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The London Daily News says:
"The Kearsarge is spoken of as being iron-clad; she was no more iron-clad than the Alabama might have been, had they taken the precaution. She simply had a double row of chains hanging over her sides to protect her machinery. Two shots from the Alabama struck these chains, and fell harmlessly into the water."
Of the crew of the Alabama, 65
were picked up by the Kearsarge as
• prisoners; while Capt. Semmes and
his officers and men who were picked
up and carried off by Lancaster, with
a few picked up by a French vessel
in attendance, were also claimed as
rightful prisoners of war; but they
denied the justice of the claim, and
were not surrendered.
The steady increase of our naval force, and our successful combined operations in Pamlico and Albemarle sounds; before Charleston, Savannah, and among the Sea Islands; up the mouths of the Mississippi; along the coasts of Florida; and at the mouth of the Rio Grande, had gradually closed up the harbors of the Confederacy, until, by the Spring of 1864, their blockade-runners were substantially restricted to a choice of two ports—Wilmington, N. C, and Mobile—where the character of the approaches and the formidable forts that still forbade access by our blockaders to the entrance of their respective harbors, still enabled skillfullypiloted steamers, carefully built in British yards expressly for this service, to steal in and out on moonless, clouded, or foggy nights; not without risk and occasional loss, but with reasonable impunity. To close these eyes of the Rebellion was now the care of the Navy Department; and it was resolved to commence with
Mobile—the double entrance to whose spacious bay was defended by Forts Morgan and Powell on either hand, and by Fort Gaines on Dauphine island, which separates Grant's pass from the main channel. Beside the heavy guns and large garrisons of these forts, there was a considerable fleet, commanded by Franklin Buchanan, sole Rebel Admiral, and formerly a captain in our Navy, whose iron-clad Tennessee, 209 feet long, 48 feet beam, with timber sides 8 feet thick, doubly plated with 2-inch iron, fitted with tower, beak and overhang, and mounting two 7-inch and four 6-inch rifled guns, throwing projectiles respectively of 110 and 95pounds, propelled by two engines and four boilers, was probably as effective a craft for harbor defense as fleet ever yet encountered. Her three consorts were ordinary gunboats of no particular force; but when to these forts and vessels are added the vague terrors and real dangers of torpedoes, carefully constructed and planted in a channel where it is scarcely possible for attacking vessels to avoid them, it must be felt that the fleet, however strong, which defies and assails them, can only hope to succeed by the rarest exhibitions alike of skill and courage. Ten years had not elapsed since the immense naval power of Great Britain, wielded by a Napier, recoiled before the defenses of Cronstadt; while no attempt was made on the fortifications of Odessa.
The fleet which Rear-Admiral Farragut led " to force its way into the bay of Mobile was composed of 4 iron-clads and 14 wooden ships-ofwar or gunboats, as follows:
'Aug. 5, 1864.
FARRAGUT ASSAILS FORTS MORGAN AND GAINES. 651
Hartford (flag-ship), Capt. P. Drayton;
* Tecumseh, Com'r T. A. M. Craven;
* Manhattan, Com'r J. W. A. Nicholson;
* Winnebago, Com'r T. H. Stevens;
* Chickasaw, Lt.-Com'r T. H. Perkins.
Gen. Canby had sent from New Orleans Gen. Gordon Granger, with a cooperating land force, perhaps 5,000 strong, which had debarked on Dauphine island, but which could be of no service for the present; and did not attempt to be. Pollard says that our fleet carried 200 guns with 2,800 men.
Thursday, August 4, had been fixed on for the perilous undertaking; but, though the troops were on hand, the Tecumseh had not arrived; and—in contempt for the nautical superstition touching Friday—the attack was postponed to next morning; when, at 5J o'clock, the wooden ships steamed up, lashed together in couples; the Brooklyn and Oetorara leading, followed by the Hartford and Metacomet; the iron-clads having already passed the bar, and now advancing in line on the right, or between the fleet and Fort Morgan. The Tecumseh, leading, at 6:47, opened fire on Fort Morgan, still a mile distant, which responded at 7:06; and forthwith, every gun that could be brought to bear on either side awoke the echoes of the startled bay.
The Brooklyn, when directly un
der the guns of the fort—which, disregarding the iron-clads, were trained especially on the Hartford and her, while their progress was retarded by the slowness of the monitors—had just opened on the fort with grape, driving its gunners from its more exposed batteries, when the Tecumseh, then 300 yards ahead of her, struck a torpedo which, exploding directly under her turret, tore a chasm in her bottom, through which the water poured in a flood, sinking her almost instantly, and carrying down Com'r Craven and nearly all his officers and crew. Out of 130, but 17 were saved; part in one of her own boats and part by a boat sent, by Farragut's order, from the Metacomet, under a terrible fire.
Farragut had reluctantly consented to let the Brooklyn lead the wooden fleet, because of her four chaseguns specially adapted to the work in hand, and because she had a peculiarly ingenious contrivance for picking up torpedoes. "Exposure is one of the penalties of rank in the navy," is his characteristic observation; in accordance with which, he had stationed himself in the Hartford's main-top, as the point whence every thing that transpired could best be observed; and the strong presumption that the Rebel fire would be concentrated on the flag-ship rendered him specially anxious that she should be accorded the post of preeminent peril and honor. Overruled at the outset, Farragut, when the Brooklyn very naturally recoiled at the spectacle of the Tecumseh's destruction, directed Drayton to go ahead, followed by the rest, in the full belief that several must pay the penalty of heroism just exacted of the Tecumseh. But no more torpedoes were encountered; while the fire of the fort, now checked by the grape of our ships, became comparatively harmless, from the moment that he had fairly passed its front.
