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Mobile Bay.

How formidable was Farragut's undertaking in forcing his way into Mobile Bay is apparent from these photographs. For wooden vessels to pass Morgan and Gaines, two of the strongest forts on the coast, was pronounced by experts most foolhardy. Besides, the channel was planted with torpedoes that might blow the ships to atoms, and within the bay was the Confederate ram Tennessee, thought to be the most powerful ironclad ever put afloat. In the arrangements for the attack, Farragut's flagship, the Hartford, was placed second, the Brooklyn leading the line of battleships, which were preceded by four monitors. At a quarter before six on the morning of August 5th, the fleet moved. Half an hour later it came within range of Fort Morgan. The whole undertaking was then threatened with disaster. The monitor Tecumseh, eager to engage the Confederate ram Tennessee behind the line of torpedoes, ran straight ahead, struck a torpedo, and in a few minutes went down with most of the crew. As the monitor sank, the Brooklyn recoiled. Farragut signaled: ‘What's the trouble?’ ‘Torpedoes,’ was the answer. ‘Damn the torpedoes!’ shouted Farragut. ‘Go ahead, Captain Drayton. Four bells.’ Finding that the smoke from the guns obstructed the view from the deck, Farragut ascended to the rigging of the main mast, where he was in great danger of being struck and of falling to the deck. The captain accordingly ordered a quartermaster to tie him in the shrouds. The Hartford, under a full head of steam, rushed over the torpedo ground far in advance of the fleet. The battle was not yet over. The Confederate ram, invulnerable to the broadsides of the Union guns, steamed alone for the ships, while the ramparts of the two forts were crowded with spectators of the coming conflict. The ironclad monster made straight for the flagship, attempting to ram it and paying no attention to the fire or the ramming of the other vessels. Its first effort was unsuccessful, but a second came near proving fatal. It then became a target for the whole Union fleet; finally its rudder-chain was shot away and it became unmanageable; in a few minutes it raised the white flag. No wonder Americans call Farragut the greatest of naval commanders.

‘Far by gray Morgan's walls’—the Mobile Bay fort, battered by Farragut's guns

Where broadsides struck


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