and the force thereupon set out upon its return. Encountering an armed party near the beach, a charge was made and two rebels made prisoners. The beach, finally, was safely reached without loss, and pickets were stationed and the party rested, waiting the arrival of the boats then being despatched from the Tahoma and the Adela. While so resting, word was brought that a detachment of cavalry and one of infantry were advancing. The party was formed to resist an attack, and, the boats having arrived, the embarkation commenced. While this was proceeding the rebels opened fire. The First and Second divisions, with seven prisoners, proceeded in an orderly manner to the boats, and the Third division, spread out that the rebels might not fire into a mass, returned the fire energetically and with great coolness and bravery. The Adela meantime shelled the woods (in which the rebels were concealed, and from which they fired) with shrapnel. The First and Second divisions having embarked, the rear-guard, on receiving the order to do so, followed. This rear-guard stood nobly to their post, protecting the retreat under an extremely severe fire from a concealed enemy, loading and firing with the coolness of target practice, and finally leaving quietly at the word of command, bearing with them their wounded. The rebels were under the command of Captain (a son of the late United States Senator) Westcott, and were so-called “regulars.” The retreat to the boats was admirably conducted by Acting-Master Harris. The expedition throughout was characterized by a disciplined courage on the part of both officers and men. The force suffered severely at the beach, and both courage and discipline were called for. Our loss was as follows: Killed — James Warrall, seaman, Tahoma; John Roddy, seaman, Adela; Joseph O'Donnell, seaman, Adela. Ten were wounded, including Acting-Ensign Randall and Kochler, and two seriously. Five were made prisoners. In reporting these losses, Lieutenant-Commander Semmes observes:
I regret seriously our loss, yet I feel a great degree of satisfaction in having impressed the rebels with the idea that blockade-running vessels are not safe even up the Hillsborough River.I am respectfully, your obedient servant,
A National account.
key West, Fla., Oct. 23, 1863.On the twelfth instant, the United States gunboat Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander Semmes, after three months repairing and preparation, and taking on board a two-hundred-pound Parrott rifle, left here for Tampa Bay, arriving on the evening of the thirteenth, where she found the United States steamer Adela, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Stodder, and schooners Stonewall Jackson and Ariel, blockading. The next morning both steamers started up for Tampa, the county seat of Hillsboro County, standing at the head of Tampa Bay. The town is defended on the water-side by a battery of five guns, built on one end of the United States parade ground, and formerly called Fort Brooke, used during the war with the Indians. To the right of this are the United States docks and warehouses, now occupied by the rebels as barracks. Behind these are some blacksmith and machine shops, used by the rebel army, and also for fitting out blockade-runners. Before going far the Tahoma's engine gave out, causing a delay until the next morning. On the fifteenth they continued on their way, the Tahoma taking the lead, and the Adela following. While crawling along shore, off Gadson's Point, looking for a battery reported to be there, the Tahoma got aground three times, and was hauled off after some trouble and breaking of hawsers by the Adela. In the afternoon the Tahoma's engine again broke down, and the Adela started with her in tow, when her engine also gave out. On the sixteenth, the Adela being again in order, the Tahoma was lashed alongside, and towed into position before Tampa, where she came to anchor as near the battery as she could get. The Adela being of much lighter draft, cast loose, ran up nearer the works and opened on them, throwing shell after shell into the battery, barracks, and buildings adjoining. Captain Semmes, after going out in a small boat and planting stakes with flags attached, as if preparing to land on left side of bay, returned to ship, and opened fire from his pivot, and twenty-pound Parrotts, the shell from both vessels making dirt and splinters fly, driving the men from the works, and the people from the town. In the evening forty picked men from the Adela--fifteen from the Engineer's division, under Chief-Engineer Bennett; fifteen from the First division of riflemen, under Acting-Ensign Strandberg; ten from Second division, under Acting-Ensign Balch; and sixty men from the Tahoma--thirty from the First division, under Acting-Ensign Kaeler; thirty from Second division, under Acting-Ensign Randall; the whole under command of Acting-Master Harris, executive officer of the Tahoma, answered to their names on the deck of the Tahoma. She then got under way, manoeuvred about the bay, making feints of landing at several places, then ran some miles down the bay, and, at ten P. M., landed them at Gadson's Point, on the right-hand shore; the boats all returning to the ship, with the exception of one which the party carried with them. At three and a half A. M. of the seventeenth, they had made less than one half the distance necessary to travel before sunrise, and were much fatigued by dragging a heavy boat for some miles through swamps and thick underbrush. The boat becoming too much stove for use, was thrown in the bushes, the party pushing on and arriving near the bank of Hillsboro River, six miles above Tampa, at six A. M. There they divided into squads, each approaching