Rebel reports and Narratives.
Report of flag-officer Ingraham.
office naval Station, Charleston, February 2, 1863.sir: I have honor to inform you, that upon the night of the thirtieth ultimo, I left the wharf at this place, in company with the steam rain Chicora, Commander John R. Tucker, at a quarter-past eleven o'clock, and steamed slowly down to the bar, as, from our draft, we could not cross until high-water. At half-past 4 we crossed the bar, with about a foot and a half to spare, and soon after made a steamer at an anchor — stood directly for her, and directed Lieutenant Commanding Rutledge to strike her with our prow. When quite near we were hailed: “What steamer is that? Drop your anchor, or you will be into us.” He was informed that it was the confederate steamer Palmetto State. At this moment we struck her and fired the seven-inch gun into her,--as he gave an order to fire. I then inquired if he surrendered, and was answered in the affirmative. I then directed him to send a boat aboard, which was done. After some delay, Lieutenant Commanding Abbott came on board, and informed me that the vessel was the United States steamer Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and that she was in a sinking condition, and had a crew of one hundred and fifty-eight, all told, and wished to be relieved; that all his boats were lowered without the plugs being in, and were full of water. At this time the Chicora was engaged with the enemy, and the alarm was given. I knew our only opportunity was to take the enemy unawares, as the moment he was under way, from his superior speed, we could not close with him. I then directed Lieutenant Commanding Rutledge, to require from Lieutenant Commanding Abbott his word of honor for his commander, officers and crew, that they would not serve against the confederate States until regularly exchanged, when he was directed to return with his boat to his vessel to render what assistance he could. I then stood to the northward and eastward, and soon after made another steamer getting under way. We stood for her, and fired several shot at her, but as we had to fight the vessel in a circle, to bring the different guns to bear, she was soon out of our range. In this way we engaged several vessels, they keeping at long-range, and steering to the southward. Just as the day broke we made a large steamer (supposed to be the Powhatan) on starboard bow, with another steamer in company, which had just got under way. They stood to the southward under full steam, and opened their batteries upon the Chicora, who was some distance astern of us. I then turned and stood to the southward to support the Chicora, if necessary, but the enemy kept on his course to the southward. I then made signal to Commander Tucker to come to an anchor, and led the way to the entrance of Beach channel, where we anchored at forty-five minutes past eight A. M., and had to remain seven hours for the tide, as the vessels cannot cross the bar excepting at high-water. . . . . . The sea was perfectly smooth, as much so as in the harbor ; every thing was most favorable for us, and gave us no opportunity to test the sea qualities of the boats. The engines worked well, and we obtained a greater speed than they had ever before attained. I cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Commander Rutledge; the former handled his vessel in a beautiful manner, and did the enemy much damage. I refer you to his official report. Lieutenant Commanding Rutledge also fought the Palmetto State in a manner highly gratifying to me. Every officer and man did his duty nobly and deserves well of their country. We had but little opportunity of trying our vessels, as the enemy did not close, and not a single shot struck either vessel. I am highly indebted to Commodore Hartstene who gallantly volunteered to take charge of three steamers, with fifty soldiers on board, who accompanied us in case we should need their services;  but they could not get over the bar, but joined us after daylight at the north channel, and rendered us their assistance in getting through the channel, which is very narrow. Of the conduct of Mr. Gladden, the pilot of the Palmetto State, I cannot speak in too high terms. He was perfectly cool under the great responsibility he had in taking the vessel over at night with so great a draught, and during the action rendered me great assistance in pointing out the vessels as we approached them in the uncertain light. I send the reports of Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Commander Rutledge. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Report of Commander Tucker.
