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[42] concerned, the teredo or ship-worm soon disposed of them. All this must have been foreseen by so able an officer as Commander Davis, and it seems probable that the whole enterprise was mainly designed for intimidation.

As flag-officer, Commander Davis succeeded Commodore Foote in command of the newly improvised flotilla on the Mississippi River, this consisting partly of army rams devised and commanded by Colonel Ellet, and placed under the temporary command of the flag-officer. Commodore Foote had relinquished command, because of wounds, on May 9, 1861. The first naval engagement of the war, in the sense of a squadron fight, thus took place under a Massachusetts officer. It occurred before Fort Pillow, on May 10, and resulted in a partial victory for the Union flotilla, the Confederate rams having, however, done great damage, and the Union rams being not yet employed. Later, Fort Pillow was bombarded by Davis up to June 4, when it was abandoned, leaving forty heavy guns and much military material. On June 6 Davis commanded in a second fight with the Confederate flotilla, he being now fully reinforced by Colonel Ellet and his rams. The eight Confederate boats had from two to four guns each, and the five Union boats from thirteen to eighteen guns each.1 An hour's fight decided the fate of Memphis, which was surrendered to Davis without delay. His summons for its surrender is a document which ought, it has been said, to find a place in every future ‘polite letter writer.’ It runs thus: ‘Sir, I have the honor to request that you will surrender. I am, Mr. Mayor, with high respect, your obedient servant.’

The prophecy of Captain Montgomery, commanding the Confederate ‘river defence fleet,’ that ‘the enemy . . . will never penetrate farther down the Mississippi River,’2 was not fulfilled. Davis descended the river, and on July 1 joined Farragut's fleet from New Orleans. On October 15 following he was relieved from command of the flotilla on arrival of Commander (afterwards admiral) Porter, who thus testifies to his services: ‘For the second time (i. e., at Memphis) Rear-Admiral Davis won a strictly naval victory, and won it without a single mistake. . . . Take the battle, together with its results, it was one of the handsomest achievements of the war, but it did not receive that general notice which it deserved. . . . If Mr. Secretary Welles, who was liberal with his eulogistic letters to those ’

1 Greene's Mississippi (Campaigns of the Civil War), p. 15.

2 See letter in Porter's Naval History of the Civil War, p. 167.

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