- General Grant's intentions. -- Confederate batteries at four mile Creek. -- General Grant utilizes the Navy. -- the gun-boats engage batteries at Wilcox's wharf and Harrison's Landing. -- shelling sharp-shooters. -- operations at Dutch Gap. -- attack on laborers at Dutch Gap by Confederate fleet and batteries. -- Manoeuvres of Generals Grant, Sherman and Butler, and of Confederate armies. -- speech of Jefferson Davis. -- General Grant on necessity of retaining iron-clads on James River. -- expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Flusser to Windsor, N. C. -- attack on Plymouth, N. C. -- Confederate ram Albemarle attacks Southfield and Miami. -- the Southfield sunk. -- death of Lieutenant-Commander Flusser. -- capture of Plymouth by Confederates. -- communication of Secretary Welles on loss of Plymouth. -- General Peck to General Butler. -- casualties at Plymouth. -- attack on Newbern. -- Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee's instructions to Captain Smith. -- capture of Confederate steamer Bombshell. -- Second engagement between ram Albemarle and gun-boats. -- appalling scenes on board the Sassacuts. -- incidents of fight. -- fruitless attempts to destroy the Albemarle. -- laying torpedoes at mouth of Roanoke River. -- flotilla in sounds reinforced by additional vessels, etc.
From the time General Grant fixed his headquarters at City Point, the naval vessels in that vicinity, under Captain Melancton Smith, were employed in guarding the river or in co-operating with the Army in raids upon the enemy along the shores of the James and adjacent rivers. It was sufficiently evident that it was Grant's intention to envelop the enemy's works, destroy his communications, and cut off supplies. Military and naval expeditions were sent to destroy all grain-fields and other sources of supply within reach, and to pick up deserters from the enemy's ranks. Among the latter were workmen who had been employed on board the Merrimac, from whom interesting information was obtained in regard to that and other Confederate vessels. Signal stations were destroyed, their operators captured, and instruments brought away. In these expeditions the gun-boats were constantly exposed to the attacks of Confederate artillery, which was continually on the alert to get a shot at them. So active were the enemy, that, about the middle of July, they constructed a battery mounting 20-pounder Sawyer guns on Malvern Hill, and for a time interrupted the navigation of the James River. The Confederates were, in fact, untiring in their efforts to make the Federal troops and gun-boats uncomfortable. On the 28th of July the enemy commenced the erection of batteries at Four Mile Creek, where they had assembled a large force for the purpose of covering the men at work in the trenches, and making a demonstration against General Foster's front. The gun-boats were brought into requisition. and the Agawam, Commander A. C. Rhind, and the Mendota, Commander E. T. Nichols, shelled the enemy's works for some time, rendering very effective service in connection with General Hancock's military operations. The following night, in view of the military movements ordered by General Grant, all the troops, except General Foster's original command, were ordered to move from Deep Bottom, under cover of the gun-boats. Here, again, General Grant had an opportunity of utilizing the Navy. As an instance of the activity of the Confederates in presence of the strong forces  of the Federals, which almost enveloped them, on August 3d they established a 6-gun rifled 12-pounder battery at Wilcox's Wharf, and opened fire on passing transports. The firing being heard on board the Miami, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant G. W. Graves, that vessel pushed ahead and engaged the battery, which was driven away after a spirited resistance, the Miami losing but one man killed and one wounded. On the 4th of August another battery opened on the transports near Harrison's Landing, which was driven away, after a sharp action, by the Miami and Osceola. On the same day, the Pequot and the Commodore Morris were engaged during a greater part of the time in shelling sharpshooters out of the woods, who were engaged in picking off the men on board passing transports. These Confederate artillervmen were remarkably active and energetic, but they found the people in the gun-boats equally so; and the light artillery and bushwhackers soon came to the conclusion that attacking gun-boats was a losing business. The gun-boats now so rigidly patrolled the James River that they were in close proximity to all transports passing up or down. So seldom did the enemy get a chance to fire unmolested on a transport, that they even took occasion to attack a hospital steamer. without regard to her sacred character, killing one man and mortally wounding two others; but they were soon driven away by the watchful Pequot, Lieutenant-Commander S. P. Quackenbush, and the Commodore Morris, Acting-Master R. G. Lee. At this time