* OFFICIAL *
- Mar 15, 2013
During the fall of Richmond, during the early morning hours of April 3, 1865, the sailors in the battery below Drury's Bluff, under Captain John Randolph Tucker, received notice of the evacuation and were ordered to join GW Custis Lee's division. In the classic Four Years Under Marse Robert, author Maj. Robert Stiles recalled this amusing incident which occurred as Captain Tucker, Confederate States Navy, attempted to align his sailors, fighting as infantry, at the Battle of Sailor's Creek, April 6, 1865:
I remember, in all the discomfort and wretchedness of the retreat, we had been no little amused by the Naval Battalion, under that old hero, Admiral Tucker. The soldiers called them the "Aye, Ayes," because they responded "aye, aye" to every order, some times repeating the order itself, and adding, "Aye, aye, it is, sir!"
As this battalion, which followed immediately after ours, was getting into position, and seaman's and landsman's jargon and movements were getting a good deal mixed in the orders and evolutions,--all being harmonized, however, and licked into shape by the "aye, aye,"--a young officer of the division staff rode up, saluted Admiral Tucker, and said: "Admiral, I may possibly be of assistance to you in getting your command into line."
The Admiral replied: "Young man, I understand how to talk to my people;" and thereupon followed "a grand moral combination" of "right flank" and "left flank," "starboard" and "larboard," "aye, aye" and "aye, aye"--until the battalion gradually settled down into place.