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Doc. 127.-destruction of the Nashville.

Admiral Du Pont's report.

flag-ship Wabash, Port Royal harbor, S. C., March 2, 1863.
sir: I have the satisfaction to inform the department of the destruction of the privateer Nashville, while lying under the guns of Fort McAllister, on the Great Ogeechee, Georgia, by the Montauk, Commander J. L. Worden, whose inclosed report states succinctly the interesting particulars.

The department is aware that I have had this vessel blockaded for eight months, and I am indebted to the extreme vigilance and spirit of Lieut. Commander J. L. Davis, of the Wissahickon, Acting Lieut. Barnes, of the Dawn, and later of Lieut. Commander Gibson, of the Seneca, that I have been able to keep her so long confined to the waters of the Ogeechee.

For several months the Nashville was loaded with cotton, but, though constantly on the alert, she never ventured to run out. She then withdrew up the Ogeechee, and reappeared, after a length of time, thoroughly fitted as a privateer, and presenting a very fine appearance.

Fort McAllister was strengthened, the river staked, with a line of torpedoes in front, to prevent its ascent by light vessels to cut her out. She has been frequently seen under the Fort, ready to make a dash if the opportunity offered, or was quietly waiting for an iron-clad to convoy her to sea.

If I am not misinformed, she had a heavy rifle-gun on a pivot, as a part of her armament, was proverbially fast, and would doubtless have rivalled the Alabama and Oreto in their depredations on our commerce. I have, therefore, never lost sight of the great importance of keeping her in, or of destroying her, if I could. I have accomplished both, through the zeal and vigilance of my gunboat captains mentioned above, and the quick perception and rapid execution of Commander Worden, who has thus added to his already brilliant services.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. F. Du Pont, Rear Admiral, Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Commander Worden's report.

United States iron-clad Montauk, Ogeechee River, Georgia, February 28, 1863.
sir: I have the honor to report that yesterday evening the enemy's steamer Nashville was observed by me in motion, above the battery known as Fort McAllister. A reconnoissance immediately made proved that in moving up the river she had grounded in that part of the river known as the Seven Miles' Reach. Believing that I could, by approaching close to the battery, reach and destroy her with my battery, I moved up at daylight this morning, accompanied by the blockading fleet in these waters, consisting of the Seneca, Lieut. Commanding Gibson; the Wissahickon, Lieut. Commanding Davis, and the Dawn, Acting Lieut. Commanding Barnes.

By moving up close to the obstructions in the the river, I was enabled, although under a heavy fire from the battery, to approach the Nashville, still aground, within the distance of twelve hundred yards. A few well-directed shells determined [430] the range, and soon succeeded in striking her with eleven-inch and fifteen-inch shells. The other gunboats maintained a fire from an enfilading position upon the battery and the Nashville at long-range. I soon had the satisfaction of observing that the Nashville had caught fire from the shells exploding in her, in several places; and in less than twenty minutes she was caught in flames forward, aft, and amidships. At twenty minutes past nine A. M., a large pivot-gun, mounted abaft her foremast, exploded from the heat; at forty minutes past nine her smoke-chimney went by the board; and at fifty-five minutes past nine her magazine exploded with terrific violence, shattering her in smoking ruins. Nothing remains of her.

The battery kept up a continuous fire upon this vessel, but struck her but five times, doing no damage whatever. The fire upon the other gunboats was wild, and did them no damage whatever. After assuring myself of the complete destruction of the Nashville, I, preceded by the wooden vessels, dropped down beyond the range of the enemy's guns. In so doing, a torpedo exploded under this vessel, inflicting, however, but little injury.

I beg leave, therefore, to congratulate you, sir, upon this final disposition of a vessel which has so long been in the minds of the public as a troublesome pest.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

John L. Worden, Commanding Senior Officer present. To Rear-Admiral S. F. Du Pont, Commanding S. A. Blockading Squadron, Port Royal, S. C.

Account by a participant.

