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Benjamin Drummond - The First Patient

USS Morning Light - Reports of Capture

Report dated, April 12, 1864, by John W. Sherfy, U. S. Navy, Surgeon of the U. S. Morning Light when it was captured by Confederate "Cotton-Clad" steamers, to Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy (Page 2 of 5). This report is in Volume 19 of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.

Report dated April 12, 1864, by John W. Sherfy, U. S. Navy, Surgeon of the U. S. Morning Light  when it was captured by Confederate Cotton-Clad steamers, to Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.  This report is in Volume 19 of the Official Records of the Union andConfederate Navies in the War  of the Rebellion.

(This report is continued from page 558) Light, the schooner Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Hooper, and the schooner Velocity, Acting Master Hammond, had been threatened for several weeks. The two schooners, previously stationed in the bay, near Sabine City, had come outside the bar to obtain a better position in the event of an engagement. A few days before this occurred the Rachel Seaman had, pursuant to orders from Commodore Bell, at Glveston, gone to Pensacola for repairs.

Knowing the defenselessness of sailing vessels against equally well-armed steamers, Captain Dillingham had made urgent applications for the addition of a steam gunboat to the force at Sabine, and also for a pivot gun for his own vessel, neither of which could be obtained. These applications had been made before the departure of the Rachel Seaman.

Early in the evening of the 20th the enemy's vessels were seen to come down the bay and anchor near the city. Apprehensive of an attack that night, every precaution was made for defense. There was at that time a dead calm. At dark, Captain Dillingham made sail and ordered the Velocity to do the same, to obtain, if possible, an offing more favorable for maneuvering the ship should the attack be delayed until morning. The calm continued all night with scarcely a perceptible breeze and the vessels merely drifted with the current a few miles down the coast, the Velocity coming to anchor early, not being able to control her course with the helm, and fearing she might drift near the shore.

About 6:30 o'clock on the morning of the 21st the enemy were seen coming seaward. A very light wind prevailed and the Velocity was signaled to come up and keep near the ship, which awaited her approach, when all sail was made and we stood out to sea.

The enemy's force consisted of two cotton-clads, of the very best construction, the steamboat Josiah Bell, with two 24-pound field-pieces, and the Uncle Ben, with a 68-pound rifle, each vessel carrying a crew of 250 men.

At 8:30 o'clock they got in range with their rifle, firing at short intervals, but doing us little damage for a while. At 9 o'clock they began with their light guns and we replied, giving them alternately the port and starboard broadsides as rapidly as the ship could be worked.

Thus the engagement continued for nearly two hours, when the enemy opened on us a severe fire from their small arms. About this time a shell from their rifle exploded on our forward port gun, dismounting it, killing 1 man and wounding nearly the entire gun's crew. It was impossible for the men to remain at the guns under the galling fire from the enemy's sharpshooters. They had come within close range upon our port and starboard quarters, and from their elevated position completely swept our decks. An effort was now made to train the two aft guns upon the enemy and fire through the cabin, but as it was impossible to get such a bearing as would offer a reasonable chance of inflicting any damage, and the men were now all driven from the other guns, the commander, deeming further resistence useless, reluctantly determined to surrender, and our flag was hauled down.

The ship was completely riddled in her upper works and of 5 boats 4 were entirely destroyed. One man was instantly killed, 1 fatally and 5 severly wounded, and a large number received slight injuried (This report is continued on page 560)

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Last updated November 9, 2008