previous next
[324] as well as muskets; while not only were our landsmen by this time wide awake and firing vigorously, but our vessels were dispensing grape and canister with the proverbial generosity of sailors. The water proved deeper than had been calculated; the scaling-ladders were said to be too short; and, after a brief struggle, the stormers recoiled and took shelter behind the nearest buildings; while the guns of our vessels, hardly 300 yards distant, proved too many for the lighter pieces of the hastily constructed Rebel batteries, driving off their gunners and completely silencing their fire. Daybreak was imminent; and it seemed for a moment that victory was alighting on the banners of the Union.

But now two Rebel steamboats appeared, and speedily put a different face on the matter. Ably handled by Commodore (or Major) Leon Smith, heavily barricaded with cotton-bales, and amply manned by volunteers from Sibley's brigade, under Cols. Green and Bagby, they dashed down the harbor — the Bayou City and Neptune rushing from either side on the Harriet Lane, Capt. Wainwright; running into her with all their force, and sweeping her decks with a deadly fire of small arms.

They met no traitors nor cowards among her chief officers. The Neptune was disabled by the Harriet Lane's return blow, sinking soon afterward, in eight feet water; and the Bayou City narrowly escaped a similar fate, barely evading the direct force of the Lane's crashing assault, which swept off her larboard wheelhouse. Meanwhile, Wainwright's heavy guns were crashing through his adversary, whose only cannon, a 68-pounder, had burst at the third discharge, but whose heavy musketry fire was so annoying that it doubtless interfered with the steering of our vessel; so that the Rebel boat, turning once more, drove her prow into the iron wheel of the Lane, fixing it there; when Smith was enabled to board with his more numerous crew, and our overpowered men, after a brief resistance, surrendered; but not till Wainwright had been killed, and Lt.-Com'g Lee mortally wounded. Lee's father was a Rebel Major, engaged in the attack, and one of the first to recognize his dying son.

The Owasco had been coaling below the town, but had got under way soon after the fight commenced; engaging the Rebel batteries until she observed the cotton-boats in conflict with the Harriet Lane; when she steamed up to assist her; grounding repeatedly on the way, owing to the darkness and the narrowness of the channel. Approaching the Lane, she was received with a heavy fire of musketry, while her own 11-inch gun could rarely be brought to bear; so she speedily backed out of the encounter, returning to her fruitless contest with the shore batteries.

The Westfield, Renshaw's flag-ship, had started to meet the Rebel steamers on the tidings of their approach; but soon got hard and fast aground at high tide, and began signaling for assistance. The Clifton, Lt.-Com'g Law, thereupon went up to her, and began to pull her off; when, upon seeing the flashes of guns from the Rebel batteries, Renshaw ordered her back to the city.

It was now after 7 A. M., and broad day. The Rebels raised a white flag

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Wainwright (3)
Leon Smith (2)
R. Renshaw (2)
Robert E. Lee (2)
H. H. Sibley (1)
Neptune (1)
C. H. Green (1)
Bagby (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: