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[101] on this ship, and the terrible disaster to the Tecumseh, the result of the fight was a glorious victory, and I have reason to feel proud of the officers, seamen, and marines of the squadron under my command, for it has never fallen to the lot of an officer to be thus situated and thus sustained. Regular discipline will bring men to any amount of endurance, but there is a natural fear of hidden dangers, particularly when so awfully destructive of human life as the torpedo, which requires more than discipline to overcome.

Preliminary to a report of the action of the fifth, I desire to call the attention of the Department to the previous steps taken in consultation with Generals Canby and Granger. On the eighth of July I had an interview with these officers on board the Hartford, on the subject of an attack upon Forts Morgan and Gaines, at which it was agreed that General Canby would send all the troops he could spare to cooperate with the fleet. Circumstances soon obliged General Canby to inform me that he could not despatch a sufficient number to invest both forts, and in reply I suggested that Gaines should be the first invested, engaging to have a force in the sound ready to protect the landing of the army on Dauphin Island in the rear of that fort, and I assigned Lieutenant Commander De Krafft, of the Conemaugh, to that duty.

On the first instant General Granger visited me again on the Hartford. In the mean time the Tecumseh had arrived at Pensacola, and Captain Craven had informed me that he would be ready in four days for any service. We therefore fixed upon the fourth of August as the day for the landing of the troops and my entrance into the bay; but owing to delays mentioned in Captain Jenkins's communication to me, the Tecumseh was not ready. General Granger, however, to my mortification, was up to time, and the troops actually landed on Dauphin Island.

As subsequent events proved, the delay turned to our advantage, as the rebels were busily engaged during the fourth in throwing troops and supplies into Fort Gaines, all of which were captured a few days afterward.

The Tecumseh arrived on the evening of the fourth, and every thing being propitious, I proceeded to the attack on the following morning.

As mentioned in my previous despatch, the vessels outside the bar, which were designed to participate in the engagement, were all under way by forty minutes past five in the morning, in the following order, two abreast, and lashed together: Brooklyn, Captain James Alden, with the Octorara, Lieutenant Commander C. H. Green, on the port side; Hartford, Captain Percival Drayton, with the Metacomet, Lieutenant Commander I. E. Jouett; Richmond, Captain T. A. Jenkins, with the Port Royal, Lieutenant Commander B. Gherardi; Lackawanna, Captain J. B. Marchand, with the Seminole, Commander E. Donaldson; Monongahela, Commander J. H. Strong, with the Kennebec, Lieutenant Commander W. P. McCann; Ossipee, Commander W. E. Le Roy, with the Itasca, Lieutenant Commander George Brown; Oneida, Commander I. R. M. Mullany, with the Galena, Lieutenant Commander C. H. Wells. The iron-clads — Tecumseh, Commander T. A. M. Craven; the Manhattan, Commander I. W. A. Nicholson; the Winnebago, Commander T. H. Stevens; and the Chickasaw, Lieutenant Commander G. H. Perkins--were already inside the bar, and had been ordered to take up their positions on the starboard side of the wooden ships, or between them and Fort Morgan, for the double purpose of keeping down the fire from the water-battery and the parapet guns of the fort, as well as to attack the ram Tennessee as soon as the Fort was passed.

It was only at the urgent request of the Captains and commanding officers that I yielded to the Brooklyn being the leading ship of the line, as she had four chase-guns and an ingenious arrangement for picking up torpedoes, and because, in their judgment, the flag-ship ought not to be too much exposed. This I believe to be an error; for apart from the fact that exposure is one of the penalties of rank in the navy, it will always be the aim of the enemy to destroy the flag-ship, and, as will appear in the sequel, such attempt was very persistently made, but Providence did not permit it to be successful.

The attacking fleet steamed steadily up the main ship-channel, the Tecumseh firing the first shot at forty-seven minutes past six o'clock. At six minutes past seven the Fort opened upon us, and was replied to by a gun from the Brooklyn, and immediately after the action became general.

It was soon apparent that there was some difficulty ahead. The Brooklyn, for some cause which I did not then clearly understand, but which has since been explained by Captain Alden in his report, arrested the advance of the whole fleet, while, at the same time, the guns of the Fort were playing with great effect upon that vessel and the Hartford. A moment after I saw the Tecumseh struck by a torpedo, disappear almost instantaneously beneath the waves, carrying with her her gallant commander and nearly all her crew. I determined at once, as I had originally intended, to take the lead, and after ordering the Metacomet to send a boat to save, if possible, any of the perishing crew, I dashed ahead with the Hartford, and the ships followed on, their officers believing that they were going to a noble death with their commander-in-chief.

I steamed through between the buoys, where the torpedoes were supposed to have been sunk. These buoys had been previously examined by my Flag-Lieutenant, I. Crittenden Watson, in several nightly reconnoissances. Though he had not been able to discover the sunken torpedoes, yet we had been assured by refugees, deserters, and others, of their existence, but, believing that from their having been some time in the water, they were probably innocuous, I determined to take the chance of their explosion.

From the moment I turned to the north-west-ward, to clear the middle ground, we were enabled to keep such a broadside fire upon the batteries

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