confederate States steamer Chicora, January 31, 1863.sir: In obedience to your order, I got under way at half-past 11 P. M. yesterday, and stood down the harbor, in company with the confederate States steamer Palmetto State, bearing your flag. We crossed the bar at twenty minutes to five A. M., and commenced the action at twenty minutes past five A. M.,by firing into a schooner-rigged propeller, which we set on fire, and have every reason to believe sunk, as she was nowhere to be seen at daylight. We then engaged a large side-wheel steamer, twice our length from us, on the port bow, firing three shots into her, with telling effect, when she made a run for it. This vessel was supposed to be the Quaker City. We then engaged a schooner-rigged propeller and a large side-wheel steamer, partially crippling both and setting the latter on fire, causing her to strike her flag ; at this time the latter vessel, supposed to be the Keystone State, was completely at my mercy, I having a raking position astern, distant some two hundred yards. I at once gave the order to cease firing upon her, and directed Lieutenant Bier, First Lieutenant of the Chicora, to man a boat and take charge of the prize, if possible to save her; if that was not possible, to rescue her crew. While the boat was in the act of being manned, I discovered that she was endeavoring to make her escape by working her starboard wheel, the other being disabled. Her colors being down, I at once started in pursuit, and renewed the engagement. Owing to her superior steaming qualities, she soon widened the distance to some two hundred yards. She then hoisted her flag and commenced firing her rifled gun; her commander, by this faithless act, placing himself beyond the pale of civilized and honorable warfare. We next engaged two schooners, one brig, and one bark-rigged propeller; but, not having the requisite speed, were unable to bring then to close quarters. We pursued them six or seven miles seaward. During the latter part of the combat, I was engaged at long-range with a large bark-rigged steam sloop-of-war, but in spite of all our efforts was unable to bring her to close quarters, owing to her superior steaming qualities. At half-past 7 A. M., in obedience to your orders, we stood in shore, leaving the partially crippled and fleeing enemy about “seven miles clear of the bar,” standing to the south-ward and eastward. At eight A. M., in obedience to signal, we anchored in four fathoms water, on the Beach channel. It gives me pleasure to testify to the good conduct and efficiency of the officers and crew of the Chicora. I am particularly indebted to the pilots, Messrs. Payne and Aldert, for the skilful pilotage of the vessel. It gives me pleasure to report that I have no injuries or casualties. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
The joint proclamation.
Headquarters land and naval forces, Charleston, S. C., January 31.At about five o'clock this morning the confederate States naval force on this station attacked the United States blockading fleet off the harbor of the city of Charleston, and sunk, dispersed, or drove off and out of sight for the time the entire hostile fleet. Therefore we, the undersigned, commanders respectively of the confederate States naval and land forces in this quarter, do hereby formally declare the blockade by the United States of the said city of Charleston, South-Carolina, to be raised by a superior force of the confederate States from and after this thirty-first day of January, A. D. 1863.
Secretary Benjamin's circular.The following is a copy of the circular addressed by Secretary Benjamin to the foreign consuls in the Confederacy:
Department of State, Richmond, Jan. 31, 1863.sir: I am instructed by the President of the confederate States of America to inform you that this government has received an official despatch from Flag-Officer Ingraham, commanding the naval forces of the Confederacy on the coast of South-Carolina, stating that the blockade of the harbor of Charleston has been broken by the complete dispersion and disappearance of the blockading squadron, in consequence of a successful attack made on it by the iron-clad steamers commanded by Flag-Officer Ingraham. During this attack one or more of the blockading vessels were sunk or burned. As you are doubtless aware that, by the law of nations, a blockade, when thus broken by superior force, ceases to exist, and cannot be subsequently enforced unless established de novo  with adequate forces, and after due notice to neutral powers, it has been deemed proper to give you the information herein contained for the guidance of such vessels of your nation as may choose to carry on commerce with the now open port of Charleston. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Monsieur Bettancourt, Consular Agent of France, at Wilmington, N. C.:J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.
Despatches from rear-admiral Du Pont.
