Cool Courage Under Hot Fire
Clearly, a fight lay ahead in late July 1864, and Commander J. R. Madison Mullany keenly desired to take part in it. Commanding the sidewheeler Bienville, one of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron's ships, Mullany offered his services to its commander, Rear Admiral David G. Farragut. If Farragut's ships were to battle their way past the forts standing sentinel to Mobile Bay, he wanted to be there.
Farragut offered the eager volunteer, a 32-year Navy veteran, the monitor Winnebago, but Mullany, reluctant to command a type of vessel with which he had no familiarity, suggested that he exchange ships with Commander Thomas H. Stevens, a friend of long standing. Stevens, who had commanded the Monitor and now had the three-masted screw sloop Oneida, agreed to take the Winnebago. Consequently, Farragut ordered Mullany to the Oneida on 2 August, and Stevens went to the Winnebago.