operations were going on at Dutch Gap for the purpose of opening a new route from below Howlett's Battery to the upper reach of the James River. This scheme was not favorably regarded by army engineers, and was not a success. The enemy planted mortars not far away, which in the course of the work killed one hundred and forty laborers, and wounded many more. It also brought on a conflict with the Confederate iron-clads.which came down the river and opened upon the laborers. A long-range battle then ensued between the Union and Confederate ironclads, which inflicted little or no injury to either side, but showed that the Dutch Gap Canal, although never likely to be of any use to the Army or Navy, would be continually inviting attacks from the enemy, which would tend to divert the attention of the Army from its main object — the capture of Richmond. It was evidently General Grant's design to avoid any great military movement until he heard of Sherman's arrival near the Southern coast. Although Grant had no faith in Butler's project to open the way to Richmond by Dutch Gap, he was willing that Butler should amuse himself, and thereby be kept from interfering in more important matters. On the 2d of September Sherman entered Atlanta, Georgia, as a conqueror. General Lee had made such a persistent defence against all the attacks on his lines, and had succeeded so well in keeping the railroads south of Richmond open, that Grant saw that to push him too heavily at this time would result in great loss to the Federal Army, while Lee would be ultimately forced to evacuate Richmond. Up to the 17th of July, General J. E. Johnston had severely hampered Sherman in his advance through the South; but, on the above date, this able Confederate general was displaced from his command owing to intrigues in Richmond, and J. B. Hood, who was considered a fighting general par excellence, succeeded him. This circumstance, though it threw a damper on the army which Johnston had so ably commanded, gave Sherman fresh spirits, and he moved upon Atlanta quite certain of success. Hood had now under his command an effective force of 40,000 infantry and artillery and 10,000 cavalry, not to mention other Confederate forces in the field; but, in spite of all his forces. Hood was no match for Sherman, and, by capturing Atlanta. the latter had a new base from which to operate, and a certainty of cutting off the retreat of General Lee in case he should endeavor to march south with his army. If General Lee had escaped from Richmond with 50,000 men, and joined his forces with those of Johnston, previous to the latter's being relieved from command, Sherman would have been confronted by an army twice the size of his own, and would have been obliged to retreat. The Confederates would then have fortified Atlanta, as they had previously fortified Richmond; the headquarters of the Confederacy would have been in the interior instead of on the coast, and the war would have been continued indefinitely. This was probably the reason why Grant did not push matters more vigorously before Richmond, where he would have met with great losses, and perhaps have been unable to prevent Lee's final escape. Grant had had, at Vicksburg, an example of how much cheaper it was to starve out an enemy, protected by the strongest fortifications, than to drive him out; and he had no idea of forcing Lee south into regions where he could prolong the war until the patience of the North was exhausted. The commanding general had not only to consider the military situation, but also the  political one. The two great parties in the North were divided by distinct lines. One party, though in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war, called for a strict observance of the Constitution in relation to the rights of the States, and severely criticised certain of the measures of the Government as arbitrary and unnecessary. The numerous successes of the Union arms in 1863, and the advance of the Federal Army until it almost enveloped the Confederates in Richmond, greatly increased the strength of the Administration party. Everybody was now hopeful that the war would speedily be brought to a close, particularly as the supreme direction of military affairs was now in the hands of General Grant, in whom the people had entire confidence. The Democratic party was now a war party, and the conservative or peace party was in such a minority that their utterances amounted to very little. The terrible resistance Grant had encountered on his way to Richmond had given rise to an impression that in Lee he had met an antagonist whom it would be difficult for him to overcome, and the opposition to the Government in the North was for a moment emboldened. By midsummer, the numerous successes which had attended the Federal arms, and the adherents thereby gained to the Administration, had rendered the re-election of President Lincoln a certainty. General Grant felt that, under these circumstances, it would be unwise to do anything calculated to