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Doc. 116.-destruction of blockade-runners.

Report of Acting rear-admiral S. P. Lee.

United States flag-ship Minnesota, off Lockwood's Folly Inlet, Jan. 11, 1864.
sir: At daylight this morning a steamer was seen beached and burning one mile west of this inlet. Mr. O'Conner from this ship boarded her, with the loss of one man, shot under the fire from the enemy's sharp-shooters occupying riflepits on the sand-hills, which were high and near, and got her log-book, from which it appears that she is the Ranger; that she left Newcastle November eleventh, 1863, for Bermuda, where, after touching at Teneriffe, she arrived on the eighth of December; that she sailed from Bermuda January sixth, 1864, made our coast January tenth, about five miles north-east of Murrill's inlet, and landed her passengers. The next morning at daylight, intercepted by this ship, the Daylight, Governor Buckingham, and Aries, in her approach to Western bar, she was beached and fired by her crew as above mentioned. The attempts of the Governor Buckingham, aided by the Daylight and Aries, to extinguish the fire and haul the ranger off, were frustrated by the enemy's sharp-shooters, whose fire completety commanded her decks. This ship, drawing about twenty-four (24) feet, was taken in four and one half (4 1/2) fathoms of water in front of the wreck, and the other vessels stationed to cross-fire on the riflemen on the sand-hills opened a deliberate fire, with a view to dislodge the enemy, and allow an attempt to haul off the Ranger at high-water at night. Meanwhile the Ranger was burning freely forward, and the commanding officers of the Governor Buckingham and Daylight, who had a good view of her situation, thinking that it was not practicable to get her off, she was also fired into, which, as her hatches were closed, had the effect of letting the air in, when the fire burnt freely aft, and doubtless burnt the Ranger out completely. Meanwhile black smoke was rising in the direction of Shallot inlet, and the Aries, withdrawn last night from her station there, was ordered to chase; she soon returned, and Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Devens reported a fine-looking, double propeller blockade-runner, resembling the Ceres, beached and on fire between Tubb's and Little River inlets, and that the enemy's sharpshooters prevented the boats from boarding her. This was probably the same steamer that was chased the previous evening by the Quaker City, Tuscarora, and Keystone State, and escaping from them, made the western shore, where, communicating and learning of the presence of the blockaders in force, and perhaps being short of coal, she was beached by her crew and fired rather than be captured. The department will perceive that this is the twenty-second (22d) steamer lost by the rebels and the blockade-runners attempting to violate the blockade of Wilmington within the last six months, an average of nearly one steamer every eight (8) days. [464] These losses must greatly lessen the means of the rebel authorities to export cotton, obtain supplies, and sustain their credit, and thus dispirit and weaken them very much.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, yours,

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. A. B. Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Edward F. Devens.

United States steamer Aries, off Little River, January 12, 1864.
sir: I would most respectfully report that the steamer stranded between Tubb's Inlet and Little River is the blockade-runner Vesta. Boarded her this A. M., made a hawser fast to her, but on examining her found her whole starboard side opened and several of the plates split; took two anchors from her, which was all we could save. The-Vesta was exactly like the Ceres. I left her a complete wreck, with five feet of water in her; her boats lay on the beach, badly stove.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Edward F. Devens, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding. Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, Commanding N. A. B. Squadron.

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