On almost every vessel, after the fight, the men were called aft, and publicly thanked by their respective Captains. On the ship “Bienville,” particular mention was made, and special thanks returned, in presence of the ship’s company, to William Henry Steele, a boy not fourteen years old, who conducted himself with distinguished bravery. He is a powder boy, and not only never flinched or dodged a shot, but when two men were killed at his gun, he did not turn pale, or cease for an instant his duties, but handed the cartridge he had in hand to the gunner, stepped carefully over the bodies, and hastened below for more ammunition.
The case of Thomas Jackson, coxswain of the “Wabash,” deserves notice. He was struck by a shot, or a splinter, which so nearly cut his leg off as to leave it hanging but by a small portion of the muscle and skin. Partially rising, and leaning painfully against a gun, Jackson glanced at his mangled limb, and in an instant perceived as hopeless condition. Feeling behind his back in his belt, where seamen always carry their knives, he drew his sheath-knife from its leather scabbard, and deliberately began to saw away at his leg; but the knife was dull, and he could not cut the limb off. As he was borne below by his mates, and afterwards, he asked continually how the fight was going, and kept saying, “I hope we’ll win it; I hope we’ll win.” In two hours he died, his last words being a wish for our victory in this battle, and a word of thanks that he had been able to do something for the honor of the “dear old flag.”
The enthusiasm of the soldiers for the blue-jackets, after the action, literally knew no bounds. Whenever a boat’s crew of men-of-war’s-men came alongside a transport, there was a rush to the side to catch a nearer view of a gallant sailors, and, if possible, to clasp a tarry hand; and whenever they appeared, the cheers were frantically loud, and long drawn out, and the brave Jacks were as happy and proud as men can be.
Originally posted 2008-11-14 12:45:22.