Attack on the Ironsides
: Charleston courier account.--One of the most daring and gallant naval exploits of the war, distinguished by the greatest coolness, presence of mind, and intrepidity of the brave men associated in the enterprise, was performed Monday night. This was no less than an attempt to blow up the United States
steamer New Ironsides
, lying off Morris Island
Though not fully meeting the expectations of those who conceived the plan, and those who carried it into execution, it has called forth the unbounded admiration of our citizens for the brilliant heroism of the actors in their dangerous but patriotic and self-sacrificing undertaking.
A general feeling of deep anxiety prevails to learn the fate of two of the gallant spirits who went out with the expedition There is every reason to believe, however, that these gallant men, with the means of safety about their persons, endeavored to reach shore, and have been picked up by some of the enemy's launches.
We gather the following particulars from other participants in the affair:
The torpedo steamer David
, with a crew of four volunteers, consisting of Lieutenant Wm. T. Glassell
, J. H. Toombs
, chief engineer
, and James Sullivan
, fireman of the gunboat Chicora
, with J. W. Cannon
, assistant pilot
of the gunboat Palmetto State
, left South Atlantic
wharf between six and seven o'clock on Monday evening, for the purpose of running out to the Ironsides
, exploding a torpedo under that vessel near amidships, and if possible blow her up.
The weather being dark and hazy, favored the enterprise.
The boat, with its gallant little crew, proceeded down the harbor, skirting along the shoals on the inside of the channel until nearly abreast of their formidable antagonist, the New Ironsides.
They remained in this position for a short time, circling around on the large shoal near the anchorage of the object of their visit.
, with a double-barrelled gun, sat in front of Pilot Cannon
, who had charge of the helm.
Chief Engineer Toombs
was at the engine, with the brave and undaunted Sullivan
, the volunteer fireman, when something like the following conversation ensued:
--“It is now nine o'clock. Shall we strike her?”
--“That is what we came for. I am ready.”
--“Let us go at her then, and do our best.”
, fireman--“I am with you all, and waiting.
The boat was now put bow on, and aimed directly for the Ironsides
As the little steamer darted forward, the lookout on the Ironsides
hailed them with: “Take care there, you will run into us. What steamer is that?”
replied by discharging one barrel at the Yankee
sentinel, and tendering the gun to Pilot Cannon
, told him there was another Yankee, pointing to one with his body half over the bulwarks, and asked Cannon to take care of him with the other barrel.
The next moment they had struck the Ironsides
and exploded the torpedo about fifteen feet from the keel, on the starboard side.
An immense volume of water
was thrown up, covering our little boat, and going through the smoke-stack, entered the furnace, completely extinguishing the fires.
In addition to this, pieces of the ballast had fallen in the works of the engine, rendering it unmanageable at that time.
Volley after volley of musketry from the crew of the Ironsides
and from the launches began to pour in upon them.
gave the order to back, but it was found impossible.
In this condition, with no shelter, and no hope of escape, they thought it best to surrender, and hailed the enemy to that effect.
, however, paid no attention to the call, but barbarously continued the fire.
It was then proposed to put on their life-preservers, jump overboard, and endeavor to swim to the shore.
All but Pilot Cannon
The latter, being unable to swim, said he would stay and take his chances in the boat.
, Engineer Toombs
, and Sullivan
the fireman, left the boat.
The first two having on life-preservers, and the latter supporting himself on one of the hatches thrown to him by the pilot.
becoming embarrassed with his clothing in the water, got back to the boat, and was assisted in by Cannon.
The boat was then rapidly drifting from the Ironsides
He now fortunately found a match, and lighting a torch, crept back to the engine, discovered and removed the cause of its not working, and soon got it in order.
reached their wharf in the city about midnight, fatigued, and presenting a worn-out appearance, but rejoicing at their fortunate and narrow escape.
With regard to the damage of the Ironsides
nothing positive is known.
At the moment of striking there was great consternation on board.
It was reported that the crew in gangs were hard at work at the pumps all day yesterday.
Small boats were seen constantly passing between the Ironsides
and the Monitors
At nightfall, however, she remained at her old anchorage.