all who honor the true American sailor, who will stick to his flag as long as he has a leg to stand on.
It is bad enough to have men shot down in battle while fighting their guns, but it is dreadful to see them lying crushed to pieces after the victory is won, especially when, as in this case, it might so easily have been prevented.
Few of the vessels lost so many in killed and wounded during the fight as were lost by the explosion of this one torpedo.
One of the vessels of the Union fleet was lost very unnecessarily, and that was the steamer Philippi
, commanded by Acting-Master James T. Seaver
, who, it appears, wished to undertake an adventure on his own account, and, after delivering some stores to the vessels outside the bar, stood in after the fleet to try and be of assistance in case any vessel was disabled.
He was unfortunate enough to run aground, however, when within range of Fort Morgan
, and the Confederate
gunners struck his vessel almost every time and soon set her on fire, showing how much better is the aim of gunners when they are firing at a vessel that does not fire back.
Had Fort Morgan
fired as well at the fleet while passing, it would have crippled all the wooden ships.
We can imagine the Admiral
when, after passing all the batteries safely, he saw a vessel of his squadron in flames, away off in the outer bay, and out of the main channel.
Worst of all, Acting-Master Seaver
deserted his vessel, leaving the signal-book on the quarter-deck.
was an express vessel, and a great loss to the squadron.
It was a small loss, however, compared with the final gain, and it merely shows that, with all the precautions that a commander-in-chief may take, there is always some one person who will, for want of common sense, do his best to defeat the object of his commander.
Now that years have passed, and the prejudices of the day have been forgotten by all truly loyal men, we can calmly discuss this remarkable battle without any fear of being considered partial towards any of the parties concerned.
The question has often been asked, “Was Buchanan
justified by circumstances in attacking Farragut
's fleet, unless he was covered by the heavy batteries of Fort Morgan
Let us see first what effect the Tennessee
had had upon the fleet, from the time it came under the fire of Fort Morgan
until it anchored in Mobile Roads. The ironclad occupied a commanding and raking position, backed by the three gun-boats and covered by Fort Morgan
; but every vessel passed her without being disabled, all the serious injury which they received coming from the guns of Fort Morgan
It was expected by the officers of the fleet that the Confederate iron-clad would place herself right in the way of the leading vessel, sink her with her formidable prow, throw the fleet into confusion, and keep them huddled together under the fire of the fort until she could get into their midst and deal destruction on every side.
This is the course which Buchanan
should have pursued, for it will be seen that his iron-clad was quite strong enough to with-stand the battering of any vessel in the Union fleet.
She was rammed by the Monongahela
, and Ossipee
The first two vessels were seriously injured, the Hartford
only hit a glancing blow, and the Ossipee
received more injury than she inflicted; in fact, all their attacks were harmless against the iron-clad hull of the ram, which had been built expressly to stand just such encounters.
The Board which examined her after the battle reported that there were no visible marks or evidence of injury done by the ramming she had received.
This shows that the calculations made by Buchanan
were not without due consideration.
He knew every ship in the Union fleet, the number and calibre of their guns, their speed, the strength of their hulls, and, in fact, all that was worth knowing about them.
But he failed to appreciate the merit of their commanding officers, and, ever following in the wake of the “lost cause,” he forgot the spirit of the brave seamen who manned the Union ships.
He well knew what would be the effect of the 11 and 15 inch shot that would be fired from the Monitors
He had seen in the fight of the Monitor
that 11-inch shot would not penetrate the 4-inch armor of the latter, and he had seen, from the reports of the bombardment of Fort Sumter
by the Monitors
, that 15-inch shot had not enough penetrating power to break through masonry that was easily bored through and through by a 6-inch rifle.
He knew that the fleet had very few rifled guns, and that what they had were small calibre Parrotts, which it was necessary to load with reduced charges in order to guard against explosion.
He had placed one-third more armor on the Tennessee
than was on the Merrimac
, and had strengthened her in other ways as no vessel had ever been strengthened before.