U. S. Steamer Montauk, Big Ogeechee River, Ga., Friday, February 27, 1863.
As you are aware, the object of the blockading fleet at Ossabaw was to prevent the escape of the Nashville to sea again. Little more than two weeks ago she came from her position near the railroad bridge of the Savannah and Florida Railroad, which is about twelve miles up the river Ogeechee, and took a new position under the guns of Fort McAllister, intending to take advantage of the high spring-tides which were prevailing at that time, and seizing the first opportunity to slip out. But we have been watching for this very movement. One night she came down to Hardee's Cut, one and a half miles from the Fort, hoping by that way to get into the Little Ogeechee and elude the blockaders, but one of the vigilant gunboats was there, ready to receive her if she had come through, which she did not, as the bottom of the “cut” or river was too near the surface. Despairing of getting out so, she went a little way above the Fort, where there is a bight or bend in the river, in which she is entirely out of sight. The Savannah papers said she had again slipped out to sea. We saw through the game and remained here, and as we expected, she came again to the Fort. Since that time she has been trying to get up the river again; but a mile and a half above the Fort is a shoal spot, and she can get over this only at a very high tide. She has been up to the shoal and back to the Fort a number of times. Last Sunday afternoon she came in sight of us, went up to the shoal, and again returned to the Fort. The Big Ogeechee is very crooked, and a point of woods a mile or more above us, hides the Fort and the river and region in that vicinity from us. This afternoon, at three o'clock and fifteen minutes, the United States steamer, Wissahickon, lying three miles below us, signalled that there was a strange sail up the river. No strange sail could be in that vicinity except the Nashville, and we bent our eyes eagerly toward the point of woods, and from behind the trees we saw black smoke ascending as from a steamer's smoke-stack. In fifteen or twenty minutes the column of smoke began grow — in blacker and thicker, and to move rapidly by the trees. Intently we watched the point, and in a moment, from behind the trees, came the foremast, then the smoke-stack, then the mainmast, and there indeed, with the thick black smoke arising from her funnel and filling the atmosphere, and steaming rapidly, was the famous blockade-runner, the rebel pirate Nashville.

She steamed a short distance by the point, and then very suddenly stopped, and we saw that in endeavoring to cut her way through the shoal she had brought up aground hard and fast. Immediately we went to quarters, and the United States steamer Seneca, by permission from Capt. Worden, steamed up the river to reconnoitre. She went to within two miles of the Nashville, and by way of trial threw four or five shell at her, but doing no harm, and in half-an-hour came to her anchorage again. In the mean time, the smoke increased from the Nashville, coming up into the air from her funnel, and rolling and curling into great black clouds, and telling us, how plainly, that they were struggling to get away. But it was of no use. She did not move an inch; the tide at the ebb when she ran aground, was now falling, and her condition was every moment becoming worse and worse.

Captain Worden would have moved up to attack her if he had thought it judicious, but he saw she could not get off until morning. Night was fast coming on, and he chose to wait. At dusk, very little smoke, mingled with steam, was rising in thin clouds from her funnel. We plainly saw with glasses, men on her deck, at her mast-heads, and in the rigging, and we supposed that during the night she would be lightened, if possible, and every expedient resorted to, to get her afloat.

The night is mild and hazy, the moon obscured by passing clouds, yet no light is seen in the direction of the steamer, nor indeed in any other direction; not even the usual rebel signal-lights, seen almost every night on the river above, at Coffee Bluff battery, and at Beulah battery. But we are confident they are working at her, and we are preparing to make a demonstration in the morning, anxiously hoping that the bird we saw so nicely caught this afternoon, may be still fast at to-morrow's dawn. [431]

Saturday, Feb. 28--At four o'clock this morning all hands were awoke, and at five o'clock we were all ready for the work which we had been earnestly hoping the day might bring us to do. It was a mild, pleasant morning, and the surface of the river was scarcely broken by a ripple. At five o'clock and ten minutes we weighed anchor, and in ten minutes more we were steaming at the rate of six knots up the river. The morning was just breaking, and it was not yet light enough to discover whether the Nashville was still on the shoal where last evening's darkness found her. We entered a bend in the river, and slackened our speed somewhat, and soon it became light, but we were behind the point of woods that we were watching with eager eyes, while our passage up the river was opening to our view the point where we hoped to find the rebel steamer still entrapped.

A little further, and there she is, swung by the tide, and now pointing down-stream, yet still there hard and fast. We see many on her forecastle and considerable bustle and confusion. We steam on by “Hardee's cut,” by the range-target of Fort McAllister, which is one thousand five hundred yards from the Fort, to a point nine hundred yards from the Fort, and at seven o'clock we come to anchor with fifteen fathoms of chain from windlass. Fort McAllister is on our left, in the angle of the bend of the river; we are nine hundred yards below, lying close in to the marsh on our right hand, the Nashville is a mile and a half above the Fort, but only eleven hundred yards from us across the marshy peninsula, and lying with full, fair broadside toward us; and the gunboats Wissahickon, Seneca, and Dawn are lying a mile and a half below us.

