His terrific engagement while commanding the Confederate steamer "Albemarie" with the Federal fleet, and clearing the Sound and the Roanoke river, after the capture of Plymouth by General Robert F. Hoke, who was so ably seconded by General M. W. Ransom, was a feat unparalleled in the annals of our naval warfare. Never before had the size of such guns and the weight of their crushing missiles been directed against any single vessel. Yet she struggled through it, having had the misfortune to have carried away one-half of one of the two guns she took into the action. She was literally loaded down by the enemy's shot, and in this condition had to fight to the end, until she gained a port of refuge.
During the perilous ordeal, Captain Cook was calm and collected; no excitement marked his conduct. Quietly did he give his orders, and his men partaking his spirit, promptly and quietly obeyed.
Captain Cook was as modest in his deportment as he was brave and fearless in action. Had such an exploit occurred under the English flag, Cook would have ranked with the Nelsons and Wellingtons of his age; but, as it is, he sinks into obscurity, forgotten, almost, by his native State, upon which he shed such imperishable honor. He was then in very delicate health and after this terrible conflict, never completely recovered again. Soon after this battle his brave spirit winged its flight from the bosom of his family, in Portsmouth, Virginia, to join the spirits of his gallant comrades that had gone before him, where merit is rewarded, and not success alone, as in this vale of sorrows.
Charles Frederick Tayloe, son of Colonel Joshua Tayloe, who represented Beanfort County, in 1844, in the Senate of the State Legislature, should not be forgotten. His short and eventful life, his chivalric and daring character, and his tragic end, make his history interesting.
He was born in October, 1828, near the sea, (his father being for years collector of customs at Ocracock Inlet,) and possessed naturally a love for the ocean, which became the ruling passion of his life, and eventually his grave.
At the early age of 16, he left home on his first voyage, and in 1848, he shipped as an ordinary sailor before the mast, on the United States steamer "Oregon," on a voyage from New York to San Francisco, via Cape Horn. His diligence, attention, and good conduct, were so marked that he was make first officer of the ship "Columbia," on the dangerous and then unknown coast of Oregon. When some days at sea, the ship was discovered to be on fire. She had on board 400 troops, under the command of General Wool. The coolness, intrepidity, and energy of young Tayloe, on this perilous occasion, contributed greatly to the saving of the ship, passengers and crew. This was expressed in the grateful thanks of the passengers by resolutions.
On his return to San Francisco, the war in Nicaragua was found to be the exciting question of the day, and offered allurement to the daring. He tendered his services to General Walker, and was assigned to the command of the fleet of steamers and gunboats on the Lake of Nicaragua. He more readily engaged in this expedition of "the gray-eyed man of destiny," since his younger brother, James, was an officer in Walker's army, and had borne a conspicuous part in many desperate battles from the breaking out of the war. It was then and here that I formed the acquaintance of these two gallant young men. I was at this time the Minister Resident of the United States near the Republic of Nicaragua, and I was much pleased with their modest and intelligent conduct. James fell in battle in the desperate endeavor to raise the seige of Grenada, thus relieving General Henningsen
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