We have seen from the accounts of this battle that the hull of the Tennessee
was virtually uninjured by the shots from the Monitors
Only one 15-inch shot penetrated her armor, while the 11-inch shot made no impression on her beyond shattering the port shutters; and had it not been for the carrying away of her exposed steering gear and smoke-stack, Buchanan
's calculations might have been verified.
Yet the only real damage done to the Tennessee
was by the Monitors
and it may be asked: “Would not the Monitors
have captured her without the aid of the wooden ships?”
We think they ought to have done so, unless by her superior speed she had escaped under the guns of the fort.
The wooden ships smothered her by their heavy blows, demoralizing her crew and keeping them from the guns, for they did not know what would be the result of this constant ramming.
It is certain that the Tennessee
did not fire a gun after her last encounter with the Hartford
The Confederates claim that she was attacked by a squadron of eighteen vessels, and that Buchanan
, single-handed, held his own for hours; while the fact is, she was attacked by only seven vessels of the fleet (four of them wooden), and the action lasted but an hour and a quarter--(8:45 to 10 A. M.）
Considering all things, Admiral Buchanan
made a mistake in attacking the fleet when he did; he ought to have remained under shelter of Fort Morgan
until the fleet attacked him, or else have come out in the
night when the vessels were at anchor and at a disadvantage.
That was his only chance of success.
As he took upon himself to go out and seek battle, instead of waiting for it to be offered to him, one would naturally suppose that his ship had a resisting power that was only known to himself, and that he, as one of the best sailors afloat, felt himself authorized to attack the whole fleet by daylight.
If this was the case, the forces on each side might be considered as about equal, in spite of the disparity of numbers.
One point must not be lost sight of, and that is, that no damage was inflicted on the Tennessee
before the Monitors
came up, and when they did attack her the battle was soon ended.
It is a significant fact in favor of iron-clads, and if the Monitors
had possessed more speed they would not have required any assistance from wooden vessels.
In this connection we must mention a very creditable action of Commander Nicholson
The charge for the 15-inch gun, as regulated by the Bureau of Ordnance
, was only 35 lbs. of powder, but Captain Nicholson
nearly doubled it, using 65 lbs.--taking the responsibility of bursting the gun — but proving, in fact, that it could bear that charge for a limited number of rounds.
The result was, that he pierced the armor of the ram, and dispelled the illusion of Buchanan
and his crew — that their ship was invulnerable.
There is no doubt that the Tennessee
was at that time the most formidable vessel the Confederates
had ever built, and they might well feel proud of their great war monster, and believe her to be a match for half a-dozen Monitors.
In fact, she might have been more than a match for them if the fight had taken place in the open sea, where her superior speed and long-range guns would have given her a great advantage.
This battle gave the Government
a great deal of experience, and demonstrated beyond question that the 9 and 11 inch guns were perfectly useless against six inches of iron, heavily backed, even when fired at close quarters.
But, with this lesson before them, the U. S. Government--for twenty years after the war — has held on to these guns, and paraded them about the world in obsolete wooden ships, which all other nations have abolished as unfit for war purposes.
The two great systems of iron-clad construction, which had been introduced on the scene of war by the North
and the South
respectively, had on this occasion a fair chance of being fully tested, and in a manner admitting of no dispute, and the palm was given to Ericssen's invention.
The want of speed and a proper armament are not faults inherent in his system.
was a formidable vessel, and her designers and constructors deserved great credit for the result of their labors.
Had she succeeded in winning a victory in Mobile Bay
, the world would have been some years longer groping in the dark for the right kind of an iron clad, but would have found it finally in the Ericsson Monitor
, which to-day has no superior throughout the world.
This battle rendered Mobile
of no value to the Confederacy
, for, although owing to shoal water and obstructions, the Navy could not reach the city, it was as hermetically sealed against blockade-runners as if actually surrendered.
A few vessels only were kept inside the bay, leaving Farragut
at liberty to use his remaining force on the coast of Texas
, where General Banks
(after his failure up the Red River
) had evacuated all the important points which had been captured by the Army and Navy, and thus left the Texan
ports open to the blockade-runners.
The work of the Navy seemed to be endless.
It had not only to fight the enemy, but to repair the blunders of quasi-military men, who would not even hold the positions which the Navy placed in their hands.
