easy to see, were of the heaviest caliber. When abreast, and about three hundred yards distant from the ram, the Mattabesett delivered her broadside, and passing around her stern, ran by the Bombshell close aboard, as the latter lay on the post-quarter of the ram. Attention was now absorbed in the movements of our own ship, and as we came up, the ram, having failed to get near the Mattabesett, as she swept by, turned her bow fairly for the Sassacus; but measuring the distance, we gave our vessel only a slight sheer with starboard helm, then jamming it hard-a-port, passed about one. hundred and fifty yards from her, delivering with precision our whole broadside of solid shot, which bounded from her armor like rubber balls. Sweeping around her stern, we now stood toward the Bombshell — which had annoyed us exceedingly with small rifled shot directed at our pilot-houses, and which came flying in quick succession over our hurricane deck — and training on her, poured into her hull a full broadside, which brought the rebel ensign down, and sent the white flag up; when, ceasing fire, we ranged close aboard, and hailed to know if they had surrendered, which was answered by shouts of “Yes,” “yes,” “yes!” from a dozen throats. Ordered her to drop out of fire and anchor, which was executed in good faith, and pushing on to regain the time we had consumed in this capture, we noticed that the Mattabesett had again passed by the ram, delivering her fire, and the Wyalusing had come up astern of the Sassacus, attracting the attention of the Albemarle from us, to whom she now exposed her whole side. She was about eight hundred yards distant, and we were in just the position we most desired. The ram appeared to be steaming slowly, as if waiting for events, but using her guns rapidly all the time, throwing one hundred pounder Brooke's rifle shot and shell with spirit and energy. Fortune seemed most favorable, and our intrepid commander determined to close with our antagonist, seized the opportunity without hesitation, and ordering “four bells” again, and again repeated, as previously arranged with the chief engineer, who was acquainted with our design, the ship was headed straight for what was supposed to be the weakest part of the ram, where her casemate or house joined the hull. Our fires were clean, we had thirty pounds of steam, and with throttle wide open, the Sassacus dashed at her grim adversary. We seemed to move frightfully slow, but each moment increased our speed as the intervening space grew less, till we attained the rate of nine to ten knots, when we struck our iron foe a fair, perfect, right-angled blow, without glance or slide. The shock to our ship was not nearly so heavy as we had expected. Something gave way. Was it our ship? Were we cut down? No! thank Heaven! It was the iron-clad, and as her black hull was forced under by our bow till the water flowed over it from side to side, we thought our foe was going down, and could hardly repress a shout of exultation in answer to the ringing cheer with which our comrades on the Wyalusing greeted our bold grapple with the monster. As we struck her, the ram drove a one hundred pounder Brooke's shot through and through her, from starboard bow to port side. Our stem was forced into her side, and keeping up our headway, we careened her down beneath our weight, and pushed her like an inert mass before us, while in profound silence our gunners were training their heavy ordnance to bear on their astonished enemy. Now a black muzzle protrudes from the ram's open port, and the loaders of our Parrott rifle, standing on the slide, serve the gun within fifteen feet of that yawning — cannon mouth. It was a grand reproduction of the old days of “broadside to broadside” and “yard-arm locked to yard;” but the immense guns, now grinning defiance across the few feet of space which separated them, each one carrying the weight of metal of a whole tier of the old-time carronades, rendered this duel of ponderous ordnance a magnificent and imposing spectacle. Still we pushed her broadside before us, our engine at full speed, pressing our bow deeper and deeper into her. Still she gave way; and now we threw a hasty, anxious glance toward our consorts. Were they coming to assist us? Would they seize the golden chance we so invitingly held out to them, and pushing on to the monster's unguarded side, help us to crush her down out of sight forever? Not a sound! not a movement! not a gun! All was quiet as the night throughout our fleet. It was a grapple for life. A silent but fearful struggle for the mastery, relieved only by the sharp, scattering volleys of muketry, the whizzing of leaden bullets, and the deep muffled explosion of hand-grenades, which the fellows in our foretop were flinging in the enemy's hatch, driving back their sharp-shooters, and creating consternation and dismay among the closely packed crew of the iron-clad; but not until our pilot-house and smoke-stack had been spattered all over with the indentation of rifle-balls. No one had yet fallen. We had thrown shot and shell square into her port from our rifle-guns on the hurricane-deck, and driven volley after volley of musketry through every aperture in her iron shield, and now our heavy one hundred pounder was training for another crushing blow. Presently a movement was felt in the two ships. We heard a crashing of timbers, as at the moment of collision. The ram was swinging under our starboard bow, and now suddenly the vessel trembled with the shock, as our one hundred pounder and that of the enemy thundered at each other with a simultaneous roar. Another sound, more fearful than bursting shells or belching cannon, now reached our ears. The terrible sound of unloosed, unmanageable steam, rushing in tremendous volumes, seething and hissing as it spreads, till both combatants were hidden in a dense, suffocating cloud of stifling vapor. Her shot had pierced our boiler, and all was lost! No! not lost yet! Our sharp false stem, which had cut deeply into the side of the
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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