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[460] of the sound. The ruse succeeded, and falling back before the “Albemarle,” as she left her moorings to pursue them, they quickly drew her into a favorable position for attack. Shortly after three P. M., in obedience to signals from the “Mattabesett,” the three vessels got under way, and forming in line ahead, in the order in which their names are above written, proceeded at ordinary speed up the sound. At four P. M. the “Mattabesett” communicated with the army transport “Massasoit,” coming down, and immediately signalled to her consorts the “ram is out.” Almost at the same instant they discovered the picket boats falling back slowly before the advancing foe; and beyond them a glistening speck upon the waters, with two other dark objects hovering near, which they knew to be the ram,--accompanied by her consorts. The Union vessels were now cleared for action, and every preparation was made for a determined struggle with their formidable antagonist, toward whom they were driving under full steam. The day was charming, the broad expanse of water was undisturbed by a ripple, while the sun's beams were dazzlingly reflected from the inclined sides of the “Albemarle,” till she seemed like a mass of silver, while above her waved an unusually large and handsome Confederate flag. The rebels were now seen to be communicating by boats, and one of their vessels, a white, stern-wheel steamer, which was afterward ascertained to be the “Cotton Plant,” cotton-clad, and manned by two hundred sharpshooters and boarders, put hastily back to Plymouth. The other steamer, which proved to be the “Bombshell,” closed up on the “ram's” quarter, in readiness for the coining conflict.

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