No situation could be more trying to officers and crew than to be thus stationed at their guns without a chance to return a fire. The guns of the "Chesapeake" were loaded, but could not be discharged for want of lighted matches or heated loggerheads; and even if discharged, they could not be reloaded until ammunition should be handed from the magazine. Time was required both to clear the guns and to fire them; but the "Leopard's" first broadside was thrown just as the crew were beginning to clear the deck. The crew were fresh and untrained; but no complaint was made on this account,—all were willing enough to fight. The confusion was little greater than might have occurred under the same circumstances in the best-drilled crew afloat; and the harshest subsequent scrutiny discovered no want of discipline, except that toward the end a few men left their guns, declaring that they were ready to fight but not to be shot down like sheep. About the magazine the confusion was greatest, for a crowd of men and boys were clamoring for matches, powder-flasks, and logger-heads, while the gunner and his mates were doing their utmost to pass up what was needed; but in reasonable time all wants could have been supplied. On the upper deck both officers and men behaved well. Barron, though naturally much excited, showed both sense and courage. Standing in the open gangway fully exposed to the "Leopard's" guns, he was wounded by the first broadside, but remained either there or on the quarter-deck without noticing his
Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/27
THE "CHESAPEAKE" AND "LEOPARD."