imperil a condition of affairs so beneficial to the country, and although he determined to leave no effort untried to capture Richmond, yet he resolved to succeed by means that would cause comparatively little loss of life. The fall of Atlanta and the dispersion of Hood's army caused a great sensation throughout the South. The impending doom of the Confederate cause was evident to all thinking men. Hood moved his scattered forces to new lines, and Mr. Davis, anxious to prove that he had committed no mistake in removing General Johnston, repaired to Hood's headquarters in person to encourage that general and plan a new campaign that would compensate for the loss of Atlanta. On his way to Hood's army, Mr. Davis made frequent speeches to cheer up the people, declaring that General Sherman could be driven back, Atlanta recovered, etc., etc. The effect of all this was to inform Grant and Sherman of the new plan of operations decided on by the Confederate President and General Hood; for, of course, everything appeared in the Southern newspapers without regard to the injury it might inflict on the cause. In writing on this subject, General Grant expresses himself as follows:
During this time, Jefferson Davis made a speech at Macon, Georgia, which was reported in the papers of the South, and soon became known to the whole country, disclosing the plans of the enemy and enabling General Sherman to fully meet them. Mr. Davis exhibited the weakness of supposing that an army that had been beaten and decimated in a vain attempt at the defensive, could successfully undertake the offensive against an army that had so often defeated it.On the 24th of September, Hood commenced his new movement to endeavor to reach Sherman's rear and cut off his communications, apparently oblivious of the fact that the Union Army could live on the country, and would be relieved from a vast deal of trouble in keeping open communications. Ascertaining that Hood had crossed the Chattahoochie River on the 29th and 30th of September, General Sherman followed him; but finding that Hood was bound for Nashville, he abandoned the pursuit and returned to Atlanta, where he prepared to march to the sea across the State of Georgia. Sherman's calculation was that General Thomas could collect troops at Nashville; which, with the two army corps sent him by Sherman by way of Chattanooga, would enable him to hold the line of the Tennessee. Everything turned out well, and General Thomas gained a victory that dispersed Hood's army in every direction, and administered another crushing blow to the Confederate cause. General Sherman was the more induced to hurry his movements from a telegram sent to him by General Grant, in which the latter says: “If you were to cut loose, I do not believe you would meet Hood's army, but you would be bushwhacked by all the old men, little boys, and such railroad guards as are left at home.” With the dispositions made by the enemy, Sherman felt sure he would have nothing in his rear or on his flank to disturb him, and so pursued his devastating march to the sea — that march which is so celebrated in the annals of the civil war. Notwithstanding all the criticisms of the press on his apparent inactivity, Grant waited patiently until he should hear that Sherman was in a position to prevent Lee and his army from escaping southward. When Sherman made a junction at Goldsboro, N. C., with the forces of Generals Schofield and Terry, which had marched from Wilmington to meet him, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed, and Grant moved on Richmond. While Grant was watching the progress of events which we have detailed above, the Federal naval vessels in the James River, under the immediate command of Captain Melancton Smith, were actively engaged in  patrolling the river.guarding Trent's Reach, or in any co-operative service called for by General Grant. About the middle of August, the Navy Department wrote to Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee, inquiring if he could not dispense with some of the iron-clads, on the ground that James River was effectually blocked against the Confederate squadron. To this action General Grant interposed an objection, which relieves Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee from any imputation of desiring to retain the iron-clads in the vicinity of Trent's Reach when their services were so imperatively demanded elsewhere. General Grant, in his communication to the admiral, says:
