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[227]

Another, John W. Dempsey, quarter-gunner, had compound comminuted fracture of right arm, lower third and elbow, the fore-arm being completely lacerated — a shapeless mass. Arrangements were made for amputation before the close of the action, but its unexpected cessation caused the performance immediately after. Chloroform was administered with happy results.

The arm was amputated at the middle third, upper border. The third, James McBeath, ordinary seaman, received a compound fracture of left tibia, upper third. No pieces of shell were found in the wound.

The above comprises the total casualties. It is certainly surprising that the percentage should have been so small, considering the exposure and number of shot received. Probably no future similar combat will occasion like results. Shell were bursting over this vessel from the commencement to the termination of the fight, and a few of the ship's company were knocked down by the concussion derived from a passing projectile.

Owing to the system of unshipping bulwarks at pivot guns, a considerable space is thereby exempt from the danger arising from splinters. The Kearsarge fired one hundred and seventy-three shot; the Alabama, about twice that number, her firing being rapid and nearly incessant up to the period of the striking of colors. The carnage on board the latter is reported terrific; many of her crew were literally torn in pieces by an eleven-inch shell; others were much mutilated by splinters. By a merciful Providence, our ship's company were spared such appalling accidents.

The wounded of the Alabama were brought on board for treatment. Those whose names and nature of injury were noted, are borne upon a list appended to the quarterly report. Others, with injuries less severe, were treated, and subsequently went on shore with the uninjured paroled crew.

Assistant-Surgeon Doctor A. Llewellyn was drowned. The Surgeon, F. L. Gait, (acting paymaster,) introduced himself while I was engaged in the amputation and proffered his assistance. I requested he would assist in attending to the wounded of his vessel; but as he was prostrated by excitement and fatigue, and had received certain contusions, he was inadequate for the duty. I sent him to my room, and, without other professional aid, attended to all the injured. Surgeon Galt was paroled the same evening.

Upon the arrival of the Kearsarge at Cherbourg, owing to the number of wounded and the want of proper accommodation on board, all were transferred to the Hospital de la Marine, by permission of the admiral commanding the department. It is extremely fortunate that such facilities were afforded to the injured; every care and attention were bestowed upon the unfortunates. The skill and benevolence displayed by Monsieur Dufam, surgeon-in-chief, and Monsieur Aubin, surgeon of second class, and provost of the hospital, claim especial commendation.

I am pleased to report that his excellency Mr. Dayton has made a proper representation of the valuable services rendered by these gentlemen to the minister of the marine at Paris, and to the Department of State at Washington. I have previously reported the death of the brave Gowin. Hopes were reasonably entertained that his recovery would occur; but, anemic from hemorrhage and debilitated by previous attacks of malarial fevers, little vital power remained; phlebitis supervened, soon succeeded by death. Gowin was brought with a smile upon his face, although suffering acutely from his injury. He said, “It is all right, and I am satisfied; for we are whipping the Alabama;” adding, “I willingly will lose my leg or life, if it is necessary.” During the progress of the action he comforted his suffering comrades by assuring them that “Victory is ours!” Whenever the guns' crews cheered at the successful effect of their shot, Gowin waved his hand over his head and joined in the shout. In the hospital he was calmly resigned to his fate, repeating again and again his willingness to die, since his ship had won a glorious victory.

His patience and cheerfulness during intense suffering, and his happy resignation, attracted general notice, enlisted sympathies for his recovery, and occasioned sincere regrets for his decease. To record the gallant conduct of this noble sailor is to me a gratification, and my apology for mentioning these minor incidents. His shipmates will erect a proper monument to his memory at Cherbourg.

I have in my possession a sum of money given by the resident Americans in Paris for a like memorial in his native town in Michigan.

The coolness and fortitude displayed by our crew and the precision of the firing were remarkable. One was almost compelled to regard their conduct as that witnessed at the ordinary target practice. In the hour of victory they were generous, refraining from exultation in the presence of the captives, and bestowing upon them every attention necessary for their comfort. I send by mail a pamphlet descriptive of the engagement, written by Mr. Edge, an Englishman. It is the best account yet published, being composed from data furnished by the officers of the Kearsarge, although a few inaccuracies exist.

Captain Winslow desires me to present his regards.

I remain, dear sir, very truly yours,

John M. Browne. Surgeon W. Whelan, Chief of Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Washington, D. C.

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