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Doc. 17.-fight with the ram Albemarle.

Official naval reports.

United States steamer Mattabesett, at anchor off Roanoke River, May 6, 1864.
General: I have to inform you that I engaged the ram Albermarle yesterday, from 4.40 to 7.30 P. M., with all my force, and regret that our efforts to capture him were not attended with success. Our shot had no perceptible effect upon her, close alongside. I drove her, however, into the mouth of Roanoke River, somewhat damaged, I think, but with machinery not disabled. I captured the Bombshell, with thirty-seven prisoners, officers and men. Have not as yet had any official return from the Sassacus, which has her in charge, and is anchored several miles below. Our loss in the large vessels is five killed and twenty-six wounded. I shall be able to hold possession of the sound against any force the rebels can organize at this point.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Captain, and Senior Naval Officer. Brigadier-General J. N. Palmer, Commanding Land Forces in North Carolina.
S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral, commanding N. A. B. Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

Letter of Admiral S. P. Lee.

flag-ship, North Atlantic Blockading squadron, James River, May 14, 1864.
Sir: I transmit enclosed the report received last night from Captain Melancton Smith, senior [214] officer present, of the gallant fight on the afternoon of the fifth instant, in Albemarle Sound, between our wooden gunboats and the rebel ironclad ram Albemarle, in which the latter was repulsed and her tender captured. I ask the special attention of the department to the signal bravery displayed by Captian Smith, and the officers and men engaged with him in this remarkable action, which adds a brilliant page to the exploits of the navy.

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.

Admiral Lee's instructions.

flag-ship, North Atlantic Blockading squadron, off Newport News, Va., April 23, 1864--1 P. M.
Sir: The Navy Department, by telegraphic despatch of this date, directs me to send you to assume command in the sounds of North Carolina, for the purpose of attacking, at all hazards, the rebel ram there, in the best manner to insure its destruction, by running it down with the double-enders, or in any other manner which my judgment or yours may suggest.

The Miami (Commander Renshaw) and the Tacony (Lieutenant-Commander Truxton) are now in the sounds. The Sassacus (Lieutenant-Commander Roe) was sent there last night. You will take the Mattabesett (Commander Febiger) and the Wyalusing (Lieutenant-Commander Queen) with you, and leave with all practicable despatch, availing yourself of the present high tides to enter the sounds. I send with you two (2) officers who have served in the sounds, and whose local knowledge will be useful to you.

Enclose a copy of my instructions of the twenty-first instant to Commander Davenport for your information and guidance, unless you find occasion to vary them for a more promising plan of attack.

Attacking the ram will, to some extent, intimidate it, and by getting alongside of it, in or near contact, and on each side, holding position, and by firing at the centre of its ports, whether open or shut, and on its roof, you will disable and capture it. Your guns should have double breeching, and be loaded with heavy charges (say from fifteen (15) to eighteen (18) pounds of powder for the nine-inch guns) and solid shot, and they should so be depressed as to fire as near a perpendicular line to the slope of the roof as practicable. If all hands lie down when the guns are fired, they will escape the rebound of broken parts from the shot.

At the time of this attack, if some shell were thrown down the ram's smoke-stack, she might thus be disabled.

The advantage of getting alongside, and of each side of her, is, that you prevent her from ramming, and have a controlling fire upon her roof and ports.

The ports and stern are her weak points. Even if her ports are kept closed, as in her attack on the Miami and Southfield's bows, you can, if alongside of her, fire through them and into her; and if her roof is, as described, of railroad iron, with a thin plating over it, the mechanical difficulty of securing this is such that it will loosen and fly off under the concussion of your heavy fire, whilst the inside nuts and bolts will act like canister on her deck, and the concussion, especially if her ports are shut, will shock and demoralize her crew, giving you a complete victory. Besides, you may force her ashore, where the falling freshet in the Roanoke River will leave her.

Be sure and not have the neutral point of your wheel-houses opposite her ports. Your wheel-houses should be abaft or forward of her roof,--better abaft.

The department seems to prefer ramming. This ram is reported to be of the usual Merrimac model; if so, heavy logging, and a knuckle ironed over, make her sides strong. But ramming under high speed may drive it in, or you may drive her ashore, or mount her ends, and (especially if in the sounds with some sea) sink her. Intrusted by the department with the performance of this signal service, I leave (with the expression of my views) to you the manner of executing it.

All assaults are exposed service; but this assault has, with much real risk, less than appears.

Wishing you success and promotion,

I have the honor to be

Respectfully yours,

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral, commanding N. A. B. Squadron. Captain M. Smith, United States Iron-clad Onondaga.

Report of Captain Melancton Smith.

United States steamer Mattabesett, at anchor, Albemarle Sound, off Roanoke River, May 5, 1864.
Sir: I would respectfully report that the ram Albemarle, steamer Cotton Plant, with troops, and the armed steamer Bombshell, laden with provisions and coal, came out of Roanoke River to-day at two o'clock P. M., and after being tolled ten miles down the sound by the picket force left to guard the entrance of the river, the Mattabesett, Wyalusing, Sassacus, and Whitehead got under way, and stood up to engage them; the smaller boats falling into position in accordance with the enclosed programme.

The engagement commenced at 4.40 by the ram firing the first gun, which destroyed the Mattabesett's launch, and wounded several men. The second shot cut away some of the standing and running rigging. At 4.45 the Bombshell surrendered to the Mattabesett, and was ordered to fall in our wake; at 4.50 fired a broadside into the ram at a distance of one hundred and fifty yards; at 5.50 the Sassacus delivered her fire on passing, and then rammed his stern, pouring in a broadside at the same time. The Sassacus was seen soon afterwards enveloped with steam, when she hauled off, evidently disabled. The colors of the ram at this moment came down, and it was some time before it was ascertained whether he had surrendered, or they had been shot away. During the contact it was, of course, impossible for the other vessels to fire; but when the Sassacus became [215] disengaged and resumed her firing, the engagement became general; the smaller vessels firing so rapidly that it was dangerous for the larger ones to approach, and they appeared also to be ignorant of all signals, as they answered without obeying them. The engagement continued until about 7.30, when, it becoming dark, the Commodore Hull and Ceres were sent ahead to keep the ram in sight, and to remain on picket duty off the mouth of the Roanoke River, if he succeeded in entering it; the Mattabesett, Wyalusing, Miami, and Whitehead coming to anchor in the sound two miles and a half below. Eight torpedoes have been furnished by the army, and an attempt was made last night to place them in the mouth of the river: the entrance being watched, it was found impracticable. Another effort was made to-day, at two o'clock P. M., when. the ram was discovered two miles above on his way out. During the engagement a seine was laid out across the ram's bow, in obedience to orders, to try and foul his propeller, but he passed over it without injury. A torpedo was rigged out from the bow of the Miami, and she was ordered to go ahead and attempt to explode it, but from some cause, yet unexplained, it was not done. She ran up, however, sheered off and delivered her broadside, and continued to fire at him rapidly. The injuries sustained by the ram are thought to be considerable, but his motive power is evidently uninjured. His boats were knocked off from the decks, and his stack riddled, and it is also believed that one of his guns was disabled. The ram is certainly very formidable. He is fast for that class of vessel, making from six to seven knots, turns quickly, and is armed with heavy guns, as is proved by the one hundred-pounder Brooks projectile that entered and lodged in the Mattabesett, and one hundred-pounder Whitworth shot received by the Wyalusing, while the shot fired at him were seen to strike fire upon the casemates and hull, flying Upwards and falling in the water without having had any perceptible effect upon the vessel. I had tried the effect of ramming (as suggested by the department) in the case of the Sassacus, and was deterred from repeating the experiment by the injury she had sustained, and a signal from the Wyalusing that she was sinking, which, if the latter had been correct, (and I was not informed to the contrary until after the vessels came to anchor,) would have left too small a force of efficient vessels to keep the control of the sound, which I now hold, and shall be able to maintain against any rebel force that they will be able to organize at this point when present damages are repaired. I am convinced that side-wheel steamers cannot be laid alongside of the Albemarle without totally disabling their wheels, which is the reason for not adopting the suggestion contained in your order to me of the twenty-third instant. It is reported that the rebel barges with troops were at the mouth of the Croatan River, ready to come out, and a steamer was seen in that direction; but in regard to the first I have no positive information.

