The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

23
A Run Through the Southern States

An English Officer

Whilst at Mobile, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Admiral Buchanan, who commanded the Merrimac in her combat with the Monitor. He was formerly an officer of the United States Navy, but on the war breaking out he joined the Southern cause; and having done good service in the James Biver, received the naval command of Mobile. He was severely wounded in the battle between the Merrimac and Monitor. The failure of the Merrimac to run down the Monitor is accounted for by the fact that her ram was broken in her previous attack on the Congress.

Admiral Buchanan kindly invited me to form one in an expedition down the bay to visit the Ovieto or Florida, lying about fifteen miles from Mobile. It was a beautiful bright day when we left the quay, in a small river steamer, our party consisting of one of the generals in command, a few officers, and several of the ladies of Mobile. These, like their sisters elsewhere, are most zealous in the cause of the Confederacy, and their zeal is shown not only in words, for they sacrifice man, of their comforts, and, without murmuring, willingly put up with the serious inconvenience caused by the blockade. Gloves and ladies' shoes are very scarce articles; and it was said that one ship, which was endeavoring to run the blockade laden with crinolines, was ruthlessly captured by the federal cruisers. Can such barbarity be true! Still, somehow or other, ladies always contrive to dress nicely and look well, and the ladies of Mobile were no exception to the rule. We steamed through the narrow and winding channel which affords the only access to the actual port of Mobile, passing two or three iron-clad river steamers, either lying off the quay, or else on the stocks. We left to our right a battery on the shore, and arrived at a boom thrown across the entrance of the fort, under fire of some newly constructed forts on small islands, and of the shore batteries, which are concealed from view by thick forest. Through this intricate navigation, and under fire of these formidable batteries, would the invading fleet have to approach Mobile after having passed the forts which guard the entrance to the harbor. The channel also, even at the

The Record of News, History, and Literature ( Richmond, July 30, 1863).

-313-

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