officer some one cried, ‘Bully for the sergeant.’
Spluttering oaths the officer turned on me, and, pointing his pistol threateningly, demanded if I belonged to that squad.
I looked him square in the face for a moment, and then said, perhaps with more emphasis than my rank would fairly warrant, ‘No, sir,’ then pointing to his pistol, added, ‘but that is no good.’
To his credit be it said the pistol-bearer quieted down, and the pistol was not in evidence during the rest of the day. As I turned away my colonel laid his hand on my shoulder, saying, ‘Sergeant
, I'm glad to see you here.
That's a miserable fellow.’
I know I was terribly angry at the wretch; but the kind words of my colonel relieved the tension.
After some hours a steamer was made out coming up the coast.
Her progress was closely watched.
The stars and stripes floated from her peak, but she might be a rebel gun-boat for all that.
As she rounded to at a distance and headed for us a boat was called away with an officer in charge to ascertain the nationality of the ship.
She proved to be the United States
gunboat Mount Vernon
, on blockade duty off Cape Fear river
She had fortunately seen the flash of our gun, but was too far off to hear the report, and immediately started to investigate.
Imagination alone can picture forth our feelings of relief at having a United States
gun-boat between us and the rebel fort at the mouth of Cape Fear river
—not to mention the rising wind and muttering sea, which would soon reduce the good ship Mississippi
to a scrap heap unless relieved at flood tide.
of the Mt. Vernon
shook his head as hawser after hawser parted in his efforts to pull us off. ‘You have, perhaps, one chance in a million,’ said the captain, ‘to float your ship.’
To save his own ship he was obliged to haul off to deeper water, for he had touched bottom several times.
Meanwhile our engine was working full steam ahead.
The quartermaster and I were forward charged with heaving the lead.
As a precaution troops were being transferred to the Mt. Vernon
, for there was slight expectation of saving our ship.
Just here the quartermaster said, ‘Sergeant
, I've got to go aft; look out for falling spars as the ship rolls.’
When he returned, he said the Maine