I herewith enclose a list of casualties on board the several vessels engaged, and will forward the detailed reports of the expenditure of ammunition and damages they sustained so soon as they are received from the commanding officer. I also forward you a hurried sketch of the appearance of the ram.

I am sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Captain, and Senior Officer of the Sound. Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, Commanding N. A. B. Squadron.

Additional report of Capt. Smith.

United States steamer Mattabesett, off Roanoke River, May 5, 1864.
Sir: I should have embodied in my report the number of prisoners, arms, &c., captured in the Bombshell, but the Sassacus, who took her in charge after being herself disabled, is anchored some distance below, and has not communicated with me, and I have no available steamer to communicate with him. I am trying again to place torpedoes in the bend of the Roanoke River, two miles and a haif from the mouth.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Captain. Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, Commanding N. A. B. Squadron.

General order as to plan of attack.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, May 2, 1864.
the steamers will advance in the third order of steaming, the Miami leading the second line of steamers.

Commodore Hull,Wyalusing,

The proposed plan of attack will be, for the large vessels to pass as close as possible to the ram, without endangering their wheels, delivering their fire, and rounding to immediately for a second discharge.

The steamer Miami will attack the ram, and endeavor to explode her torpedo at any moment she may have the advantage, or a favorable opportunity. Specific orders cannot be given for the attack, as the manoeuvring of the ram cannot be anticipated, and the only order considered necessary is to sink, destroy, or capture by some or all methods here suggested. The stern of the ram is to be fired at by any of the vessels having a heavy gun, taking care not to fire when any of our own vessels are in range. The propeller is to be fouled, if possible, by lines from the stems of our vessels, or with the fish-net, as heretofore proposed.

The stack of the ram is supposed to be capped, rendering it impossible to throw powder or shell down, but all vessels having hose should be prepared to lead them up under the cap in the event of getting alongside. The stern and ports are probably the most vulnerable points, and should [216] be assailed by every vessel having an opportunity to fire into them. A blow from the ram must be received, if possible, on the bow, and as near the stem as our steering will permit; and if the prod should enter a vessel in that manner, open wide and go ahead, to prevent her withdrawing it, when the other vessels will attack the propeller.

Should the thirty armed launches accompany the ram, the small steamers will run them down, using their howitzers with shrapnel on approaching, and hand grenades when near. Small grapnels should be in readiness to throw at the stack, and secure our vessels alongside when other experiments have failed. Ramming may be resorted to, but the peculiar construction of the stems of the double-enders will render this a matter of serious consideration with their commanders, who will be at liberty to use their judgment as to the propriety of this course when a chance shall present itself.

M. Smith, Senior Officer.

Casualties on the Sassacus.

United States steamer Sassacus, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of casualties arising on board this ship from the engagement of the fifth instant:

James M. Hobby, first assistant engineer, scalded severely; G. H. Doyle, first class fireman, ditto; Thomas Welch, first class fireman, scalded, perhaps fatally; James Tillot, first class fireman, William Sutherland, first class fireman, Edward Kelly, second class fireman, and Joseph Murray, second class fireman, scalded and wounded, perhaps fatally; O. H. Merrell, second class fireman, scalded very severely; Charles White, second class fireman, scalded very severely; Thomas Johnson, second coal-heaver, killed; John English, coal-heaver, M. Sullivan, coal-heaver, and E. Sullivan, coal-heaver, scalded; E. H. Mayer, ensign, and E. Sawyer, ensign, contusion, not severe; E. Clayton, ordinary seaman, and John Lang, captain after guard, wounded severely; William McKay, carpenter's mate, and George Simms, captain's steward, wounded, not seriously; and T. W. Smith, seaman, scalded.


Your obedient servant,

Edgar Holden, Assistant-Surgeon, U. S. N. Lieutenant-Commander F. A. Roe, Commanding.

Casualties on the Mattabesett.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, N. C., May 5, 1864.
Sir: I would most respectfully report the following casualties on board this ship during the action with the rebel ram to-day:

Killed.--Ralph E. Lake, first class fireman, and William H. Dewitt, first class boy.

Wounded.--James L. Plunkett, acting master, contusion of right thigh; Daniel Lamon, captain forecastle, lacerated wound of scalp; James Mulvehill, ordinary seaman, contused wound of back and left elbow; Greenburg T. Smith, landsman, contused wound of left shoulder; Charles F. Moeller, first class boy, wound of right knee and ecchymosis of left eyebrow and lid; John B. Jewett, landsman, punctured wound of right fore-arm.

Very respectfully, &c.,

Samuel P. Boyer, Acting Assistant-Surgeon, U. S. N. Commander John C. Febiger, United States Navy.

Casualties on the Wyalusing.

United States steamer Wyalusing, off Roanoke River, May 5, 1864.
Sir: I regret to report the death of John A. Oliver, landsman, by being struck on the right side of the head, on the temporal bone, near the suture, by a fragment of iron shot away from off one of the starboard smoke-stack. guys, forward, penetrating his skull into the brain. He was killed at the nine-inch gun forward.


Your obedient servant,

Charles W. Sartori, Surgeon, United States Navy. Lieutenant-Commander W. W. Queen, Commanding U. S. Steamer Wyalusing, off Roanoke River, N. C.

