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[182] afloat. I felt confident that the confederates would come on me in overwhelming force, and it now became my duty to save my men. So all hands were called to muster, and the crew told that they could go aboard the schooner. I called for six volunteers to remain with me on board and fight the remaining gun. Knowing that it was almost certain death, the men came forward, and two masters' mates — Valentine and Barton — were amongst the number; these gentlemen subsequently behaved with coolness and bravery. I ordered the schooner to drop down the channel out of range from the bluffs, and there to wait for the termination of the impending engagement, and if we were destroyed to proceed to sea.

Early in the morning the enemy opened on us from four points, with heavy rifled guns, (one a Whitworth.) It was a cross-fire and very destructive. I replied as best I could, but in a short time the engine was disabled, and she was much cut up in every part, and the only alternatives left were surrender or a pull of one and a half miles, under their fire, in my small boat. The first of these was not, of course, to be thought of; the second I resolved to attempt. I fired the Ellis in five places, and having seen that the battle-flag was still flying, trained the gun on the enemy so that the vessel might fight herself after we had left her, and started down the river, reached the schooner, and made sail for sea. It was low water on the bar and a heavy surf was rolling in; but the wind forced us through after striking several times.

We were just in time, for about six hundred yards down the beach were several companies of cavalry trying to reach the mouth of the inlet in time to cut us off. We hoisted our flag and gave three cheers and were off.

In four hours I reached Beaufort. I brought away all my men, my rifled howitzer, and ammunition, the ship stores and clothing, the men's bags and hammocks, and a portion of the small arms. I retained aboard a few muskets, pikes and pistols to repel boarders.

I neglected to state that when I took possession of the enemy's ground, on the twenty-fourth, a salt-work was destroyed and ten boats rendered useless that were to have been used for boarding. At nine A. M., the United States steamer Ellis was blown in pieces by the explosion of the magazine. Officers and men behaved nobly, obeying orders strictly under the most trying circumstances.

I respectfully request that a court of inquiry may be ordered to investigate the facts of the case, and to see if the honor of the flag has suffered in my hands.

I am, sir, very respectfully your obedient servant,

Wm. B. Cushing, Lieutenant. To Commander H. K. Davenport, Senior Officer Commanding in Sounds of North-Carolina.

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