Thursday, May 23, 2013

Navy Pilot James G. Taylor, Civil War.

U. S. S. New London,
Off Saline Pass, Tex., April 18, 1863.

Sir: Having sent in boats several times of late to take observations, and the result of the same seeming to show that the enemy was in small force at Sabine City, I concluded this morning to take a final observation in person, preparatory to making an attempt to cut out the steam boats lying at the town. My object was to ascertain the positions of the steamers as to each other and their situation as to their probable relief from the troops in the town in case 1 should make an attack. I took a boat's crew of five, together with James G. Taylor, pilot, and at half past 9 o'clock this morning started to go in. Lieutenant-Commander D. A. McDermut, of the gunboat Cayuga, with a boat's crew, accompanied me. We directed our course toward the light-house, where our former expeditions have landed without molestation.

The light-house is situated upon the Louisiana side of the pass and about 4 miles from Sabine City. It stands upon an open piece of  ground, affording no place of concealment for an enemy excepting the light-house and keeper's house, and with proper precaution is considered a safe place to land.

Captain McDermut landed on the beach about a quarter of a mile nearer the light-house than myself, and he and his men went directly toward the light-house and keeper's house. I landed, and with three
of my men was walking along the beach under partial cover of a low ridge, the others, with the pilot, remaining in the boat to bring it around the point.

As Captain McDermut approached the light-house a party of the enemy, numbering between 60 and 70, suddenly made their appearance from behind the light keeper's house and took three of the
Cayuga's boat's crew prisoners at once. The enemy commenced firing.  We commenced retreating to our boats and succeeded in reaching them, but they were in shallow water and mud. The New London's crew were ordered to jump in the water and to try to shove it into deeper water, which was done. Captain McDermut and two of his men were in his boat, and when we were about 10 yards from him I saw him standing up and waving his white handkerchief to surrender, probably thinking that further attempt at escape was useless. The enemy then directed their fire upon the boat of the Wen London, pouring in volley after volley of rifle balls and buckshot. We returned the fire as efficiently as we could and succeeded in bringing off our boat, though in a crippled condition, and but one man in it was uninjured. Considering the murderous fire to which we were exposed and the over-whelming number of the enemy in comparison with our own, our escape is almost miraculous. The boat was completely riddled.

Lieutenant-Commander McDermut and his boat's crew are in the hands of the enemy.

I can not omit calling the attention of the Department to the efficient service rendered in this and all our other boat expeditions by James G. Taylor, pilot. Though severely wounded in two places, he kept firing at the enemy with good effect. I can not forbear mentioning the bravery and intrepidity of my boat's crew, all of whom, with one exception, were wounded, but who never the less brought the boat off to the vessel. 1 would particularly mention Gabriel Chalapas, ordinary seaman, who, notwithstanding a most severe and painful wound in the foot, kept his place at the oar from the time we left the beach until we reached the vessel.

1 herewith transmit the report of casualties by Acting Assistant
Surgeon L. H. Kendall.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. Kead,
Lieutenant- Commander.

Authors note.  James G. Taylor, pilot; gunshot wounds of the hip, scrotum, and thigh; serious.

No comments: