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Doc. 19.-attempt to destroy the Albemarle.

Captain M. Smith's report.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, N. C., May 30, 1864.
Sir: I have to report that an effort was made on the twenty-fifth instant, at eleven o'clock P. M., by five volunteers from the steamer Wyalusing, to destroy the iron-clad Albemarle.

The party left at two o'clock P. M. on the twenty-fifth instant, (having made a reconnoissance two days before,) and ascended the Middle River in the Mattabesett's dingey, with two torpedoes, (each containing one hundred pounds of powder,) and their appendages, which they transported on a stretcher across the island swamps. Charles Baldwin, coal-heaver, and John W. Lloyd, coxswain, then swam the Roanoke River, with a line, and hauled the torpedoes over to the Plymouth shore, above the town. They were then connected by a bridle, floated down with the current, and guided by Charles Baldwin, who designed to place them across the bow of the ram--one on either side-and Allen Crawford, fireman, who was stationed on the opposite side of the river, in the swamp, was to explode them on a given signal.

Everything had worked favorably from the time of starting, until the torpedoes were within a few yards of the ram, when Baldwin was discovered, and hailed by a sentry on the wharf.

Two shots were then fired, and a volley of musketry, which induced John W. Lloyd, who heard the challenge and reports of small arms, to cut the guiding line, throw away the coil, and swim the river again to join John Laverty, fireman, who was left in charge of his clothes and arms. These two men, with the boat-keeper, Benjamin Lloyd, coal-heaver, returned to the ship the morning of the twenty-seventh, after an absence of thirty-eight hours in the swamps, encountering the additional discomfort of a rainy day and night.

Two days unsuccessful search was made for Baldwin and Crawford, both of whom made their appearance on Sunday, the twenty-ninth instant, much fatigued by travel, and somewhat exhausted from the loss of food. No traces of their intended designs were left behind them. I cannot too highly commend this party for their courage, zeal, and unwearied exertion in carrying out a project that had for some time been under consideration. The plan of executing it was their own, except in some minor details, and although defeated in their purpose, (by accidentally fouling a schooner,) I deem it my imperative duty to recommend John W. Lloyd and Charles Baldwin to be promoted to a higher grade; and that all receive the “medal of honor” and pecuniary reward awarded by act of Congress for distinguished services.

Four deserters from the rebel ram Albemarle were brought on board by the picket boat yesterday, but I cannot, without delaying the army boat, communicate the intelligence they bring. They [227] state, however, that the ram Neuse is afloat, and ready in all respects for service.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Captain and Senior Officer, in Sounds of N. Carolina. Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee. Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

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