May 5, 1864 in Chowan & Washington Counties, North Carolina
Union Forces Commanded by: Capt. Melancton Smith
Confederate Forces Commanded by: Cdr. J.W. Cooke
**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Inconclusive Victory
On 5 May, a naval battle was fought at the mouth of the Roanoke River. The Confederate ship CSS Albemarle and a captured steamer, Bombshell, which were escorting the steamer Cotton Plant,laden with troops, down the Roanoake, and four federal side-paddlers Mattabesett, Sassacus, Wyalusing and Miami coming up Albemarle Sound. Albemarle opened fire first from her bow gun, the shells wounding six men on one of the 2 100-lb. Parrott rifles on the Mattabesett, then attempted to ram her.
The paddler managed to round the ram`s bow, closely followed by the Sassacuswhich opened up a broadside of solid 9" and 100-lb. shot, all of which bounced off the sloping armour of the Confederate ship. The Bombshell was a softer target and was hulled by each shot from Sassucus`s broadside. She surrendered, and was ordered to pull out of the action and anchor. When he found that he had Albemarle broadside on at a range of about 400 yards, Lt. Cdr. Roe of Sassucus decided to ram her and called for all the steam that could be raised.
The paddler struck the iron hull full and square ripping away the timbers off her own bow and twisting off the bronze beak with which she was shod The 2 ships remained entangled together but the crew of Albemarle recovered quickly and fired 2 shells into the Confederate hull which was almost touching the end of the gun barrel. One punctured the boilers, still full of steam, sending jets of steam and boiling water through the ship, scalding 13 of her crew.The other Union ships remained stopped while Sassucis broke away and drifted out of range. Miami attempted to use her torpedo and enmesh the ram`s propellor with a seine net but without success and Albemarle steamed back into the Roanoke where she was moored at Plymouth.