The Rebel fleet had opened fire directly after the fort; and the Tennessee, at 7:50, rushed at the Hartford, which simply returned her fire and kept on. The three Rebel gunboats, still ahead, poured their shots into the Hartford; the Selma getting a raking fire on her, which she could not return. Farragut, therefore, at 8:02, ordered the Metacomet to cast off and close with the Selma; which she captured, after an hour's fight: the Selma's captain, P. N. Murphy, with 9 others, being wounded; her Lieut. Comstock, with 5 more, being killed. She had 4 great pivot guns and 94 men. The Morgan and Gaines now took refuge under the guns of the fort; where the Gaines, badly crippled, was run ashore and burned. The Morgan escaped, and ran up to Mobile under cover of the ensuing night.
Farragut now supposed the fight over, and had ordered most of his vessels to anchor; but he was undeceived when the Tennessee, at 8:45, stood bravely down the bay, and, trusting to her invulnerability to shot, made for our flag-ship, resolved to run her down. At once, our ironclads and stronger wooden ships were signaled to close in upon and destroy her; our fire, save of the very largest guns, seeming scarcely to annoy her.
The Monongahela gave her the first blow; rushing at her at full speed, striking her square in the side, and, swinging around, pouring into her, when but a few feet distant, a
broadside of solid 11-inch shot, which seemed to have much the same effect on her that a musket-wad or pop-gun pellet might be expected to produce on a buffalo's skull. Not satisfied with this, Capt. Jenkins drew off and came at her again, with the net result of losing his own beak and cut-water.
The Lackawanna next struck the Rebel monster at full speed; crushing in her own stem to the plank-ends, but only giving the ram a heavy list, without doing her any perceptible harm.
The Hartford came on next; but her blow was evaded by an adroit motion of the Tennessee's helm, so that the Hartford merely hit her on the quarter and rasped along her side: pouring in a broadside of 10-inch shot, at a distance of ten feet.
Our monitors had now crawled up, firing when they could do Bo; and the Chickasaw ran under her stern; while the Manhattan, also coming up behind her, gave her a solid 15-inch bolt, which struck her on her port quarter, carrying away her steering-gear, and breaking square through her iron plates and their wooden backing, but doing no harm inside.
Farragut had ordered Drayton to strike her a second blow; and he was proceeding to do 60, when the Lackawanna, already badly crippled, in attempting to ram the enemy a second time, came in collision with the flag-ship, doing her considerable injury. Both drew off, took distance for another pass at her, and were coming on at full speed, when the Rebel alligator, sore beset from every side—her smoke-stack shot away, her steering-chains gone, several of her port-shutters so jammed by our shot
that they could not be opened, and one of tbem battered to fragments, with tbe Chickasaw boring away at her stern, and four other great vessels coming at her full speed—saw that the fight was fairly out of her, with no chance of escape, and, hauling down her flag, ran up a white one, just in time to have the Ossipee back its engine ere it struck her; changing its heavy crash into a harmless glancing blow. On her surrender, Admiral Buchanan was found severely wounded, with 6 of his crew; 3 being killed. Of prisoners, we took 190 with the Tennessee, and 90 with the Selma.
Our total loss in this desperate struggle was 165 killed (including the 113 who went down in the Tecumseh) and 170 wounded: the Hartford having 25 killed, 28 wounded, and the Brooklyn 11 killed and 43 wounded. The Oneida had 8 killed and 30 wounded, including her commander, Mullany, who lost an arm: most of them being scalded by the explosion, at 7:50, of her starboard boiler by a 7-inch shell, while directly under the fire of Fort Morgan. Nearly all her firemen and coalheavers on duty were killed or disabled in a moment; but, though another shell at that instant exploded in her cabin, cutting her wheel-ropes, her guns were loaded and fired, even while the steam was escaping, as if they had been practicing at a target. The Tennessee passed and raked her directly afterward, disabling two of her guns. A shell, in exploding, having started a fire on the top of her magazine, it was quietly extinguished; the serving out of powder going on as before.
The Rebel fleet was no more; but ■ Aug. 9.
the Rebel forts were intact. Farragut sent the wounded of both fleets to Pensacola in the Metacomet, and prepared to resume operations. During the ensuing night, Fort Powell was evacuated and blown up, so far as it could be; but the guns were left to fall into our hands. Fort Gaines was next day shelled by the iron-clad Chickasaw, with such effect that Col. Anderson, commanding there, next morning sued for conditions. He might probably have held out a little longer; but, being on an island, with the fleet on one side and Granger's army on the other, there was not a possibility of relief or protracted resistance. At 9| A. M., the Stars and Stripes were raised over the fort, and Anderson and his 600 men were prisoners of war.
Gen. Page, commanding in Fort Morgan, had much stronger defenses, and was on the main land, where he had a chance of relief; at the worst, he might get away, while Anderson could not. He telegraphed the latter peremptorily, "Hold on to your fort!" and his representations doubtless did much to excite the clamor raised against that officer throughout Dixie as a coward or a traitor. But when his turn came—Granger's troops having been promptly transferred to the rear of Morgan, invested '7 it, and, after due preparation, opened fire" in conjunction with the fleet—Page held out one day, and then surrendered at discretion. He doubtless was right in so doing; since—unless relieved by an adequate land force— his fall was but a question of time. Tet his prompt submission tallied badly with his censure of Anderson. Before surrendering, he had damaged
■ Aug. 22.