On the fifteenth instant the squadron to which my vessel is attached, had a four hours fight with a strong rebel battery on James River, eight miles below Richmond. During the fight our one hundred-pounder Parrott rifle-gun burst, one third of it being thrown overboard; one third falling over on the starboard side of the deck, while the remaining third retained nearly its proper position. The heavy iron gun-carriage was almost entirely destroyed, our pilot-house shattered, and the captain of the gun blown some fifteen feet, but fortunately not killed. I was within two feet of the gun when it burst, having just trained it upon the enemy's battery. The speaking-trumpet in my hand was crushed; a fragment of the gun, weighing nearly a ton, fell within an inch or two of me, actually tearing my coat as it fell, and one of the large squares of rubber attached to the gun struck me upon the head, stunning me for a moment, but still I was able to remain on deck and superintend the fighting of our broadside guns, which were engaged throwing shell and canister into the rebel rifle-pits, which lined the shore under cover of the woods. After the fight was over, and the squadron commenced falling back for want of ammunition, I fainted away and was taken below, where, after being cupped behind the ears, I was again enabled to take charge of the vessel. This morning I arrived at Norfolk with the killed and wounded of the squadron, and reached here at one o'clock this afternoon. I find that I cannot be made ready for another heavy gun without a thorough overhauling and great waste of precious time, consequently I have tendered my vessel to the Flag-Officer to again go up James River in her present condition, relying upon my broadside rifle-guns for fighting, and the ability of my vessel to remove obstructions, etc., etc. The Commodore, before I left him up James River, told me that even in my present state I could be of great service to him. I shall know probably by to-morrow whether I am to return to the scene of our late fight, or to be sent to some place for repairs. During the fight of the fifteenth instant a rifle-ball passed through my clothing and lodged in a hammock near me, and I now keep it as a memento of the fight. The ball was decidedly from an English Enfield rifle, but the rebel who fired it is no longer living. At least three well-directed shots had been fired at me from, one spot before I discovered where they came from; I then saw that they had been fired from a thick green bush about eighty yards from me. Once I even caught sight of the muzzle of the rifle as it was protruded through the bush to aim at me, and twice I raised a rifle to my shoulder to aim at him, but he dropped out of sight in a twinkling. Finding that I must either shoot him or get shot myself, I tried another plan. I aimed one of our twelve-pounders, loaded with canister, to the bush, and directed the captain of the gun at fire at the moment I raised my signal. I then took my former position and watched the bush closely. Sure enough, when the fellow saw me standing without a rifle in my hand, he again thrust the muzzle of his gun through the bush, but before he could pull the trigger I raised my hand--“bang” went the twelve-pounder, and when the smoke cleared away rebel, gun, husband and all had been destroyed together. The evening before the fight I learned that the Galena had on board several sheets of boileriron not in use. Twenty-five of these I procured and fastened up outside of our cabin and pilothouse, and it was most fortunate that I did so. Had it not been for the protection these afforded, I would have probably lost nearly all my men by the fire of the rebel sharp-shooters, whereas, by keeping my men under shelter as much as possible, and only exposing them for a moment while loading our guns, I succeeded in driving the enemy out of their rifle-pits, with the loss of only two of my men severely wounded. For an hour and a half after the bursting of our one hundred-pounder we kept up the fight with our broadside guns, and only fell back when the Galena and Monitor set us example, the other two vessels of the squadron having drawn out of range of the battery at least half an hour before we moved. The iron-clad Galena was hit forty-six times--twenty-eight shot and shell having completely penetrated her armor, killing fourteen and wounding about twenty of her crew. The other vessels were but slightly injured. Strange to say, four out of five of the commanders of the vessels engaged were more or less injured. . . . . . . . . It is now three o'clock in the morning, and I have not yet retired, which is rather late for a person who has not had his clothes off for the last eighteen days and nights . . . . . Yours, affectionately,
Letter to Captain Faunce.
U. S. Gunboat Stevens, Hampton roads, May 19.my dear Captain: We arrived here yesterday from Norfolk, having brought down the killed and part of the wounded in our last action and left them at the hospital there. The squadron to which we were attached, consisting, besides the Stevens, of the Galena, Monitor, Aroos took, and Port Royal, worked our way up James River, and at a battery at a place called Harding's Bluff, (about five miles above Day's Point,) we saw the rebel steamers Yorktown and Jamestown, but they ran from us, ascending the river. When we arrived at City Point we found the storehouses there, containing tobacco, etc., in flames, and nearly consumed. On the evening of the fourteenth inst., we arrived about ten miles below Richmond. The Stevens had led the squadron, keeping about two hundred yards ahead of the Galena, sounding out the channel, and looking out for obstructions and torpedoes. We were (on account of our light draught of water and the readiness with which the vessel worked) of great service to the squadron. From information which we had