Yet the officers and sailors worked on with unwearying activity and bravery to reach the victorious end, and every battle won diminished in an increasing ratio the Confederates
' chance of success.
The battle of Mobile Bay
proved several things which it is as important to know to-day as it was then.
Guns mounted en barbette
, even when protected by proper traverses, can be silenced and passed by steamers on their throwing in a heavy and concentrated fire, especially if they carry a large number of guns in broadside.
No fort now existing in this country can keep out a fleet unless the channel is thoroughly obstructed.
Up to the present time, ships-of-war are gaining in strength over the forts of this country, and the saying that “one gun on shore is worth three on board-ship” may very properly be reversed.
Steam has changed the whole principle of war, and iron-clads with rifled guns are too strong for our walls of stone, brick and mortar.
Note.--As the Tennessee
was the most powerful and remarkable vessel the Confederates
ever built, the scientific reader may take some interest in the following description of her construction, from the report of a Board of Survey, ordered by Admiral Farragut
, after the battle:
Description of the Confederate iron-clad Tennessee.
The vessel had been built at Mobile, Alabama
, under the superintendence of Messrs. Pierce
, naval constructors, and Mr. Frick
, chief engineer
of the station.
. The hull of the vessel was very strongly built in every part, the materials being oak and yellow pine
, with iron fastenings.
Length from stem to stern on deck, 209 feet; greatest breadth of beam on deck, 48 feet; mean average draught of water about 14 feet.
The deck was covered fore and aft with wroughtiron plates, two inches thick.
The sides of the vessel were protected by an over-hang, sponsoned, and covered with two layers of 2-inch wrought-iron.
This overhang extended about six feet below the water line.
The sides of the vessel below the deck were eight feet thick, and the distance from the knuckle or outside of the overhang on deck, to the base of the casemate on either side, was ten feet. The vessel was provided with a strong beak or prow, which projected about two feet under water, formed by the continuation of the sponsoning and covered with wrought-iron plates.
was very strongly built.
It was 78 feet 8 inches long, and 28 feet 9 inches wide inside, the sides of the vessel extending ten feet from it on either side at the greatest breadth of beam.
The framing consisted of heavy yellow pine
beams, 13 inches thick, and placed close together vertically.
Outside planking of yellow pine
, 5 1/2
Diagram of the Confederate iron-clad ram Tennessee.|
inches thick, laid on horizontally; and outside of this horizontal planking there was a layer of oak timber 4 inches thick, bolted on vertically, upon which the iron plating was secured.
The plating or armor of the casemate forward was 6 inches thick, consisting of three 2-inch iron plates, of about 6 inches wide each, and abaft and on the sides 5 inches thick, consisting of [two] 2-inch and one 1-inch iron plate of the same width.
The yellow pine
framing of the casemate was planked over inside with 2 1/2 --inch oak timber, laid on diagonally.
The whole of the armor plating was fastened with through bolts, 1 1/4 inch diameter, with washers and nuts inside.
The casemate was covered on top with wroughtiron gratings composed of bars 2 inches thick and 6 inches wide, laid flat, and supported on wooden beams 12 inches square, and about 5 feet distant from each other.
Some of these gratings were hinged and fitted to open from the inside.
There were ten gun-ports in the casemate, three in the broadside on either side, two forward and two aft. The forward and after ports, to port and starboard, were placed so as to enable the forward and after pivot-guns to be used as broadside guns.
The directly-forward and after-ports were on a line with the keel.
The ports were elongated and made just wide enough for the entrance of the muzzle of the guns in training, and only high enough to allow a moderate elevation and depression of the gun.
The wooden backing was cut away on each side of the ports inside of the casemate, to allow the guns to be trained about one point forward and aft. The gun ports were covered with wrought-iron sliding plates or shutters five inches thick; those for the four broadside guns were fitted in slides.
The sliding plates or shutters for the pivot-guns were pivoted on the edge with one bolt that could be knocked out, detaching the shutter if necessary, and were worked by a combination of racks and pinions.