Report on Commander John C. Febiger.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, N. C., May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this vessel yesterday in the engagement with the rebel ram Albemarle. At three P. M., discovering the picket boats stationed off the mouth of the Roanoke River to be falling back, as ordered when the ram appeared, we made general signal to get under way. At ten minutes past three got under way and stood up the sound, with the Sassacus, Wyalusing, and Whitehead following in first order of steaming. At forty-five minutes past three made signal, “ram is out;” the Miami, Commodore Hull, and Ceres falling into position as we came up on port quarter, thus forming the third order, as directed. At twenty minutes past four Miami made signal, “the enemy is retreating,” the ram and gunboat being observed to have their heads pointing towards the entrance of Roanoke River, distance about ten (10) miles. At forty minutes past four, when abaft the ram's beam, she fired two shots, one of which cut away both rails of launch and spar across davits, scattering splinters and wounding Acting Master Plunkett very slightly, two men severely and three slightly, all belonging to forward rifle gun. Noticing immediately after the firing an evident intention on the part of the ram to run into us, the helm was ordered to starboard, sheering to port, thus causing us to pass at a greater distance than was our intention. At forty-five minutes past four, when a little abaft the ram's beam, at between one hundred (100) and one hundred and fifty (150) yards distance, fired our starboard rifles and (9) nine-inch guns with solid shot, passing ahead, and when nearly [217] abeam of the Bombshell, firing the starboard howitzers and forward rifles at her. She immediately hauling down her colors and showing a white flag, orders were at once given to stop firing on her, and the howitzer's crew were sent to assist the crews of the two rifle guns. Passing ahead, the helm was put to port with the intention of running close along the starboard side of the enemy; but the smaller vessel, not keeping position or following our lead, we were soon compelled to stop the engine, being within their line of fire. Our vessels at this time were on both sides of the Albemarle, this vessel, the Wyalusing, and Sassacus being the only ones that had then rounded her bows, we being on her quarter, Sassacus abeam, and Wyalusing on starboard bow, all having stopped their engines. At five minutes past five the Sassacus ran down bows on, striking the Albemarle on starboard quarter. After remaining in contact some few minutes she disengaged herself, and soon afterwards was seen to be enveloped in steam; at this time the colors of the Albemarle were either shot away or hauled down, and were not hoisted again during the action. As her fire had ceased, we were under the impression that she had surrendered, until, soon after the Sassacus had got clear, she was observed to resume it; this vessel and others immediately doing the same. The squadron still remaining out of position, and endangering each other by their fire, our attention was turned to getting them into line. At twenty minutes past five we made signal to Miami “to pass within hail;” (she was soon after hailed, and ordered to go ahead and try her torpedo.) At half past 5 made general signal to keep in line, and forty-five minutes past five repeated the signal. At fifty-five minutes past five made signal to Wyalusing “to cease firing,” she being still on ram's starboard bow; the remainder of the vessels (with the exception of the Sassacus, which had hauled off) were taking position on port quarter of the enemy. At five minutes past six made general signal to keep close order. At forty-five minutes past six made signal to Wyalusing to cease firing, she at the time coming round to take position. Soon after hailing her with an order to go ahead of the line and pass close to Albemarle, in reply she reported herself sinking, and at fifty-five minutes past six made signal “sinking;” but still going ahead, finally took her position. Finding that the line was gradually edging off, we steamed ahead inside, delivering our fire as rapidly as possible when on the quarter and abeam of the enemy, and after having passed ahead attempted to lay our seine in her course for the purpose of fouling her propellers, but, unfortunately, it was torn and lost before getting into the desired position. We then rounded the vessel to port, working the port battery; when nearly abeam of the enemy we received a six-inch rifle shot, which entered on the port side below wheel-house guards and abaft wheel, passing through water-ways, combings of engine-room hatch, wounding a first class fireman and boy so severely that they died soon afterwards, and bringing up in small arm locker. This shot is preserved on board, and is marked with the name of John M. Brooke. At half-past 7, growing quite dark, ceased firing, and at eight made private signal to anchor, coming into line abreast, heading to southward.

I am happy to state that the conduct of our crew, officers and men, was all, and more than could be reasonably expected from the imperfect state of organization, having had but few opportunities for exercise and drill since our hurried departure from New York. The firing was remarkably good under the circumstances, but the shot seemed to have but little effect upon the enemy.

Our pilot, Mr. Tooker, deserves mention for coolness and attention to his duties during our constant manoeuvrings.

Enclosed are returns of gunner's expenditures, and report of injuries. The surgeon's report I have already had the honor to submit.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Ammunition used on the Mattabesett: in gunner's Department.

Nineteen thirteen-pound charges, nine-inch.

Four ten-pound charges, nine-inch.

Twenty-seven ten-pound charges, a hundred-pounder Parrott.

Sixty primers.

Nineteen grommet wads.

Four junk wads.

Three breechings.

Two lock strings.

One two-pound charge, twenty-four-pound howitzer.

One one-pound charge, twelve-pounder rifle.

Twenty-seven solid shot, one hundred-pounder Parrott.

Twenty-three solid shot, nine-inch.

One shrapnel, twenty-four-pounder howitzer.

One Dahlgren shell, twelve-pounder howitzer.

One thumb-screw.

Eight muskets and eight sabre bayonets, with scabbards.

Respectfully submitted,

A. N. Mitchell, Lieutenant, and Executive Officer.

Report of damages to the Mattabesett. Carpenter's Department.

Rail of launch stove in, and davit spar carried away; shot through waterways, just abaft port wheel, passed on through combing of engine-room hatch, carrying away the two after stanchions of hand-rail around crank-room, then through starboard combing, and carried away two sections of engine-room bulkheads, and one section of gallery bulkhead; also carried away deck bell-pulls, and second locker of armory on starboard side; forward stanchion of hurricane deck on port side carried away by No. 1 nine-inch broadside. [218]

Boatswain's Department.

Square-sail buntlines.

Both vangs of main gaff.

Starboard main-boom topping-lift.

Peak halyards stranded.

Port main-topmast stay and main-topmast back stay.

One seine.

All shrouds starboard main lower rigging stranded, and forward shroud of starboard fore lower rigging ditto; also one ratline carried away by same shot.

Respectfully submitted.

A. N. Mitchell, Lieutenant, and Executive Officer. Respectfully forwarded. Melancton Smith.
Respectfully referred to the consideration of the department. Commander Febiger seems to have handled his vessel well, and, with his officers and men, to deserve much credit for gallant conduct.

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral.

Report of Lieut.-Commander F. A. Roe.

U. S. Steamer Sassacus, Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I respectfully report on the action of this vessel with the rebel iron-clad Albemarle and gunboat Bombshell, at the head of Albemarle Sound, on the afternoon of the fifth instant, in company with the squadron under your command.

Steaming up the sound, about four P. M. yesterday, the Sassacus occupied the station next astern the Mattabesett, and the Wyalusing following, when we made out the ram, accompanied by the Bombshell and another steamer, coming down, driving the Miami and picket boats before them. Following your lead in the Mattabesett, I headed up the pass on the starboard side of the ram, and when nearly abreast of her starboard beam the Sassacus delivered her broadside. In this time the ram sheered with her port helm, for the purpose of ramming, but our superior speed foiled her in this attempt, and the Sassacus passed around her stern with a hard port helm. Off the port quarter of the ram lay the Bombshell, which had opened fire simultaneous with the ram, with rifle guns, which had annoyed me a good deal. I gave her the starboard battery, each shot hulling her, when she displayed white flags, and signals of surrender. Passing up to close hail of her, I demanded of her if she had surrendered. They said they had, and the rebel flag was hauled down, and I ordered her to drop down out of the way, and anchor: this was done.

