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[195] part of the channel was opened upon by two field pieces. In an hour the enemy was driven from his guns and from the bluff, and the vessel passed within one hundred yards of it without molestation. Five hundred yards farther down the pilots mistook tile channel and the Ellis got hard and fast aground; it was found, moreover, that he was in a pocket with shoaler water all around.

A party was sent on shore to carry off the abandoned artillery, but in the meantime the enemy had removed it. At dark one of the prize schooners was taken alongside and everything taken out of the Ellis except the pivot gun, some ammunition, two tons of coal, and a few small arms. But steam and anchor planted to haul her off were ineffective. It was quite certain that the Confederates would come in overwhelming numbers and capture the vessel; therefore Cushing called all hands to muster, and told the crew that they could go aboard the schooner. Six volunteers were asked to remain on board and fight the remaining gun.

The officer in charge of the schooner was directed to drop down the channel out of range from the bluffs and await results. At daylight the enemy opened on the Ellis from four points with rifled guns. It was a destructive cross-fire; the engine was soon disabled and the vessel much cut up; in the meantime the pivot gun was used with as much effect as possible. The contest was hopeless; the Ellis was set on fire in five places, and Cushing and his six comrades took to their small boat and pulled for the schooner, at anchor a mile and a half below. On reaching the schooner sail was made and the vessel forced over the bar, although she struck several times. The magazine of the Ellis blew up soon after the schooner had crossed the bar.

At daylight on February 23d, at the western entrance to Cape Fear River, a blockade-runner was seen from the

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Cape Fear (North Carolina, United States) (1)
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William B. Cushing (2)
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February 23rd (1)
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