Not a man was lost by straggling, and I brought up the wounded. The dead were buried on the afternoon of the 5th in the fort's burial ground. We had only 2 killed and 3 wounded. The surgeon's report* of casualties I herewith inclose.
While running the gauntlet up the bay I became apprehensive of capture or of being forced to land and make a march to Mobile. the Morgan was being chased by the enemy, as I knew it was her intention to pass near the eastern shore, and could see her approach us. I feared she might lead the enemy upon the boats. Under these circumstances I deemed it prudent to drop the signal boat into the sea. I did so. The officers and crew of the Gaines for about ten or fifteen minutes were subjected to a very heavy fire from the enemy at short distance, and I am proud to say stood it with great gallantry. There were two or three exceptional cases only.
Without casting censure upon any by my silence, I cannot withhold the expression of my thanks to Lieutenant Payne, Passed Assistant Surgeon Iglehart, Second Assistant Engineer Debois, Gunner Offutt, and Paymaster's Clerk Wilson (in charge of the supply of shells to after DIVISION) for their examples of coolness and gallantry under the trying circumstances of this combat against an overwhelming force, and the influence it must have had among the crew, most of whom had never before been in action. Frequent interviews with these officers caused me to regard them with admiration.
The ship received seventeen shots in her hull and smoke-stack. Of these only two can be said to have caused her any distress-that which caused the leak and the cutting of the wheel ropes.
As is usual and proper when a ship is lost, I beg the Department to order a court of inquiry to investigate the causes which led to the abandoning of the Gaines.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. BENNETT,
Honorable S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy, Richmond.
C. S. STEAMER NASHVILLE,
Mobile, December 23, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to inclose the reports+ of Gunner Offutt, late of the Gaines, setting forth a statement in connection with the injuries received by the Gaines in action off Fort Morgan, and of which I have had no knowledge until communicated to me yesterday in conversation. Of course no mention was made of it in my report to the Department of August 8, 1864. Gunner Offutt states that in addition to the flooding of the magazine from the break under the port quarter, which was beyond our control, he marked another of similar character on the starboard side nearly opposite the first, and through which the water entered the magazine in even greater volume. He marks the time as nearly coincident with the cutting away the bulk-head to allow the flow of water to the steam pumps. If this is correct it was after I had turned the ship's head from the enemy to examine damage already received, and if beyond repair to seek shoal water. At no other time
+See p. 455.