Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/82

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76 Southern Historical Society Papers.

rigid, awaited their fate. Captain Johnson then shouted out : " We are all right ! They can never run us under now ! As he spoke the leading vessel had struck against our " overhang" with tremendous impact ; had shivered its iron prow in the clash, but only succeeded in whirling the Tennessee around, as if it were swung on a pivot.

I was sitting on the combing of the hatch, having nothing to do as yet, a close observer, as each vessel in turn struck us. At the moment of impact they slid alongside of us, and our black wales came in contact. At a distance of ten feet they poured their broad- sides of twenty eleven-inch guns into us. This continued for more than an hour, and as each vessel "rammed" the Tennessee and slid alongside, they followed, discharging their broadsides fast and furious, so that the noise was one continuous, deafening roar. You could only hear voices when spoken close to the ear, and the reverberation was so great that bleeding at the nose was not infrequent.

Soon the wounded began to pour down to me. Stripped to their waists, the white skins of men exhibited curious dark-blue elevations and hard spots. Cutting down to these, I found that unburnt cubes of cannon powder, that had poured into the ports, had perforated the flesh and made these great blue ridges under the skin. Their sufferings were very severe, for it was as if they had been shot with red-hot bullets ; but no serious effects followed.

Now all the wooden vessels, disabled and their prows broken off, anchored in succession some half a mile away. Then Admiral Far- ragut signaled to the monitors: " Destroy the ram!" Soon these three grim monsters, at thirty yards distance, took their position on each quarter of the Tennessee, as she had laid nearly motionless, her rudder having been shot away with grape iu the fight. We knew that we were hopelessly disabled, and that victory was impossible, as all we could do was to move around very slowly in a circle, and the only chance left to us was to crawl under the shelter of Fort Morgan.

For an hour and a half the monitors pounded us with solid shot, fired with a charge of sixty pounds of powder from their eleven-inch guns, determined to crush in the shield of the Tennessee, as thirty pounds of powder was the regulation amount. In the midst of this continuous pounding, the port-shutter of one of our guns was jammed by a shot, so that it could neither open nor shut, making it impossible to work the piece. The admiral then sent for some of the firemen from below, to drive the bolt outward. Four men came up, and two of them holding the bolt back, the others struck it with sledge-hammers. While they were thus standing there, suddenly