flag-ship Wabash, Port Royal harbor, S. C., Feb. 11.sir: In my previous despatch, No. 70, written just as the mail was closing, I informed the department that I would send a refutation, in official form, of the statement made in General Beauregard's proclamation as to the blockade of Charleston, published in the Charleston and Savannah papers, and accompanied by assertions made with the apparent sanction of certain foreign functionaries. The emphatic letter of Captain Turner (No. 1,) the clear and decided statement of the officers, (No. 2,) which he forwards, with the previous inquiries and examination of the log-books made by Captain Godon, of the Powhatan, who was the senior officer present previous to the arrival of the New Ironsides, and whom I had despatched to Charleston the day of the raid, leave me nothing to add, save to call the especial attention of the department to the facts thus elicited. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
United States steam frigate New Ironsides, off Charleston, S. C., Feb. 10, 1863.Admiral: I have the honor to forward to you a certificate, signed by all the commanding, officers of the vessels that were lying off Charleston bar on the morning of the attack of the rams upon the squadron, excepting only three, one of which is on duty at a distance, and the other two the commanders of the two vessels which were sent to Port Royal to repair damages, and which were the only two which were injured, notwithstanding the report of the enemy in the Charleston papers, as the result of the engagement, that two vessels were sunk, four set on fire, and the remainder driven away. Your personal knowledge of these gentlemen, and your entire confidence in their truth and up-rightness of character, will give to their statements the force that is necessary to refute satisfactorily and effectually that which has been given to the world by the authorities of Charleston and their sympathizers, as to the facts of this engagement. It is with unaffected pain that I am called upon to forward a document reflecting so severely, but justly, upon functionaries holding the high position of consuls, and, one of them, if this statement has been made by his authority, the commander of a vessel of war of her Britannic Majesty. Nor can I account for it in any other way than its being a premeditated act on their part to draw up a report that would prejudice our cause in the eyes of the world, or that these events were seen by them with the distorted optics of prejudiced and partisan witnesses. The facts are so clear, both as to the disposition of the blockading squadron during the day succeeding the engagement, and as to the amount of the damage done our vessels in it, that it does not admit of a doubt that these gentlemen have given the seal of their high offices to this version of the affair, which could not have been by any possibility, either by inference or personal observation, forced upon their convictions as truth. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
Rear-Admiral Du Pont, Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Rear-Admiral Du Pont, Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
off Charleston, Feb. 10, 1863.We, the undersigned, officers commanding the various vessels of the blockading squadron off Charleston, have seen the proclamation of Gen. Beauregard and Commodore Ingraham, herewith appended, as also the results of a so-called engagement, namely, two vessels sunk, four set on tire, and the remainder driven away, and also a statement that the British Consul and the commander of the British war steamer Petrel had personally gone five miles beyond the usual anchorage of the blockade, and could see nothing of them with their glasses. We deem it our duty to state that the so-called results are false in every particular. No vessels were sunk. No vessels were set on fire seriously. Two vessels alone arc injured of consequence. The Mercedita had her boiler exploded by a shell from the only gun fired at her, when surprised by an attack at night; a thick haze was prevailing. The Keystone State also had her steam-chest injured at the moment of attempting to run down one of the rams. The Keystone State was at once assisted by the Memphis, which vessel exchanged shots with the iron ram as she was withdrawing toward the bar, after firing at the Keystone State, as did also the Quaker City. So hasty was the retreat of the rams, that although they may have perceived that the Keystone State had received serious damage, no attempt was even made to approach her. The Stettin and Ottawa, at the extreme end of the line, did not get under way from their positions till after the firing had ceased, and the Stettin merely saw the black smoke as the rams disappeared. The Flag was alongside the Mercedita after, it seems, she had yielded to the ram, supposing herself sinking. The rams withdrew hastily toward the harbor, and on their way were fired at by the Housatonic and Augusta until both had got beyond the reach of their guns. They anchored under the protection of their forts and remained there. No vessel, iron-clad or other, passed out over the bar after the return of the rams inshore. The Unadilla was not aware of the attack until  the Housatonic commenced firing, when she moved out toward that vessel from her anchorage. The Housatonic was never beyond the usual line of the blockade. The Quaker City, in the forenoon, picked up her anchor, which she had slipped, to repair to the point of firing. The Flag communicated with the senior officer on board the Housatonic that forenoon, soon after the firing ended, and the blockade continued as before. No vessel ran in or out of the port that day, nor was any attempt made to run the blockade. The Keystone State was necessarily ordered to Port Royal for repairs. The Unadilla returned to her usual anchorage after communicating with the senior officer, where she remained during the day. Two small tug-boats remained apparently in attendance on the rams, under cover of Forts Moultrie and Beauregard. The prize steamer Princess Royal, which had been alongside the Housatonic, was despatched to Port Royal one hour and a half after the rams had retired to the cover of the batteries, and the firing had ceased, or about half-past 9 A. M. These are the facts, and we do not hesitate to state that no vessel did come out beyond the bar after the return of the rams, at between seven and eight A. M., to the cover of the forts. We believe the statement that any vessel came anywhere near the usual anchorage of any of the blockaders, or up to the bar, after the withdrawal of the rams, to be deliberately and knowingly false. If the statement from the papers, as now before us, has the sanction of the Petrel and the foreign consuls, we can only deplore that foreign officers can lend their official positions to the spreading before the world, for unworthy objects, untruths patent to every officer of the squadron.
