War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0447 Chapter LI. OPERATIONS IN MOBILE BAY, ALA.

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bear, as it was impossible to change the position of the vessel and the steam was rapidly going down as a natural consequence of the loss of the smoke pipe. Feeling it my duty to inform you of the condition of the vessel I went to the berth-deck for this purpose, and after making my report asked if you did not think we had better surrender, to which you replied, "Do the best you can, and when all is done, surrender," or words to that effect. Upon my return to the gun-deck, I observed one of the heavies vessels of the enemy in the act of running into us on the port quarter, while the shot were fairly raining upon the after end of the shield, which was now so thoroughly shattered that in a few moments it would have fallen and exposed the gun-deck to a raking fire of shell and grape. Realizing our helpless condition at a glance, and conceiving that the ship was now nothing more than a target for the heavy guns of the enemy, I concluded that no good object could be accomplished by sacrificing the lives of the officers and men in such a one-sided contest, and therefore proceeded to the top of the shield and took down the ensign, which had been seized onto the handle of a gun scraper and stuck up through the grating. While in the act several shots passed close to me, and when I went below to order the engines to be stopped, the fire of the enemy was continued. I then decided, though with an almost bursting heart, to hoist the white flag; and returning again to the shield placed it in the spot where but a few moments before had floated the proud flag for whose honor I would so cheerfully have sacrificed my own life, if I could possibly have become the only victim, but at that time it would have been impossible to destroy the ship without the certain loss of many valuable lives, your own among the number.

It is with most heartfelt satisfaction that I bear testimony to the undaunted gallantry and cheerful alacrity with which the offices and men under my immediate command discharged all their duties; and to the executive officer, Lieutenant Bradford, it is due that I should commend the regular and rapid manner in which the battery was served in every particular. While a prisoner on board the Ossipee and since coming into this hospital, I have learned from personal observation and from other reliable sources of information, that the battery of the Tennessee inflicted more damage upon the enemy than that of Fort Morgan, although she was opposed by 187 guns of the heaviest caliber, in addition to the twelve 11 and 15 inch guns on board the monitors. The entire loss of the enemy, most of which is ascribed to the Tennessee, amounts to quite 300 in killed and wounded, exclusive of the 100 lost on the tecumseh, making a number almost as large as the entire force under your command in this unequal conflict. FIFTY-three shot-marks were found on the Tennessee, thirty-three of which had penetrated so far as to cause splinters to fly inboard, and the washers over the end of the bolts wounded several men.

With the greatest respect and esteem, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. D. JohnSTON,

Commander, Provisional Navy, C. S., late of the Tennessee.


Late Commanding Naval Defenses of Alabama.


Admiral F. Buchanan; Commander J. D. Johnston; First Lieutenant and Executive Officer William L. Bradford; Lieutenant A. D. Wharton; Lieutenant E. J. McDermett; Masters H. W. Perrin and J. R. Demahy; Fleet Surg.