Numbers 17. Report of Admiral Franklin Buchanan, C. S. Navy.
U. S. NAVAL HOSPITAL,
Pensacola, August 26, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that the enemy's fleet, under Admiral Farragut, consisting of fourteen steamers and four monitors, passed Fort Morgan on the 5th instant, about 6. 30 a. m., in the following order, and stood into Mobile Bay: The four monitors-Tecumseh and Manhattan, each carrying two 15-inch guns, the Winnebago and Chickasaw, each carrying four 11-inch guns-in a single line ahead, about half a mile from the fort; the fourteen steamers-Brooklyn, of 26; Octorara, 10; Hartford, 28; Metacomet, 10; Richmond,24; Port Royal, 8; Lackawanna, 14; Seminole, 9; Monongahela, 12; Kennebec, 5; Ossippe, 13; Itasca, 4; Oneida, 10, and Galena, 14 guns-in a double line ahead, each two lashed together, the side-wheel steamers off shore, all about one-quarter of a mile from the monitors, carrying in all 199 guns and 2,700 men. When they were discovered standing into the channel, signal was made to the Mobile squadron, under my command, consisting of the wooden gun-boats Morgan and Gaines, each carrying 6 guns, and Selma, 4, to "follow my motions" in the ram Tennessee, of 6 guns, in all 22 guns and 470 men. All were soon under way and stood toward the enemy in a line abreast. As the Tennessee approached the fleet, when opposite the fort, we opened our battery at short range upon the leading ship, the admiral's flag-ship Hartford, and made the attempt to run into her, but owing to her superior speed, our attempt was frustrated. We then stood toward the next heavy ship, the Brooklyn, with the same view; she also avoided us by her superior speed. During this time the gun-boats were also closely engaged with the enemy. All our guns were used to the greatest advantage, and we succeeded in seriously damaging many of the enemy's vessels. The Selma and Gaines, under Lieutenant Commanders P. U. Murphy and J. W. Bennett, fought gallantly, and I was gratified to hear from officers of the enemy's fleet that their fire was very destructive. The Gaines was fought until she was found to be in a sinking condition, when she was run on shore near Fort Morgan. Lieutenant-Commander Murphy was closely engaged with the metacomet, assisted by the Morgan, Commander G. W. Harrison, who during the conflict deserted him, when, upon the approach of another large steamer, the Selma surrendered. I refer you to the report of Lieutenant-Commander Murphy for the particulars of his action; he lost two promising young officers, Lieutenant Comstock and Master's Mate Murray, and a number of his men were killed and wounded, and he was also wounded severely in the wrist. Commander Harrison will no doubt report to the Department his reason for leaving the Selma in that contest with the enemy, as the Morgan was uninjured. His conduct is severely commented on by the officers of the enemy's fleet, much to the injury of that officer and the navy. Soon after the gun-boats were dispersed by the overwhelming superiority of force, and the enemy's fleet had anchored about four miles above Fort Morgan, we stood for them again in the Tennessee and renewed the attack with the hope of sinking some of them with our prow; again we were foiled by their superior speed in avoiding us. The engagement with the whole fleet soon became general at very close quarters, and lasted about an hour; and notwithstanding the serious injury inflicted upon many of their vessels by our guns, we could not sink them. Fre-