From the level of our deck we can see nothing of the Nashville but the paddle-boxes, smoke-stack and masts; but from the inside of tile pilothouse we can see the whole steamer, below her guards, and nearly to the water. She looks clean and trim, and as though freshly painted, and is of that same light drab color as all of our national vessels of war. Her masts and spars look well, her rigging is taut, and her figure-head has been newly gilded. At seven minutes past seven o'clock we fire our first gun (the eleven-inch) at the Nashville, and immediately they let fly at us from the Fort three guns, but their shot all go by us. The smoke from our own gun rises slowly, and we cannot see the effect of its shell. In thirty seconds we see another puff from the Fort, and another shell flies by us. At eleven and a half minutes past seven we fire the eleven-inch again, and again the smoke conceals the effect of our shot. At sixteen minutes past seven another shot from the Fort strikes the pilot-house, (it was a ten-inch solid shot,) breaks into halves, and one half remains on top of the turret and the other half falls down on the deck. We then fire our fifteen-inch, and still the smoke shuts from our view the result of the shot. We then fire the eleven-inch, and it passes just over the Nashville. At twenty-seven and a half minutes past seven we fire the fifth time, now a fifteen-inch shell, and it lands and penetrates the rebel's deck near the foremast. From the Fort they are firing at intervals of a minute or a minute and a half, about one third of their shot being directed to the gunboats below us, and the remainder at us. But we pay no attention to the Fort, not returning any of its fire. At fifty-seven minutes past seven we discovered a small column of whitish-gray smoke coming from out of her fore-hatch, and in ten minutes more the flame accompanies the smoke from the same place.

We cannot see her guns, and since we came to anchor we have been unable to discover a living soul on board. We tire again, and now the shell penetrates just in front of her paddle-box, and ag-ain the smoke hides our view, but when it blew away the fire is breaking through the deck amidships.

We fire our last shot at three minutes after eight, having fired fourteen times; and as soon as the smoke has cleared away, we see the flames bursting out around her paddle-boxes, issuing in great hot sheets from the fore-hatch, creeping up the foremast rigging, and gaining aft. The fog, which has been slowly gathering around us, now entirely shuts us in, and we cannot see thirty yards. For more than thirty minutes we are thus shut in, when the fog rises enough to show us the Nashville in flames fore and aft, from stem to stern, and the smoke-stack fallen across the port paddle-box.

The anchor was up at forty minutes after eight, and we turned down-stream again. From the Fort they had not fired in twenty-five or thirty minutes, but as we started away they let the shell come thick and fast; but few shots from all their firing hit us, and really it made little difference whether they hit us or not.

We steamed slowly down, and in a few minutes the fog and smoke had risen, revealing the Nashville enveloped in flames. The fire came out from her sides, from around her smoke-stack base and masts, from between the ribs and braces of her iron wheels, and indeed she was shrouded in fire.

At thirty-five minutes past nine she blew up with a smothered rumbling report like distant thunder. The explosion was amidships, and the column of flame and smoke, like the discharge of a great gun, shot up into the air high above the mastheads, carrying up with it the charred and broken timber, and the burning bales of cotton. It was such a sight that once seen can never be effaced from the memory.

In a few moments another explosion of less extent took place aft, shattering and opening the stern of the steamer. Her masts, which had stood like two black spectres through the whole of it, soon came down, the flames gradually grew less, the long black column of smoke wound its way up to the cloud which had grown until it overshadowed the heavens, and nothing remained but the stem and the iron wheels.

A mass of smouldering embers is all that remains of the noted blockade-runner, the terror [432] of our northern merchants, the destroyer of the Harvey Birch, the rebel pirate Nashville.

After we came to anchor again two contrabands were seen on the marsh, and boats were sent after them. They said that they escaped in the confusion before the fight; that they were a part of a large number brought from the interior to work on the Fort for sixty days, that their time was out, and they thought they would get away.

They said that Col. McAllister, commanding the Fort, had told the commander of the Nashville that he must take her up the river again, run by us to sea, or take out her engines and guns and sink her and prevent our coming up, for he would not allow her to remain there, as while she was there we would go up and they might fire at us forever and not harm us.

They also told us that the Nashville contained five hundred bales of cotton, three guns and ammunition, and that they were at work on her all night Friday with lines and kedges to get her off, but could not move her. As we came down by the gunboats, the men manned the rigging and gave us three rousing cheers.

Let me congratulate the loyal North upon the destruction of this thorn in the life of our mercantile marine, and let the country congratulate itself upon having such a servant and defender as Commander Worden, whose judicious caution and whose promptness and will have secured <*>e destruction of this rebel pirate, and added another leaf to the chaplet with which history will crown his memory.

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