a hostile vessel appear, the alarm was to be given by burning green lights, with which the signal officers were supplied. The tugs being unarmed, of course could offer no resistance. The only objects of interest seen during the night, were frequent flashes of light, which were as suddenly obscured. An effort to sleep, which was persisted in through four hours, resulted in about one hour's sound slumber, sitting on a wooden stool, with the head resting against the side of the steward's table. Information received from other sources, gives the floating force of the rebels at fourteen steamers and eight sailing vessels, consequently great anxiety was felt, lest some of these would venture out to attack our defenseless tugs. Our fears, although sufficient to make us wakeful, proved to be entirely groundless. Toward morning the fog cleared away, and the sun arose in a sky marked with clouds enough to give it beauty. As we return within the lines, we pass the steamboat Southfield, to which Com. Goldsborough has transferred his flag from the Philadelphia, and were requested by him to tell the General to close up the rear division as rapidly as possible, as he would go into action as soon as that could be done. We arrived on board the Spaulding, where we found the General urging forward, by signals and other processes, the preparations for passing through the inlet.
Proceeding to the bombardment.
on board the S. R. Spaulding, Croatan Sound, N. C., Feb. 7.All our preparations having been made by ten o'clock, the gunboats, under the lead of the Flag-Officer's ship, moved forward, and were soon inside the narrow passage leading into Croatan Sound, known as Roanoke Inlet. The mainland juts eastward, forming a point of marshy land at the southern extremity of Croatan Sound, which forms the only navigable water leading past Roanoke Island. A small marshy island forms the eastern boundary of the channel, while the western shore is a low marshy point. One of our gunboats grounded in passing through, but was soon got off. Following Com. Goldsborough's squadron were the gunboats of the coast division, all of which passed through without interruption. The S. R. Spaulding, with Gen. Burnside on board, next passed through, but the remainder of the transports were detained about two hours. The rebel gunboats could now be seen close in shore, evidently under the guns of batteries on shore. As our fleet passed into the sound, a signal was fired from one of the rebel gunboats, to announce our approach. This was about half-past 10 o'clock. At half-past 11 the first gun from our vessels was fired from the flag-ship, and was replied to by the rebels. The Flag-Officer hoisted the signal: “This day our country expects that every man will do his duty.” The effect of this on the “shell-backs” was electric. They worked their guns with unflagging energy, determined that their country should have nothing to complain of in relation to them. As our vessels came within shorter range, the fire became more rapid, but the regular fire did not commence until noon, when the flag-ship displayed the signal for close action. The number of the rebel gunboats visible in the early part of the engagement was seven, but as our vessels came into closer action, they moved to the northward, with the design of drawing our fleet after them, so as to bring them under the guns of their batteries on the island. At twelve o'clock the engagement became general, between the retreating gunboats of the rebels and our fleet, with an occasional shot from a battery on shore. The firing was exceedingly brisk for some time, but the distance was evidently too long for destructive effect. The one hundred-pound Parrott gun on board the Southfield, to which the Flag-Officer transferred his flag, boomed forth with terrific explosions, followed by the roar of the flying shell and the crash in bursting. The puff of smoke in the air was almost simultaneous with the splash of fragments in the water. The rebel gunboats kept up a steady fire in reply, and their shots could be seen skipping along the water among our vessels. Their fire was varied at times by the louder report of a hundred-pound Parrott gun on board one of their vessels. The Sawyer gun on board the Fanny, which was captured by the rebels at Hatters Inlet, was the most annoying in its effects, as the range is long and very accurate. The fire from the fort indicated a weak force working the guns. Their shots, which were inaccurate and chiefly ricochet, were fired at considerable intervals. The guns of the fort are evidently heavy but not rifled. The rebel gunboats retire steadily before our fleet, and are now a considerable distance up the sound. A line of piles driven into the bottom across the principal channel, obstructs the progress of our vessels in the direction of the retreating rebels, which occupy an inner channel under the guns of their battery, and our fleet now turn their attention to the fort, which keeps up a steady and rapid fire from one gun only. Our vessels have got the range of the battery, but some shells explode high in the air, and over the woods in the rear of the work. Gen. Burnside, on board the Spaulding, has approached sufficiently near to have an excellent view of the bombardment, and is now pacing the deck with impatience at the delay in the arrival of the transport fleet. He has ordered a trial of the range of the eighteen-pounder Dahlgren gun on the forward deck to be made. Three shots were fired, which fell short, but in a direct line with the battery. Our fleet of transports may now be seen crowding through the inlet. The stern-wheel boat Cadet, with the Fifty-first New-York, Colonel Ferrero, on board, has just come up abreast the Spaulding, and Col. Ferrero is ordered to be in readiness to land his men, to which he responds: “All ready, General.” The fire from the battery has slackened, and now shots are fired at intervals of ten or twelve