As the Mattabesett had passed around the stern of the ram, and was heading down the sound again, the ram had turned partially round with a port helm, and now lay broadside to me. As the Sassacus had been drawn off some little distance by her operations and capture of the Bombshell, she had a good distance to get headway, and seeing a favorable moment before me, I ordered full steam and open throttle, and laid the ships fair for the broadside of the ram to run her down. The Sassacus struck her fairly, just abaft her starboard beam, in the position of the rear of the house or casemate, with a speed of nine to ten knots, making twenty-two revolutions, with thirty pounds steam. As I struck, she sent a hundred-pounder rifle shot through and through, from starboard bow to port side, on the berth deck.

The collision was pretty heavy, and the ram careened a good deal, so much so, that the water washed over her deck forward and aft the casemate. At one time I thought she was going down; I kept the engine going, pushing, as I hoped, deeper and deeper into her, and also hoping it might be possible for some one of the boats to get up on the opposite side of me, and perhaps enable us to sink her, or at least, to get well on to him on all sides. I retained this position full ten minutes, throwing grenades down her deck hatch, and trying in vain to get powder into her smoke-stack, and receiving volleys of musketry, when the stern of the ram began to go round, and her broadside port bearing on our starboard bow, when the ram fired, and sent a hundred-pounder Brooks rifle shot through the starboard side on the berth deck, passing through the empty bunkers into the starboard boiler, clean through it, fore and aft, and finally lodging in the ward-room. In a moment the steam filled every portion of the ship, from the hurricane deck to the fire-rooms, killing some, stifling some, and rendering all movement for a time impossible. When the steam cleared away so I could look around me, I saw my antagonist was away from me, and steaming off. In the mean time the engine was going, as no one could do anything below, some sixteen men being scalded. I then put the helm hard a port, headed up the sound, and around to the land, in order to clear the field for the other boats. Soon as the steam cleared up, and the effect of the explosion over, the officers and men immediately went to the guns, and kept them going upon the enemy until we drifted out of range. I tried to ricochet several nine-inch shot, so that she might be struck on her bottom by the upward bound of the shot; but I had the mortification to see every shot strike the water inside of her, and rise on the opposite side of her. While alongside of her, and almost simultaneous with the fatal shot of the enemy, Acting Ensign Mayer sent a hundred-pounder solid shot at her port, which broke into fragments, one of which rebounded and fell on our deck, as did also some fragments of grenades. While thus together, I fired three separate shots into one of her ports; we clearly observed the muzzles of two of his guns broken very badly. After the separation of the two vessels, the Sassacus was headed finally down the sound, and continued to move very slowly, working on a vacuum, and finally stopped, when I dropped anchor. In the mean time the Mattabesett and Wyalusing gallantly went in, and the fight was nobly maintained by those vessels.

While I regret the unfortunate accident which [219] drifted the Sassacus out of action, I cannot but hope and believe that her struggle with the ironclad ram at such close quarters, and the act of running her down, were productive of great good. If we ever hear from the shots delivered when alongside of the ram, it will be consoling to us, as I am convinced they did some execution in the port. Yet I am forced to think that the Albemarle is more formidable than the Merrimac or Atlantic, for our solid one hundred-pounder rifle shot flew into splinters upon her iron plates. I have to report that the signal-books of this vessel were thrown overboard, and sunk, at the time the boiler was struck, and the ship enveloped in suffocating steam. It was appalling for a few moments, and the devotion with which the officers and men of the Sassacus stuck to and worked the guns fills me with professional pride. After anchoring, I sent the army steam-tug to bring the gunboat Bombshell, which had surrendered to us before we struck the ram under our guns. I then put a prize crew aboard, pumped her out, started her fires, and got up steam on her. She is now ready to move. I took her prisoners from the Ceres, where they had been temporarily placed. The injuries to the Sassacus will be found in the report of officers of different departments, which I herewith enclose, as also the surgeon's report of scalded and wounded. I would respectfully report the Sassacus as disabled for active operations until she can be repaired, and would request a survey upon her when it is convenient to grant it. In this unequal conflict of the wooden gunboats against an iron-clad, it gives me special pleasure to speak of the gallant and devoted bearing of officers and men. The maintenance of the fight with their guns, after the frightful disaster of the boiler, was worthy of the proudest day of our naval history. The divisional officers were cool, and I must note that Acting Ensign Mayer, at the forward rifle, one hundred-pounder, when loading and firing, almost muzzle to muzzle with the enemy's gun, was beautiful in his cool courage. I take great pleasure in testifying to the fine conduct of Acting Masters A. W. Muldaur and C. A. Boutelle. These officers were as cool and fearless as if at a general exercise. I respectfully recommend each for promotion to the grade of Lieutenant, deserved for good behavior and ability before the enemy in battle. I also respectfully recommend Acting Master's Mate O'Hara for examination for promotion to the grade of Ensign. Acting Assistant Paymaster G. De F. Barton acted as Aid and signal officer to me, and I take pleasure in acknowledging his coolness and attention to duty, while under a hot fire, where he voluntarily placed himself.

To the heroism and devotion of First Assistant Engineer J. M. Hobby, the government is probably indebted for the preservation of the Sassacus from a worse disaster. While every one who could, was forced to seek safety by flight from the scalding clouds of steam, Mr. Hobby stood at his post by the machinery, and though fearfully scalded himself, he cared for his machinery until the engine finally stopped. If it were possible to promote this officer, I earnestly and devoutly beg it may be done, for I consider that it has been amply and professionally won.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

F. A. Roe, Lieutenant-Commander. Captain M. Smith, Com'dg Naval Forces in Sounds of North Carolina.

Report of Engineer J. M. Hobby.

United States steamer Sassacus, Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, May 5, 1864.
Sir: I respectfully report the following damage sustained by the machinery of this ship during the engagement with the rebel ram Roanoke on the fifth instant:

At six P. M. a six-inch rifled solid shot came through the starboard side of the ship about five feet above the berth deck; it passed through the forward bunker into the starboard boiler, seven feet from the front and fourteen inches from the top, cutting T-iron braces and dry pipe; thence through the after end of the boiler, cutting away Wordworth pump, steam and exhaust pipes, through engine-room; cutting a stanchion, thermometer, and exhaust unhooking gear between main cylinder and condenser; thence through bulkhead into the ward-room. The starboard wheel is badly knocked out of shape by coming in contact with the ram's stem as we passed her. The escape of steam was so great as to reduce the pressure in the boiler to nothing almost instantaneously. The steam so filled the engine and fire-rooms that it was with the greatest exertions on the part of the engineers that the fires were hauled. The division of firemen were all scalded and one instantly killed.

