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Doc. 33.-capture of Elizabeth City, N. C.

Report of Lieut. S. P. Quackenbush.

United States steamer Delaware, off Elizabeth City, February 11, 1862.
Commander S. C. Rowan:
sir: In obedience to orders, I herewith submit to you the following report:

On the seventh day of February, 1862, at ten o'clock in the morning, the United States steamer Delaware, S. P. Quackenbush, Lieut. Commanding, and bearing the red pennant of Commander S. C. Rowan, in obedience to a general order from the United States flag-ship Southfield, got under weigh, and proceeded through the marshes towards the battery on Roanoke Island, known as Fort Sullivan, mounting ten guns, which battery we attacked at half-past 11 in the morning, and continued the fire, gradually closing in, until about three o'clock in the afternoon, when we ran close in to shore, within ten feet of the beach, for the purpose of covering the landing of the troops from the army transports, and flanking the fort. At this period the launches, under the command [123] of Midshipman Porter, came up for the same purpose. Master's Mate J. H. Hammond, of this vessel, then assumed the command of the launch Delaware. At this time the Captain called away his gig, and, together with his aid, Acting Assistant Paymaster F. R. Curtis, made the first landing on Roanoke Island, for the purpose of reconnoitring and capturing a rebel tent, which was accomplished and brought on board. After which, believing that there was a large body of rebel troops in the woods, we fired several shell from our nine-inch Dahlgren, commanded by J. H. Kerens, which it was afterwards ascertained lodged in the midst of their encampment, compelling them to disperse and desist from throwing up intrenchments.

At a quarter past five P. M. reported to flag-ship, and requested permission to land troops from the transports, which was granted, and we landed the Fifty-first Pennsylvania regiment, accomplishing it by eight o'clock P. M., when we hauled off and anchored, distant some hundred yards from the shore, where we remained during the night. The following morning, at the request of Gen. Burnside, sent Acting Master Chase, with the command of ten soldiers of the Ninth New-Jersey regiment and two boats' crews, on shore for the purpose of reconnoitring. They returned at eleven o'clock A. M. Previous to this, Paymaster's Clerk Charles T. Hallowell, landed for the purpose of ascertaining if he could procure compressers' screws for our rifled howitzer, which was disabled during the action. He was unsuccessful in procuring them, owing to the engagement at the time. Capt. Quackenbush and his aid, F. R. Curtis, went on shore at half-past 1 o'clock to offer assistance to the army; ascertained that they required warm fresh water and surgical attendance to dress the wounds, and had the same sent to their hospital, together with the Surgeon, Le Traver, who rendered efficient service on the transport steamer Union. Afterwards weighed anchor and went within one hundred yards of Fort Sullivan, when Commander Rowan and Lieut. Commanding Quackenbush landed at the fort, and witnessed the raising of the glorious Stars and Stripes on the rebel battery, amid tremendous cheering.

On the ninth, at half-past 2 P. M., this squadron, consisting of fourteen vessels, under command of S. C. Rowan, weighed anchor for Elizabeth City. During the afternoon discovered three small rebel steamers, which we chased until dark, and then came to anchor eighteen miles distant from this place, receiving on board two fishermen from a small sail-boat, captured by the United States steamer Ceres. On the tenth inst., at six o'clock A. M., weighed anchor for Elizabeth City. At eight A. M. discovered the enemy's gunboats, consisting of seven steamers and one schooner; gave chase and found that the enemy had a battery of four guns on our left, and one of one gun in the town facing us. At six minutes past nine A. M. engaged gunboats and battery, and closed in fast upon them, filling the air with shot and shell. At twenty-five minutes past nine A. M. the schooner struck her colors, and was found to be on fire. About the same time the rebel flag on the battery at Cobb's Point was taken down and waved apparently as a signal for the rebel gunboats. Wm. F. Lynch, Flag-Officer, was commanding at the fort. This signal was afterwards ascertained to be an order for the evacuation of the rebel gunboats. They immediately ran close in shore, and were instantaneously abandoned and set on fire by their crews, some of whom escaped in boats, and others, jumping overboard, swam and waded to the shore. Lieut. Commanding Quackenbush now gave the order to his aid, F. R. Curtis, to man the cutter and bring off a rebel flag for Commander Rowan. J. H. Raymond, Acting Master's Mate, together with a part of his division, immediately jumped in the boat with F. R. Curtis, and boarded the rebel steamer Fanny, which was at the time on fire, and hauled down the rebel flag; then proceeded on shore to the battery, and Mr. Raymond then planted the Stars and Stripes, and returned on board the Delaware, which was moored to the wharf at Elizabeth City, at forty-five minutes past nine o'clock in the forenoon — thus ending one of the shortest and most brilliant engagements which has occurred during this unfortunate civil war. Too much praise cannot be awarded to the officers and men attached to this vessel.

