A Naval Commander's Heroism
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
COMMANDER CRAVEN came of a famous fighting race, and by his many acts of gallantry, combined with a highly chivalrous character, had earned through the service, the sobriquet of the " Sidney of the American Navy." By his heroic death, he emphatically proved his right to the title by which he will for all time be known.
In 1864, he was in command of the monitor, Tecumseh, and on August 5th, of that year, when Farragut made his famous attack on the defenses in Mobile Bay, Craven was given the honor, and the danger, of leading the fleet into battle.
Mobile Bay was, at the time, thickly planted with torpedoes by the Con-federates, and while Craven was endeavoring to attack the ram Tennessee, his vessel struck one of these explosives, and a huge rent was made in her hull, which sent her quickly to the bottom.
As she began rapidly to sink, the crew rushed up on deck, all knowing full well that there was not a minute to spare. As Craven sprang toward the turret stairs to escape, he met his pilot at the foot ; there was only room for one ; both knew that he who went up might be saved ; but the other was doomed. With that respect for discipline, so strong in the navy under every circumstance, the pilot gave way to his commander, but Craven imperatively ordered him to ascend, saying, " After you, pilot."
The pilot just managed to reach the deck, when the vessel plunged underneath the waves, carrying with her her gallant commander. Such a story of heroism makes one think more of his race, and has a tendency to lift the human heart out of the dull treadmill of materialism into the higher altitude of noble thought and tender sentiment. Such unselfishness and sacrifice reminds us of the Spotless One, who died that we might live, who saved others but could not save Himself. The competitions, strifes, the bitter contests; the envies, the jealousies, the revenges that make up so large a part of the average earthly life, are rebuked by the acts of such men as Commander Craven, and by the example and commands of Our Blessed Divine Master.