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[528] guns, had coals of fire strewn on the decks, and myself and executive officer set fire to the cotton which was on the guard alongside of the engines. I saw it burning finely before I left, and feel sure she was destroyed. While leaving the vessel to get up on the bank, a terrible fire of infantry was opened on us, and some were killed in going up. I collected my officers and men all together, and found I had with me nine officers and twenty-three men, (my crew was composed of fourteen officers and and sixty-two men,) and started through the woods for Alexandria, at twenty minutes of eleven o'clock. When within ten miles of Alexandria, we were fired upon by rebel cavalry, thereby scattering us. I am glad to say that they have nearly all arrived here safe, with the exception of Acting Third Assistant Engineer Syms, who was wounded in the head while fighting a few guerrillas who had fired into a party of my men, while close to Alexandria. He has since arrived safe. The whole action lasted about five hours, and the Covington was badly riddled from stem to stern, there being no less than five shots in her hull, and some forty or fifty in her upper works. The officers and men behaved with great gallantry, and with the exception of a few this was their first action. Acting Master's Mate C. W. Gross was killed by a shot that came through the shellroom. The officers and men lost all of their personal effects; the only things that were saved being the signal-book and the despatches intrusted to my care, which were returned to you. The arms that were brought with us, I turned over to Acting Master H. Gorringe, of the Cricket, taking a receipt for the same.

In conclusion, I most respectfully beg that a court of inquiry may be called to determine whether the honor of our flag suffered in my hands.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George P. Lord, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, United States Navy.


Report of rear-admiral D. D. Porter.

flag-ship Black Hawk, Mississippi Squadron, Mound City, June 29, 1864.
sir: I inclose a report of the Surgeon of the Signal, who was released unconditionally by the rebels. It only corroborates all the reports I have received of the gallant defence of this vessel, which, I am told, was a most perfect wreck when she fell into the hands of the enemy, who were much chagrined that so frail a vessel had contended so long against seven guns placed in position to get a cross-fire on her.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.


Report of Acting Assistant-Surgeon N. Brewster.

United States steamer New national, Mound City, June 27, 1864.
sir: Agreeably to your request, I have the honor of submitting the following report of the loss of the United States steamer Signal:

Leaving Alexandria on the fourth of May, she proceeded down the river, and anchored at night in company with United States steamer Covington and transport Warner. Starting again at daylight, we had proceeded but a short distaace, when the enemy opened on us with a battery of two guns, and from several others as we passed on. Their fire was promptly returned, and continued until nine o'clock, when it ceased for a few minutes, and the opportunity was seized for distributing bread, as breakfast has not been served. The firing soon commenced again, and continued until near noon, when the order was passed for all hands to prepare to abandon and burn the ship, having been totally disabled for more than an hour, the Warner flying a white flag, and the Covington nearly consumed, exploding her magazine soon after. Preparations were made and a part of the men had safely passed up the bank, when the order was countermanded; it being deemed a useless waste of life for more to attempt it, and wholly impossible to remove the wounded, under the fire of the batteries and several hundred sharp-shooters, and the white flag was raised.

My station was unfavorable for observation, and my professional duties occupied considerable of my time; but I take pleasure in bearing testimony to the good conduct of those stationed near me, and with whom I came in contact during the action. Acting Volunteer Lieutenant E. Morgan, commanding, appeared to be coolly attending to his duties. Acting Ensign C. P. Bragg, Executive Officer, Ensign W. F. Loan, and Acting Master's Mate R. P. Croft, had charge of the divisions, and, cheering the men by voice and example, held them to their stations, despite the withering fire of the enemy's sharpshooters through the open ports, and were ably seconded by the captains of the guns. To the coolness of the engineers in shutting off the steam and emptying the boilers, when the steampipe was cut, the safety of many is owing. The pilot, Perry Wilkes, left his wheel only when he was disabled in his hand by a bursting shell. I would make special mention of Acting Ensigns Bragg and Loan, who went out in full view of several hundred sharp-shooters and let go the anchor; and again to ship the cable, this time assisted by John Fighland, (seaman,) who was here disabled by his second wound. Michael McCormic (boatswain's mate) and Timothy O'Donahu, (seaman,) captains of guns, were wounded early in the day, but stood to their guns until ordered away. George Butts, gunner's mate, and Charles Aster, quarter-gunner, were on the sick-list, but did duty during the whole engagement. Several whose names I have forgotten returned to their guns when their wounds had been dressed, and, with few exceptions, all stood to their work, using muskets when their guns could not be brought to bear.

I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. Brewster, Acting Assistant-Surgeon. Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter.

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