Mr. Gabandon, signal officer attached to this vessel, rendered efficient and valuable service during the engagement.

General order from Commander Rowan.

General order.

United States steamer Delaware, off Elizabeth City, February 11, 1862.
The commander of the flotilla in Albemarle Sound avails himself of the earliest moment to make a public acknowledgment of the coolness, gallantry and skill, displayed by the officers and men under his command, in the capture and destruction of the enemy's battery and squadron at Cobb's Point.

The strict observance of the plan of attack, and the steady but onward course of the ships, without returning a shot until within three quarters of a mile of the fort, excited the admiration of our enemies.

The undersigned is particularly gratified at the evidence of the high discipline of the crews, in refraining from trespassing, in the slightest degree, upon the private property of defenceless people in a defenceless town.

The generous offer to go on shore and extinguish the flames applied by the torch of a vandal soldiery upon the houses of its own defenceless women and children, is a striking evidence of the justness of our cause, and must have its effect in teaching our deluded countrymen a lesson in humanity and civilisation.

S. C. Rowan, Commanding U. S. Naval Forces in Albemarle Sound. F. R. Curtis, Paymaster.


Commander Rowan's report.

United States steamer Delaware, off Elizabeth City, February 10, 1862.
sir: I have the happiness to report that I have met the enemy off this place this morning at nine o'clock, and after a very sharp engagement have succeeded in destroying or capturing his entire naval force, and silencing and destroying his battery on Cobb's Point.

The only vessel saved from destruction is the Ellis, Capt. J. M. Cook, who is wounded and a prisoner on board this ship. I have other prisoners.

I am happy to say that our casualties are few, considering the warmth of the enemy's fire, say two or three killed and some wounded.

I send the Ellis to you under command of Acting Master Chase, of this ship, who, I hope, you will confirm in the command.

The conduct of the gallant men I have the honor to command is worthy of all praise.

A detailed account will be furnished when I have time.

I am happy to say that none of our vessels are severely injured.

I shall leave here a small force, and visit the canals, and take a look into the other places before I return.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. C. Rowan, Commander U. S.N.

National account.

A correspondent gives the following account of this affair:

After the great victory of Roanoke Island, and as soon as suitable preparations could be made, a portion of the fleet proceeded to Elizabeth City, for the purpose of capturing the rebel navy, which, it was said, had made a stand at that point, with the intention of resisting our force to the last. Orders were also given to burn what steamers the rebels were building at that place, but not to destroy or molest any other property belonging to the citizens.

The expedition, in command of Capt. S. C. Rowan left Roanoke Island on Sunday, February ninth, at three o'clock P. M. It was composed of the following steamers: Delaware, Lieut. Com. Quackenbush, the flag-ship; Underwriter, Lieut. Corn. W. N. Jeffers; Louisiana, Lieut. Com. Murray; Lockwood, Acting Master Graves; Seymour, Lieut. Corn. Wells; Hetzell, Lieut. Com. Davenport; Shawsheen, Acting Master Woodruff; Valley City, Lieut. Corn. Chaplin; General Putnam, Acting Master Hotchkiss; Commodore Perry, Lieut. Corn. Flusser; Ceres, Acting Master MacDiarmid; Morse, Acting Master Hayes; Whitehead, Acting Master French; Brincker, Acting Master Giddings, making fourteen in all.

The distance to Elizabeth City from Roanoke Island, is some thirty-five or forty miles.

We came in sight of Elizabeth City about three o'clock, and, as we approached, we discovered the enemy's steamers--seven in number — in line of battle, in front of the city, ready to receive us. A fort was also discovered on a point which projected out some considerable distance--one fourth of a mile, perhaps — in front of the rebel line of steamers; and directly opposite of this fort was a schooner, anchored, on which were two heavy rifle guns; the distance between the fort and this schooner being about half a mile. Four large guns were mounted on the fort, and it was thought by the rebels that no fleet of ours could pass this narrow channel; consequently they considered themselves safe, with the assistance of their navy, drawn up between the city and the fort.

At the sight of the enemy, everything was in readiness for battle. To describe the wild delight of our brave blue-jackets, when they first discovered the enemy, is more than pen can do.

The charge was short and desperate, and without any exception is one of the most brilliant ever made by the American navy. All eyes were on the Commander, Rowan, to see what the first order would be, as we were rapidly approaching the foe.

In due time he ran up the signal to engage the enemy in close action, hand to hand. We were then about two miles from the enemy. This was a signal for a test of speed as well as the signal for a deadly encounter with a desperate foe, whose all was staked upon this final engagement. For a distance of two miles it was a race between our steamers in their eagerness to outstrip each other, and to be first to meet the enemy of the Republic face to face.