We will be able to finish the repairs by to-morrow sufficiently well as to steam under one boiler.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

J. M. Hobby, First Assistant Engineer, in charge. Lieutenant-Commander F. A. Roe, Commanding U. S. Steamer Sassacus.


Agawam, May 16, 1864.
The attention of the Navy Department is respectfully called to the gallant conduct of Lieutenant-Commander Roe, and that of the officers whom he recommends for promotion.

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral.

Report of Lieut.-Commander Queen.

United States steamer Wyalusing, Albemarle Sound, off Roanoke River, May 6, 1864.
Sir: In obedience to your signal, at three o'clock P. M. of fifth, we immediately got under way, taking our station in line astern of the Sassacus, the Mattabesett leading, and stood up the sound in close order.

Signals were made by you soon afterwards that [220] the ram was out; we also discovered at the same time that our picket boats were falling back, pursued by the ram and two steamers in company. We immediately beat to quarters, (at twenty-seven minutes past four o'clock ;) being in close range, about five hundred yards, we opened fire, simultaneously with the Mattabesett and Sassacus, passing the ram at the distance of one hundred and fifty yards, firing rapidly. In rounding the ram we came in contact with one of her consorts. It was my intention to run her down, but discovered in time she had surrendered; we immediately backed clear of her, and again attacked the ram, which had been in contact with the Sassacus, who had run into her. As she cleared from the Sassacus, in firing from our vessel we cut her signal halyards; she hauled down the flag, and I supposed she had surrendered, as she did not hoist it again during the action, but was soon convinced to the contrary.

At 5.30 flag-ship made general signal to keep close in line; at 5.45 repeated the signal; at 5.55 made signal to this ship to cease firing. At this time we were passing around the ram to form again into line, which had been interrupted by the Second division, who were firing at long range and over this ship. At 6.05 resumed our position in close order, by signal from the flag-ship. At 6.45, having again passed around the ram, signals were made to cease firing. At this time a report was made to me by the executive officer and third assistant engineer, J. J. Donahoe, who was stationed at the bell, that the ship was sinking. I immediately signalized it, and sent an order to chief engineer to start all the pumps. He informed me that it was not necessary, as the ship was not making more water than usual.

I was hailed from the flag-ship, but could not understand what was said. I made again for the ram, and followed her up closely, passing around her, and firing as often as possible at her, the distance varying from one hundred yards and upwards. Near the close of the action one of the pieces of the forward port-side plating of the ram was seen to fly off, from the effects of one of our shot. At 7.30 signal was made to cease firing, and by private signal we anchored at eight o'clock.

We received the following damages: One shell exploded in the starboard wheel-house, cutting away two of the outer rims of the starboard wheel, and blowing off a portion of the top part of the wheel-house; passing through the aft pilot-house, damaging the steering wheel, breaking the compass, tearing off a portion of the plating, and passing through and through the mainmast about thirty feet above deck; also through the hurricane deck into the starboard bath-room, and chipping a piece off of the top of the aft howitzer mounted on the hurricane deck. The second shot passed between the bottom of the gig and the rail, knocking off all her under planking, carrying away the starboard smoke-stack guy, killing one of the men at the nine-inch gun, tearing away the stanchion supporting the hurricane deck amidships, then through the engineer's store-room on the port guard forehead. The third shot came in on the starboard side of the berth deck, near the dispensary, tearing away ladder, bulkhead; through the port coal-bunkers, passing out in the port side a few feet forward of the boiler. The fourth shot came in on the starboard quarter about three feet above the water line, passing through the cabin, destroying mirror, chairs, furniture, &c., &c., bulkhead, companion-way, pantries; striking against a knee in the aft room, on the port side of ward-room, glancing upwards, tearing up the deck plankings, starting the water-ways, and breaking away two of the starts for the breechings, landing on deck; this proved to be a hundred-pound Whitworth solid rifle shot. The fifth passed over the quarter deck in a parallel line with the pivot gun, passing through one of the port shutters. Pieces of exploded shell cut away one of the shrouds of the main rigging; also the brails, passing through the mainsail.

The officers and crew fought bravely, and have merited my highest thanks for the manner in which they handled their several batteries. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon them.

My executive officer, Acting Master William R. Hathway, who is one of the oldest appointments in this grade, I strongly recommend for promotion. The surgeon and paymaster rendered me very important aid in the supply of ammunition, and in making themselves generally useful. The chief engineer, H. H. Stewart, handled the machinery in a most able manner. I am also indebted to my clerk, George H. White, Jr., who acted as my Aid, for the efficient manner in which he carried out my orders.

Expended the following ammunition:

75ten-pound charges, a hundred-pounder rifle.
47solid shot, a hundred-pounder rifle.
205″ shell, a hundred-pounder rifle.
8percussion shell, a hundred-pounder rifle.
40thirteen-pound charges, nine-inch gun.
30ten-pound charges, nine-inch gun.
37solid shot, nine-inch gun.
335″ shell, nine-inch gun.
18shell, twenty-four-pounder howitzer.
27shrapnel, twenty-four-pounder howitzer.

I enclose you the surgeon and chief engineer's report.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

W. W. Queen, Lieutenant-Commander, commanding. Captain M. Smith, U. S..N., Commanding Officer in the Sounds of North Carolina.


Agawam, May 16, 1864.
Lieutenant-Commander Queen, his officers and men, appear to have done well their part in this gallant action.

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral.


Report of Engineer H. H. Stewart.

United States steamer Wyalusing, Albemarle Sound, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have carefully examined the engines, boilers, and dependencies of this vessel, and, agreeably to your request, have the honor to report that the following is the amount of damage sustained during the late action:

Two of the outer rims in the starboard wheel were fractured, and a portion of the top of the wheel-house blown off; one of the smoke-pipe guys was cut off; one of the bell-wires also gave way during the engagement, but has been repaired.

I am yours, respectfully,

H. H. Stewart, Chief Engineer, United States Navy. Lieut.-Com. W. W. Queen, U. S. N., Commanding.

Report of Acting Master Josselyn.

United States steamer Commodore Hull, off Roanoke River, N. C., May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to report the part taken by this vessel in the action of the fifth instant with the rebel ram.

I first sighted the ram at half past 1 o'clock, P. M., coming out of the river in company with two steamers, distant about two miles. In accordance with previous instructions, I retreated slowly down the sound, keeping out of range of her guns until the flag-ship came up, when I fell into line astern of the Miami. About five o'clock I fired several shots from my pivot guns at the ram, striking it once or twice.

At half past 6 I engaged the ram at close quarters, firing shell from my pivot and broadside guns, many of which struck the vessel, effectually preventing the opening of her ports. As I steamed ahead, in passing the ram's bow I paid out a large seine for the purpose of fouling his propeller, but, though encompassing the ram, it did not have the desired effect.

I ceased firing when it became too dark to distinguish the enemy. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of my officers and crew, many of the latter being for the first time under fire. This vessel was not struck, and I have no casualties to report.

