Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/78

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72 Southern Historical Society Papers.

[From the Winchester Times, November 26, 1890.]

Capture of the C. S. Ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, August, 1864.

BY DR. DANIEL B. CONRAD, FLEET SURGEON, C. S. NAVY.

KANSAS CITY, Mo., November, 1890.

We had been lying idly in Mobile bay for many months, on board the iron-clad ram Tennessee, whose fighting deck differed materially from that of the Federal monitors.

It resembled the inside of the hip-roof of a house, rather than the "cheese-box" of Ericsson's Monitor. On the ist of August, 1864, we saw a decided increase in the Federal fleet, which was then listlessly at anchor outside of Fort Morgan, in the Gulf of Mexico, consisting of eight or ten wooden frigates, all stripped to a "girt line" and clean for action; their topmasts sent down on deck and devoid of everything that seemed like extra rigging. They appeared like "prizefighters" ready for the "ring." Then we knew that trouble was ahead, and wondered to ourselves why they did not enter the bay any day. On the 3d of August we noticed another accre- tion to the already formidable fleet ; this was four strange-looking, long, black monsters the new ironclads and they were what the Federals had been so anxiously waiting for. At the distance of four miles their lengthy dark lines could only be distinguished from the sea on which they sat motionless, by the continuous volume of thick smoke issuing from their low smokestacks, which appeared to come out of the ocean itself. These curious-looking crafts made their advent on the evening of the 4th of August, and then we knew that the "guage of battle" was offered.

We had been very uncomfortable for many weeks in our berths on board the Tennessee, in consequence of the prevailing heavy rains wetting the decks, and the terrible moist, hot atmosphere, simulating that oppressiveness which precedes a tornado. It was, therefore, impossible to sleep inside; besides, from the want of properly-cooked food, and the continuous wetting of the decks at night, the officers and the men were rendered desperate. We knew that the impending action would soon be determined one way or the other, and every one looked forward to it with a positive feeling of relief.