The river began to narrow as we approached the city. The point where the fort was situated necessarily brought our steamers nearer together, making them sure marks for the enemy's guns; indeed, it would be a miracle if a shot from one of the enemy's guns did not strike some one of our steamers. Under the circumstances, most any other commander would have thought it advisable to first attack the fort and silence the guns on both sides of that narrow point, and then attack the rebel steamers; but not so with the brave and intrepid Rowan, whose motto is to charge bayonets on the enemy, whenever and wherever he may be found. In action the position of the commander's ship is in the centre of the squadron. The Delaware, Capt. Rowan's flag-ship, was at the head of the advancing column, and led the van. No attention was paid to the fort or armed schooner, as they dashed by them through a perfect torrent of shells and grape, boarded the rebel steamers, and engaged them at the point of the bayonet, as the panic-stricken rebels leaped into the water in every direction. Many were killed by the bayonet and revolver in this hand-to-hand fight, and sank below the water. Their real loss will, doubtless, never be known to us; the slaughter, however, was fearful, and the struggle short and desperate — not more than fifteen minutes in duration.

The fort and armed schooner were deserted quite as soon as were the rebel steamers, for it was made quite as hot work for those behind the guns as it was for their confederates on the gunboats. [125] Our loss is two killed and about a dozen wounded — all seamen. The death-struggle was brief. In less time than it would take to write a telegraphic dispatch the victory was ours.

The Commodore Perry was in the advance, and made for the rebel steamer Sea Bird, the flag-ship of the rebel navy, on which was Commodore Lynch, and run her down, cutting her through. The Ceres ran straight into the rebel steamer Ellis, and ran her down in like manner, boarding her at the same time. The Under-writer took the Forrest in the same style, while the Delaware took the Fanny in fine shape, she having received ten shots from our squadron, which made daylight through her in as many places. The Morse, Shawsheen, Lockwood, Hetzell, Valley City, Putnam, Whitehead, Brincker, and Seymour also covered themselves with glory. Every officer and man in our entire squadron behaved like a hero, one as brave as the other, all through this desperate charge. The terrified rebels, as they forsook their gunboats, fired them, and thus all but the Ellis were burned, including a new one on the stocks. Four were burned, one captured, and two made their escape — the Raleigh and Beaufort. They are in the canal which leads to Norfolk, but are not able to go through, on account of the locks having been destroyed; consequently they will be captured before this reaches you, as they can go only some few miles toward Norfolk.

The log-books of the steamers, together with the signal-book of the rebel navy, and all their navy signal-colors, fell into our hands, with many other records and papers, which places us in possession of much that is valuable.

The following are the names of the seven steamers which we encountered to-day, with their commanders: Ellis, Capt. C. W. Cooke; Raleigh, Capt. Alexander; Fanny, Capt. Taylor; Beaufort, Capt. Parker; Accomac, Capt. Sands; Forrest, Capt. Hoover; Sea Bird, (the rebel flag-ship,) Com. Lynch. All of these commanders were educated in the United States Naval Academy. Capt. Cooke is taken prisoner by our forces. As I have already said, the Raleigh and Beaufort escaped.

When it became evident that nothing but disaster awaited them, the rebels, after firing their gunboats, fled to the village, and commenced firing the principal buildings. It is said that Col. Martin, of Hatteras memory, fired considerable of his own property before fleeing. An officer of the Wise Legion was caught mounted, riding through the village, pointing out buildings to be burnt. The village had been deserted by most of the population. Those who remained were in great fright, under the delusion that the object of our visitation was to burn the town, and that they would be cruelly treated. Capt. Rowan availed himself of the first moment to disabuse them of this idea, and assured them that he came to give them protection, and be-sought them to cease inflicting injury on them-selves by setting fire to their beautiful village. A prominent physician came to the dock, and sought a conversation with Capt. Rowan, who repeated these assurances, which had the effect to cause them to stay the further application of the torch. But several of the best buildings were already in flames, among them the court-house. An application was made to Capt. Worden to assist in putting out the flames, but as his fleet embraced but a limited number of men, and as his own boats might in, their absence be fired; and in addition to this, there being but little prospect, since the insane rebels had rendered worthless the hose by cutting it, of accomplishing more than drawing upon him the lie that he had fired the village, he properly declined to allow his men to go ashore. He was visited by several Union men, one of whom assured him that there were three thousand others in the county, but who dared not avow themselves as such. Negroes flocked in large numbers to the landing-place, and indulged in demonstrations of welcome, and brought poultry, eggs, and other things, to sell, and received a greater price than they asked. The news of the capture of Roanoke Island was not generally known; and the assurance that it was really so, and that nearly three thousand had been taken prisoners, created great surprise, as the people had been told by the rebels that their position was impregnable.

Though the village was much deserted, it was believed that many were in the suburbs and would return. Hundreds had left during the last week or two, and on the return of the rebel steamers from the action of Friday, in a crippled condition, many more fled. Capt. Hunter of the Curlew had left for Norfolk the evening previous, and the belief was general that that city would next be visited by our troops.

--Cincinnati Gazette.

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