Report of Acting Master Boutelle.
Albemarle and her consort, the rebel steamer Bombshell, on the fifth instant. In ramming the Albemarle, we had a a start of three to four hundred yards, and were making about eleven knots, when we struck her with our prow at right angles on her starboard quarter at the junction of her after casemate with the hull, forcing her side under water two or three feet, and pushing her broadside to before us; our bow then resting on her quarter, her engine working ahead, bringing a heavy strain across our bow, our outer or false stem with its ram, which had been started by the shock of collision, were forced off, the stem splintering from two and a half feet below the rail to the lower part of the rudder, and hanging by the lower portion across our bow on the starboard side, starting and splintering the outer wood ends, and tearing away all of the false bow forward of the rudder, which is apparently not materially injured on its inner portion, as it moves quite freely by the use of the wheel. The position in which we lay when first striking the ram rendered it impossible for him to train any of his guns upon us, but the headway of the two vessels, exerted at right angles, forced her gradually round on our starboard bow, when he fired two six-inch rifle shots into us in rapid succession. The first of these, fired from his after gun so near as to cover our bow with smoke and burned powder, entered ten feet abaft the stem and three feet above the copper on the starboard side, passing through the yeoman's storeroom, thence diagonally across the berth-deck, and striking between the skin and the back of the fifth hanging knee from forward on the port side, cut through the ship's side at an angle of about twenty degrees, and fell in the water astern. This shot was immediately followed by a similar one from his forward gun, which shot entering abreast of the foremast four feet above the water on the starboard side, crushed obliquely through the side; cutting through the back of hanging knee, and leaving the inside of the ceiling about seven and one-half feet abaft where it first struck on the outside. From thence it passed through the throat of the next hanging knee, through the dispensary and bulkhead, starboard coal-bunker, passing on through the starboard boiler, and keeping on through the engine-room, cut in two a three-inch iron stanchion, thence through steerage and ward-room bulkheads, smashing doors and sideboard, cutting through magazine screen, when, striking an oak stanchion, which it splintered, it glanced at right angles and lodged in one of the starboard state-rooms. Many other shot passed over the ship, one of them cutting through the boarding netting two feet above the rail on port quarter, but most of them passing between the spars and rigging, which were not injured. In clearing the ram, our starboard wheel passed over her stern, crushing a launch which she was towing, and injuring the buckets and braces more or less on her hull. On examination I find that the shot holes are all well above the water-line, and as the ship makes no more water than usual, I think her actual injury to the hull much less than would seem a natural result from so tremendous a shock. I have the honor to be, Sir, Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Additional report of Capt. Smith.
Roanoke River, with head up stream, and was accompanied by a row-boat that pulled several times diagonally across the river, as if dragging for torpedoes. The Whitehead fired a shell, which exploded near his stern, when the Albemarle immediately steamed up the river. I have heard from contrabands and refugees direct from Plymouth, that the plating of the ram was much injured; that four of our shots penetrated his outer armor, and that the concussion caused by our fire was so severe that it was found impossible to keep a light burning, and that one of the guns was rendered useless. What repairs have been made are not known. I am of the opinion, from the intelligence received from Plymouth, that they are evacuating the place. Several guns have been sent up the river, and large loads of furniture are being towed up by every steamer. The guns of the Southfield have been raised; one has been sent away, and two are on the wharf ready for transportation. I have informed the commanding General at Newbern of the state of affairs at Plymouth, and signified my desire to cooperate with him in retaking the place if he could spare the necessary force, as I have heard from a reliable source that they have but two hundred men and the ram to guard it, * * * I am, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,