MOBILE HARBOR BY ADMIRAL FARRAGUT
The vessels outside the bar, which were designed to participate in the engagement, were all under way by forty minutes past five in the morning (August 5), two abreast, and lashed together. The ironclads were already inside the bar, and had been ordered to take up their positions on the star-board side of the wooden ships, or between them and Fort Morgan, for the double purpose of keeping down the fire from the water battery and the parapet guns of the fort, as well as to attack the Ram Tennessee as soon as the fort was passed. . . .
The attacking fleet steamed steadily up the main ship-channel, the Tecumseh firing the first shot at forty-seven minutes past six o'clock. At six minutes past seven the fort opened upon us, and was replied to by a gun from the Brooklyn, and immediately after the action became general. It was soon apparent that there was some difficulty ahead.
The Brooklyn, for some cause which I did not then clearly understand, arrested the advance of the whole fleet, while, at the same time, the guns of the fort were playing with great effect upon that vessel and the Hartford. A moment after I saw the Tecunselt, struck by a torpedo, disappear almost instantaneously beneath the waves, carrying with her gallant commander and nearly all her crew. I determined at once, as I had originally intended, to take the lead; and after ordering the Metacoinet to send a boat to save, if possible, any of the perishing crew, I dashed ahead with the Hartford, and the ships followed on, their officers believing that they were going to a noble death with their commander-in-chief.
I steamed through between the buoys, where the torpedoes were supposed to have been sunk. These buoys had been previously examined by my flag Lieutenant, J. Crittenden Watson, in several nightly reconnaissance's. Though he had not been able to discover the sunken torpedoes, yet we had been assured by refugees, deserters, and others, of their existence, but believing that, from their having been some time in the water they were probably innocuous, I determined to take the chance of their explosion. From the moment I turned to the northwestward, to clear the middle ground, we were enabled to keep such a broadside fire upon the batteries of Fort Morgan that their guns did us comparatively little injury. .
Having passed the fort and dispersed the enemy's gunboats, I had ordered most of the vessels to anchor, when I perceived the ram Tennessee standing up for this ship. This was at forty-five minutes past eight. I was not long in comprehending his intentions to be the destruction of the flagship. The monitors, and such of the wooden vessels as I thought best adapted for the purpose, were immediately ordered to attack the ram, not only with their guns, but bows on at full speed, and then began one of the fiercest naval combats on record.
Monongahela, Commander Strong, was the first vessel that struck her, and in doing so carried away
his own prow, together with the cutwater, without apparently doing her adversary much injury. 'The Lackawanna, Captain Marchand, was the next vessel to strike her, which she did at full speed; but though her stem was cut and crushed to the plank ends for the distance of three feet above the water's edge to five feet below, the only perceptible effect on the ram was to give her a heavy list.
The Hartford was the third vessel which struck her, but, as the Tennessee quickly shifted her helm, the blow was a glancing one, and as she rasped along our side, we poured our whole port broadside of nine-inch solid shot within ten feet of her casement. The monitors worked slowly, but delivered their fire as opportunity offered. The Chickasaw succeeded in getting under her stern, and a fifteen-inch shot from the Manhattan broke through her iron plating and heavy wooden backing though the missile itself did not enter the vessel.
Immediately after the collision with the flagship, I directed Captain Drayton to bear down for the ram again. He was doing so at full speed when, unfortunately, the Lackawanna ran into the Hartford just forward of the mizzen-mast, cutting her down to within two feet of the water's edge. We soon got clear again, however, and were fast approaching our adversary, when she struck her colors and ran up the white flag.
She was at this time sore beset; the Chickasaw was pounding away at her stern, the Ossipee was approaching her at full speed, and the Monongahela, Lackawanna, and this ship were beanng down upon her, determined upon her destruction. Her smoke-stack had been shot away, her steering chains were gone, compelling a resort to her relieving tackles, and several of her port shutters were jammed. Indeed, from the time the Hartford struck her, until her surrender, she never fired a gun. As the Ossipee, Commander Le Roy, was about to strike her, she hoisted the white flag, and the vessel immediately stopt her engine, tho not in time to avoid a glancing blow.
As I had an elevated position in the main rigging near the top, I was able to overlook not only the deck of the Hartford, but the other vessels.