Enclosed is a list of ammunition expended.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Francis Josselyn, Acting Master, commanding. Captain Melancton Smith, U. S. N., Senior Officer, Sounds of North Carolina.

Additional report of Acting Master Josselyn.

United States steamer Commodore Hull, off Roanoke River, N. C., May 6, 1864.
Report of ammunition expended during engagement of May fifth:

Thirty-pounder Parrott shell, sixty, (60.)

Twenty-four-pounder howitzer shell, twenty-one, (21.)

Respectfully submitted,

F. Josselyn, Acting Master, commanding. Captain Melancton Smith, U. S. N., Senior Officer, Sounds of North Carolina.

Report of Lieut. Charles A. French.

United States steamer Miami, off mouth of Roanoke River, N. C., May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagement with the rebel iron-clad ram Albemarle, and Bombshell. Yesterday, at one P. M., I got under way, in company with the Commodore Hull, Ceres, and army transport Trumpeter, and proceeded from our picket station, off Edenton Bay, across to the mouth of the Roanoke, for the purpose of putting down torpedoes. When within a short distance of the buoy at the mouth of the river, the rebel ram Albemarle was discovered coming down the river, accompanied by the Cotton Plant and Bombshell, the last two steamers laden with troops. I immediately despatched the Trumpeter to give you the earliest notice of their appearance. The vessels under my command were ordered to steam in line slowly down the sound, at such a distance that the enemy's movements could be watched. We dropped down to Bluff Point, the enemy following us determinedly. As soon as you came up, I steamed ahead, ready to follow your movements, and engage the enemy. At twenty minutes to five I opened fire with solid shot, and continued firing rapidly, with good range. The ram was struck by us at almost our first fire, and I have to report, throughout the action, excellent firing by both divisions of this ship. I saw the Sassacus running into the ram, and immediately headed for them both, with the intention of exploding under the ram the torpedo rigged on my bow; before I could get to her, however, the Sassacus became disabled, and dropped down from her. The ram had changed her course, and I could not work to advantage, on account of the fire of our own vessels. I still kept up a fire when it could be done without exposing the other vessels of our fleet. After we had been firing about an hour, you ordered me to run up to the ram and use the torpedo. I steamed ahead, still keeping up a rapid fire, until we got within the ship's length of her. I used every endeavor to get at her, bows on, but the Miami proving herself so unwieldy, and so very bad to steer, the enemy, (who was probably well aware of our purpose,) succeeded in keeping clear of us, by going ahead and backing and turning. We did not cease our fire, however, all this time. The enemy struck us three or four times while within this chase range; one shot, which passed through the after part of the cabin, came very near disabling our rudder. I dropped down from her, and reported to you the reason why I could not get my torpedo to work. You then ordered me to follow the Wyalusing in order. I did so, keeping up a fire which I believe was more effective than at any previous time, as I am confident one of our shot struck the upper part of her port while open, if it did not pass into her interior. Owing to the danger of getting aground, and the fact of the ship handling so badly, I deemed my fire more effectual at close range to be on one side of her than to attempt to pass clear around her. For more than ten minutes we poured solid shot upon [222] her as rapidly as we could fire; I then dropped astern, to give the vessels coming up an opportunity to pass and engage her. It was then growing dark; the ram steamed up to the Roanoke River, and the firing soon ceased on both sides.

The officers and men of this ship behaved with great coolness, and did their whole duty.

Enclosed you will please find carpenter's and gunner's reports. Casualties, none.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Charles A. French, Acting Volunteer-Lieutenant, commanding. Captain M. Smith, U. S. N., Senior Naval Officer, Sounds North Carolina.

Report of Acting Master Wells.

United States steamer gunboat Miami, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of ammunition expended on the fifth instant, in the action with the iron-clad ram Albemarle, in the Albemarle Sound.

Seventy-six (76) thirteen-pound nine-inch cartridges.

Seventy-six (76) solid nine-inch shot.

Forty-one (41) ten-pound six-inch cartridges; one hundred-pounder rifle.

Forty-one (41) solid six-inch shot, (chilled ends,) four long, and thirty-seven short.

Seventy-six (76) selvage wads.

One hundred and fifty (150) percussion primers.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Wm. N. Welles, Acting Master and Executive Officer. Acting Vol. Lieut. Charles A. French, Commanding U. S. Steamer Miami.

Report of H. S. Buckley, Carpenter's Mate.

United States steamer Miami, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I respectfully submit the following report of damages received by this vessel, in hull, &c., during the engagement with the rebel ram Roanoke, in Albemarle Sound, on the afternoon of the fifth instant:

One shot struck smoke-stack, and passed through, scattering fragments over quarter deck; one struck starboard wheel-house, and carried away hand-rail, passing through port quarter boat, tearing away her planking; one shell struck under the starboard counter, passed through, cutting away hang knee under after beam, and bursting in tiller-room, cutting through solid work of after pivot boss, and carrying away two thirds of second after beam and hang knee on port side, starting two outside planks, and started the decks up under pivot gun, and knocked down the cabin bulkhead, making a total wreck of the tiller-room. The ship is very much shaken from the effects of the rapid firing, making about five inches of water per hour. Several shot and shell passed over our top gear, but did little damage, save cutting away smoke-stack guys.

During the engagement off Plymouth with the same vessel, the ram ran under our port bow, and scarred the planking for several feet, within fourteen inches of the water. A shell from gun No. 3 struck the ram, rebounded and exploded, cutting away port forward boat davit, and fragments passing through deck forward of boiler and starboard waist, and cutting away port smoke-stack guys, and passing through smoke-stack.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant.

Henry S. Buckley, Carpenter's Mate. Acting Vol. Lieut. C. A. French, Commanding U. S. Steamer Miami.

Report of Acting Master Foster.

United States steamer Ceres, Albemarle Sound, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to report that during the engagement yesterday with the rebel ram this vessel received no damage, neither were there any casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. H. Foster, Acting Master, commanding. Captain Melancton Smith, U. S. N., Senior Naval Officer, Sounds of North Carolina.

Report of Acting Ensign Barrett.

United States steamer Whitehead, off Roanoke River, N. C., May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to report to you the part taken by this vessel during the engagement of yesterday (fifth) with the rebel iron-clad ram Albemarle and gunboat Bombshell.

In obedience to a general signal made by the flag-ship Mattabesett, I weighed anchor at 3.30, and proceeded up the Albemarle Sound, following the United States steamer Wyalusing. The rebel ram, accompanied by two steamers, was soon discovered apparently steaming towards us. Went to quarters immediately, and prepared for action. At 4.30 the action became general between the leading vessels, Mattabesett, Sassacus, and Wyalusing, and the ram Albemarle.

Owing to the superior rate of speed of the above-named vessels, I was unable to bring my vessel into action until after the rebel steamer Bombshell had surrendered. The rebel steamer Cotton Plant, with a number of launches in tow, having succeeded in making her escape, my attention was then directed to the ram, upon which I opened fire with the hundred-pounder rifle, using solid shot first at a distance of one thousand yards, but it was soon lessened to four hundred yards.

