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[465] river on a reconnoissance, went seven miles above Legareville without getting sight or sound of an enemy; but, when 6 miles on her way back, was opened upon in a bend by three masked batteries, which had not been observed before, and thereby speedily crippled and captured. The Com. McDonough went to her assistance; but arrived too late, and could do nothing. Several months thereafter, the Rebels attempted to run the Isaac Smith out of Charleston harbor; when she was sunk1 by the gunboat Wissahickon.

The morning after their capture of the Smith was signalized by the Charleston Rebels by a far bolder and more significant exploit. At 4 A. M., favored by a thick haze, their iron-clads Palmetto State, Capt. D. N. Ingraham, and Chlicora, Com'r Tucker, with three steamboats as tenders, stole upon our blockading fleet, lying off the bar, while the Powhatan and the Canandaigua, our two largest men of war, were at Port Royal, coaling; and, first nearing the Mercedita, Capt. Stellwagen, the Palmetto State ran into her amidships with full force, and fired into her side at close range a 7-inch shell, which passed through her condenser and steam-drum, blowing a hole through her farther side, scalding several of her men, and completely disabling her. Stellwagen, unable either to fight or fly, surrendered.

The Palmetto, leaving her to sink if she would, forthwith attacked the Keystone State, Capt. Leroy; lodging a shell in her forehold, which set her on fire. Leroy sheered off, until the fire was got under; when, having a full head of steam, he attempted to run his assailant down; but, as he approached at full speed, another shot was sped through both his vessel's steam-chests, utterly disabling her; ten rifled shells striking her, and two of them bursting on her quarter-deck.

By this time, it was growing light, and our fleet had been thoroughly aroused. The Augusta, Quaker City, Memphis, and Housatonic, went in; the Memphis taking in tow the Keystone State--which had one-fourth of her crew disabled, mainly by scalding — and drawing her out of the enemy's fire; when the Rebel gun-boats turned homeward, and took refuge behind the shoals in the Swash channel; thence making their way back to Charleston, and issuing there a bulletin declaring the blockade raised and the port open;2 the British consul at Charleston and the commander of H. B. M. ship Petrel corroborating the statement; and the foreign consuls in the Confederacy were officially notified of the alleged fact in a circular from J. P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State, “for the information of such vessels of your nation as may choose to carry on commerce with the now open port of Charleston.” The “vessels” thus

1 June 7.


Headquarters land and naval forces, Charleston, S. C., Jan. 31.
At about 5 o'clock this morning, the Confederate States naval force on this station attacked the United States blockading fleet off the harbor of the city of Charleston, and sunk, dispersed, or drove off and out of sight for the time, the entire hostile fleet.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, commanders respectively of the Confederate States naval and land forces in this quarter, do hereby formally declare the blockade by the United States of the said city of Charleston, South Carolina, to be raised by a superior force of the Confederate States from and after this 31st day of January, A. D. 1863.

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