Wm. Rogers Taylor, Commanding United States Steamer Housatonic. J. H. Strong, Commanding United States Steamer Flag. Jas. Mad. Frailet, Commanding United States Steamer Quaker City. E. G. Parrott, Commanding United States Steamer Augusta. P. G. Watmough, Commanding United States Steamer Memphis. C. J. Van Alstine, Commanding United States Steamer Stettin.
headquarters one hundred and Seventy-Sixth Regt., Pennsylvania militia, St. Helena Island, S. C., February 21, 1863.sir: Having seen a proclamation issued by Gen. Beauregard and Commodore Ingraham, to the effect that upon the morning of the thirty-first ult., they had, by force of arms, succeeded in dispersing the blockading fleet which was lying off Charleston harbor, and also a statement purporting to have come from the English Consul at that port, and the commanding officer of the English man-of-war Petrel, that they had gone out to a point five miles beyond the usual anchorage of the blockading fleet, and that not a single vessel could be seen, even with the aid of powerful glasses, and that consequently the blockade had been most effectually raised; and knowing, as we do, the above statement to be utterly false in every particular, we feel constrained to tender our evidence, as corroborative of that already furnished. On the evening of January twenty-ninth, the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth regiment Pennsylvania militia (with which we are connected) left Morehead City, N. C., on board the steamer Cossack, destined for Port Royal. Upon the morning of the thirty-first, when nigh Charleston, we could hear firing distinctly. Upon our arrival off the harbor, which was at about half-past 8 in the morning, we found lying there the blockading squadron, some of which were at anchor, and also the prize steamer Princess Royal. The distance from land at which they were was estimated to be from four to five miles, and although the morning was somewhat hazy, yet the land could be plainly seen on each side of the harbor. Vessels also could be descried in the inlets, and by the aid of a glass, a fort, said to have been Fort Sumter, was visible. We were right in the midst of the fleet; indeed, so near as to be able to carry on a conversation with the Housatonic, and were boarded by officers from it and the Quaker City. We remained there until about nine o'clock, and shortly after, we departed. The Princess Royal followed. Being thus near the scene of the engagement, and so soon after it came off, we do not hesitate in the least to pronounce the statement that the blockade was raised, not only absurd, but utterly and wilfully false in all particulars. And the statement of the English Consul, and the commander of the Petrel, that the squadron could not be seen, even with the aid of powerful glasses, is one equally false, and one that impels us to conclude that it would require a powerful glass truly to be able to discover one particle of truth or honesty in the composition of these gentlemen. The entire regiment can substantiate the above facts, and burn with indignation that individuals occupying high stations, as they do, should resort to such base fabrications to prop up a failing cause. We have the honor, sir, to be Your most obedient servants,
Charleston courier account.
Charleston, February 2, 1863.The countenances of the dwellers in our ancient city have not beamed with so bright a light as they did on Saturday morning, since the joyous news was passed from mouth that Major Anderson had struck his flag, and Fort Sumter had yielded to General Beauregard. We annex the account of an eye-witness: At eleven o'clock, Friday night, the gunboat  Palmetto State, Capt. Russell, bearing the flag of Commodore Duncan N. Ingraham, left her moorings, and proceeded out the harbor toward Fort Sumter. Abreast of Fort Sumter, passed the three steamers acting as tenders — the General Clinch, Etiwan, and Chesterfield. At half-past 4 A. M., the Palmetto State crossed the bar, and stood out at sea, in the direction of the blockading fleet. At twenty minutes past five A. M., we came up to the United States steamer Mercedita, and was hailed by the watch on deck, when the following colloquy took place: Watch.--“What steamer is that? Drop your anchor — back — back — and be careful, or you will run into us!” Captain Rutledge.--“This is the confederate States steamer Palmetto State!” As the answer was given, the Palmetto State, with full steam up, ran into the Mercedita, her bow striking her right about midships, and making an entrance of about three feet. At the same time, our bow-gun fired with a seven-inch incendiary shell. We immediately backed out, when the Mercedita hauled down her flag. They were ordered to send a boat to us, and Lieut. T. Abbott Commanding, came off with a boat's crew, and surrendered his vessel in the name of Commodore Stellwagen, of the Mercedita, carrying seven guns and one hundred and fifty-eight men. He stated that his vessel was in a sinking condition, and begged our officers to relieve them. A shot had pierced her boiler, which had burst and scalded a large number of men. Lieut. Abbott begged Commodore Ingraham to take the men with him on board the Palmetto State, as in their haste to come to us they had neglected to put in the plug, and their small boat was only kept afloat by the strenuous exertions of the men bailing the boat. He also stated that the water in the Mercedita had, at the time of his leaving, already risen as high as the engine-floor. Commodore Ingraham