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At daylight, January 21st, the boats proceeded out to sea. Putting on all steam the Bell and Uncle Ben headed toward the Federal fleet, some 5 miles beyond the bar, but the latter, perceiving their intention and supposing them to be ironclads, took to flight, keeping up a running fire as they retreated. After pursuing them for many miles the Bell came near enough to open fire; the gunners were anxious to begin work, and the first few shots produced telling results, one of the guns of the Morning Light being dismounted by a shell, which killed and wounded all the men at her No. 2 port gun. Both head and feet of one man were taken off, and an other was killed by a fragment of shell, and 16 were wounded, two of whom afterward died. But scarcely were the gunners aware of the great execution their gun was doing, when it was incurably disabled by a conical shell stopping about halfway down the gun. It could not be rammed down, neither could it be drawn. Lieutenant Dowling, with his characteristic daring, wanted to chance it by firing; Captain Fowler told him they could not risk firing with shell half home, but assured him that they would go on and take the ship with their rifles.

Henceforth all became riflemen. The Bell continued to pursue the Morning Light directly away from the land for many miles, with all the speed they could make, burning resin and pine knots for fuel. When they had approached within about 200 yards of her, the riflemen opened fire with volleys from about 40 rifles at a time. With this constant rain of bullets on her deck, the men of the Morning Light became demoralized and could not be kept at their guns. The Bell was soon alongside with grappling fast to her main chains. By this time the crew of the Morning Light had stampeded to the between decks, for they could not stand the shower of shot poured on them by the riflemen of the Bell. Some of the ship's men from the top of the mast still fired down upon the Bell, but Captain Dillingham, who had remained at his post on the quarterdeck, seeing that there was nothing left for them but surrender, struck his flag. The men of the Bell were firing like savages and it was almost impossible to make them cease, for they knew and understood little about striking flags or surrender. The surrender was made unconditionally. As the Bell had but two or three seamen, the men of the captured ship were used to clear her

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Charles Fowler (1)
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