additional particulars of the Roanoke fight — operations of our fleet.
Norfolk, Feb. 18th, 1862.
From a gentleman who participated in the late action of our little fleet under Com. Lynch
, I glean some interesting particulars, which I hasten to spread before your readers.
The point to which the enemy mainly directed his fire was near the South
end of the island, where the Sound
is about three and three-quarter miles wide.
A row of piles had been driven and extended within three-quarters of a mile of Roanoke Island
, and about one mile and a half of Croatian, which is opposite.
On Thursday, about daylight, a large fleet of vessels was seen below Roanoke
marshes, about ten miles to the South
of the island, where it remained all day, owing to the very heavy fog and rain which prevailed.
Friday, the weather being clear, the fleet, drawn up in line of battle, advanced, and at precisely 10.15 A. M. opened fire on the little squadron under Com. Lynch
, which had been drawn up on the Northern
side of the piles to receive them.
When about 15 minutes after the action commenced, the enemy having obtained our range, we hove up our anchors and retired slowly until within a quarter or half a mile from the piles, constantly firing, and followed by the enemy's shipping.
About 12 M, our little fleet dashed forward, driving them from the piles, and holding them at bay until about 1 o'clock.--They then advanced, and in a few minutes the Curlew
received a shot through her hull, which soon placed her in a sinking condition.
About this time, also, it was discovered that the wheelman's arm had been broken by the fragment of a shell, and the flag-officer ordered her to repair closer in shore, where she could not sink very far from the mainland.
At about 2 o'clock, Capt. Hoole
, of the Forrest
, was struck down, and several of his men wounded by the fragments of a shell.--Soon after, the Forrest
becoming disabled, she, too, was forced to withdraw from the fight.
The action lasted until night, the fort continuing to fire with two guns.
Having but a meagre supply of ammunition, we decided to retire to Elizabeth City
, obtain some, and return as soon as possible.
About midnight we started, taking the Forrest
and schooner Black Warrior
in tow, and arrived at Elizabeth City
on Saturday morning, where we awaited the return of the Raleigh
, which had been sent to Norfolk
to obtain ammunition.
On Sunday the Sea Bird
and Powhatan were sent down to reconnoitre, and when a short distance past the mouth of the Pasquotank river
, were met and chased back to Elizabeth City
by about twenty of the enemy's gunboats; but night coming on, we were prevented from being captured.
On Monday morning, about sunrise, the enemy was again seen advancing with thirteen ships, with three or four more coming up in the rear.
When within short gun range, the Sea Bird
opened fire, followed by our other gunboats.
The enemy replied briskly, at the same time steadily advancing.
Finding the Sea Bird
was the flag-ship of the squadron, the enemy directed his fire chiefly against her, and in a short time three or four well directed shots set her on fire and reduced her to a sinking condition.--By this time the enemy had succeeded in completely surrounding us, and the fight was now kept up between the enemy's shipping and the Sea Bird
, and Fanny
, with muskets and pistols, interspersed with a few discharges of grape and canister, until our boats were boarded and such of their crews as remained overpowered by the swarms of Lincoln
's hordes that crowded upon them on every side.
The Sea Bird
had not twenty
effective men, and the steamer that boarded her had about one hundred and forty.
being very close in shore, succeeded in saving all her crew and the greater portion of the crew of the Ellis
; the Sea Bird
being farther out in the stream and near the enemy's shipping, were less fortunate, and were all captured.
The Powhatan, Yatio, did good service; but being well out in the channel, managed to escape.
was set on fire by her crew when leaving her, and burned to the water's edge.
was captured, sustaining but little damage.
fought desperately, and received a severe wound on the skull, which we fear will terminate fatally.
His vessel was boarded by an overpowering number of the enemy.
The officers captured by the enemy were, Captain Cooke
, James Peters
, J. Hanks
, J. J. Henderson
, James W. McCarrick
, R. W. G. Livingston
, and Mr. Wombsley
--the first and last named of the Ellis
, and the rest of the Sea Bird
were also captured, both being attached to the Sea Bird
As far as ascertained, only three were wounded in the fight at Roanoke Island
, viz: Master Odanlg Hoole
, skull fractured; Midshipman Conner
, arm shot off; and the wheelsman of the Curlew
, as before stated, arm broken.
In the second fight, the killed on our side amounted to five--three on board the Sea Bird
and two on the Ellis
Six or seven were severely wounded.
Among the killed was midshipman Jackson
Nobly did this young man perform his allotted part in the engagement; and when the order to escape was given, he jumped over board and was making his way to the mainland, when he was struck by a shell, from the effects of which he died.--Eight of the enemy were killed, and many others placed soldiers de combat.
The enemy .
will visit Richmond
in a day or two to effect an exchange.
I must not omit to say that during the second engagement some of the enemy were badly burned--one of our shells passing through one of their magazines and setting fire to all their signal lights.
It was quickly extinguished, however, before communicating with the powder, in which case the ship must have been blown to atoms.
Our men were transferred to one of the enemy's ships, where they were courteously treated and their comfort provided for. With the large number of the enemy's shipping, we do not wonder that they were completely crushed, and are surprised that they should have held out with the tenacity they did.
Think of three or four little boats contending against the conbined force of thirteen heavy armed vessels and we have some idea of the unequal engagement and the spirit of our brave men, who fought them while their boats were sinking, and their ammunition well night exhausted.
We cannot close this hastily writen article without recording the gallantry and fearless spirit of Captain McCormick
. First to open fire from his little boat, the Sea Bird
, he was last to leave her decks, and not till all hope of a successful conflict had departed, did he give the order to hoist the white flag.
He deserves well of his country and we award him praise.
There are others we might mention who took a prominent part in the engagement, but fearing that I might overstep the limit you have allowed me, I must desist.
Suffice it to say, all acted nobly; each one performed his duty well.
History will allot them their proper place, while the little achievement I have attempted to describe will occupy a bright place on its page.
I close the scene.
When I again write, I hope it will be to record other exploits equally as daring as that I have named, and equally creditable to our troops.