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It now became a matter of importance to reinforce the blockading vessels in the Sounds, as the ram might at any moment come out of the river and repossess all the waters of North Carolina. Three of the larger double-enders, the Sassacus, Mattabesett, and Wyalusing, were sent down, and the force was placed under the command of Captain Melancton Smith1. The squadron was posted off the mouth of the Roanoke, and careful preparations were made for the expected attack.

On the 5th of May the Albemarle came down, accompanied by a steamer carrying troops, and a captured army-transport loaded with provisions and coal, prepared for an extended cruise in the Sounds. The squadron got under way, and met her about ten miles from the mouth of the river. At a little before five in the afternoon she opened the engagement, by firing two shots at the Mattabesett, the leading vessel The latter, followed by the Sassacus and Wyalusing, passed up alongside the Albemarle, delivering their broadsides at a distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Turning, they came back on the opposite side, and the smaller vessels took their place. The ram was thus placed between two fires. The Sassacus, which had drawn off a little from the line, now turned, and, gathering headway, struck the enemy fairly with her stem, just abaft the beam. Though the double-enders were not adapted for ramming, it had been decided to try this, as well as every other expedient, in the hope of inflicting some injury. The ram careened a little, but did not sink; and as the Sassacus remained alongside, the Albemarle's port opened, and a 100-pound Brooke rifle-shot was discharged through one of the boilers of the doubleender.

1 Each of these vessels carried the following armament: two 100-pound Parrotts, four Ix-inch guns, four 24-pounders two 12-pound howitzers The Baasacus had two 20-pounders in addition.

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