Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/231

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221
Fight in Mobile Bay.

Metacomet, assisted by the Morgan, Commander G. W. Harrison, who during the conflict deserted him, when, upon the approach of another large steamer, the Selma surrendered. I refer you to the report of Lieutenant-Commandant Murphy, for particulars of his action. He lost two promising young officers—Lieutenant Comstock and Master's-mate Murray—and a number of his men were killed and wounded, and he was also wounded severely in the wrist. Commander Harrison will no doubt report to the Department his reasons for leaving the Selma in that contest with the enemy, as the Morgan was uninjured; his conduct is severely commented on by the officers of the enemy's fleet, much to the injury of that officer and the navy. Soon after the gunboats were dispersed by the overwhelming superiority of force, and the enemy's fleet had anchored about four miles above Fort Morgan, we stood for them again, in the Tennessee, and renewed the attack with the hope of sinking some of them with our prow; again we were foiled by their superior speed in avoiding us. The engagement with the whole fleet soon became general at very close quarters, and lasted about an hour; and notwithstanding the serious injury inflicted upon many of their vessels by our guns, we could not sink them. Frequently during the contest we were surrounded by the enemy, and all our guns were in action almost at the same moment. Four of their heaviest vessels ran into us under full steam, with the view of sinking us. One vessel, the Monongahela, had been prepared as a ram, and was very formidable; she struck us with great force, injuring us but little. Her prow and stern were knocked off, and the vessel so much injured as to make it necessary to dock her. Several of the other vessels of the fleet were found to require extensive repairs. I inclose you a copy of a drawing of the Brooklyn, made by one of her officers after the action; and an officer of the Hartford informed me that she was more seriously injured than the Brooklyn. I mention these facts to prove that the guns of the Tennessee were not idle during this unequal contest. For other details of the action and injuries sustained by the Tennessee, I refer you to the report of Commander J. D. Johnston, which has my approval. After I was carried below, unfortunately wounded, I had to be governed by the reports of that valuable officer as to the condition of the ship, and the necessity and time of her surrender; and when he represented to me her utterly hopeless condition to continue the fight with injury to the enemy and suggested