Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Maine Sailor Died Down South on a River: William L. Heard

From the October 24, 2016, BDN Portland (Maine) "This Civil War sailor from Portland died on a river down south" by Troy R. Bennett.

William Heard was promoted to the rank of ensign in the Union Navy on January 31, 1863 while he was serving with the Mississippi Squadron.

In the spring of 1864, his ship, the USS Covington, a 126-foot, 224 ton sidewheel gunboat converted from a passenger steamer and fitted with metal siding (making it a tinclad) and mounting 8 guns, was ordered to escort a troop transport down the Red River from Alexandria, Louisiana.  The USS Signal also accompanied it.

Twenty-five miles out of Alexandria, near Dunn's Bayou, the three Union ships came under heavy fire from Confederate artillery and troops massed along the shoreline.  The fight lasted all day.

The Union transport and the Signal were captured.  The Covington was set afire by its crew.  Most escaped upriver back to Alexandria.

But William L. Heard was not so lucky.  He was killed in this retreat.

His body was brought back home and buried next to his brother George (who had died earlier in the war).  Their bodies are at Western Cemetery.

--Old B-Runner

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