Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/236
226 Southern Historical Society Papers.
form you of the condition of the vessel, I went to the berth deck for this purpose, and, after making my report, asked if you did not think we had better surrender, to which you replied, " Do the best you can, and when all is done, surrender," or words to that effect. Upon, my returning to the gun-deck, I observed one of the heaviest ves- sels of the enemy in the act of running into us on the port quarter, while the shot were fairly raining upon the after end of the shield, which was now so thoroughly shattered that in a few moments it would have fallen and exposed the gun deck to a raking fire of shell and grape. Realizing our helpless condition at a glance, and conceiving that the ship was now nothing more than a target for the heavy guns of the enemy, I concluded that no good object could be accomplished by sacrificing the lives of the officers and men in such a one-sided contest, and therefore proceeded to the top of the shield and took down the ensign, which had been lashed on to the handle of a gun-scraper and stuck up through the grating. While in the act several shots passed close to me, and when I went below to order the engines to be stopped, the fire of the enemy was con- tinued. I then decided, though with an almost bursting heart, to hoist the white flag; and, returning again to the shield, I placed it in the spot where but a few moments before had floated the proud flag for whose honor I would so cheerfully have sacrificed my own life, if I could possibly have become the only victim ; but at that time it would have been impossible to destroy the ship without the certain loss of many valuable lives, your own among the number. It is with the most heartfelt satisfaction that I bear testimony to the undaunted gallantry and cheerful alacrity with which the offi- cers and men under my immediate command discharged all their duties; and to the executive officer, Lieutenant Bradford, it is due that I should commend the regular and rapid manner in which the battery was served in every particular. While a prisoner on board the Ossipee, and since coming into this hospital, I have learned from personal observation and from other reliable sources of information, that the battery of the Tennessee inflicted more damage upon the enemy than that at Fort Morgan, although she was opposed by one hundred and eighty-seven guns of the heaviest calibre, in addition to the twelve eleven and fifteen-inch guns on board the monitors. The entire loss of the enemy, most of which is ascribed to the Tennessee, amounts to quite three hundred in killed and wounded, exclusive of the one hundred lost on the Te- cumseh, making a number almost as large as the entire force under