While I believe we never will require armored vessels to meet those of the enemy, I think it imprudent to withdraw them. At least two such vessels, in my judgment, should be kept in the upper James River. They stand a constant threat to the enemy and prevent them from taking the offensive. There is no disguising the fact that if the enemy should take the offensive on the water, although we should probably destroy his whole James River navy, such damage would be done our shipping and stores, all accumulated on the waters where the conflict would begin, that our victory would be dearly bought.In consequence of General Grant's protest, Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee made such representations to the Navy Department that a sufficient force of iron-clads was allowed to remain on the James. The army had erected a strong battery at right angles with the line of fire of the Monitors at Trent's Reach. This battery had on several occasions opened on Howlett's and completely silenced it. Hence, with the obstructions under fire of the Army and Navy guns, tile Army stores, etc., at City Point were perfectly secure against any attack. While the attention of the Commanderin-chief of the North Atlantic squadron was principally directed to the security of Grant's army against an attack by the river, the enemy in the sounds of North Carolina were doing their best to make an impression on the Federal posts established along those waters. “Great victories” over the Union forces were constantly reported, which existed only in the vivid imagination of the Confederate reporters. To show how war news was manufactured, we quote the following from the Raleigh Weekly:
Colonel Griffin, Confederate forces, telegraphed to the War Department from Jackson, on the 31st of January, as follows: “Yesterday morning engaged the enemy with a force of two hundred men and a rifled field piece. After a fight of two hours, in which we engaged twelve hundred men of the enemy and three pieces of artillery, the Yankees were driven from Windsor, N. C., to their boats. We lost six men; loss of the enemy not known.”Lieutenant-Commander C. W. Flusser, indignant at such a report, in a communication to Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee, writes as follows:
The report is false from beginning to conclusion. I planned the affair and we would have captured the entire party had we been ten minutes earlier. I had forty sailors and one 12-pounder howitzer, and there were three hundred and fifty infantry. We marched about sixteen miles. There was no fight and nothing worth reporting. The rebels ran. I fired three or four times at them at long range. We held the town of Windsor several hours, and marched back eight miles to our boats without a single shot from the enemy.In this case the Confederate commander made capital out of nothing. Flusser was as truthful as he was brave, and his account is reliable. He was ever on the alert to surprise the enemy, and his escaping death for so long a period is remarkable. The Confederates had been employed in building a powerful ram, called the Albemarle, on the Roanoke River, and, knowing that the Federals had no vessel that could compete with her, it was arranged to fit out an expedition of Confederate soldiers, which, in conjunction with the ram, should make a descent on Plymouth. The United States Government attached considerable importance to the possession of Plymouth as a base for Army operations. Two or three fortifications had been erected and well armed, and these were connected by lines of intrenchments and rifle-pits, calculated, with the aid of the gun-boats, to repel any force likely to be sent to this point. No one took any account of the Albemarle, then building up the river, of which vessel only meagre accounts could be learned, though frequent representations, by naval officers in command in the sounds, had been made to the Navy Department of the necessity for more troops in that quarter. It seems to have been the general impression that the Confederates were cherishing the idea of repossessing and regaining those places which had been so gallantly wrested from them early in the war by the united efforts of the Army and Navy. No doubt the Department rested under the opinion that the Confederates could not, so late in the year 1864, when they had been beaten at all points, undertake to recapture the towns in the sounds, or build a formidable iron-clad, in face of the fact that we had built numerous small Monitors, any of which, lightened of their armament and provisions. could have been floated into the sounds. There was, in fact, an extraordinary supineness manifested in certain quarters in relation to defending those sounds, for the possession of which so much time and labor had been expended. The object of the Confederates, at the commencement of the year 1864, was to roll  up victories in every quarter, which would have their effect on the peace party in the North, and influence the coming Presidential election. Then, too, their victories, much exaggerated, would sound well abroad, and perhaps bring aid from the English and French Governments. It was clearly the duty of the Federal Government never to fall back from a position so easily to be held with Monitors and gun-boats as the sounds of North Carolina; yet, for want of proper precautions on the part of the Government, the enemy besieged Plymouth. On the 18th of April, 1864, the Confederates opened with artillery upon Fort Gray, and in the afternoon, directing a heavy fire upon the town of Plymouth, the battle became general all along the line. The enemy assaulted the works with great gallantry,
