Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/221

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The Confederate Ram Albf marie. "213

fast as the guns could be worked, but the smoke settled over all, and became so dense the Federal boats pulled away for fear of being rammed and took new positions.

The Albemarle continued to advance, keeping her guns busy. The Yankee boats, favorably posted in the sound, concentrated their big guns on the ram, hoping to disable it by reaching her port holes. It looked as if the little ram could not survive the combined attack, but she was out for a fight, and floated into the sound as proudly and defiantly as if she was supreme. Quickly she changed her course for the " double-enders," but they set out again and took up new positions, and the ram passed in between them, using her guns with marked effect.

The situation was desperate, and the Sassacus was signalled "to ram the Albemarle." It was the only hope of success, though it was deemed certain that the Sassacus would go under. She moved on the Albemarle with a full head of steam, risking everything to save the other vessels. It was a moment of intense anxiety for all as the big ship neared the little Albemarle. The latter sent two shots through the Yankee boat just before she struck. A mighty crash, and the boom of cannon. The smoke became intense, and both vessels quivering, rebounded for the second attack. The bow of the Sassacus was shattered and she attempted to escape. The ram was still afloat, though, and went in pursuit, sending a shell crash- ing through the boat and through her boilers. Soon a cloud of steam and boiling water filled every part of' the vessel.

The shrill screams of the escaping steam almost drowned the sound of the guns, which the ram continued to fire into the unfortunate vessel.

The shouts of the Confederates and the cries of the scalded, blinded and wounded men made a scene which would appall the stoutest heart. The Sassacus surged to one side, then to the other, and began to sink.

Those of the Yankee crew who survived climbed into the rigging to escape the boiling steam.

The tumult always characteristic of battle was doubly intensified by the cries of agony from the scalded and dying men.

No effort was made by the other Federal vessels to give them aid. During all this time the surviving vessels floated at a respectful dis- tance and took no part whatever. When the steam had cleared away the Federal fleet had gone, and the proud little Albemarle was master of the field.