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The Confederate ironclad ram “Tennessee

Mobile Bay, on the morning of August 5, 1864, was the arena of more conspicuous heroism than marked any naval battle-ground of the entire war. Among all the daring deeds of that day stands out superlatively the gallant manner in which Admiral Franklin Buchanan, C. S. N., fought his vessel, the “Tennessee.” “You shall not have it to say when you leave this vessel that you were not near enough to the enemy, for I will meet them, and then you can fight them alongside of their own ships; and if I fall, lay me on one side and go on with the fight.” Thus Buchanan addressed his men, and then, taking his station in the pilot-house, he took his vessel into action. The Federal fleet carried more power for destruction than the combined English, French, and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar, and yet Buchanan made good his boast that he would fight alongside. No sooner had Farragut crossed the torpedoes than Buchanan matched that deed, running through the entire line of Federal vessels, braving their broadsides, and coming to close quarters with most of them. Then the “Tennessee” ran under the guns of Fort Morgan for a breathing space. In half an hour she was steaming up the bay to fight the entire squadron single-handed. Such boldness was scarce believable, for Buchanan had now not alone wooden ships to contend with, as when in the “Merrimac” he had dismayed the Federals in Hampton Roads. Three powerful monitors were to oppose him at point-blank range. For nearly an hour the gunners in the “Tennessee” fought, breathing powder-smoke amid an atmosphere superheated to 120 degrees. Buchanan was serving a gun himself when he was wounded and carried to the surgeon's table below. Captain Johnston fought on for another twenty minutes, and then the “Tennessee,” with her rudder and engines useless and unable to fire a gun, was surrendered, after a reluctant consent had been wrung from Buchanan, as he lay on the operating table.

The bravest of the brave — the Confederate ironclad ram “Tennessee

The bravest of the brave — the Confederate ironclad ram “Tennessee


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Franklin Buchanan (7)
Merrimac (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
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