. The armament of the Tennessee
consisted of six rifled guns, Brooke
The two pivot-guns were 7.125-inch bore, and the four broadside guns were 6-inch bore.
These guns were reinforced at the breech by two wrought-iron bands, two inches thick respectively.
Weight of projectiles, 95 pounds and 110 pounds, solid shot.
The pivot-guns were fitted on wooden slides, with a rack let into them.
On an arm attached to the carriage there was a pinion for running out the gun, and, by raising the arm, the rack was thrown out of gear to allow the gun to recoil.
Quarters for Officers and Crew
. For an ironclad vessel the cabin was large and comfortable.
The ward-room was situated immediately over the engine, and was open to it; but although sufficiently commodious, its ventilation was so bad, and the smell arising from the accumulation of bilge-water so offensive, that it would have been impossible for officers or others to preserve their health or to live there comfortably for any length of time.
The quarters of the crew were good and comfortable for an iron-clad vessel of her description.
They consisted of a roomy berth-deck, with rooms fitted up on either side for the junior officers
When in port the crew were quartered on a covered barge, anchored near the vessel.
The steering arrangements were very defective, nor were the accommodations for the pilot and helmsman good.
. The machinery of the vessel consisted of two geared non-condensing engines.
Cylinders, 24 inches diameter and 7 feet stroke.
These engines had been taken out of the Alabama River
steamer, “Alonzo child.”
They were placed fore and aft in the vessel, geared to an idler-shaft by spur gearing with wooden teeth, and from the idler-shaft to the propeller-shaft by bevel cast-iron gear.
. There were four horizontal flue boilers, 24 feet long, placed side by side, with one furnace under the whole of them; the products of combustion returning through the flues were delivered into one smoke-pipe.
The engine and fire-rooms were insufferably hot and very badly ventilated.
Injuries received in the action.
The injuries to the casemate of the Tennessee
from shot are very considerable.
On its after-side nearly all the plating is started; one bolt driven in; several nuts knocked off inside; gun-carriage of the after pivot-gun damaged, and the steering rod or chain cut near that gun. There are unmistakable marks on the after-part of the casemate of not less than nine 11-inch solid shot having struck within the space of a few square feet in the immediate vicinity of that port.
On the port side of the casemate the armor is also badly damaged from shot.
On that side nearly amidships of the casemate, and between the broadside guns, a 15-inch solid shot knocked a hole through the armor and backing, leaving on the inside an undetached mass of oak and pine splinters, about three by four feet, and projecting inside of the casemate about two feet from the side.
This is the only shot that penetrated the wooden backing of the casemate, although there are numerous places on the inside giving evidence of the effect of the shot.
There are visible between forty and fifty indentations and marks of shot on the hull, deck and casemate, varying from very severe to slight; nine of the deepest indentations on the after-part of the casemate (evidently being 11-inch shot), and the marks of about thirty of other calibres on different parts of the vessel.
There are also a few other marks, being, however, merely scratches or slight indentations of the plating.
The smoke-stack was shot away, although it is not improbable the heavy ramming by the Monongahela
, and the Hartford
had previously prepared it for its fall.
Three of the wrought-iron port shutters or slides were so much damaged by shot as to prevent the firing of the guns.
There are no external visible marks or evidences of injury inflicted upon the hull of the Tennessee
by the severe ramming of the Monongahela
, and Hartford
; but inasmuch as the decks leaked badly, and when there is a moderate sea running in the bay, her reported usual leakage of three inches an hour being now increased to five or six inches an hour, it is fairly to be inferred that the increased leakage is caused by the concussion of the vessels.
is in a state to do good service now. To restore her to the state of efficiency in which she was when she went into action with this fleet on the 5th instant, it will be necessary to overhaul much of the iron plating on the port and after-sides of the casemate, and replace some of it.
The iron gun-port slides or shutters, which were damaged, must be either removed or repaired.
A new smoke-stack is required, and additional ventilators should be fitted.
are required to produce proper ventilation in the engine-room and on the berth-deck.
When these small repairs and additions shall have been made, the iron-clad Tennessee
will be a most formidable vessel for harbor and river service, and for operating generally in smooth water, both offensively and defensively.