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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 and Unadilla, 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. The Mercedita, 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

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Port Royal (South Carolina, United States) (1)
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