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[510] had become somewhat rough, however, and was washing in through the holes in her bows. By daylight it became obvious that she must sink. I had remained on board the Catskill during the night, and at six o'clock word was brought down that the Keokuk, which was hard by us, had made a signal of distress. Passing up on deck, we saw she was rapidly settling forward. At her signal boats and tugs had come to her assistance, and were busy removing her wounded men. Barely time enough was afforded to get off them and her crew, for she had settled so much that the water was pouring into her turrets. Two or three of the men, indeed, had to jump into the sea, and were hauled into the small-boats. Suddenly she gives a lurch to one side, and a lurch to the other, and plunges under. She went down at eight o'clock at the spot of her original anchorage, near Lighthouse Inlet, and all that is visible of her is the upper portion of her smoke-stack.

Thus ended the brief and glorious career of this interesting vessel — the first iron-clad ever sunk in battle. Her story must firm a most important chapter in the history of these new engines of naval warfare, and her fate presents an astounding example of the frightful power of modern projectiles.

Of course, it is impossible to leave the corpse there to be resurrected by the rebels, and it has been determined to blow her up to-morrow morning with the torpedo exploder; so that, by a grim kind of satire this instrument will he first tested in blowing up one of our own ships!


Vi.

Such were the results of these thirty minutes fire which presented themselves to the naval chiefs, when the reports came in the day after the battle.

There was but one conviction in the minds of all who were made acquainted with these facts, whether among the naval people engaged or intelligent outside observers — the fight could not be renewed. And yet it was fully expected, on the night of the battle, that another trial would be made in the morning. I saw many of the captains of the iron-clads during that night. All were ready to resume the battle, though each man felt that he was going to an inevitable sacri-fice. I confess I prayed that the fiery cup might pass from them, and that no impetuosity might prompt our leader to throw the fleet again into that frightful fire.

The grand old sailor, the noble Du Pont, who is loved with singular devotion by all under his command, combines in his character that fiery impetuosity which marked Dundonald, with a rare intellectual coolness and consummate mental poise. No man could possibly feel with greater intensity all the instincts and motives that prompted a renewal of the battle; and yet no man could possibly see with more clearness the blind madness of such an attempt. He dared to be wise.

Admiral Du Pont calls no councils of war; but on his own motion decided that the contest must end here. This afternoon, there was an informal gathering of the captains of the iron-clads on board of the flag-ship. Rarely was ever a fleet so commanded. These men are the very flower of the navy. The lips must refuse their office to one who would breathe a whisper of suspicion against their courage or their devotion. Now there was but one opinion shared in common by all these men — the fruitlessness of renewing the attack at present. Let us see on what considerations their opinion is founded.

Viewed strategically, Charleston harbor forms a cul de suc, four miles in length from its entrance at Fort Sumter up to the city. This blind passage varies in width from one to three miles, and is capable of bearing defensive works on each side and on shoal places in mid-channel.

On these, natural advantages have been brought to bear time finest engineering skill in the Confederacy (and it was the flower of the genius of the country) during a period of two years. Lee, Beauregard, and Ripley in succession have exhausted their professional efforts to make it impregnable. Every thing that the most improved modern artillery and unlimited resources of labor can do has been done to make the passage of a fleet impossible. And it is impregnable. Sebastopol was as nothing to it.

Our fleet got but to the entrance of the harbor. It never got within it. Had the iron-clads succeeded in passing the obstructions, they would still have found those miles of batteries to run. They would have entered an Inferno which, like the portals of Dante's hell, might well bear the flaming legend: “Who enters here leaves hope behind.” Not a point at which they would not have found themselves.

'Mid upper, nether and surrounding fires.

They pass out of the focus of fire of Forts Sumter, Moultrie, Beauregard, and Bee, and they find themselves arrested under the ranges of Sumter, the Redan, Johnston, and Ripley. They get beyond this, and a concentric fire from Ripley, Pinckney, the Wappoo battery and the guns of the city falls upon them! Merely to run by batteries, as was done at the forts below New-Orleans, is not a very difficult thing, even for vessels not iron-clad; but to be anchored as it were under such fires as these, is what no ships were ever called upon to suffer.

I think I am justified in saying that the Admiral and his staff and the captains commanding the iron fleet have all along well understood the task that was given them to do, and that they entertained no illusions regarding it. But both the navy department and the public have — illusions as to the nature of the work to be done and delusion as to the instruments with which it was to be done. They saw all the weaknesses of the monitors as well as their strength. They knew that their working depended on nice mechanical combinations easily deranged. They knew that their powers had never been tested.

But with the usual liberal logic that characterizes them, our people took every thing for granted.

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