Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/241

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Torpedo Service in Charleston Harbor.

I think Captain Whiting felt mortified at being obliged thus to treat an old brother officer, whom he knew could only have been actuated by a sense of patriotic duty in making the attack which caused him to fall into his power as a prisoner of war. At any rate, he proceeded immediately to see the admiral, and upon his return I was released, on giving my parole not to attempt an escape from the vessel. His kindness, and the gentlemanly courtesy with which I was treated by other officers of the old navy, I shall ever remember most gratefully. I learned that my fireman had been found hanging on to the rudder-chains of the Ironsides and taken on board.[1] I had every reason to believe that the other two, Mr. Toombs and Mr. Cannon, had been shot or drowned, until I heard of their safe arrival in Charleston.

I was retained as a prisoner in Fort La Fayette and Fort Warren for more than a year, and learned while there that I had been promoted for what was called "gallant and meritorious service."

What all the consequences of this torpedo attack upon the enemy were is not for me to say. It certainly awakened them to a sense of the dangers to which they had been exposed, and caused them to apprehend far greater difficulties and dangers than really existed should they attempt to enter the harbor with their fleet. [2]It may have prevented Admiral Dahlgren from carrying out the intention he is said to have had of going in with twelve iron-clads on the arrival of his double-turreted monitor to destroy the city by a cross-fire from the two rivers. It certainly caused them to take many precautionary measures for protecting their vessels which had never before been thought of. Possibly it shook the nerve of a brave admiral and deprived him of the glory of laying low the city of Charleston. It was said by officers of the navy that the iron-clad vessels of that fleet were immediately enveloped like women in hoop-skirt petticoats of netting, to lay in idle admiration of

  1. Pilot Cannon states, that not being able to swim, when the fires were extinguished he jumped overboard and clung to the unexposed side of the "David." The boat gradually drifted away from the "Ironsides," without being materially injured, though a bull's-eye lantern afforded a mark to the Federal cannoneers. After drifting about a quarter of a mile, Pilot C. got aboard. Seeing something in the water he hailed, and heard, to his surprise, a reply from Engineer Toombs. Toombs got aboard, caught up the fires with the light from the lantern, got up steam, and started for the city. They were fired at several times while passing the Federal monitors and picket-boats, but escaped them unhurt, and reached Atlantic wharf at 12 P. M.—Y. S.
  2. Pilot Cannon states, that after the war, while acting as pilot for the United States fleet, Admiral Dahlgren asserted that such was his intention, and that the attack on the Ironsides prevented its execution.—Y. S.