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Doc. 220.-fight at Acquia Creek.

The following is the official report of the action at Acquia Creek:--

U. S. Steamer Thos. Freeborn, off Acquia Creek, Potomac River, May 31.
My immediate commanding officer, Flag Officer Stringham, not being present to receive it, I communicate directly to the department, the report of a serious cannonade made by this vessel, supported by the Anacosta and Resolute steamers, upon the batteries of Acquia Creek this morning. After an incessant discharge kept up for two hours by both our 32-pounders, and the expenditure of all the ammunition suitable for distant firing, and silencing completely the three batteries at the railroad terminus, the firing from shore having been rapidly kept up by them until so silenced, and having been recommenced from the new batteries on the heights back, which reached us in volleys, dropped the shot on board and about us like hail for nearly an hour, fortunately wounding but one man, I hauled the vessel off, as the heights proved wholly above the reach of our elevation. Judging from the explosion of our 10-second shells in the sand batteries, two of which were thrown by the Anacosta, it is hardly possible the enemy can have escaped considerable loss. Several other of the Anacosta's shells dropped in the vicinity of the battery. I cannot speak in too high terms of the officers and men, whose coolness and activity under great exposure are beyond praise. As the former are all acting, having volunteered from civil life, none but myself being of the regular Navy, I beg leave to ask for them a favorable consideration by the Government. The long thirty-two pounder in use is of the old pattern, cast in 1819, and cannot be excelled in precision. Both of the guns are on carriages of the new construction devised by myself; and answered admirably, working with such ease, that the crews came out of the action wholly unfatigued. To the extreme sweep of 140 degrees which these carriages have, together with their ease and rapidity of movement, enabling the vessel to constantly change position, yet keep up accurate fire, which impaired the enemy's range and direction, hie firing always with rifled cannon, is to be materially attributed our escape without loss of life or damage to the vessel or machinery. The men say they are as fresh from fatigue, as when they entered action. We cannonaded for an hour before the same batteries the day before yesterday; but, the tide being out, neither party reached with any considerable certainty. I doubt if it is possible to reduce the batteries now established on the heights, from ships, nor is it at all important, considering they are remote from the ship channel of the river, and command only the railroad terminus. Yesterday I landed in person, with Acting Master Budd, and Master's Mate Lee, and a small party of seamen, and made a most minute exploration, extending over the whole of Matthias Point. I am, therefore, able to speak with ocular certainty, and to say that not a sign of a movement, the cutting of a sapling, driving a stake, or carting a shovel-full of earth towards the erection of a battery exists. The jungle is very thick, but we penetrated a belt of it three hundred yards wide from the shore and three miles in length. [321] Assuring ourselves of the facts as stated in this report, I have especially to ask for the steamers Reliance and Resolute of this flotilla, each a small rifled cannon in addition to the smooth-bored gun with which they are provided. For the want of a rifled gun in them, I was obliged to forbid their coming closely under a fire to which they could not reply with even an approximate effect. Lieutenant commanding, N. Collins, of the Anacosta, will make his own report.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

J. H. Ward. Commander U. S. Navy commanding Flotilla. To the Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

--National Intelligencer, June 3.

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