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The naval fight in Mobile bay, August 5th, 1864--official report of Admiral Buchanan.

United States naval hospital, Pensacola, August 26th, 1864.
Sir — I have the honor to inform you that the enemy's fleet, under Admiral Farragut, consisting of fourteen steamers and four monitors, passed Fort Morgan on the 5th instant, about 6.30 A. M., in the following order and stood into Mobile bay: The four monitors — Tecumseh and Manhattan, each carrying two fifteen-inch guns; the Winnebago and Chickasaw, each carrying four eleven-inch guns — in a single line ahead, about half a mile from the fort; the fourteen steamers — Brooklyn, of twenty-six; Octorora, ten; Hartford, twenty-eight; Metacomet, ten; Richmond, twenty-four; Port Royal, eight; Lackawana, fourteen; Seminole, nine; Monongahela, twelve; Kennebic, five; Ossipee, thirteen; Itasca, four; Oneida, ten, and Galena, fourteen guns — in a double line ahead, each two lashed together; the side-wheel steamers off shore, all about one-quarter of a mile from the monitors,--carrying in all 199 guns and 2, 7000 men. When they were discovered standing into the channel, signal was made to the Mobile squadron, under my command — consisting of the wooden gunboats Morgan and Gaines, each carrying six guns, and Selma, four--to “follow my motions” in the ram Tennessee, of six guns,--in all 22 guns and 470 men. All were soon under way, and stood towards the enemy in a line abreast. As the Tennessee approached the fleet, when opposite the fort, we opened our battery at short range upon the leading ship, the Admiral's flag-ship Hartford, and made the attempt to run into her, but owing to her superior speed our attempt was frustrated. We then stood towards the next heavy ship, the Brooklyn, with the same view; she also avoided us by her superior speed. During this time the gunboats were also closely engaged with the enemy. All our guns were used to the greatest advantage, and we succeeded in seriously damaging many of the enemy's vessels.

The Selma and Gaines, under Lieutenant-Commandants P. U. Murphy and J. W. Bennett, fought gallantly, and I was gratified to hear from officers of the enemy's fleet that their fire was very destructive. The Gaines was fought until she was found to be in a sinking condition, when she was run on shore near Fort Morgan.

Lieutenant-Commandant Murphy was closely engaged with the [221] Metacomet, assisted by the Morgan, Commander G. W. Harrison, who during the conflict deserted him, when, upon the approach of another large steamer, the Selma surrendered. I refer you to the report of Lieutenant-Commandant Murphy, for particulars of his action. He lost two promising young officers--Lieutenant Comstock and Master's-mate Murray--and a number of his men were killed and wounded, and he was also wounded severely in the wrist. Commander Harrison will no doubt report to the Department his reasons for leaving the Selma in that contest with the enemy, as the Morgan was uninjured; his conduct is severely commented on by the officers of the enemy's fleet, much to the injury of that officer and the navy. Soon after the gunboats were dispersed by the overwhelming superiority of force, and the enemy's fleet had anchored about four miles above Fort Morgan, we stood for them again, in the Tennessee, and renewed the attack with the hope of sinking some of them with our prow; again we were foiled by their superior speed in avoiding us. The engagement with the whole fleet soon became general at very close quarters, and lasted about an hour; and notwithstanding the serious injury inflicted upon many of their vessels by our guns, we could not sink them. Frequently during the contest we were surrounded by the enemy, and all our guns were in action almost at the same moment. Four of their heaviest vessels ran into us under full steam, with the view of sinking us. One vessel, the Monongahela, had been prepared as a ram, and was very formidable; she struck us with great force, injuring us but little. Her prow and stern were knocked off, and the vessel so much injured as to make it necessary to dock her. Several of the other vessels of the fleet were found to require extensive repairs. I inclose you a copy of a drawing of the Brooklyn, made by one of her officers after the action; and an officer of the Hartford informed me that she was more seriously injured than the Brooklyn. I mention these facts to prove that the guns of the Tennessee were not idle during this unequal contest. For other details of the action and injuries sustained by the Tennessee, I refer you to the report of Commander J. D. Johnston, which has my approval. After I was carried below, unfortunately wounded, I had to be governed by the reports of that valuable officer as to the condition of the ship, and the necessity and time of her surrender; and when he represented to me her utterly hopeless condition to continue the fight with injury to the enemy and suggested [222] her surrender, I directed him to do the best he could, and when he could no longer damage the enemy, to do so.

