Friday, January 4, 2013

Elijah Tunnell


Above is the gravestone of Elijah Tunnell. It is located in Key West, Florida. I obtained the photo from Find-A-Grave.
On May 11th 1898 the US Torpedo boat “Winslow” engaged the Spanish at Cardenas Harbor, East of Havana. The “Winslow” was badly damaged in the ensuing battle. It resulted in the death of 5 sailors and several wounded. One of the dead was Elijah J. Tunnell of Accomack County, Virginia. He was a colored cabin Cook on the "Winslow". He had just enlisted on March 21,1898. He had both legs blown off in a shell burst and later died from the wound.
From “History Of Negro Soldiers In The Spanish American War: by Edward A. Johnson.

Elijah B. Tunnell was employed as cabin cook on the Winslow. The boat, under a severe fire from masked batteries of the Spanish on shore, was disabled. The Wilmington came to her rescue, the enemy meanwhile still pouring on a heavy fire. It was difficult to get the "line" fastened so that the Winslow could be towed off out of range of the Spanish guns. Realizing the danger the boat and crew were in, and anxious to be of service, Tunnell left his regular work and went on deck to assist in "making fast" the two boats, and while thus engaged a shell came, which, bursting over the group of workers, killed him and three others. It has been stated in newspaper reports of this incident that it was an ill-aimed shell of one of the American boats that killed Tunnell and Bagley. Tunnell was taken on board the Wilmington with both legs blown off, and fearfully mutilated. Turning to those about him he asked, "Did we win in the fight boys?" The reply was, "Yes." He said, "Then I die happy."
In addition to Tunnell; John Varveres, John Denfec, Feorge Mock and Worth Bagley died on the “Winslow”.

Elijah Tunnell was the son of John A. and Sarah Tunnell of Wattsville, Virginia. John Tunnell in the 1880 Census at age 40 was a farmer and beside his wife, had four boys and three girls living at home in Wattsville, Virginia. John Tunnell had served in the Civil War, enlisting in Company D, 9th Reg color troops at Drummondtown, Va. on November 11, 1863 at the age of 22.

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