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‘ [213] in driving the torpedo under the overhang, and exploded it at the same time that the Albemarle's gun was fired. A shot seemed to go crashing through my boat, and a dense mass of water rushed in from the torpedo, filling the launch and completely disabling her.’

The enemy within a few yards continued their fire at the men and demanded their surrender. Cushing ordered them to ‘save themselves,’ divested himself of shoes and coat and swam with others into the middle of the stream. ‘Master's Mate Woodman I met in the water half a mile below the town, and assisted him as best I could, but failed to get him ashore.’1

Cushing reached the shore ‘completely exhausted, too weak to crawl out of the water until just at daylight,’ when he went into the swamp near the fort for the night and a part of the following day. Exhausted as he was, he walked miles through swamps, and at length found a boat in which, by eleven o'clock the next night, he found his way to the Valley City. He says: ‘Master's Mate Howarth showed as usual conspicuous gallantry,’ and he expresses the hope that Howarth and Engineer Stolesbury will be promoted when exchanged.

A more heroic picture can hardly be conceived than Cushing, standing in the bows of his launch, running head on to the Albemarle, the glare of the fire on shore throwing its lights and shadows on the doomed ram, and illuminating the man, who pushed on, placed the torpedo by his own hand where he desired, exploded it, and received at the same time, at the cannon's mouth, the blast of a 100-pounder rifle. He was at that time twenty-one years of age.

The reader may be interested in the personal appearance

1 The quotation marks are in Cushing's words.

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William B. Cushing (4)
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