Doc. 192. burning of the Royal Yacht.
Lieut. Jouett's report.
General Rusk, lying under Pelican Island Fort. We succeeded in passing the schooner and two forts, but in attempting to avoid the sentinels on Pelican Fort we grounded on Bolivar Spit. At this juncture we were discovered. Deeming it imprudent, after discovery, to encounter so large a vessel and one so heavily armed and manned, I determined to abandon that portion of the expedition. As had been my intention, in returning we boarded, and, after a sharp conflict, captured the armed schooner Royal Yacht. We took a few stand of arms, thirteen prisoners, and her colors. As our pilot was shot down, and the schooner had received a shell between wind and water, I did not deem it advisable to attempt to bring her out; we therefore burned her, after spiking her gun, a light thirty-two-pounder. After this we returned to the ship. I regret to state that one man was killed, two officers and six men wounded, one of whom has since died. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
The following are the orders to Lieutenant Jouett:
Lieut. James E. Jouett, U. S. N., to command the expedition; Lieut. John G. Mitchell, U. S. N., to take charge of the second launch.Gen. Rusk. She is lying at a wharf near Pelican Island. If any alarm be given during the attempt to capture the schooner, you will return immediately. You can either destroy the schooner or bring her to the ship; you will exercise your own judgment in regard to this. I am, respectfully, yours,Henry Eagle, Captain.
New York times account.
Royal Yacht was burned, (the 7th,) you will perhaps like to have a sketch of the proceedings. The question was mooted as to the armed schooner being allowed to come out every night and anchoring in the channel, between the forts Bolivar--a new fort just erected — Point Fort, Galveston Fort, Pelican Island, and Pelican Spit Fort, which mounts three guns. On the 7th Mr. Jouett went aloft, and after a long survey of the harbor, &c., came down and proposed to the captain to take the two launches and good crews, go in, if he could pass the guard-schooner unseen, and burn the man-of-war Gen. Rusk, carrying four guns and a large crew. I heard him say to the captain, “I'll not attempt the Gen. Rusk unless I can surprise her. If I am discovered by the schooner I'll abandon my design upon the steamer, and fall back and take the schooner. It would be madness to attempt the steamer if discovered.” So thought the captain, who gave Lieut. Jouett liberal instructions, permitting him to act in accordance with his own judgment in all matters. Volunteer crews were soon found, dressed in blue frocks and white cap-covers, to designate the crews. The watch-word was “Wabash ;” the word to fall back to the boats, “Santee.” Each man was designated to do some specific  duty, just suited to his character. Loaded shells, port-fires, fire-balls, slow-matches,. were all got ready. As soon as it was dark, the boats were hoisted out, and the guns placed in them--ten rounds of shrapnell, ten of canister — every thing that could be was attended to. Those who had friends, &c., wrote and left letters with their messmates. The first launch and the expedition under Jas. E. Jouett, of Kentucky, assisted by Mr. William Carter, our young and efficient little gunner; second launch, Lieut. John G. Mitchell, and assisted by Mr. Adams, Master's Mate, composed the force engaged. By half-past 11 P. M., each man being armed with a cutlass and a Colt's revolver, they started, all of us bidding them good-by. They went merrily over the side. It was seven miles, through an intricate channel and reef. The crews pulled in for the channel, and after two and a quarter hours hard work, against head sea, wind, and tide, saw the schooner, which they avoided by steering close to the Point Fort. They then steered over to the northward, to avoid Galveston, Pelican Island, and Spit Forts, and the steamer, as they wanted to get ahead and drop down on her, as she was lying at the wharf, under Pelican Fort. The wind and tide was strong here, and in attempting to avoid the sentinels on the fort and steamer, the boats grounded hard on a shoal not laid down in the charts. At this time they were discovered. Lights were exchanged on each fort, lanterns were flying from place to place, and the steamer was all alive. The capture of the steamer was reluctantly abandoned, as Lieut. Jouett deemed it madness to attempt it. So he gave them the order, “Pull for the schooner. Second launch will board her on starboard bow--first on starboard beam” --as he said he thought her gun would be trained on the port beam to seaward, and they would have to slew it before firing; by that time they would be upon them. When they grounded they were in close quarters, in the immediate neighborhood of and in the cross-fire of four forts and the steamer; but they did not stop for that. With a strong wind and tide with them, in five minutes they made the schooner ahead. All was cool, and not a word spoken, save an occasional low order from Lieut. J., “Give away, men.” “Ready with the gun, Mr. Carter.” From a stentorian voice comes, “Boat, ahoy!” three times; “Give away, strong, boys!” “Fire, Mr. Carter!” The man had held the primer in