|Lieutenant-Commander Charles W. Flusser.|
The Albemarle did not appear until nine months after the above letter was written, during which time no efforts seem to have been made to hasten the preparation of light-draft Monitors, that might have been floated over the bar at Hatteras at high water. The letter we have quoted shows that the War Department took little interest in the matter of destroying the ram when under construction, which could only be done by a strong military and naval force combined. There was great excitement among all those who could by any possibility be made responsible for the capture of Plymouth. Both the military and naval authorities had full knowledge of the building of the ram and floating battery; but the naval officer commanding in the sounds remained at Newbern, and left the most important position, Plymouth, with but four vessels, only two of which were of any force, to defend the place against an iron-clad represented to be almost a match for the far-famed Merrimac. Although the attack commenced on the 18th, and lasted until the 20th, no vessels were sent from the naval forces in the sounds or soldiers from the military posts at other points. Major-General Peck, commanding at Newbern, writes to General Butler as follows:
In reply to the resolution of Congress asking for information in regard to the capture of Plymouth, Mr. Secretary Welles sent a characteristic communication, in which he says:
Mr. Secretary Welles, in his communication to Congress, plainly demonstrated that the Confederates could never have captured Plymouth if adequate appropriations had been made when first asked for to construct light-draft iron-clads, but all through the war Congress required much urging from the Navy Department in order that proper appropriations should be made. The same unwillingness to grant the Navy money exists to-day, and the country, as regards this arm of defence, is in a deplorable condition. Following the capture of Plymouth, the Confederates early in May made an attack on Newbern, drove in the pickets, and took possession of the railroad; but there was a fair force of gun-boats at this point, and the summons of the enemy to surrender the town was refused. On the 23d of April, Captain Melancton Smith assumed command of the naval forces in the sounds of North Carolina, with orders, if possible, to destroy the ram Albemarle, either by running her down with the double-ender gun-boats or in such other manner as his judgment might suggest. The most efficient vessels at the disposal of Captain Smith were the Miami, Commander Renshaw; Tacony, Lieutenant-Commander Truxtun; Sassacus, Lieutenant-Commander Roe; Mattabesett, Commander Febiger, and the Wyalusing, Lieutenant-Commander Queen. Captain Smith was well supplied with “instructions” by his commander-in-chief, Acting-Rear-Admiral Lee, although it seems probable that so gallant and distinguished an officer could have done equally well without them. For the reader's benefit they are here quoted:
In the coming times, these quaint dispatches of the year 1864, issued by the old salts of the Navy, will doubtless be looked upon much as we now regard the lucubrations of Admiral Benbow and his contemporaries. Whether Captain Smith benefitted by the directions so liberally showered upon him will appear when we chronicle his adventures in the sounds of North Carolina. The following vessels, arranged in the order given, off Edenton Bay, were under Captain Smith's command:
The Miami was fitted with a torpedo to explode against the side of the ram, if opportunity offered. At 1 o'clock P. M. on the 5th of May, the Miami, Commodore Hull, Ceres and army transport Trumpeter got underway from the picket station off Edenton Bay, bound to the mouth of the Roanoke River, for the purpose of laying down torpedoes. Within a short distance of the buoy, at the mouth of the river, the Albemarle was discovered coming down, accompanied by the steamers “Cotton plant” and Bombshell, laden with troops, and doubtless bound to the attack of Newbern. The Trumpeter was sent back to give tidings of the approach of the ram, while the other vessels steamed slowly away, endeavoring to draw the ram as far as possible from the mouth of the river. The ram followed the Miami and her consorts until the vessels fell in with Captain Smith and the other division of gunboats, when signal was made to attack the enemy. The Mattabesett, Wyalusing, Sassacus and Whitehead steamed towards the ram, the smaller vessels falling into the rear according to programme. At 4:40 P. M. the ram fired the first gun, which destroyed the Mattabesett's launch, and wounded several men. A second shot cut away some of the rigging. At 4:45 the Confederate steamer Bombshell, being temporarily disabled by a shot, hauled down her flag and surrendered. The next moment the Mattabesett fired a broadside at the ram from a distance of 150 yards. Just afterwards, the Sassacus