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Then a stand was made,
and Banks fell back to his old camping ground at Pleasant Hill. His
intention was to remain there, but his command was so disorganized that
he continued his flight. The Confederates had already chased them so
long that they were worn out, while Banks continued retreating until he
reached Grand Echore, where he breathed freely for the first time, since
he had the protection of the gunboats.

Disgraceful as was the overthrow of the land forces, a still greater
disaster threatened the fleet. Porter had gone further up the river, but
returned to Grand Echore upon learning of the defeat of Banks. He had to
sweep the shores continually with grapeshot, to clear it of the
Confederate sharpshooters, who succeeded in capturing two of the
transports and blowing up another with a torpedo. The Red River was low,
with the water falling hourly. The retreating army reached Alexandria on
the 27th of April, but the fleet was stopped by the shallowness of the
water above the falls, and the officers despaired of saving it. The only
possible recourse seemed to destroy all the vessels to prevent their
falling into the hands of the enemy.


HOW THE UNION FLEET WAS SAVED.

In this crisis, Colonel Joseph Bailey, of Wisconsin, submitted a plan
for a series of wing dams above the falls, believing they would raise
the water high enough to float all the vessels. The other engineers
scoffed at the project, but Porter placed 3,000 men and all that Bailey
needed at his command.

The task was a prodigious one, for the falls, as they were termed, were
a mile in length and it was necessary to swell the current sufficiently
to carry the vessels past the rocks for the whole distance. The large
force of men worked incessantly for nearly two weeks, by which time the
task was accomplished and the fleet plunged through unharmed to the
deeper water below the falls. The genius of a single man had saved the
Union fleet.

Banks, having retreated to Alexandria, paused only long enough to burn
the town, when he kept on to New Orleans, where some time later he was
relieved of his command. The Red River expedition was the crowning
disgrace of the year.


THE CAPTURE OF MOBILE.

After the fall of New Orleans, in April, 1862, Mobile was the leading
port of the Southern Confederacy. It was blockaded closely, but the
Confederate cruisers succeeded now and then in slipping in and out,
while a number of ironclads were in process of building, and threatened
to break the blockade. Admiral Farragut, the greatest naval hero of
modern times, after a careful reconnaissance of the defenses, told the
government that if it would provide him with a single ironclad, he
would capture Mobile. He was promised a strong land force under General
Granger and several monitors, which were sent to him.

Farragut, fully appreciating the task before him, made his preparations
with care and thoroughness. His fleet consisted of eighteen vessels,
four of which--the _Tecumseh_, _Winnebago_, _Manhattan_, and
_Chickasaw_--were ironclads, while the others were of wood. Admiral
Buchanan (commander of the _Merrimac_ in her first day's fight with the
_Monitor_) had less vessels, three gunboats, and the formidable ram
_Tennessee_. But he was assisted by three powerful forts, with large
garrisons--Gaines, Morgan, and Powell--which commanded the entrance,
while the _Tennessee_ was regarded by the Confederates as able to sink
the whole Union fleet.

[Illustration: BAILEY'S DAMS ON THE RED RIVER.]

The wooden vessels were lashed in couples, so as to give mutual help,
and with the _Brooklyn_ and _Hartford_ (Farragut's flagship) in the
lead, the procession entered Mobile Bay on the morning of August 5,
1864. As they came opposite the forts they opened fire upon them, and in
a few minutes the latter began their thunderous reply. The battle was
tremendous, and the smoke was so dense that Farragut, who was closely
watching and directing the action of the fleet, gradually climbed the
rigging, so as to place himself above the obstructing vapor. His height
was such that the captain of the vessel became anxious for his safety,
since if he was struck, as looked probable, he was sure to fall to the
deck or overboard. He, therefore, sent a man after him, with a rope in
hand. Amid the gentle remonstrances of the admiral, this man lashed him
fast to the rigging. When the increasing smoke made it necessary to
climb higher, Farragut untied the fastenings, and, after he had taken
several upward steps, tied himself again.

The harbor bristled with torpedoes, to which, however, Farragut and his
officers paid little heed. The _Tecumseh_, Commander T.A.M. Craven, was
hurrying to attack the ram _Tennessee_, when a gigantic torpedo exploded
beneath her, smashing in the bottom and causing her to sink so suddenly
that nearly a hundred men went down with her. The pilot and Craven were
in the pilot house, and, feeling the boat dropping beneath them, both
sprang to the narrow ladder leading out. They reached the foot together,
when the commander bowed and, pausing, said to the pilot: "You first,
sir." He had barely time to scramble out, when Captain Craven and the
rest went down.

