After the Albemarle
had come down an inquiry was made as to why she had not been destroyed when under construction at Edwards Ferry, forty miles above Rainbow Bluffs on the Roanoke River
On the 8th of the preceding June Lieutenant-Commander Flusser
had sent a sketch of her cross-section.
He stated further that ‘she was built on the plan of the Merrimac
On the 8th of the following August Admiral Lee
reported to the Department that the ironclad building at Edwards Ferry was considered by Flusser
‘as a formidable affair, though of light draught.’
The information elicited was to the effect that the depth of water would not permit the gunboats to ascend to Edwards Ferry in shoal and narrow channels, in the face of several formidable batteries, and the army did not attach enough importance to her construction to send a sufficient force to destroy her.
The Navy Department ordered Captain Melancton Smith
, an officer of ability and experience, to the sounds of North Carolina
to destroy the ‘ram’ at all hazards, if possible.
, in an official letter to Captain Smith
, alludes to his former instructions and adds: ‘Entrusted by the Department with the performance of this signal service, I leave (with the expression of my views) to you the manner of executing it’ (the destruction of the ram).
Some of the vessels assigned were still without the sounds, but the full moon gave promise of high tides, and we soon find them ready for operating.
Captain Melancton Smith
hoisted his flag on board of the ‘double-ender’ Mattabesett
, Commander Febiger
, and on the 2d of May had arranged his order of battle:
The steamers will advance in the third order of steaming, the Miami leading the second line of steamers.
The Mattabesett, Sassacus, Wyalusing, and Whitehead formed the