Official report of Commander Trenchard.
Rhode Island proceeded to sea with the iron-clad steamer Monitor in tow, at half-past 2 P. M. of the twenty-ninth ultimo, the wind being light from the southward and westward, with a smooth sea. The weather continued favorable during the night, and the Monitor towed easily; speed ranging between five and six miles per hour. At one P. M. of the thirtieth, made Cape Hatteras lighthouse, bearing west-south-west, fourteen miles distant. The weather during the day continued the same. At sunset, when seventeen miles south-east of Cape Hatteras, made the steamer State of Georgia with the Passaic in tow, to the northward and eastward of us, the wind being light at the time from southward and westward, with indications of good weather. Between eight and nine P. M. the wind freshened, hauling more to the southward, and attended with rainy and squally weather. At nine P. M. the Monitor made signals to stop. We stopped the engines, starting them again soon after. During the interval, the Monitor appeared to be lying in the trough of the sea, laboring heavily, the sea making a complete breach over her. The steamer was then brought head to wind and sea, under easy steam, and the Monitor rode much easier, and made better weather. About two hours afterward, (eleven P. M.,) when about twenty miles south-south-west of Cape Hatteras, Commander Bankhead made signals for assistance, and upon hailing, we learned the Monitor was in a sinking condition. We lowered our launch and first cutter without delay, and commenced getting her crew on board. While so engaged, the Monitor ranged upon our port-quarter, staving in the launch, and to prevent a serious collision, by which the Rhode Island would have been badly injured, it was necessary to force the steamer ahead a little. While under our quarter, ropes were thrown on board the Monitor, but so reluctant did the crew appear to leave their vessel, that they did not take advantage of this opportunity to save themselves. The vessels now being separated, a third boat was then lowered, to assist the others in getting the crew on board. Acting Master's Mate Brown, the officer in charge of the first cutter, deserves special credit for the skilful manner in which he managed his boat, having made two trips to the Monitor, and rescuing a number of her men. Encouraged by the success attending them, Mr. Brown started on another trip, and soon after was hailed, and directed to lie on his oars, or drop astern, and be towed up, as the Rhode Island would steam for the Monitor as soon as the men could be got on board from the boats alongside, and the boats hoisted up. Mr. Brown, perhaps not understanding the order, proceeded on in the direction of the Monitor, whose red light from her turret was still visible, but by the time the steamer was ready to turn her wheels, the light had unfortunately disappeared. Half-past 1 P. M., on the thirtieth ult.--The steamer proceeded slowly in the direction which the Monitor bore when last seen, and endeavored to keep her position as near as possible throughout the night, burning Coston's night-signals at intervals. After daylight, not seeing any thing of the missing boat, I decided to cruise between the position she had separated from us and Cape Hatteras, and the extremity of its shoals, with the hope of falling in with her. This plan was carried out, and the day (thirty-first ultimo) was passed in this way, but I regret to say, without success. It is possible, however, that the boat may have been picked up by one of the numerous vessels that were seen off the coast on that day. The boat was buoyant, had a good crew, and no doubt well managed, and I entertain hope that her daring crew have been saved by some passing vessel. Acting Ensign Taylor, the officer who had charge of the launch, which had rendered good service, speaks in high praise of the gallant conduct of Acting Master's Mate Stevens, who when the launch was manning, went quietly into the boat, took one of the oars, and while alongside the Monitor, in striving to save others, was himself washed from the boat, but was rescued by the first cutter. Mr. Taylor also speaks in high terms of David T. Compton, Cockswain of the launch, who when the boat was stove and rendered unfit for service, oarlocks broken, declared he would not leave the boat, but would go to the Monitor even if he had to scull the boat. I inclose herewith a list of the men in the missing boat belonging to the Rhode Island. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,