his hand, and it was damp; the gun missed. Then came the quick, energetic orders, “Give away quick; trail oars; stand by to board.” At that time Mr. Carter had again primed, and, Mr. Jouett keeping the boat as she was, the gun was fired, hitting the Royal Yacht at the water-line. The discharge of the gun then frustrated their boarding, as it kicked the boat back. At this time the schooner's crew gave them a warm volley, disabling two good men--one the pilot, and another favorite man, John L. Emmerson, whom Mr. Jouett caught and laid down. Our men had opened on them with revolvers, and had driven some of them below. At this juncture, when the first launchers were in the act of boarding, up came the second launch, and taking the men standing up in the first launch over the schooner's decks for the enemy, opened on them, when Lieut. J., deeming the second launchers worse than the enemy, cried to his crew to lie down until that shower of balls passed, he running forward and hauling the first launch close up to the schooner. When the shower of balls had passed, he cried, “Now's your time, boys; up and board” --he leading by leaping upon the stern of the schooner. As he was rushing forward to the fore-hatch, where most of the crew were, a rebel from the cabin-hatch thrust a swordbayonet on a pole through his right arm, into his right side, knocking him partly off his feet — then tried to push him overboard; but he says he frustrated him in that, as he sprang forward, grabbing the pike with his left hand, and, not stopping to pull it from his arm, broke it around the hatch close to the man's hand, striking at him as his head went below the hatch, and threw it overboard; then ran forward, telling four men to guard the cabin-hatch and fasten down the scuttle. As Edward Conway (a gunner's mate) was doing this, a man from the port side the main-mast took a chance at his back, inflicting a broad, deep wound. This same fellow killed Garcia after he had received three pistol wounds. They soon cleared the decks, getting then all below. In the confusion of boarding, &c., the lantern had gone out, also the slow-matches, and there was no fire to light the port-fires, &c. Mr. Jouett called for the fire-balls and shells, as the schooner's crew would not come up; so, rather than risk his men, he sent a messenger down in the shape of a shell, filled with eighty balls. The threat was enough; they came up then quick. The men wanted to kill them, and had they known that Mr. J. was wounded, I think they would have taken a private chance at them. But he told them in a decided manner, “If you touch one of them, you'll feel the weight of my arm. They are prisoners of war.” The men placed them in the boat. Some of the men said they noticed Mr. Jouett holding his side, passing his hand over his eyes, and staggering. He has since said he was quite blind, but did not want his men to know it, as they were in a dangerous position, and his pilot was badly wounded. As soon as Mr. Carter (whom Mr. Jouett speaks of with great admiration) had lighted the forward cabin or hold, he gave Mr. J. a fire-brand up the hatch, and throwing that down the cabin and following it, soon started the celebrated captain Tom Chubbs up, with six others; he then lighted three berths and came up. He could not bring the vessel out of the harbor, as the pilot (George Bell) was wounded. She was filling slowly with water, the Dahlgren shell  having gone through her, and the steamboats lying at the city might come and cut them off if they missed the channel, so he burned her after taking a number of arms, thirteen prisoners, spiking a thirty-two-pound gun of thirty-three hundred weight, and her pennant and flag. The flag will be sent to Washington. Lieutenant Jouett says a heart-rending sight met him on gaining the boat--seven of his best men were drowned. When he had sent all the well men to the oars, he got down in the bottom of the boat and got water for them, then made them as comfortable as he could. He seated his prisoners as he wanted them, and bade them not move unless by his permission. He gave the coxswain the course “South” by a star, as they did not find the compass taken from the schooner for some time, with a head wind (it had shifted to S. E.) and head sea. After four hours hard labor, during all of which time Lieutenant Jouett was stanching up his wound by thrusting into it his flannel shirt, the men reached the ship. Fifteen minutes after the first launch made the trip, the second launch came in with one prisoner, a wounded man from the first launch, and one man dead — Garcia (sea.) Six men were badly wounded, and one killed, and two officers wounded. Had they succeeded in getting around that sand-spit, the Rusk would have gladdened our eyes on fire, instead of the Royal Yacht, whose crew had boasted they could not be taken; but they are here now. We cannot find out how many of them there were. Some say several jumped overboard and swam on shore, and others were knocked overboard. The rebels have since taken the Rusk up to the town, and it is well that they did. This ship draws so much water that she cannot get near the batteries. Frigates are better in dock at New York than down here. They can't get within four miles of the shores.
