117 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
While the Queen of the West had been doing such splendid service, the Monarch followed in her wake, and did just what the Queen had at first tried to do - struck the General Beauregard a tremendous blow amidships, completely disabling her. She managed to reach the Arkansas shore in some way, when she went down in fifteen feet water. Her crew escaped in the woods. Before being struck by the Monarch, the Beauregard had been raked fore and aft by our guns and was badly riddled. The next victim of the rebel flotilla, which had by this time fallen down the stream as far as Beale street, was the General Lovell. A fifty-pound shot, fired by Captain Phelps of the Benton, struck her just below her water line, and caused her to sink in eighty feet water three minutes after.
The scene on the Lovell after she was struck was painful in the extreme. The crew stood by her, because they were afraid of the mighty river, until the water put out her fires and filled the boat with steam, scalding many of them badly, when all leaped into the stream. For a few minutes the surface of the water was covered with these unfortunate and misguided creatures, struggling for their lives.
HEROIC CONDUCT OF A BOAT'S CREW FROM THE BENTON.
And here looms up a picture of genuine chivalry and heroism, which should make the cheeks of our Southern defamers tingle with shame. A boat was promptly lowered from the Benton, and started for the scene to receive the drowning men. A minute before our gallant tars had poured shot and shell into them without mercy, for they were enemies then, and on an equality; but now they were helpless, and everything was forgotten save the dictates of humanity. In the hurry of the moment the boat was partially swamped, and two of our men narrowly escaped drowning; but matters were soon righted, and a few hasty strokes of the oars brought them to where the Lovell had just gone down, down in the seething current, causing the water to whirl like a maelstrom over the forever obscured wreck. Quite a number of persons were rescued by the gallant boat's crew, some of them bleached whiter by the steam than their souls could ever have been washed if they had not speedily repented; but the majority of them were swept away and drowned. Among those known to be lost was her commander, Captain William Cabell, an old and well known river man.
PRECIPITATE RETREAT OF THE REMAINDER OF THE REBEL FLEET.
It is almost needless to say that ere this the enemy were rapidly retreating. Our boats, which had gone into the engagement stern foremost, because they were better prepared in that quarter to sustain butting from the opposing rams, (all the rebel boats, I have neglected to say, were also rams,) had long since turned round, giving the enemy broadsides as they swung, and were now pursuing them, head on. After the Lovell went down, it was most emphatically a running fight.
The Little Rebel, finding it impossible to escape, was run ashore on the Arkansas side, the crew taking to their heels. A few shells were sent after them, but these rebels can run nearly as well as the Virginians, and I do not think velocity enough could be given to any ball to overtake an F. F. V. when once fairly under way, so it is more than probable that all escaped.
Intro Previous Next ToC Index