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Doc. 74. action at Lynn Haven Bay.

Commander Lockwood's report.

U. S. Propeller Daylight, Blockading off Cape Henry, Oct. 10, 1861.
yesterday afternoon, a few minutes before four o'clock, it was reported to me that a battery on shore in Lynn Haven Bay had opened fire on the American ship John Clarke, of Baltimore, which had come in and anchored during the gale, and dragged within range of the enemy's guns, distant about a mile and a half. I got under way and stood down to her assistance, and on getting within range opened fire, and a spirited engagement was kept up on both sides for about forty minutes, when the enemy ceased firing, their battery of four or five guns being silenced so that, although we remained within range for an hour and a half after the firing had ceased, assisting the ship to get under way, not a shot was fired by them. Our shots generally were well directed, and must have done execution. Fortunately, none of their shots hit us, but they came quite near enough. The officers and men were eager for the fray, and evinced a spirited determination to do their whole duty, and I was well pleased, not only with their conduct, but also with the precision of their aim.

Samuel Lockwood, Commanding Officer. L. M. Goldsborough, Commanding the Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Hampton Roads, Va.

A correspondent on board the Daylight gives the following account of this action:

Yesterday, at four o'clock P. M., at the close of a heavy gale which had lasted for sixty hours, it was reported by the officer of the deck that a battery, whose existence had been previously unknown to us, situated on Lynn Haven Bay, had opened fire upon the American ship John Clarke, of Baltimore, which had arrived from Havre the day previous, and, anchoring in the bay during the gale, with two anchors down, had dragged within its range. We could see the enemy's shell dropping about the ship in all directions, and he was evidently not enjoying his mauvais quart d'heure. So, all hands working with a will, we soon had our anchor on the bows, and the Daylight putting her best foot foremost, eager for the fray. In a short time we ran down to the ship and opened a brisk fire upon the battery, which was as vigorously returned and sustained for forty [176] minutes, when, having effectually silenced their guns and thrown several broadsides into them, which elicited, however, no response, they having “shut up shop,” we turned our attention toward extricating the ship from her perilous position, which we finally did by sending a part of our crew on board and getting her off under her canvas, having failed in several attempts to get a line aboard of her to tow her off, owing to the heavy sea and strong tide prevailing. This occupied one and a half hours after we had fired the last shot, giving our adversary every opportunity to renew the combat; but he, like the “poor craven bridegroom, spake never a word.” Finally, we got under way, and anchored near the outer lightship, and, while ruminating over the events of the day, were run foul of by the John Clarke as she stood for her anchorage, smashing a portion of our upper works, starting several knees forward, carrying away one of the flukes of our anchor, and doing other damage — throwing herself into our arms, as it were, with an unwieldy gratitude for which we were entirely unprepared. The Clarke was struck once or twice, I believe, by fragments of shells, but sustained no material damage, and this morning, in charge of a pilot, stood on up the bay toward Baltimore.

While nearing the Clarke, at the outset of the engagement, we were considerably astonished, after succeeding in getting our reiterated hail answered, by receiving censure in no measured terms for “not having warned them,” as they said, on the previous day; and had our sense of duty not been superior to our feelings, we should have been sorely tempted to have let them work out their own salvation with “fear and trembling.”

In closing, I cannot refrain from again alluding to the spirit with which our crew entered into the contest above alluded to, and feel assured that they will always give a similar good account of themselves when called on, for which, as Dick Swiveller observes, “town and country orders are respectfully solicited; business attended to with neatness and despatch.”

We met with no casualties in the engagement; but one of our seamen, while aloft on the John Clarke, fell from the foreyard and fractured his arm.

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