The ram, meanwhile, commenced to retreat towards Roanoke River.

Being ordered by you to take my position astern of the United States steamer Miami, and follow up the attack closely, I immediately took the position assigned; but finding that I could not use the hundred-pounder rifle effectively, I steamed ahead of the Miami, and on a course parallel to that which the rebel steamer was making, until I approached within two hundred yards of her. At this distance we succeeded in making some excellent shots, the projectiles used being solid chilled-end shot, which must have made a serious impression on the iron armor of [223] the ram, as I judged from the appearance of the plating on her, when viewed through a glass.

Keeping the ram on my starboard beam, I ran ahead of and across her bows, making a circuit about her.

Notwithstanding the heavy fire which was concentrated on the rebel iron-clad by our vessels, she succeeded, under the cover of approaching darkness, to make good her escape up the Roanoke River. Having ceased firing at 7.30 P. M., we came to anchor off the mouth of the river, at eight, with the fleet. I have no casualties to report. Ammunition expended, seventeen solid shot, rifle one hundred-pounder, and one hundred and seventy pounds common powder.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. W. Barrett, Acting Ensign, commanding. Captain Melancton Smith, Senior Naval Officer, Sounds of N. C.

Additional reports of Lieut.-Com. Roe.

United States steamer Sassacus, James River, June 24, 1864.
Sir: I respectfully request that the enclosed communication may be appended to my report of May sixth, on the engagement with the iron-clad Albemarle.

This paper is a duplicate of one sent to Captain Smith, at the time of its date, and I furnish it under the apprehension that the original may not have reached you.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

F. A. Roe, Lieutenant-Commander. Admiral S. P. Lee, Com'ding N. A. B. Squadron, James River, Va.

United States steamer Sassacus, Albemarle Sound, N. C., May 7, 1864.
Sir: My attention being called by you to that portion of my report of the Sassacus, in the engagement of the fifth instant, in relation to the capture of the Bombshell, it will be observed that the Sassacus was second in line astern of the Mattabesett, and was totally ignorant of what the latter vessel had done.

The Sassacus, seeing the Bombshell approach her, as she was coming around to attack the ram, ordered her to surrender, and go below and anchor, which was done.

I merely narrated the facts which occurred in this vessel, and the Mattabesett may have done precisely what the Sassacus did, without the latter knowing it.

I trust this will explain any apparent contradictions that may seem to exist in the reports of the two vessels.

I was not aware that she had already surrendered to the Mattabesett, as you state she had. Upon questioning Captain Hudgins, who commanded the Bombshell, and who is now a prisoner of war on board this ship, he replied, He surrendered his vessel to the second vessel in line; that his flag had not been hauled down to the first, and that no surrender had been made of his vessel until ordered by the second vessel in the line to do so, when he struck.

He did not, nor does he know the name of the vessel to whom he surrendered, but that it was to the second vessel in line.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

F. A. Roe, Lieutenant, commanding. Captain M. Smith, Commanding Naval Forces, Sounds of North Carolina.

Additional report of Captain Smith.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, N. C., June 4, 1864.
Sir: Your order of May seventeenth, through Rear-Admiral Lee, directing a full report to be furnished of the collision of the Sassacus with the rebel ram Albemarle, together with a diagram showing the position of the two vessels, is received, and I have the honor to make the following report:

One report from Lieutenant-Commander Roe has already been forwarded to Admiral Lee, and I retained two--one from himself, and the other from his executive officer — to avoid multiplying testimony that appeared to me to be much exaggerated; but both reports are now enclosed.

Lieutenant-Commander Roe states that he “struck the ram Albemarle fairly, just abaft his beam, at about nine or ten knots' speed. The blow jarred and careened her so much that the water flowed freely over her decks.” His executive officer states that “we had a start of three or four hundred yards, and were making about eleven knots when we struck her with our prow at right angles on the starboard quarter, at the junction of her after casemate with the hull, forcing her side under water two or three feet.”

It is my impression that the Sassacus, when within five hundred yards of the ram, had stopped her engines, and when fairly pointed, commenced steaming towards him, making it apparent that she intended to try the effects of ramming. I remarked to Captain Febiger at that time, “How slow she moves;” and in a few moments she struck, as represented, fairly, and nearly at right angles, causing the water to flow over the deck aft.

I subsequently called Lieutenant-Commander Roe's attention to the statement made by him in reference to the rate of speed, which he evidently estimated by the number of revolutions, without considering the short distance he had to run, from a dead stand, to reach the ram; but as he was not disposed to make the correction, although I had taken the report on board for that purpose, as well as to examine his injuries, I forwarded it as it was.

I should judge, from the slight injury the vessel sustained, and the short distance that the Sassacus was from the ram when heading for him, that her speed did not exceed five knots. The Albemarle, as I have since learned, did not sustain the slighest injury from the collision.

Lieutenant-Commander Roe also states, “I put three rifle shot into her port, and the muzzles [224] of two of her guns were badly broken.” This is evidently a mistake, as the Albemarle has but two guns, each one working in three ports, and not a man on board was injured. The muzzle of one gun was broken, and the four deserters from the ram report that it was damaged in the early part of the action on the port side, but they continued to use it throughout the engagement. The stems of the double-enders, as well as the rudder-guards, are nearly perpendicular, are very frail, and are not calculated to run up on the deck. Had they been armed, I am of opinion that the Sassacus would have brought sufficient weight upon the deck to have sunk him.

I herewith enclose a diagram of the position of the Sassacus and Albemarle at the time of collision, and after they had been separated by the ram's steaming ahead. I have sent also to Rear-Admiral Lee a fragment of a solid shot fired from the one hundred-pounder rifle of the Sassacus when close alongside, proving that the various reports heretofore made of the invulnerability of the ram have not been much exaggerated.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant.

Melancton Smith, Captain and Senior Officer, in Sounds of N. C. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

U. S. Steamer Sassacus, off Bluff point, Albemarle Sound, (Midnight,) May 5, 1864.
Sir: I have not had opportunity to send you a written despatch earlier. I sent you verbal reports by the Ceres, which it appears you have not received.

I struck the. ram Albemarle fairly, just abaft her beam, at about nine or ten knots speed. The blow jarred and careened her so much that the water flowed freely over her decks, and gave her so great a tilt,.that I at one time hoped I should sink her. I kept the engine going, and retained my position there, forcing her broadside to for some ten minutes, hoping some of our gunboats might get up alongside, opposite to me, as she was unable to harm them by ramming. Finding this could not be, and she starting ahead, the Sassacus slued obliquely towards her starboard side, when she fired, raking us, putting a one hundred-pound rifle shot clean through our starboard boiler, fore and aft. We then fired the pivot rifle, striking her port side, and a fragment of this shot flew back upon my deck. This shot was broken into fragments. I fired again with similar results. I put three rifle shot into her port, and the muzzles of two of her guns were badly broken. The shock of the collision was heavy, but did me no damage that I yet know, except breaking and sluing aside the projection outside the rudder. She does not leak. I received two severe shots from the ram while alongside of her, which were returned with interest.