It affords me much pleasure to state that the officers and men cheerfully fought their guns to the best of their abilities, and gave strong evidence, by their promptness in executing orders, of their willingness to continue the contest as long as they could stand to their guns, notwithstanding the fatigue they had undergone for several hours; and it was only because the circumstances were as represented by Captain Johnston that she was surrendered to the fleet about 10 A. M., painful as it was to do so. I seriously felt the want of experienced officers during the action; all were young and inexperienced, and many had but little familiarity with naval duties, having been appointed from civil life within the year. The reports of Commander Harrison of the Morgan, and Lieutenant-Commandant Bennett of the Gaines, you have, no doubt, received from these officers. I enclose the report of Fleet-Surgeon D. B. Conrad, to whom I am much indebted for his skill, promptness and attention to the wounded. By permission of Admiral Farragut, he accompanied the wounded of the Tennessee and Selma to this hospital, and is assisted by Assistant Surgeons Booth and Bowles, of the Selma and Tennessee, all under the charge of Fleet-Surgeon Palmer, of the United States navy, from whom we have received all the attention and consideration we could desire or expect. The crews and many officers of the Tennessee and Selma. have been sent to New Orleans. Commander J. D. Johnston, Lieutenant-Commandant P. U. Murphy, Lieutenants W. L. Bradford and A. D. Wharton, Second Assistant-Engineer J. C. O'Connell and myself, are to be sent North. Master's-mates W. S. Forrest and R. M. Carter, who are with me acting as my aids, not having any midshipmen, are permitted to accompany me. They are valuable young officers, zealous in the discharge of their duties, and both have served in the army, where they received honorable wounds; their services are important to me. I am happy to inform you that my wound is improving, and I sincerely hope our exchange will be effected, and that I will soon again be on duty. Enclosed is a list of the officers of the Tennessee who were in action.

September 17-Since writing the above I have seen the report. of Admiral Farragut, a portion of which is incorrect. Captain Johnston did not deliver my sword on board the Hartford. After the surrender of the Tennessee, Captain Giraud, the officer who was sent on board to take charge of her, said to me that he was [223] directed by Admiral Farragut to ask for my sword, which was brought from the cabin and delivered to him by one of my aids.

Admiral F. Buchanan, Commanding.

Killed and wounded of Confederate fleet in action of August 5, 1864, Mobile bay.

Tennessee” --flag-ship.


John Silk, first-class fireman; William Moors, seaman--2.


Admiral F. Buchanan, fracture right leg; A. T. Post, pilot, slightly in head; J. C. O'Connell, second assistant-engineer,. slightly in leg and shoulder; William Rogers, second assistant-engineer, slightly in head and shoulder; James Kelly, B. M., slightly in knee; And. Rasmison, Q. M., slightly in head; William Daly, seaman, in head; Robert Barry, marine, gunshot wound of ear and head; James McKunn, marine, contusion of shoulder--9.

Selma” --P. U. Murphy, Lieutenant commanding.


J. H. Comstock, lieutenant and executive officer; J. R. Murray, acting master's-mate; William Hall,gunner's-mate; James Rooney, seaman; James Montgomery, seaman; Bernard Riley, ordinary seaman; J. R. Frisly, landsman; Christopher Shepherd, landsman--8.


P. U. Murphy, lieutenant commanding, slightly in wrist; John Villa, seaman, badly, leg and arm; Henry Fratee, landsman, badly in hand; Daniel Linnehan, seaman, slightly in arm; John Shick, seaman, slightly in face; John Davis, fireman,. slightly; John Gilliland, seaman, slightly--7.

Total killed, 10; wounded, 16.

D. B. Conrad, Fleet-Surgeon, C. S. N.

Officers of the ram Tennessee who were in action.

Admiral F. Buchanan, Commander J. D. Johnston, First Lieutenant and Executive Officer William L. Bradford, Lieutenant A. D. Wharton, Lieutenant E. J. McDermett, Masters H. W. Perrin and J. Demaley, Fleet-Surgeon D. B. Conrad, Assistant-Surgeon R. C. Bowles, First Lieutenant Marine Corps D. G. Raney, First Assistant-Engineer [224] G. D. Lening, Pilot A. T. Post, Second Assistant-Egineer J. C. O'Connell, Second Assistant-Engineer John Hays, Boatswain John McCradie, Gunner H. S. Smith, Third Assistant-Engineers William Rogers, Oscar Benson and William Patterson, Master's-mates M. J. Beebe, R. M. Carter, W. S. Forrest, Paymaster's-clerk J. H. Cohen.

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