Page 270

THE NAVY IN THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN

of movement with which Rodgers placed the Galena, as if at target practice, directly under the enemy's fire. In the words of the officer already quoted, "It was one of the most masterly pieces of seamanship of the whole war."

In this position the Galena remained for three hours and twenty minutes until she had expended all her ammunition. She came out of the action badly shattered, having been struck 28 times and perforated in 18 places. The Monitor passed for a short time above the Galena, but being unable to elevate her guns sufficiently to reach the bluff, she again dropped below. The wooden vessels cooperated as far as possible, but of course could not accomplish much. The attack made it clear that the obstructions could not be passed without first reducing the fort, and that the fort could not be reduced without the cooperation of the army. Not withstanding the vital importance of such a movement, seeing that Fort Darling was the only obstacle to the direct passage up the river to Richmond, and that a small force would have sufficed to accomplish the work, nothing was done by General McClellan, According to Goldsborough's testimony, he went in person to the White House to see McClellan, and, showing him Rodgers's report of the fight, offered the cooperation of the squadron, if McClellan would make the attack with a land force. "General McClellan," he adds, "replied to me that he would prefer to defer his answer until he got his army on the other side of the Chickahominy." On the 17th of May, Flag-Officer Goldsborough, in the Susquehanna, with the Wachusett, Dacotah, and Maratanza, had destroyed the two abandoned batteries of the enemy at Rock Wharf and Hardin's Bluff. All this time, and during the campaign, James River was open to Fort Darling.

On the 18th of May, Commander William Smith arrived at City Point in the Wachusett, and relieved Rodgers of the command, being the senior officer. The force was gradually increased, and in June comprised, in addition to the vessels already mentka, Jacob Bell, Southfield, Maratanza, Stepping Stones, and Delaware. Commander Gillis shortly after relieved Smith, Occasional attacks were made upon passing gun-boats by field-batteries of the Confederates stationed along the river-banks. The difficulties of the channel and the unprotected character of the vessels rendered them liable to serious injury from such attacks, and the Jacob Bell, under Lieutenant McCrea, narrowly escaped severe loss at Watkin's Bluff on the 21st of June. On the 27th, a demonstration was made up the Appomattox, but nothing was accomplished, the channel proving to be too shoal for successful operations.

On the 29th, McClellan's retreating army opened communication with Rodgers, who now commanded the vessels in the James River. Little change had taken place in the composition of the force since the 1st of June, the Wachusett only having left the squadron, and the Satellite having joined it. The gun-boats rendered efficient assistance to the army, especially in the battle at Malvern Hill on the 1st of July. By the 4th of July, McClellan's position was comparatively secure.

On July 6th, the James River flotilla was organized as a separate command under Captain John Wilkes, and so remained, until disbanded, on August 31st, the withdrawal of the army rendering its presence no longer necessary.