U. S. Frigate Santer, November 20, 1861.At midnight, on the 7th of November, two volunteer crews, with twenty men in each boat, under the command of Lieut. James E. Jouett, left this ship for the purpose of surprising and capturing the man-of-war General Rusk, lying under a large fort, and cut off from us by three others. The second launch was in command of Lieut. J. G. Mitchell and Master's Mate Adams. When the boats shoved off at midnight, every man felt that it was the last time we should meet, and nearly every one had written, as he thought, his last letter home, and left it with his messmate in case he should not return alive. After groping among the shoals in the dark for two hours, with muffled oars and orders given in a whisper, they had succeeded in passing the Royal Yacht and the three forts, but in attempting to get around the Rusk, anchored under a fort, unnoticed, the boats grounded and in trying to get off they were discovered by the oars making a noise. They were now exposed to the fire of the Rusk and all the forts; and as Lieut. Jouett knew it would be folly to attempt to take the Rusk, save by surprise, he gave the order to pull hard for the schooner. The schooner Royal Yacht was acting as a guard schooner at the entrance of the harbor, and about six miles from this ship. She was armed with one gun, a thirty-two-pounder, plenty of small arms, and a crew of about twenty-five men. Our boats pulled down on her fast, and when within about fifty yards, were fired into from the schooner. One of our boats landed on each side of her, and a very warm fight took place before the crew of the schooner could be driven below. Mr. Carter, of Philadelphia, the gunner in the boat with Lieutenant Jouett, fired the boat-gun just as the boat was coming alongside, and made a hole in the schooner at the water-line. The firing of the gun, just at that time, kicked the boat back, and Carter made a desperate jump and sprang on board the schooner, and took it single-handed for an instant, when Lieutenant Jouett hauled the boat alongside, and sprang on the deck, calling to the men in the boat to “up and at them,” which they did, but five of his best men were shot down as they boarded. As Lieut. Jouett sprang on deck, and ran forward, some one from the cabin hatch thrust a boarding-pike through his right arm and into his side, pinning his arm to his side, and knocking him off his feet against the side of the vessel. It was impossible for him to draw back, to draw it out, so he was forced to spring forward and break it off, leaving the pike sticking in his side, which he did. Ordering three men to guard that hatch, he ran forward, where he found the brave Carter holding the forward hatch with eight men below. He had driven them below, and was standing there with pistol and sword drawn. Lieut. Jouett, on pulling the pike from his side, found himself growing very weak from the loss of so much blood, and sat down for an instant on the deck; but finding his sight growing dim, he made a great exertion and sprang to his feet, determined to finish the work. The prisoners were all below, and had refused to come up to go in the boats, but, on Lieut. Jouett sending a shell filled with eighty balls down the hatchway as a hint of what they might expect, they came up. All the prisoners got into the boat, (one boat having left before with some wounded men,) and the ship was set on fire fore and aft after spiking her guns and taking her arms and flag. She was sinking, and the pilot was wounded, so they could not bring her out. They all got into the boat--thirteen prisoners, (three wounded,) and six of our men wounded. They were now six miles away from this ship, head wind and tide, and men nearly exhausted, with more prisoners than well men, the pilot wounded, and the night very dark.  Lieutenant Jouett felt that it would not be possible for him to hold out much longer; his voice was failing him, and he dare not let a person know he was wounded, for fear the prisoners would take the boat. He could feel the hot blood gushing from his side at every order he gave. He slipped his left hand under his jacket, and placed two fingers, with his flannel shirt, into the wound, to stop the air and blood. Thus he sat for three long, weary hours, speaking comfort to his wounded men, and encouragement to the oarsmen, giving water to all who wanted it. They arrived at the ship just after daylight, and we were all rejoiced to see them. The prisoners were put in irons, the wounded taken care of, among whom was Lieutenant J., who having held up so long, gave way after all was done, and was carried below, refusing to have any thing done to his wound till the others were attended to. The following is a list of the killed and wounded: Lieutenant Jouett, in the right arm and side with a boarding-pike, and right-hand cutlass wound; William Carter, gunner, cutlass wound in right arm and hand; Edward Conway, gunner's mate, cutlass wound on left wrist, and boarding-pike in left side; John L. Emmerson, shot in side, arm, knee, and body. Died on the 10th. George Bell, shot in breast and throat; Henry Garcia, shot in breast, and wounded with boarding-pike; dead when brought back to the ship; Hugh McGregor, shot through the left leg; Francis Brown, shot through the back and across the breast; Charles Hawkins, cutlass wound on left arm. The success of the expedition was most complete, and too much praise cannot be given to those brave officers and men who volunteered to go on so desperate an undertaking as cutting out a ship under four forts, and near a large town, exposed to the fire of all their guns, and some six miles away from the ship. The captain of the Royal Yacht is a notorious fellow, who was at one time in jail at Boston, Massachusetts, on the charge of boarding, in Boston harbor, the schooner Saul, taking out the cargo, and setting fire to the vessel. He was taken to Cambridge jail, but by means of false keys he escaped, in August 1844. It is reported that there is a standing reward of one thousand dollars for him, in which case I should think these brave fellows are fully entitled to it, as he is now safe on board this ship, and will be sent North by the first opportunity.