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[642] the commodore. At last he was seen descending and taking his place in the boat; but at the same moment a thick black smoke rose above the vessel, followed by a vivid flame more than three metres high; the sailors, crowded upon the deck of the Boardman, perceived their comrades still resting on their oars through this sinister light; then everything disappeared amid a thick white cloud with a bluish reflection. A terrible explosion was heard at the same time. It is probable that the turpentine, accidentally spilled, came in contact with the lighted match and took fire, which was almost immediately communicated to the powdermagazine. The shells, thrown into the air, exploded in every direction, and a shower of debris and projectiles fell around the blackened carcass of the Westfield. When the smoke at length disappeared, the yawl was seen floating keel upward. The fifteen men who were in it had disappeared for ever; no trace of them was ever found. The enemy was approaching. The Boardman put off and joined the remainder of the fleet which Lieutenant Law had taken out of Galveston Bay. This officer, dreading an attack from the Harriet Lane, even hastened to raise the blockade in order to return to New Orleans, at the risk of allowing the transports, which, in the ignorance of what had taken place, might arrive after his departure, to be captured by the enemy. A fortunate chance alone prevented this new disaster.

The capture of Galveston made a profound impression in the South, and the fear of being again subjected to severe treatment on the part of the Confederate authorities long imposed silence upon those who had hitherto openly sustained the Federal cause.

It will be seen from the facts we have just related that the task of blockading and occupying the coasts of the Southern States and the entrance of their rivers threatened to absorb all the strength of the Federal navy. Consequently, a few words will suffice to enumerate the purely maritime incidents of the year 1862 which have not been mentioned in the preceding pages. We have no battles on the high seas to record, but in return the Federal fleet made a large number of prizes. The renewed rigor of the blockade, by raising the price of cotton in Europe and that of most articles produced by the South, stimulated the contraband trade.

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