Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/149

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tun <>/ //-/ 1'inlti-irriter. 141

Tlu-v tell back under the hurricane deck before the steady attack of our men, and at that time I hoard the rhrrrs and rush of our com- rades from forward, and I knew we had them. They came along from forward with cutla^si-s and muskets they had found, clubbing and slashing. In a short time I heard the cry: " We surrender."

They could not stand the force and moral effect of an attack like that, and mm-mber, they were not Spaniards we were fighting.

Wood gave the order to cease firing, and after a brief consultation with your speaker, we ordered the two firemen we had with us to go down into the engine and fire room to see if they could get her under weigh, and take her up the river, where we might put her in shape, and, as she was the largest vessel at New Bern, we would have tem- porary command of the river. It was in the fight on the forward deck that the intrepid young Palmer Saunders gave up his life for his country. He attacked a stalwart sailor with his cutlass and killed him, but had his head split open and a shot in his side. I wish I could relate the deeds of individual prowess and gallantry, but in such a melee as that, one has all he can do to keep on his feet and look out for himself.

We found the fires banked and not steam enough to turn the wheels over. At this juncture Fort Stevens opened fire upon our vessel, regardless of their own people. One shell struck part of her lever beam, went through a hen coop near where the marines were drawn up, and passed through her side. Upon further consultation we decided to burn her, and gave the order to man the boats, taking special care of our own and the enemy's wounded and our dead, and all prisoners we could get hold of.

I thought it very strange that the captain of the vessel could not be found, but, upon inquiry among his men, we learned that he had been wounded in the leg and had jumped overboard. He was drowned.

Poor Palmer Saunders was carefully placed in a blanket and lain in the bow of my boat, where he could be better supported than aft. He was breathing, but entirely unconscious. Of course, some of the men missed their boats, as nobody stood upon the order of his going in the face of the firing from those forts.

After seeing all the boats under my charge get away, we shoved off and pulled off from the ship. The duty of setting fire to the Underwriter had been assigned to Lieutenant Hoge, of Wheeling, a talented young officer of fine attainments and undaunted courage. When we had gotten half mile from the ship, Wood pulled up