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Doc. 97.-escape of the Nashville.

The following letter gives the particulars of the escape of the Nashville:

United States bark Gemsbok, Blockading off Beaufort, N. C., March 18, 1862.
we think it but right to let the public know the situation of this blockade, and especially so since the rebel steamer Nashville has run the blockade of this harbor in and out again. When the Nashville ran in on the morning of the twenty-eighth of February last, there was only the State of Georgia on this blockade to protect three entrances — which it is impossible for one steamer to do. Three days after the Nashville had run in this vessel arrived here from Hampton Roads, and we found to our mortification such to be the case. The State of Georgia being short of coal could remain here but a few days. She despatched at once the facts of the case to the nearest blockading station — Wilmington. The Mount Vernon then left there, and proceeded to Hampton Roads with the intelligence. The Cambridge was ordered down here in consequence, and reached here on the morning of the eleventh of March, making three vessels on this blockade.

The State of Georgia was compelled to leave for reasons already stated. She left on the six-teenth. The Nashville had steamed down from her former position in the harbor, and on the day previous to running out was lying close under the guns of Fort Macon. We kept a sharp lookout for her fore and aft, and with good glasses, to watch her movements.

Between the hours of seven and eight P. M., on the seventeenth of March, a dark object was noticed coming out of the channel. She had chosen the darkest part of the night to elude us, and it was only the utmost vigilance that enabled us to see her as quick as we did.

Capt. Cavendy, of this vessel, at once got her ready for action, sent up a signal to the Cambridge, lying some distance south of us, and hoisting the foretopsail and jib, swung the ship, by a spring on the cable, broadside to the channel where she must come out. We lay about one mile from the entrance of the channels. There being no wind at the time, it was useless to think of getting under way to chase one of the fastest steamers afloat; so we endeavored with all our will to do the utmost with the guns.

Apparently, when first seen, she was feeling her way along slowly, till roused by the report of the bow-gun and the ascent of the rocket, telling him of his discovery. Then at full speed she flew toward the offing amid our shells, which were delivered at him as fast as we could throw them in the guns. We fired twenty guns in twenty minutes. Whether we hit him or not we don't know, but from indications which he showed at one time, by the lights flying around the ship, we think he must have been damaged considerably.

The Cambridge fired three or four guns at her. We continued firing as long as she was within range. When the moon arose and dispelled the darkness that had covered the scene, the rebel steamer had escaped, and ere now is a long way on her errand of destruction.

It is our belief that had our commander been in charge of a steamer, instead of a sailing vessel, that, with his unwavering determination to avenge the insults of an outraged flag, and assisted by his officers and men, the course of the Nashville would have been run.

Another account.

A letter from an officer of the sailing bark Gemsbok to a friend in Boston, gives the following account of the escape of the Nashville:

off Beaufort, N. C., Friday, March 21.
On Monday last, about seven o'clock in the evening, it being at that time quite dark, a blacklooking object was seen from the quarter-deck of this vessel, slowly moving past the fort about [324] two miles distant. The “rattle” was sprung, calling all hands to quarters, and at the same time a rocket was fired, a signal to the Cambridge that the enemy was coming out. We now began to fire our broadside at the Nashville, which vessel had approached to within a mile and a half from us, feeling her way out the channel farthest from us — we lying almost at the entrance to one. The Cambridge was close by us at the time and seemed as if she was never to move. We continued firing at the rebel until she escaped from the channel, when she went out of sight in a “twinkling” almost. It was dead calm at the time, making it impossible for us to get under way. The Cambridge finally started off in the direction of our shells, but almost before she left us the Nashville was gone.

We fired some twenty-one guns, the Cambridge four; but to crown all, she fired them at what she knew not.

Unfortunately, she could not see the rebel, but fired probably because we did. If we had had a steamer instead of a sailing vessel, the privateer would not have escaped so easily; or if the Cambridge had seen her, and run down to the channel as soon as we made signals to her, there would have been an opportunity to head her off, and perhaps drive her back or capture her.

As it was, I hardly think she escaped without some damage, because our shells appeared to burst all around her. The captain of her laid his plans admirably, and in the same manner executed them. The time selected for her escape could not have been more opportune; it was just before the moon rose, and a heavy bank of clouds lined the eastern horizon, making it very difficult for any object between it and us to be seen.

I suppose the papers will rub us pretty hard, when it becomes known. It needs four steamers, or at least three, to effectually blockade this port, because there are two channels a mile apart.

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