When the channel was reported clear of torpedoes (a large number of which were taken up), I proceeded up to Richmond in the Malvern, with President Lincoln on board the River Queen, and a heavy feeling of responsibility on my mind, notwithstanding the great care that had been taken to clear the river.
Every vessel that got through the obstructions wished to be the first one up, and pushed ahead with all steam ; but they grounded, one after another, the Malvern passing them all, until she also took the ground. Not to be delayed, I took the President in my barge, and, with a tug ahead with a file of marines on board, we continued on up to the city.
There was a large bridge across the James about a mile below the landing, and under this a party in a small steamer were caught and held by the current, with no prospect of release without assistance. These people begged me to extricate them from their perilous position, so I ordered the tug to cast off and help them, leaving us in the barge to go on alone.
Here we were in a solitary boat, after having set out with a number of vessels flying flags at every mast-head, hoping to enter the conquered capital in a manner befitting the rank of the President of the United States, with a further intention of firing a national salute in honor of the happy result.
I remember the President’s remarks on the occasion. ”Admiral, this brings to my mind a fellow who once came to me to ask for an appointment as minister abroad. Finding he could not get that, he came down to some more modest position. Finally he asked to be made a tide-waiter. When he saw he could not get that, he asked me for an old pair of trousers. But it is well to be humble.“
Quoted in David D. Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1886), p. 294