delivered a broadside, and the Albemarle sheered with a port-helm with the intention of ramming, but the superior speed of the Sassacus foiled her in this attempt, and the latter passed around the ram's stern, with a hard port-helm. The Bombshell lay off the ram's portquarter, and, having opened fire simultaneously with the Albemarle. the Sassacus fired on her, and her commanding officer was under the impression that the Confederate vessel had surrendered to him. As the Mattabesett had passed around the stern of the ram and was heading down the sound, the ram had turned partially around, presenting her broadside to the Sassacus, which vessel was at that time about three or four hundred yards distant. She made for the ram, and struck her fairly With a speed of five or six knots, according to Captain Smith, or ten knots, according to Lieutenant-Commander Roe. The ram was struck just abaft her starboard-beam, causing her to heel over, and placing her after-deck under water; so much so, that Lieutenant-Commander Roe thought she was sinking. At the same instant the Albemarle fired a 100-pounder rifleshot through and through the Sassacus, from starboard to port on the berth-deck. The collision was heavy, and the engine of the Sassacus was kept going in the attempt to force her bow deeper and deeper into the ram, so that some of the other vessels could attack on the other side, and enable the Sassacus to sink the enemy. This position the Sassacus maintained at least ten minutes. Hand-grenades were thrown down the ram's hatches, and attempts made to get shells into her smokestack, besides keeping up a severe musketry fire on her. At length the stern of the ram swung around, and, her broadside-port bearing on the starboard-bow of the Sassacus, the Albemarle fired a 100-pounder rifled shot, which passed through the starboardside of the Sassacus, through the empty bunkers into the starboard-boiler, clear through it fore and aft, and finally lodging in the ward-room. In a moment the Sassacus was filled with steam, killing and wounding many of the crew, and rendering all movement for the time impossible. Only those who have witnessed the effect of a bursting boiler, with the steam rushing all over the ship and penetrating every nook and cranny, can appreciate the condition  of affairs on board the Sassacus. The stoutest nerves are scarcely proof against the appalling sights which meet the eye, and the cries and groans which fall upon the ear. When the vapor cleared away, so that the commander of the Sassacus, could look around him. he saw his antagonist steaming away. The engine of the Sassacus was meanwhile in motion, no one being able to get into the engineroom to stop it, on account of the scalding steam, until the boiler was empty. The helm was at once put a-port, and the Sassacus headed up the sound, leaving the field clear for the other vessels to operate. As soon as the immediate effects of the explosion were over, the officers and men returned to their guns, firing upon the enemy until the Sassacus drifted out of range. While the Sassacus was in contact with the Albemarle, it was impossible for the other vessels of the squadron to fire, for fear of injuring their consort; but they subsequently failed to take advantage of the act of the gallant Sassacus, and deliver blows upon the ram while she was at rest and somewhat demoralized from the shock she had received. It was by such concerted action that the Tennessee was forced to surrender to Farragut's vessels in Mobile Bay. The failure of the larger vessels to ram the Albemarle is accounted for by the indiscriminate firing from the smaller ones upon the enemy. These latter vessels answered the signals made by the senior officer, without obeying them. The engagement continued until 7:30 P. M., when darkness supervened. The Commodore Hull and the Ceres were left to keep sight of the ram, and to remain off the mouth of the Roanoke River if she succeeded in entering it, the other vessels coming to anchor in the sound. During the engagement an attempt was made by the Wyalusing to lay a seine in front of the ram with the intent of fouling her propeller, but the latter ran over it without damage. A torpedo was rigged out from the Miami, and the attempt was made to explode it against the enemy, but from some unexplained cause the attempt failed. The ram, during the attacks of the different vessels, kept moving about delivering an accurate fire, apparently unharmed, although the shot and shell rattled upon her slanting roof like hail. When the shots struck her armor they fairly sparkled, and flying up into the air fell into the water without doing any perceptible damage. The ram moved through the water at the rate of six knots an hour, and turned quickly to meet her adversaries. When the Sassacus struck the Albemarle, and directly afterwards was covered with vapor fore and aft, many supposed that this catastrophe was brought about by the collision, and the impression prevailed that it would not be prudent to repeat the