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[342] the former gentleman, the latter attributes the successful rescue of the crew, nor has the writer any doubt whatever that the praise might be honestly shared.

At length, only one cutter remained alongside the Westfield, the gig; another, loaded almost to the water's edge, was at a little distance, and about to put off to the Mary A. Boardman. The cutter awaited but its living freight, in the shape of the Commodore and two others; that obtained, a slow match was to be ignited and the steamer blown to air. She had two magazines on board, and was almost literally full of powder, shells, and ammunition. In another ten--in five--minutes all might have been secure, and Commodore Renshaw and those accidentally hurried into eternity with him living men at this hour. That was not to be. Those who saw them last in this world report as follows:

Commodore Renshaw stood quietly on the fore part of the vessel above one of the open powder-magazines. Near him, a barrel of turpentine, with its head stove in, had been lowered down the hatchway into the forecastle. But two oarsmen were in the cutter, with some eight or ten passengers. To them descended the Chief Engineer, Mr. W. K. Green, followed by the First Lieutenant, Charles W. Zimmerman. Both gentlemen seated themselves in the boat. All now had quitted the doomed vessel except the Commodore.

He was seen to step down the stairway, to enter the cutter, when the match, prematurely fired (it is said by a drunkard) must have communicated with the turpentine. Instantly a heavy roll of black smoke surged upward, followed by a bright, explosive flame, full ten feet high. No alarm followed this, not a word was spoken; the Commodore turned round and looked back, the heavy boat was alongside with her crowd of passengers, the crew of the Mary A. Boardman and her recent acquisitions were gazing curiously at the bright flame, and the tall thin form of their first officer, when--

A white puff of smoke broke through the hatchway as from the muzzle of a cannon. It was followed by an explosion so tremendous as to move air, water, every thing within its scope, jarring the Mary A. Boardman as though she were shaken by an earthquake; and shooting up in the shape of a monstrous fan, like the eruption of a volcano, soared a reversed cone of fire, while spreading equally in every direction — for there was not wind enough in the calm January morning to disturb them — rolled and billowed the heavy volumes of smoke. High up, too, overhead, adding infinitely to the horror and beauty of the occasion, exploded innumerable shells, a hundred of which had been piled up on the deck, perhaps in anticipation of their destiny. One of the powder-magazines had exploded, utterly destroying the forward half of the Westfield, and leaving the remaining portion a shattered and blasted ruin. The two boats and all within them had disappeared!

Before the shocked and startled spectators on the Mary A. Boardman had recovered from the concussion of air, (as great as might have been occasioned by the near discharge of a whole park of artillery,) the heavier fragments of the exploded steamer fell with sullen plunges into the water, followed by the lighter, producing a rain-like patter over the surface, in a circle of at least five hundred feet about the centre of ruin. To this extent the troubled water was literally blackened, as though tar had been poured over it. But not more so than the shattered half of the unfortunate Westfield yet afloat, whose smoke-stack and walking-beam were still standing, and over whose bows still waved the American flag. Although her safety-valve had been chained down, her steam got up to the highest point, her boilers had not exploded. The sharp singing of her vapor was distinctly audible on the Mary A. Boardman in the ghastly silence that now prevailed; and — noticeable in it — the captain's gig came slowly drifting down from beneath the bows of the wreck, her gunwale just above the water.

The Westfield remained thus for from five to eight minutes, when she burst into sudden blaze near her smoke-stack. Soon the conflagration had spread throughout the entire ruin; the flagship was one entire sheet of flame. With more shells exploding and cannon going off one by one, as they were accidentally ignited, she was but a dangerous neighbor. The Mary A. Boardman did not wait to witness another explosion by the aft magazine.

The rebel ram and gunboats were now coming down the bay, and the batteries had reopened upon the Owasco, Clifton, and Sachem; in addition to which the artillery used in slaughtering the Twenty-second Massachusetts had been conveyed by mules to below the town, where they began firing upon our steamers. There seemed nothing for it but flight, and flee they did accordingly, leaving the Harriet Lane in possession of the enemy, and the Westfield a mere chimera of fire and smoke, to burn herself to the water's edge in Galveston Harbor. Their last experience was comprised in the Clifton's throwing a shell into the huge Mississippi steamer, which followed them over the bar, and compelling her to retire.

There is now no Union vessel, save the captured Harriet Lane, in Galveston, Texas.

T. B. G.

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