regretted that he could not comply with the request, as he had no room to accommodate them aboard of his vessels, and no small boats or any other means of affording them relief. Lieut. Abbott then pledged his word and honor, for the officers and crew of the Mercedita, not to serve in any manner against the confederate States, until regularly exchanged. Upon which condition, he was sent on board his own vessel. The Mercedita was taken completely by surprise. They were roused from their slumbers by the shock, the men not having scarcely time to dress themselves. Lieut. Abbott, and the men with him, were entirely destitute of clothing. The Palmetto State, leaving the Mercedita to her fate, stood out to sea, and engaged several other vessels of the abolition blockading fleet, occasionally exchanging shots. The latter, however, fled at our approach, firing at long distances, and leaving us far astern. One or two shots were exchanged with the United States frigate Powhatan. The latter, however, followed the example of her companions, and fled. We then stood northward, toward the Chicora, which at this time was almost surrounded by the enemy's vessels. At eight A. M., there being no more of the abolition fleet in sight, we stood back to the entrance of Beach channels, having signalled the Chicora to return. On passing, we were saluted by Forts Moultrie, Sumter, and Ripley, and arrived at the wharf, in the city, a little before six P. M. The Chicora, Captain John R. Turner, started from her wharf at half-past 11 o'clock, Friday night, and crossed the bar at half-past 4 A. M. We commenced action at five minutes past five. The Palmetto State engaged an abolition vessel on the right, while we engaged the one on the left. As we passed the blockader on the right, the Palmetto State was lying alongside of her. Keeping on our course, we proceeded to within fifty yards of the vessel on the left, and then gave her a shot from our bow-gun — the blockader at the time being under full headway. We rounded to, and gave her the full benefit of our broadside guns and after-gun. She immediately rang her bell for fire, and made signals of distress to the rest of the fleet. The last seen of her, by Signal-Officer Saunders, she was stern down, very low in the water, and disappeared very suddenly. This vessel is supposed to have gone down. Notwithstanding the Chicora immediately steamed toward her, nothing could be discovered of the vessel. The Chicora, proceeding further out to sea, stood northward and eastward, and met two vessels, apparently coming to the relief of the missing steamer. We engaged them. One of them, after firing a few guns, withdrew. Standing to the northward, about daybreak, we steamed up to a small side-wheel, two-masted steamer, and endeavored to come up to close quarters. She kept clear of us, driving away as rapidly as possible; not, however, without receiving our compliments, and carrying with her four or five of our shots. Shortly after, the steamship Quaker City, and another side-wheel steamer, came gallantly bearing down upon the Chicora, and commenced firing at long-range. Neither would permit our boat to get within a respectable distance. Two of our shots struck the Quaker City, and she left, apparently perfectly satisfied, in a crippled condition. Another side-wheel, two-masted steamer, with walking-beams, now steamed toward the Chicora, coming down on our stern. Captain Tucker perceiving it, we rounded to, and proceeded until within about five hundred yards, when the belligerent steamer also rounded to, and gave us both broadsides, and a shot from her pivot-gun. We fired our forward pivot-gun with an incendiary shell, and struck her just forward of her wheel-house, setting her on fire, disabling and stopping her port wheel. This vessel was fired both fore and aft, and volumes of smoke observed to issue from every aperture. As we neared her, she hauled down her flag, and made a signal of surrender, but still kept under way, with her starboard wheel, and changed her direction. This was just after day-break. We succeeded in catching this vessel, but having surrendered, and the Captain supposing her boilers struck, and the escaping steam  preventing the engineers from going into the engine-room to stop her, ordered us not to fire. She thus made her escape. After this vessel had got out of our reach, to the perfectly safe distance of about three miles, she fired her last rifled gun, again hoisted her flag, and setting all sails, fired her rifled gun repeatedly at us as she left. The Chicora now engaged six or more of the enemy's vessels, at one time--three side-wheel steamers and three propellers — all at long-range. Discovering that the flag-boat had ceased firing, and was standing inshore, orders were given to follow her. On our return, we again came across a three-masted, bark-rigged vessel, which we engaged, firing our guns as we passed, striking her once or twice. We then kept on our course to the bar, having sustained no damage in the action, nor a single casualty on board. The last ship mentioned above, kept firing at us until we got out of range, and we giving them our return compliments. One of the blockaders was certainly sunk. We engaged her at the distance of only one hundred yards, and she settled down with her stern clear under water. The Chicora anchored in Beach channel, at half-past 8 A. M., and arrived at her wharf, in the city, about six o'clock, receiving a salute from all the forts and batteries as she passed on her return.