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Doc. 24.-attack on the little Ada.

Lieut.-Commander Weaver's report.

United States steamer Winona, off Suwanee River, S. C., March 25, 1864.
Sir: In obedience to your order of the twenty-first instant, directing us to proceed off the Santee River, and to prevent the steamer loading at McClellanville from going to sea, and to use such efforts to capture said steamer as might best meet that end consistent with safety, I have to report that I left Charleston harbor in this vessel, on the morning of the twenty-third instant, and arrived off the Santee at 5.30 P. M. of the same day. After making a careful reconnaissance of the north and south mouths of the Santee, I decided that there must be the deepest water in the latter, and anchored this vessel as near there as was prudent. At sunset I started a boat expedition in command of Acting Master E. H. Sheffield, executive officer of this vessel, consisting of the gig, second and third cutters, Acting Ensign William McKendry, in charge of one cutter, and Acting Master's Mate L. A. Cornthwaite in charge of the other. Acting Second Assistant Engineer W. J. Barrington, Acting Assistant Surgeon Charles Little, and twenty-one of the crew. I gave Mr. Sheffield orders to proceed up the Santee, and if he discovered the steamer Ada to either destroy her or bring her out. At four A. M., on the twenty-fourth, the expedition returned, Mr. Sheffield reporting that he went twelve miles up the river, passed a village eleven miles upon the right bank, two wharves and several warehouses, but saw no vessel. The party was not discovered. At eleven A. M. communicated with the United States steamer Paul Jones. I learned from her pilot (a colored man, and familiar with the country) that McClellanville is a small village on a salt water creek that makes into the sea just to the northward of Cape Roman, about eight miles distant. I started for the above-mentioned creek at four P. M., and anchored the Winona in sixteen feet of water near there at five o'clock. I again started the expedition with the same officers and men, having learned that the country on either side of the creek, up to the village, was nothing but a marsh. I ordered the officer in command to so time it as to arrive there on the commencement of the ebb tide, and to reconnoitre the first firm ground well before proceeding farther. At six o'clock P. M. the expedition returned. Acting Master Sheffield reports that in consequence of the darkness of the night and the many bayous making into the creek, it was with great difficulty that he kept in it — in fact, several times he lost his way. At six A. M. this morning he discovered the village and a steamer lying at anchor off the bank, it being by that time broad daylight, and being fearful that he had been discovered, he determined to attempt the capture of the steamer. The boats got within a few hundred yards before they were perceived by the enemy. At this time a large number of men were seen rushing about the steamer's deck, and a boat was lowered immediately after. The gig and second cutter boarded her on the port side, the third cutter running across her bow, intercepting a boat which had the captain in her, and forcing him to return on board. The surprise was complete, and in five minutes the captain and crew were disarmed and below decks, with a sentry at each hatch. There being no indications of a battery, Mr. Barrington at once started fires the chain was hove short, but she was so fastened with stern moorings that the chain could not be slipped, and they proceeded at once to cut it with cold chisels. Soon after a masked battery of three rifle guns (supposed to be about twelve-pounders) opened on the steamer at short range, the shot striking about amidships, going in one side and out of the other, one shot penetrating the steam drum and another the boilers, destroying tubes, &c.; in fact, they had the range so perfectly that their shot completely riddled her ; they were evidently prepared for an attack, as they had a target placed ahead and one astern of her, and were determined to disable her in case she was boarded. At this time it was broad daylight, and as by remaining longer there would have been great danger of having the boats sunk, Mr. Sheffield had all the arms passed into them, and reluctantly withdrew, feeling assured that the capture of our small force would have been the result had he not done so. The steamer proved to be iron, with scarcely any wood work about her; what little there was of an inflammable nature about the vessel was wet, as it was raining heavily at the time. In consideration of this, and the fact that there was no cargo on board, it was deemed best not to attempt to fire her; in fact, to have remained five minutes longer would have imperilled the lives of the whole party, the enemy's fire being so severe. The steamer is not the Ada, as supposed, but the Little Ada, of Glasgow, commanded by a Baltimorean named Martin. He remarked to our officers that they had done their work well, and asked only to be treated as a gentleman and as a prisoner of war. No sooner did the boats leave, however, than this same man opened a fire on them from a small Whitworth gun which the Little Ada had mounted on her [238] deck, and this fire was kept up some time after the batteries had ceased theirs, shrapnel bursting near the boats when they were a long distance off.

I cannot speak in too high praise of the conduct of the officers and men, with but one exception, Charles M. Muldoon, an ordinary seaman, an Englishman, and a man of no character, who deserted to the enemy. Although there was an abundance of liquor on board, and it was offered freely to the men, not one would take it, though they were cold and wet at the time. I was compelled by necessity to include five colored men in the party, and they behaved admirably under fire.

In conclusion, I wish to recommend to the favorable consideration of of the Navy Department Acting Master E. H. Sheffield, Acting Ensign William McKendry, and Acting Master's Mate L. A. Cornthwaite. Acting Ensign William McKendry applied some time since for an appointment, and I think he has well earned promotion. Acting Assistant Surgeon Charles Little, and Acting Second Assistant Engineer W. J. Barrington, also deserve much credit for their coolness and zeal. I am, Sir, respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

A. W. Weaver, Lieutenant-Commander. Com. Stephen C. Rowan, Com'dg S. A. B. Squadron, Flag-ship New Ironsides, Charleston Harbor:

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E. H. Sheffield (6)
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