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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 28, 1861

We have posted our collection of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspaper on the WEB to assist you in your studies and research of the war. These newspapers allow you to see the war unfold, and read the reactions of the people who were there at the time. We hope this effort serves as a valuable resource for your studies.

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Fort Snelling Minnesota

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SEPTEMBER 28, 1861.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

619

FORT SNELLING, MINNESOTA, RENDEZVOUS OF THE MINNESOTA VOLUNTEERS.—[SKETCHED BY W. J. WHITEFIELD.]

either by a night-breeze, or some ship with which we might act in concert, and so beat off this scoundrel, our doom must, in all human probability, be indeed a fearful one. But it was of no use to give way to despair ; and darkness having now closed in, we extinguished every light on board, even in the binnacle, and enforced the strictest silence fore and aft in the ship. I need not say there was no sleep for any of us that night. Anxiety had " murdered sleep," and none even attempted to " turn in." Long and drearily passed the feverish hours of that terrible night ; and by the first faint streak of dawning light every eye was strained to see if the pirate was still in sight. Alas ! a glance was sufficient. Not only was the pirate there, but another vessel with him, evidently the prize he had captured the night before.

Our nerves had been so overstrained for many hours, that some now began to show signs of wavering and despair; under the circumstances, therefore, I thought it better to order a good allowance of grog to be served out to the poor fellows, and keep them employed in exercising the guns, etc., as much as our small stock of powder would admit. Thus passed another wretched day of suspense and misery.

As evening was approaching, we saw the pirate again making use of her sweeps, and she advanced this time so close to us, that with the naked eye we could see her decks swarming with men, and a " long Tom" (or large swivel-gun) amid-ships. I at once ordered every man to his station, as we all

anticipated an immediate attack ; but, to our astonishment, after a deliberate survey, she went about, and swept back again to her prize. She evidently thought we were too well armed and prepared for an easy prey during daylight, so we once more set ourselves for our long and anxious night-watch.

The lights were once more extinguished, and I was pacing the poop with silent and sorrowful steps, when suddenly I felt a cool air fanning my cheek. Yes, truly, it was no delusion ; a breeze had sprung up at last! Thank God ! Instantly springing down upon deck, I gave orders to set every stitch upon her "below and aloft," and to trim the yards so as to feel the full benefit of the breeze. All was now bustle and activity ; and after altering our course, by the skipper's good advice, we once more heard the joyful ripple of the waters as they danced by the good ship's bows.

But our joy was short-lived, for just as we were congratulating ourselves on our deliverance, our destruction was almost accomplished.

I was standing on the lee-quarter, watching what progress our ship was making, when I distinctly heard a sound that sent my blood tingling to my very extremities, and almost paralyzed me. Muffled oars! from one, two, three different points! Merciful God protect us ! Silence was useless now, so I sprung among the crew, and shouting at the top of my voice, " Men, to your stations ; the enemy's boats are alongside !" I rushed to the gun on the larboard-side, and hurried old Joe and his comrades to the other, and with the crew about

equally divided between us, we silently awaited the attack, each of us being armed with a couple of cannon-balls in our hands. We had not long to wait, for, finding by the bustle on board that they were discovered, the pirates, with a yell, pulled boldly under the main channels, and in an instant were swarming up the ship's side. In another moment the savages would have been among us, but shouting to my men, "Let them have it, boys !" I hurled the heavy balls with all my strength into the boat, and prepared to defend myself with my sword. But the avalanche of cold iron had done its work, and the boat alongside was a mass of shattered timbers, with her ruffian crew already beaten down and struggling with the waters for their lives, except two fellows who were now in the rigging; a blow from my trusty sword disposed of one wretch, while a shot from one of our crew gave his quietus to the other.

Hearing a struggle on the starboard-side of the deck, I rushed over with my division, and I soon found we had enough and to spare still on our hands.

Old Joe and his party had given the other two boats much the same reception that our enemy had received, but not with such complete and smashing effect, for one of them appeared to have escaped damage altogether, and the other was only partially submerged, though fast sinking. The din of battle and the flash of small-arms were raging around us ; so, seeing that not a moment was to be lost, we let fly the old carronade, depressed to

the utmost, at the uninjured boat, which, from the cries and yells that succeeded the report, appeared to be so no longer. But in the mean time several of the pirates had succeeded in gaining the deck, and the darkness prevented our seeing the full extent of our danger; so retreating to the undischarged gun, we ran it in as quickly as possible, and slewed it round on to the ship's deck; we then threw a ball of blazing tow among the panic-stricken pirates, and gave them the contents of the old gun at only a few yards' distance, tearing our own bulwarks to pieces, but effectually exterminating the savages who had gained the deck.

Finding, on examination, that we were completely victorious, and sole masters of the deck; we had once more leisure to look around ; and great was our joy and gratitude to God when we found that the brigantine had not herself followed up the attack; trusting, I suppose, to the number in the boats, and confident of success, she still remained in the same position as when darkness closed in, for I could distinguish her lights from her masthead and main peak, intended as signals for the guidance of the pirates doomed never to return to her.

We dared not yet congratulate ourselves on being in safety, but squaring the yards we ran dead before the rapidly-increasing breeze for the rest of the night; but the morning broke dull and squally, and after one rapid glance around we came to the glorious certainty that our enemy was no longer in sight.

FORT PORTER, NEW YORK, WHERE THE SECOND BUFFALO REGIMENT IS QUARTERED.—SKETCHED BY A. R. BARTON.—[SEE PAGE 623]

Picture
Fort Porter, New York

 

 

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