coal up was a problem even more than the wisest could solve. Yet it was plainly evident that something was about to be done, “something was in the wind.” What could it be? The question was repeatedly asked but received no definite answer. Anything to relieve suspense, if nothing more than “Madame rumor,” would have been eagerly seized and devoured for truth. But in the meantime we have hauled up to the wharf and that dreadful operation commenced, “coaling;” under the heat of the sun, and the weight of coal, Jack considers the job an unthankful operation; presently a messenger makes his appearance; what news? is the first ejaculation. The abrupt reply is, “the Somerset and Chambers are both taken!” Taken where? is the question, for such an idea was extremely preposterous. “They are taken by the rebels” was the response. “A report was in circulation that the capture has been made, and your vessel is chosen to proceed without delay to the scene of the disaster.” Such was the message received. The blockading vessels Somerset and Chambers were stationed in the harbor of Appalachicola, within eight miles of the town, which was once so thriving and prosperous, but made gloomy enough by the fortunes of war. The first vessel mentioned is a steamer, and formerly a New York ferry boat; the latter a three-masted schooner, which, before the war, was engaged in the coasting-trade. After taking in a sufficient quantity of coal, and receiving the necessary orders, we once more started up the coast; as a matter of course, under the dircumstances, all sorts of rumors were afloat; speculators were on the qui vive. The cruise up the coast was a pleasant one, in regard to weather, but devoid of anything of adventure save the usual monotonous routine of ship duties; forty hours of hopes and expectations, served to convince us of the untruthfulness of the “Key West report ;” yet it was not without a straw of foundation. On nearing the harbor of Appalach., the United States steamship Tahoma was descried, as the only vessel apparent to the naked eye; but by the aid of the glass the Somerset was “made out” further up toward the river; and now came proof positive of the safety of those feared to be lost. The schooner Chambers had previously relieved the United States steamship Stars and Stripes, and was then blockading off St. Marks; this accounted for her non-appearance. The foundation of the report originated from an affair which transpired in the vicinity of Appalach.; and but for the timely interference of Him who rules supreme, it would have proved severely disastrous to the fleet. On the nineteenth of May, a force of two hundred rebels, consisting in part of the crew of the rebel ram Merrimac, that was, and lead by Catesby Jones, who was formerly an officer in the United States army, but now one of the rankest of secessionists, landed upon the extremity of Dog Island, within two miles of the United States steamship Adele. So expertly and silently was the movement executed, that not a person on the above mentioned vessel had even a suspecting thought of so near an approach of the enemy. Thus far, the marauders worked successfully, making no demonstrations whatever, until eleven o'clock at night; then embarking in boats, they pushed with full confidence of making a sure capture of the Adele. Bent on nothing less than murder, these desperate characters, in the still hours of the night, were wending their way toward their intended victims. The night was unfavorable for the consummation of the design, but so confident of the result was the leader, that he paid no heed at the time of leaving shore to the warnings which surrounded them. The moon shedding its bright lustre, reflected upon the ruffled waters a brilliant and radiating phosphorus, by which every splash of the oars could be distinctly seen for some distance; observing this, and fearing premature detection of their long-contemplated plans, the leader ordered a return to the shore, which being executed, they remained concealed for the whole of the following day. The night of the twentieth was again the scene of a similar undertaking. The aspects of affairs were of a different nature; black, threatening clouds completely obscured the moon, thereby causing objects to be invisible to the casual glance of a lookout. But He who rules with divine power, who controls both winds and waves, and holds the destiny of nations in His hands, saw proper to cause a storm to sweep destruction over this villanous proceeding. Ere the frail boats had reached half the distance to be accomplished, the storm overtook them, and spent its fury around and about the whole scene; the impending danger, which was now fully perceived, forced the occupants of the boats to apply such means as might possibly secure safety. To go forward was nothing but pure rashness, and the only alternative was to endeavor to reach the shore. Three boats had already swamped, and the half-drowning survivors were clinging with the desperation of despair to the gunwales of the more staunch and fortunate boats. At this moment three boats belong to the Somerset were just returning from an expedition, and upon discovering the boats of the rebels, they instantly gave chase, but unfortunately succeeded in taking but ten prisoners, the officers and the largest part of the men escaping. From the accounts of the prisoners, the officers consisted of a naval lieutenant, a surgeon and passed assistant, a pay-master, four engineers, and two midshipmen; all the boats were eventually taken, numbering twenty-two; and in them were found a miscellaneous stock of goods, consisting of field telescopes, marine glasses, compasses, quadrants, sextants, arms, ammunition, &c.; scattered about in various places, there were also found letters of a private nature, correspondence
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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