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[75] State) suddenly appeared through the mist. She was hailed and an order given to fire, but it was found the ram was so close that the guns of the Mercedita could not be sufficiently depressed to strike her. A heavy shell from a rifled gun on the ram entered the starboard side of the Mercedita, passed through the Normandy condenser and the steam-drum of her port boiler, exploding against the port side of the vessel and tearing a hole four or five feet square. The shell killed the gunner in his room, and the escape of steam three firemen and coal-heavers, and badly scalded three others. The enginery was disabled, and as demanded, an officer was sent on board of the attacking vessel and gave a parole for the officers and men ‘not to take up arms against the Confederate States during the war, unless legally and regularly exchanged as prisoners of war.’ Repairs of a temporary character enabled the Mercedita to reach Port Royal during the day without being towed.

The rams then approached the Keystone State. An extract of the log-book of that vessel, over the signature of her commanding officer, is more circumstantial than his official report given also in the appendix to the Report of the Secretary of the Navy, and therefore forms the basis of what appears below.

Between 4 and 5 A. M. a gun, supposed from the Mercedita, was heard, lights were seen, and soon a dark object a little ahead of her, and a column of black smoke rising as was supposed from a tug; another column of black, smoke was seen more to the north and east. The suspicions of the captain were aroused, and he ordered the forward rifle trained upon the vessel approaching from the Mercedita. The battery was made ready, engineer directed to have steam, the cable was slipped and the vessel was under steerage way. The vessel was hailed, a reply of ‘Halloo’ with unintelligible

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