Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In the hurry and excitement of the war . . .

. . . but few of its heroic incidents find a chronicler.  In our interest in each new battle we forget the last; and, it is to be feared, too often seem to forget men who deserve the highest honors.  The name of Lieut. Morris, for example, the commander of the Cumberland, who, with a heroism, for a parallel of which we must search far, fought the Merrimac so long as a gun remained above water, and keeps is flag flying still, is not, as it should be, a household word wherever true courage is honored.  He has been thanked by the secretary of the Navy and by Congress, but that is all.  Another incident of that gallant fight has never so far as we have noticed, appeared in print.  When Gen. Mansfield saw the Cumberland sinking, he ordered the captain of a tug to put off from Newport News and go to the assistance of her crew.  The poor creature refused, pleading fear of losing his life.  Mansfield cocked his pistol and assured him that death was nearer him if he refused than if he went.  The captain was convinced by this reasoning.  No sooner had the noble tars, thus saved from a watery grave, touched land than, dripping and half-drowned as they were, they ran to the cannon which were lying upon the beach and not reflecting that six pounders are useless against an iron-mailed vessel of war, turned them upon the enemy.  Reading the future by the light of such noble spirits, can we doubt the issue of the war?  All our soldiers and sailors ask is an opportunity to show what manner of men they are. – N. Y. Tribune.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 2

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