The Union vessels pressed forward with such vigor that, with the
exception of the loss of the _Tecumseh_, the forts were passed without
the ships receiving serious injury. When, however, the battle seemed
won, the _Tennessee_ came out from under the guns of Fort Powell and
headed for the Union vessels. She believed herself invulnerable in her
massive iron hide, and selected the flagship as her special target. The
_Hartford_ partly dodged her blow and rammed her in return. The ram was
accompanied by three gunboats, which were soon driven out of action, but
the _Tennessee_ plunged here and there like some enraged monster driven
at bay, but which the guns and attacks of her assailants could not
conquer.

Tons of metal were hurled with inconceivable force against her mailed
sides, only to drop harmlessly into the water. She was butted and
rammed, and in each case it was like the rat gnawing a file: the injury
fell upon the assailant. She was so surrounded by her enemies that they
got in one another's way and caused mutual hurt.

But as continual dropping wears away stones, this incessant hammering
finally showed effect. Admiral Buchanan received a painful wound, and a
number of his men were killed; the steering-chains were broken, the
smoke-stack was carried away, the port shutters jammed, and finally the
wallowing "sea-hog" became unmanageable. Then the white flag was
displayed and the battle was over. Farragut had won his most memorable
battle, and the last important seaport of the Confederacy was gone.

Two days later Fort Gaines was captured, and Fort Morgan surrendered on
the 23d of the same month. The land force rendered valuable assistance,
and the blockade became more rigid. The coast line, however, was so
extensive that it was impossible to seal every port, and the Confederacy
obtained a good deal of sorely needed medical supplies through the
daring blockade-runners, which often managed to elude the watchful
fleets.

[Illustration: MONUMENT TO ADMIRAL FARRAGUT AT WASHINGTON.]

The Confederate cruisers were still roaming the ocean and creating
immense havoc among the Union shipping. Despite our protests to England,
she helped to man these vessels, and laid up a fine bill for damages
which she was compelled to pay after the close of the war.


THE CONFEDERATE CRUISERS.

During the year 1864, several new cruisers appeared on the ocean, one of
which, the _Tallahassee_, boldly steamed up and down off our northern
coast, and, in the space of ten days, destroyed thirty-three vessels.
The most famous of all these cruisers was the _Alabama_, which was built
at Birkenhead, England, and launched May 15, 1862. She was a bark-rigged
propeller of 1,016 tons register, with a length over all of 220 feet.
Her two horizontal engines were of 300 horse-power each. When
completed, she was sent on a pretended trial trip. At the Azores she
received her war material from a waiting transport, while her commander,
Captain Raphael Semmes, and his officers, who had gone thither on a
British steamer, went aboard. The _Alabama_ carried 8 guns and a crew of
149 men, most of whom were Englishmen. Thus fairly launched, she started
on her career of destruction, which continued uninterruptedly for
twenty-two months.


DESTRUCTION OF THE ALABAMA.

One of the many United States vessels that was engaged in a hunt for the
_Alabama_ was the _Kearsarge_, Captain John Ancrum Winslow. She was of
1,030 tons, carried 7 guns, and had a crew of 163 men, nearly all of
whom were Americans. On Sunday, July 12, 1864, while lying off the town
of Flushing, Holland, Captain Winslow received a dispatch from Minister
W.L. Dayton, at Paris, notifying him that the _Alabama_ had arrived at
Cherbourg, France. Winslow lost no time in steaming thither, and reached
Cherbourg on Tuesday, where he saw the cruiser across the breakwater
with the Confederate flag defiantly flying.

Winslow did not dare enter the harbor, for, had he done so, he would
have been obliged, according to international law, to remain twenty-four
hours after the departure of the _Alabama_, which would thereby gain all
the opportunity she needed for escape. He, therefore, took station off
the port, intending to wait until the cruiser came out.

This precaution, however, was unnecessary, for Semmes, grown bold by his
long career of destroying unarmed merchantmen, had resolved to offer the
_Kearsarge_ battle. He sent a challenge to Captain Winslow, couched in
insulting language, and the Union officer promptly accepted it.

The news of the impending battle was telegraphed far and wide, and
excursion trains were run from Paris and other points to Cherbourg. On
Sunday, June 19th, fully 15,000 people lined the shores and wharves, and
among them all it may be doubted whether there were more than a hundred
whose sympathies were not keenly on the side of the _Alabama_. France
was intensely in favor of the Southern Confederacy, and nothing would
have pleased Louis Napoleon, the emperor, better than to see our country
torn apart.



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