Chapter 4: raid of the Confederate ironclads off Charles-Ton.—attack on Fort M'Allister.
Early in the morning of January 31, 1863, two ironclad vessels, known afterward as the Palmetto State
and the Chicora
, built and lying in Charleston
, came out of the main channel.
A thick haze and an entire call favored the movement.
The Powhatan and the Canandaigua
, the two most powerful vessels on the blockade, were temporarily absent, coaling at Port Royal
, leaving only one vessel of size built for war purposes, the Housatonic
, with nine other vessels blockading.
The others, except the gunboats Ottawa
, were purchased vessels whose steam-pipes, chimneys, and machinery were much exposed when under fire.
Such vessels, built of iron, if penetrated by a shot or shell would receive little injury from the ingress, but if it were not arrested by some solid body within, on its egress a whole sheet would be carried away, perhaps at the water-line, and the vessel might sink at once, as did the Hatteras
, after an engagement with the Alabama
off Galveston, Texas
, Captain F. S. Stellwagen
, just such an iron vessel as described, was the first approached by a ram. In the early part of the evening she had overhauled a transport missing with troops and afterward returned to her position and anchored.
About 4 A. M., one of the armor-plated vessels (the Palmetto