The New York Herald
, of Saturday, contains the particulars of the sinking of the monitor Weehawken
, on the 6th inst. Its correspondent writes:
Saturday had been a bright and beautiful day., with scarcely a breath of air and with a unruffled sea. During the night a breeze sprang up, and the wind, blowing freshly at daylight on Sunday, increased by noon to a violent storm.
The iron-clad fleet was lying meantime at its usual anchorage.
The frigate New Ironsides
was stationed off Morris Island
, at a distance of about one mile due east from Fort Wagner
or, as is now called, Fort Strong
North of the Ironsides
lay the flagship Philadelphia
, distant about four hundred yards. The Weehawken
was next in line, anchored two or three hundred yards to the northward of the flagship.
was on picket duty, between Fort Sumter
and Fort Moultrie
Astern of the Ironsides
lay the Nahant
— the latter furthest away from the flagship, and nearer than any other vessel to the Morris Island
The South Carolina
and the Home
were rocking on the restless tide some five or six hundred yards astern of the iron-clads.
The above was the position of the fleet when the first signal of distress was made from the Weehawken
, at a few minutes before two o'clock. The signal was seen and answered at once by the flagship, from which four boats were dispatched to her assistance, and by the South Carolina
, which sent two of her boats to the Weehawken
's aid. The tugs Dandelion
and his were also at once called up, and with them Commander Duncan
, of the Weehawken
, who chanced to be on the flagship, and in conversation with the Admiral
, when the signal was made, proceeded immediately, with the hope of running his vessel on the beach.
He had scarcely left the Admiral
when the officer of the deck made out from the Weehawken
a new signal, and immediately reported her to be sinking.
A moment after she settled swiftly down by the head, careened slightly over to starboard, and disappeared beneath the waves.
It is impossible to convey any idea of the appalling nature of this disaster.
It came with the suddenness of a thunderbolt.
When the first signal of distress was made no one divined how serious was the danger, and when, at length, the vessel went down, it was difficult for those who saw her disappear to credit even the evidence of their own senses.
The confusion on the flagship, arising mainly from the difficulty of launching her boats, and the desire of both officers and men to be first in them, was most intense and painful.
The wind was now blowing with great fury, and the boats which hastened from all sides to the scene encountered great peril in picking up from the water the few who had succeeded in getting away from the Weehawken
before she sank.
Almost at the moment she went down some twenty or more sprang to the boats and succeeded in getting away.
As many others were rescued from the surging waves by the launches of the flagship, the South Carolina
and the tugboats Dandelion
All day the Weehawken
had labored heavily in the sea, which kept her decks constantly submerged, and which frequently swept in huge volumes into her forward hatch.
Towards noon the crew commenced paying out chain, to ease her; but, accustomed as they were, in every gale, to the shipping of such seas, it is believed that they had grown confident and careless of danger, and paid no heed to the encroaching waters until it was too late to resist them.
They dreamed of no peril till the waves had fairly yawned to swallow them.--Then, when it was known for a certainty that the vessel was to be lost, a panic of fright and fear benumbed them, and the terror stricken crew below had little power to help themselves.
There were men in irons between decks, and the sergeant at arms rushed frantically away to release them.--Poor fellows, they all went down.
There were invalids in the sick bay, and to their relief the surgeon sent his steward, who never returned.
There were firemen at the furnace, to whom vain shrieks for a helping hand at the pumps were made.
A few of the confident were rushing to their quarters to save their effects, jostling the timid on their way to the deck to save themselves.
It was in the midst of scenes like these that the Weehawken
I believe that none of the officers perished save the four assistant engineers
, who were overtaken by the flood before they could make any effort to escape.
had only taken command of the Weehawken
on Saturday, having been detached from the Paul Jones
to relieve Commander Calhoun
The officers' clothing, the paymaster's funds, and the papers of the ship, sank with her.
The foeman was brought alive on board the flagship, but died in spasms a few moments afterward.
Various parties were picked up and taken to the nearest vessels, where every provision was made for their comfort and restoration.
Those of the crew who were saved are now scattered in small squads throughout the fleet.
It is impossible to procure at present the names of those who were lost.