experiment for fear the whole flotilla would be disabled by their own exertions. There does not seem to have been that system in manoeuvering the vessels of the flotilla which should have prevailed; but Captain Smith had only been in command a few days, and the officers of the vessels were quite unpracticed in fleet manoeuvering. Signals, though made and answered, were not carried out. It seems to have been the object to fire into the enemy at a distance of from two to three hundred yards, although it was soon evident that the ram was invulnerable in her hull against any shot from the Federal vessels. The Mattabesett (flag-ship) was well handled, and her fire was remarkably accurate. She was not in the least disabled during the action. While passing the ram in the Wyalusing, at a distance of one hundred and fifty yards, Lieutenant-Commander Queen says: “It was my intention to run the Bombshell down, but discovered in time that she had surrendered, when I immediately backed clear of her and again opened fire on the ram.” Lieutenant-Commander Queen claims to have cut away the signal halliards of the Albemarle when her colors came down, and he supposed she had surrendered, though he was soon convinced to the contrary by a 6-inch rifle-shot crashing through the side of his vessel. Soon after, the executive officer of the Wyalusing reported the ship as sinking, and it seemed as if the ram was about to clear the field, as she moved about, firing her two 6-inch rifles, almost every shot taking effect on some of the vessels. As it was found on examination that the Wyalusing was making no more water than usual, another start was made to run the ram down, passing around her and throwing in broadsides which did no harm, and it was only at the close of the action one of the pieces of plating forward on the port side was seen to fly off. At 7:40 the Wyalusing ceased firing, agreeably to signal from the flag-ship. The reports of the different commanding officers show that as rapid a fire was kept up as circumstances would admit; yet, after the attack of the Sassacus, there was no concerted action, which is to be regretted, since one or two heavy blows in the stern of the Albemarle would have sealed her fate; for her rudder once disabled, the ram would have been obliged to surrender. Even if she had been repeatedly rammed, without piercing her sides, her crew would have become demoralized,  as always happens in such cases. A great deal of gallantry was shown on this occasion; but a mistake was made in not carrying out the Department's directions, to depend upon ramming. The Albemarle had no opportunity to use her ram; or, if she had, failed to take advantage of it. It is probable that the commanding officer of the ram, who fought his vessel with so much judgment and gallantry, would not have lost an opportunity to use his prow if one had offered. This remarkable engagement continued from 4:40 until 7:40 P. M., when the signal was made to cease firing, and the ram made off towards the mouth of Roanoke River. It afterwards appeared that she was not materially injured, but could have continued the contest for some time, in spite of the reports to the contrary brought by refugees from Plymouth. There were fired from the different vessels at the Albemarle 292 one-hundred-pounder shot and shells, 239 nine-inch shells, 60 thirty-pounder Parrott shot and shells, 59 twenty-four-pound howitzers, and some 12-pound rifle-shots — in all, 648 shot and shells. The following damages were sustained by the vessels of the flotilla: Mattabesett--one shot through waterways abaft port-wheel. Sassacus--a 6-inch solid shot through the starboard-side of the ship five feet above the berth-deck,through the starboard boiler, and exploding it; wheel badly damaged by coming in contact with the ram's stern. Wyalusing--shell exploded in starboard wheel-house, cutting away two of the water-rims of the starboard wheel, etc.; one shot knocking out the gig's bottom; one shot through starboard-side of berthdeck, doing much damage; one shot on the starboard quarter above the water line, doing much damage. Miami--struck three or four times, all but one shot unimportant. This was not a great deal of damage, considering the number of targets the ram had to fire at, and seemingly nothing to disable any of the flotilla except the Sassacus, which vessel was put hors de combat early in the action. The fire of the ram was, doubtless, much interfered with by the tremendous hail of shot and shell which fell upon her, obliging her to keep her shutters almost constantly closed. The engagement showed conclusively the immense advantage of an iron-clad ram over any number of vulnerable wooden vessels such as were employed in the waters of North Carolina, and that the money spent to build “double-enders” would have been much better applied in the construction of fast rams, each with one or two heavy guns. It would have taken little more time to build light iron-clads than it did to construct the double-enders, which, on the