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The battle of Mobile bay. By Commodore Foxhall A. Parker, U. S. N. Boston: A. Williams & Co.

A Review by General D. H. Maury.

This book is an interesting and valuable addition to the history of the times to which it relates.

The narrative is admirably composed, so that the details, which are given with great accuracy, run smoothly along the course of the story, adding graphic effect to it.

The charm of the book is that having been written by a prominent Federal actor in the great battle, it accords full justice to the Confederates who opposed him with such desperate valor.

No such complete account of the famous ram Tennessee has ever yet been given to the public; and in perusing Commodore Parker's history of her we feel that but for the untoward accidents by which she lost so much propelling power and the control of her steering gear, she would alone and single-handed have driven Farragut and his whole fleet out of Mobile bay.

While this little book will be of deep and especial interest to naval men of the late Confederate and Federal services, it will please all intelligent readers.

It is gotten up in elegant style. The type and paper are good and the binding is elegant.

In the appendix are given several reports of commanders of both sides, which as they relate to the most remarkable conflict of this century, and one about which very little is known to most of our readers, we will reproduce at some early day.

There is something sublime in the devoted courage of our Old Admiral Buchanan, who having gallantly opposed the entrance of the fleet until all his little gunboats were sunk or captured, dashed like a lion at bay from his vantage ground under the guns of Fort Morgan to encounter with the Tennessee alone the whole of Farragut's formidable flotilla. The odds were fearful, yet the skill and daring of Buchanan made the issue hang doubtful for more than an hour. To attack and sink Farragut's ship was the constant purpose of Buchanan. Other captains encountered him on his way with ships as formidable as the Hartford, but Farragut was in the Hartford — to sink him was to win the battle — and so he drove all other comers from his path, and pressed relentlessly on to the grand object of attack. Farragut himself, after all was over, confessed [44] that he was fully conscious of the doubtful issue of the battle with Buchanan.

Ah! had that luckless rudder chain not have jammed, Buchanan, not Farragut, might have been the great naval hero of the war.

The extreme difficulties we had to encounter in building such a ship as the Tennessee are well narrated by Commodore Parker, and leave little cause for wonder or complaint that so many imperfections existed in her construction.

The engines were taken from a Mississippi steamer on the Yazoo river, and hauled several hundreds of miles across the country to the Tombigbee river, where the ship was being built of timbers fresh cut from the neighboring forests, to be covered at Mobile with iron drawn for the purpose out of the mines of Alabama.

Every timber, every spike and rivet, in fact every component part of the ship was made in the Confederacy, and her formidable battery of Brooke guns, with their fixed ammunition, powder, fuses and projectiles, were invented and manufactured by Confederates.

When at last the ship was ironed, her draught was found to be too great by seven feet!

She drew fifteen feet, and there was scarce eight feet of water on the bars over which she must pass to reach her fighting ground in lower Mobile bay. There were fortunately two great caissons just constructed at Mobile by order of the General commanding the forces there, which Admiral Buchanan borrowed in this emergency to float the Tennessee over the bars. These caissons were sixty feet by sixty by twelve. The Admiral cut them in two, lashed with chains two of them under either side of the Tennessee, and found that after having pumped them out the ship was lifted till she drew but little over seven feet!

She was then towed up the Mobile river and down the Spanish river, through the obstructions and down into deep water in the lower bay — a distance of thirty miles in all — where her battery was put aboard, and she was turned loose in full view of Farragut's fleet. But after all was done for her that could be done, and she was offering battle to the enemy, her engines could drive her but little over five knots an hour!

Moreover, it had been discovered by her captain, when too late to be effectually remedied, that her steering gear was exposed. Her rudder chains ran in an uncovered groove upon her after-deck, instead of being secured under the iron plating of the deck itself. An effort was made to remedy this defect by covering the groove in [45] which the chains ran with a sheet of iron one inch thick. During the action, an eleven-inch shot fell upon this thin iron covering and jammed it down upon the rudder chains, so that the ship from that moment lay like a log.

She could not move at all. Her guns could not be brought to bear, and the enemy's ships took positions such that out of range themselves they could pound the Tennessee to pieces. Her rudder chains jammed, three of her port shutters jammed, her smokestack shot away, and finally her brave old Admiral shot down, amidst more than thirty of his dead and wounded crew, the surrender of the Tennessee was no less glorious to the Confederates than to the Federals who overwhelmed her.

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