Served as captain of the forecastle on board the U.S.S. Dacotah on the occasion of the destruction of the blockade runner Pevensey, near Beauford, N.C., 9 June 1864. "Learning that one of the officers in the boat, which was in danger of being, and subsequently was, swamped, could not swim, Harding remarked to him: 'If we are swamped, sir, I shall carry you to the beach or I will never go there myself.' He did not succeed in carrying out his promise, but made desperate efforts to do so, while others thought only of themselves. Such conduct is worthy of appreciation and admiration–a sailor risking his own life to save that of an officer."