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[97]

On the “Freeborn” showing how Ward, the first Federal commander, was lost This photograph of 1861, long in the possession of the family of Commander James Harman Ward, and here reproduced for the first time, is the only vestige of a visual record of his brave deed on June 27th, the same year. In the picture, taken on the deck of the little improvised gunboat “Freeborn,” the man sighting the gun has reverently donned the blouse and straw hat of Commander Ward to show how that brave officer stood when he received his mortal wound. After the firing on Sumter, the lull in the excitement had brought no respite for the navy, and the duty of patrolling the Potomac night and day devolved first upon Commander Ward. In addition to the “Freeborn,” a side-wheel steamer carrying but three guns, his squadron consisted of the “Anacostia” and the “Resolute,” carrying two guns each. With these vessels, on May 31st, he boldly attacked the Confederate batteries at Aquia Creek and next day, with the assistance of the “Pawnee,” the Confederates were driven from their works. Again supported by the “Pawnee,” on June 27th, Commander Ward attacked the Confederates at Mathias Point. While a body of sailors from his consort, under command of Lieutenant James C. Chapman, effected a landing, the gunboats kept up a rapid fire. Commander Ward, in his anxiety that this should prove effective, was in the act of sighting a gun himself when he was suddenly wounded in the abdomen and soon expired.

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