‘Half-mast it at the mizzen peak, Union up, forever!’
roared the general.
Then a signal gun was fired, but this was immediately muzzled, for Fort Macon
and horsemen were in plain sight from our deck.
All the troops were immediately ordered to go below.
I recognized the wisdom of the order, but I concluded that it didn't include me. So I ranged alongside the ship's quartermaster, who at once adopted me as his assistant; and it proved to be the longest watch on deck that I ever experienced,—from 8 o'clock A. M., till about 8 o'clock P. M.
It was soon discovered that the good ship had resented the indignity of dropping the anchor under her forefoot by rolling over onto it and forcing a fluke through her iron bow. At this hour we had only fourteen feet of water forward, while the ship drew about eighteen feet, and the tide was falling.
But as the water fell outside it continued to rise in the forward compartment, till the Thirty-first Massachusetts boys had the choice of being drowned in an iron kettle or vacating their quarters.
No deaths by drowning were reported.
Doubtless General Butler
comprehended the gravity of the situation, but he was outwardly cool and collected during the entire day, and actively in command.
To arouse the ship from her siesta various expedients were resorted to. Orders were issued to jettison some of the heavier cargo.
Among the first things I noticed going overboard were mosquito netting and camp and garrison equipage.
In this connection the acting quartermaster
of the expedition cut a sorry figure.
Seated on the ‘booby hatch,’ with his mouth full of oaths, flourishing a revolver and threatening to shoot, this officer was supposed to be executing orders.
While I had no connection with his squad I was a witness of what was being done on that part of the ship.
Finally a barrel got jammed in the hatch.
The air was blue with oaths, and I noticed some of the men edging away from the flourishing pistol.
I could stand the pressure no longer.
Seizing a capstan bar I stepped to the hatch and said, ‘Lower a bit,’ then, canting the barrel, said, ‘Hoist,’ and the situation was relieved.
To the disgust of the