Preston; Second Assistant Engineer A. T. E. Mullan; Master's Mate Paul Boyden; Frank Lucas, coxswain; William Garvin, captain forecastle; Charles J. Bibber, gunner's mate; John Neil, quarter gunner; Robert Montgomery; captain after-guard; James Roberts, seaman, Charles Hawkins, seaman; Dennis Conlon, seaman; James Sullivan, ordinary seaman; William Hinnegan, second-class fireman; Charles Rice, coal-heaver. The crew were all volunteers from my own vessel, the Agawam. The zeal, patience, and endurance of officers and men were unsurpassed, and I believe no officer could have been better supported. To Lieutenant Lamson, Mr Bradford, and the officers and men of the Wilderness, we are indebted for the means of escape; and from the first start from Norfolk, we have received every desired assistance. The vessel was towed to Wilmington bar by the Sassacus, Lieutenant Commander J. L. Davis, who gave us at all times a cordial support. The Tacony, Lieutenant Commander Truxtun, sent us a relief-crew after the gale. Both vessels furnished us a boat. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Report of Lieutenant-Commander W. G. Temple.
Cape Fear river, from December twenty-fourth to twenty-seventh, inclusively. At eleven A. M. of the twenty-fourth, after some previous manoeuvring, we got under way in company with the fleet, and stood in (with everything ready for action) in the wake of the four ironclads until Fort Fisher bore southwest by south, when we opened fire at 1:06 P. M. with the hundred-pounder Parrott rifles, at long range, and gradually closed in toward the position occupied by the sternmost monitor, from whence the nine-inch guns became effective, at a range of about one thousand five hundred yards. At 1:16 P. M. the enemy fired their first gun; the Ironsides having commenced the action at 12:50 P. M., which soon became general along the whole line, as the various ships came into position. After having carefully ascertained our range, the guns of this vessel were kept constantly and rapidly playing upon the enemy's works, until the fleet hauled off at about 5:50 P. M. Our firing, so far as it could be distinguished from that of other vessels, seemed to be accurate and effective, particular embrasures being selected for targets, and shells being seen to strike and explode at the points indicated. We fired during the action one hundred and twenty shells from the eleven-inch guns, and ninety two from the one-hundred-pounder rifles. At 2:35 P. M. this vessel was struck just abaft the starboard paddle-box by an elongated (probably percussion) shell, from a six-and-half-inch rifled gun, which projectile passed through the side of the ship, wounding a hanging knee, and barely clearing the main condenser of the engine, through the iron bulkhead of the engine-room and the starboard steerage and mess lockers, through the berth-deck, cutting a beam entirely in two, and into the paymaster's storeroom, where it exploded close to the bulkhead of the shell-room, on striking the skin of the ship, and set the vessel on fire; the fire was soon extinguished, however; not much damage was done and nobody was hurt. Several other shot struck near enough to splash the water on deck, and others passed over us, but none other hit the vessel. The lower plates of both elevating screws (new pattern) to the hundred-pounders were torn loose from the rear transom, by the breaking of their bolts in the first four discharges; but they were lashed securely in place and performed very well during the rest of the action. The gig, launch, and both cutters were badly shattered by the concussion of the nine-inch guns fired beneath them, although they were six feet above the muzzles; many of the hundred-pounder projectiles “wabbled,” and some of them “tumbled” but a more liberal use of slush upon them seemed to correct this in a great measure. We were employed during all that night and until ten A. M. the next day in filling and fusing additional shells, having nearly expended all that had been prepared. At 9:30 A. M. of the twenty-fifth, we got under way with the fleet, and proceeded, in company with the Iasco and several other gunboats, off the bar, where we opened a deliberate fire at 12:55 P. M. from the one hundred-pounder rifles, at long range, and continued the practice until 2:30 P. M., when we were ordered to haul off and send the boats in to remove torpedoes from the channel. We expended forty-six rifle shells during this day's engagement, many of which were plainly distinguished to fall within the enemy's works, and meantime the batteries on shore made some good practice at us, dropping their shots quite near, but not hitting the vessel. The boats returned at four P. M., and the gunboats steamed up the coast to where the troops had in the meanwhile been disembarked, and anchored for the night. At nine P. M. we were ordered to send all boats to the beach to assist in re-embarking the troops; but on starting they were found to leak so badly as to be unserviceable, and returned. We were employed all the next day, the twenty-sixth, in repairing the boats, and just after sunset were sent in to within about six hundred yards of the beach (on the right of our troops, who, owing to the surf, had not succeeded in getting on board their vessels), for the purpose of supplying them with provisions, protecting them from the enemy, and boating them