whole, were not well suited for their intended purpose. The engagement with the Albemarle, although not successful in sinking or disabling her, yet answered the valuable purpose of preventing her from doing further mischief. Her intended attack on Newbern, in co-operation with the Confederate land forces, was given up, and the ram was only seen once more after the engagement. A day or two afterwards, the Albemarle came to the mouth of the Roanoke River with the apparent object of putting down torpedoes; but when fired upon retreated up the stream. She was then tied to the bank under the guns of Plymouth, and heavy booms placed around her to keep off torpedo-boats, there to undergo such repairs as were found necessary. Her commanding officer was evidently satisfied that with his limited speed it was not prudent to encounter so many vessels without further strengthening the Albemarle. The blow given by the Sassacus admonished him that two or three successive shocks would disable his vessel. The commanding officer of the Albemarle was Lieutenant A. F. Warley, late of the United States Navy, who commanded the Manassas at the forts below New Orleans. In the command of the Albemarle he certainly showed great skill and gallantry, the credit for which we do not propose to withhold because it was exercised against the flag under which he had been trained to service. The attack on the flotilla was a bold stroke, doubtless intended to make a point for the Confederate cause, which was just then threatened with a collapse. The Albemarle was constructed on the same general plan as the Merrimac. The slanting roof and other exposed parts were covered with five inches of pine and the same thickness of oak surmounted with railroad iron, over which was an inch of plating secured through all with bolts and nuts. The ram had a cast-iron prow and carried two 6-inch Brooke rifled guns, pivoted on the bow and stern, so that the guns could be worked from the bow and quarter ports. Her overhanging sides, connected with a “knuckle,” made it difficult to ram her with an ordinary gun-boat. She was driven at a speed of six knots by a propeller and drew not exceeding eight feet of water. The Confederates throughout the war adhered to this class of vessel, which was the most convenient for them to build with their limited facilities. Considering the number the enemy constructed, and the gallantry and ability of their naval officers, it is remarkable that they should not have accomplished more.  While the Federals may be liable to criticism for allowing the enemy to get ahead of them in the construction of iron-clads, there was no want of gallantry on the part of the Navy in attempting their destruction, and the attempts were generally successful. The Merrimac was the only Confederate iron-clad which really accomplished much, and she bade fair at one time to change the aspect of affairs in favor of the Confederates, and overwhelm the Union people in mortification and disaster. An effort was made to destroy the Albemarle by torpedoes. A party of five volunteers from the Wyalusing left that vessel at 2 P. M. on the 20th of May, having made a reconnaissance two days previously, and ascended the middle channel of the Roanoke River in a dinghy. The party carried two torpedoes, each containing one hundred pounds of powder, with their appendages, which were transported on stretchers across the swamps. John W. Lloyd, coxswain, and Charles Baldwin, coalheaver, swam the river with a line and hauled the torpedoes across to the Plymouth shore close to the town. The torpedoes were then connected by a bridle floated down with the current, guided by Charles Baldwin, who designed to place them across the Albemarle's bow, one on either side, and Allen Crawford, fireman, who was stationed in the swamps on the opposite side of the river, was to explode them on a given signal. Everything worked well until the torpedoes were within a few yards of the ram, when Baldwin was seen and hailed by a sentry on the wharf. The sentry then fired two shots, which was soon followed by a volley of musketry, which induced Lloyd to cut the guiding line, throw away the coil, and swim the river again to join John Laverty, fireman, who was left in charge of the arms and clothes. These two men, with the boat-keeper, returned to the ship, after an absence of thirty-eight hours, nearly exhausted with their arduous and perilous labors. The other two men were found, after a two days search in the swamps, almost worn out with hunger and fatigue. Although their design was defeated by the accidental fouling of the line with a schooner, these men deserve none the less credit for undertaking so perilous an adventure. After this episode the Albemarle was strictly guarded, and remained at Plymouth, a constant source of anxiety to our naval authorities. The flotilla in the sounds was reinforced by some additional vessels and placed under the command of Commander William H. Macomb, an officer fully competent to perform the duties required of him.