Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/150
142 Southern Historical Society Papers.
toward our boats and asked if I had ordered the ship set afire. I said: " Yes " ; but it looked as if it had not been done successfully. Just then Hoge came along in his boat and said that he had set fire to her.
Wood ordered him to go on board and make sure of it, and he went promptly. Here was trying duty to perform. The forts were firing every few minutes in our direction wildly, of course, as big guns cannot be aimed well at night, but you never can tell where they are going to strike.
In about ten minutes we saw a flame leap out of a window forward of the wheelhouse, where the engineer's supplies were kept, and Hoge pulling away. In a very few minutes the whole expanse of water was lighted up, and you maybe sure we struck put with a vim to rendezvous at Swift creek, about six miles up the river, on the opposite side from New Bern, where General Dearing had a small cavalry camp. As we were pulling up we could hear now and then the boom of the guns of the Underwriter as they were discharged by heat from the burning ship, and just before reaching our landing place we heard the awful explosion of the sturdy vessel, when the fire reached her magazine.
After daybreak we reached the place on the bank of the creek, where there was a clearing, and landed our cargo of dead and wounded and prisoners.
As we were taking Saunders out of the boat he breathed his last, and so passed into the presence of God the soul of that young hero. As soon as the surgeon had made the wounded as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, the prisoners were drawn up in line to make a list of them. As I passed down the line, a strapping big fellow, without any trousers on and barefooted, said: " My Lord, is that you?" I looked him over and recognized him as an old quarter-gunner that had been shipmate with me in the frigate Con- gress ten years before, and among the wounded I was called to have a greeting from a young fellow, who had been a mizzen-topman in the same ship, and after the war got me to give him a certificate to secure his pension.
Our casualties had been six killed, twenty-two wounded, all ol them brought away. Two were missing and afterwards accounted for. The Federal loss was nine killed, eighteen wounded and nine- teen prisoners about thirty of her crew escaped.
The wounded and prisoners were promptly taken care of by Gen- eral Dearing's command, and sent up to Kinston. Captain Wood