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Doc. 18.-destruction of the Hatteras.

Capt. Raphael Semmes's report.

C. S. Steamer Alabama, Bahia, May 17, 1868.
I arrived at Galveston (under sail) on the eleventh of January, and just before nightfall made the enemy's fleet lying off the bar, consisting of five ships of war. One of the steamers was soon after perceived to get under way, and steer in our direction. I ordered steam to be got up, [226] but set sail on the ship as a decoy, that I might entice the enemy's ship sufficiently far from the fleet to offer her battle. I wore ship and stood away from the bar, permitting the enemy to approach me by slow degrees. When the enemy had approached sufficiently near, I took in all sail, and wearing short around, ran up within hail. It was now dark, it being about seven o'clock.

The enemy hailed, “What ship is that?” We responded, “Her Majesty's steamer Petrel.” The reply was, “I will send a boat on board.” We now hailed in turn, to know who the enemy was, and when we had received the reply that he was the “United States steamer Hatteras,” we again hailed him, and informed him that we were the Confederate steamer Alabama; and at the same time I directed the First Lieutenant to open fire upon him. Our fire was promptly returned, and a brisk action ensued, which lasted, however, only thirteen minutes, as at the end of that time the enemy fired an off gun and showed a light; and upon being hailed by us to know if he had surrendered, he replied that he had, and that he was in a sinking condition. I immediately despatched boats to his assistance, and had just time to remove the crew when the ship went down.

The casualties were slight on both sides, although the action was fought at a distance of from one hundred and fifty to four hundred yards. Our shot all told on his hull about the water line, and hence the small number of killed and wounded on the part of the enemy--two of the former and three of the latter. We had none killed and only one wounded. The Hatteras mounted eight guns, and had a crew of eighteen officers and one hundred and eight men. The Alabama also mounted eight guns, (with a small captured piece, a twenty-four pounder, too light to be of any service,) and had a crew of one hundred and ten men, exclusive of officers. Four of the Hatteras' guns were thirty-two pounders — the same calibre as our broadside guns, but our pivot guns were heavier than hers, this being the only disparity between the two ships.

We received a few shot holes from the enemy, doing no material damage. The enemy's steamer steamed out in pursuit of us soon after the action commenced, but missed us in the darkness of the night. Being embarrassed with a large number of prisoners, I steamed directly for Jamaica, where I arrived on the twentieth of January. Here I landed my prisoners, repaired damages, coaled ship, and on the twenty-fifth of January I proceeded to sea again. On the twenty-eighth of January I touched at the city of St. Domingo, in the island of the same name, and landed the crews of two of the enemy's ships which I had burned. I sailed again on the same day, and made my way to----, thence to the island of----, and thence to this place, where I arrived yesterday — burning, bonding, and destroying enemy's ships, as per list enclosed.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. Semmes, Commander. Hon. S. R. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy.

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