After the boiler was burst, the escape of steam blinded everybody, from the hurricane deck down to the fire-room. The steam was terrible. One man died instantly, and I shall probably lose four or five more. The chief engineer, Mr. Hobby, is badly scalded, but most nobly and heroically remained at his post, and saved us from a worse disaster, of explosion to the other boiler, and of being helpless. Soon as I drifted round clear of the ram, and amidst the suffocating steam, my men and officers jumped to the guns, and continued pouring out solid shot into the enemy, until we drifted down out of range. The engine was still working slowly on a vacuum, and I succeeded in getting her out of the way of the other gunboats, and was forced to withdraw finally from action only because the engine at last stopped.

In the mean time, before I rammed the ram, the enemy's gunboat Bombshell, with three rifle howitzers and one twenty-pounder Parrott, which had been playing upon us, was hulled, and ordered to surrender, which she did, hauling down the rebel flag. I ordered her to drop down below the scene of action and anchor, which she did.

After I got the Sassacus out of the way, I sent the army steam-tug to bring her alongside of me and anchor. This was done. The Ceres came up, and I removed from her the officers and men captured from the Bombshell; they are now on board this vessel. I sent a prize crew to the Bombshell, started her fires, and I believe she is now ready to move under steam.

I was compelled to haul all fires on board of this vessel, but am now trying to get steam on the port boiler. Some pipes are knocked away, yet I hope to get able to move slowly to-morrow. The starboard boiler is, I fear, totally ruined. I have no wounded to speak of from the enemy's shot. We were hulled several times, and the injury to the boiler is, I believe, the most serious I have.

My people behaved most gallantly; the officers nobly. I believe the ram is damaged; but if solid shot split into fragments, and fly back upon my deck, it is a proof that she is more formidable than the Atlanta or Merrimac.

When alongside of her we threw grenades down her hawse hatch from aloft. I had charges of powder prepared ready to throw down her stack, but could not do it from aloft.

She played musketry upon me severely all the time. I was well prepared for my work, and so far as I can know, the effort to run her down was fairly made. She is too strong for us.

I regret most profoundly that I was obliged to drift out of the fight just as it was becoming interesting, and when my services were still needed, but I fear I am now totally hors de combat. I shall await your orders here, as I learn the enemy has been driven out of the sound into his retreat. If we did not gain a victory, we have not suffered a defeat, and the enemy was driven before our wooden boats.

Be pleased to send me instructions about the Bombshell and my own ship. I will endeavor to send you a more specific report soon, and I pray you will excuse this hasty and imperfect one.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

F. A. Roe, Lieutenant-Commander. Captain M. Smith, Commanding Naval Forces, Sounds of North Carolina.


Report of Acting Master Boutelle.

United States steamer Sassacus, Albemarle Sound, May 6, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of damages received in the master's department of this ship during her engagement with the rebel iron-clad ram Albemarle and her consort, the rebel steamer Bombshell, on the fifth instant. In ramming the Albemarle, we had a a start of three to four hundred yards, and were making about eleven knots, when we struck her with our prow at right angles on her starboard quarter at the junction of her after casemate with the hull, forcing her side under water two or three feet, and pushing her broadside to before us; our bow then resting on her quarter, her engine working ahead, bringing a heavy strain across our bow, our outer or false stem with its ram, which had been started by the shock of collision, were forced off, the stem splintering from two and a half feet below the rail to the lower part of the rudder, and hanging by the lower portion across our bow on the starboard side, starting and splintering the outer wood ends, and tearing away all of the false bow forward of the rudder, which is apparently not materially injured on its inner portion, as it moves quite freely by the use of the wheel. The position in which we lay when first striking the ram rendered it impossible for him to train any of his guns upon us, but the headway of the two vessels, exerted at right angles, forced her gradually round on our starboard bow, when he fired two six-inch rifle shots into us in rapid succession. The first of these, fired from his after gun so near as to cover our bow with smoke and burned powder, entered ten feet abaft the stem and three feet above the copper on the starboard side, passing through the yeoman's storeroom, thence diagonally across the berth-deck, and striking between the skin and the back of the fifth hanging knee from forward on the port side, cut through the ship's side at an angle of about twenty degrees, and fell in the water astern. This shot was immediately followed by a similar one from his forward gun, which shot entering abreast of the foremast four feet above the water on the starboard side, crushed obliquely through the side; cutting through the back of hanging knee, and leaving the inside of the ceiling about seven and one-half feet abaft where it first struck on the outside. From thence it passed through the throat of the next hanging knee, through the dispensary and bulkhead, starboard coal-bunker, passing on through the starboard boiler, and keeping on through the engine-room, cut in two a three-inch iron stanchion, thence through steerage and ward-room bulkheads, smashing doors and sideboard, cutting through magazine screen, when, striking an oak stanchion, which it splintered, it glanced at right angles and lodged in one of the starboard state-rooms. Many other shot passed over the ship, one of them cutting through the boarding netting two feet above the rail on port quarter, but most of them passing between the spars and rigging, which were not injured. In clearing the ram, our starboard wheel passed over her stern, crushing a launch which she was towing, and injuring the buckets and braces more or less on her hull. On examination I find that the shot holes are all well above the water-line, and as the ship makes no more water than usual, I think her actual injury to the hull much less than would seem a natural result from so tremendous a shock.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. A. Boutelle, Acting Master, U. S. N. Lieutenant-Commander Francis A. Roe, U. S. Steamer Sassacus, Albemarle Sound, N. C.

Additional report of Capt. Smith.

United States steamer Mattabesett, Albemarle Sound, N. C., May 24, 1864.
Sir: I have to report the ram made his appearance to-day for the first time since the engagement of the fifth instant. He came down in sight of the picket boats stationed off the mouth of the Roanoke River, with head up stream, and was accompanied by a row-boat that pulled several times diagonally across the river, as if dragging for torpedoes. The Whitehead fired a shell, which exploded near his stern, when the Albemarle immediately steamed up the river.

I have heard from contrabands and refugees direct from Plymouth, that the plating of the ram was much injured; that four of our shots penetrated his outer armor, and that the concussion caused by our fire was so severe that it was found impossible to keep a light burning, and that one of the guns was rendered useless. What repairs have been made are not known.

I am of the opinion, from the intelligence received from Plymouth, that they are evacuating the place. Several guns have been sent up the river, and large loads of furniture are being towed up by every steamer. The guns of the Southfield have been raised; one has been sent away, and two are on the wharf ready for transportation. I have informed the commanding General at Newbern of the state of affairs at Plymouth, and signified my desire to cooperate with him in retaking the place if he could spare the necessary force, as I have heard from a reliable source that they have but two hundred men and the ram to guard it, * * *

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Captain and Senior Officer, in Sounds of N. C. Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, Commanding N. A. B. Squadron.

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