Chicora, Commander John R. Tucker, at 11.15 o'clock, and steamed slowly down to the bar, as from our draught we could into cross until high water. At 4.30 o'clock we crossed the bar with about a foot and a half to spare, and soon after made a steamer at anchor; made for her and directed Lieutenant-Commander [John] Rutledge to strike her with our prow. When quite near we were hailed: "What steamer is that? Drop your anchor or you will be into us." He was informed that is was the Confederate steamer Palmetto State. At this moment we struck her and fired the 7-inch gun into her as he gave an order to fire. I then inquired if he surrendered, and was answered in the affirmative. I then directed him to send a boat on board, which was done. After some delay Lieutenant Abbott, commanding, came on board and informed me that the vessel was the United States steamer Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and that she was in a sinking condition, and had a crew of 158, all told, and wished to be relieved; that all his boats were lowered without the plugs being in and were full of water.
At this time the Chicora was engaged with the enemy and the alarm was given. I knew our only opportunity was to take the enemy unawares, as the moment he was under way, from his superior speed, we could not close with him. I then directed Lieutenant Rutledge, commanding, to require from Lieutenant-Commander Abbott his word of honor for his commander, officers, and crew that they would not serve against the Confederate States until regularly exchanged, when he was directed to return with his boat to his vessel to render what assistance he could. I then stood to the northward and eastward, and soon after made another steamer getting under way. We stood for her and fired several shots at her, but as we had to fight the vessel in a circle to bring the different guns to bear she was soon out of our range. In this way we engaged several vessels, they keeping at long range and steering to the southward. Just as the day broke we made a large steamer (supposed to be the Powhatan) on starboard bow, with another steamer in company, which had just got under way. They stood to the southward under full steam and opened their batteries upon the Chicora, which was oem distance astern of us. I then turned and stood to the southward to support the Chicora, if necessary, but the enemy kept on his course to the southward. I then made signal to Commander Tucker to come to anchor, and led the way to the entrance of Beach Channel, where we anchored at 8.45 a. m., and had to remain seven hours for the tide, as the vessels cannot cross the bar except at high water. The sea was perfectly smooth, as much so as in the harbor. Everything was most favorable for us and gave us no opportunity to test the sea qualities of the boats. The engines worked well and obtained a greater speed than they had ever before attained.
I cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of Commander Tucker and Lieutenant-Commander Rutledge. The former handled his vessel in a beautiful manner and did the enemy much damage. I refer you to his official report. Lieutenant-Commander Rutledge also fought the Palmetto State in a manner highly gratifying to me.
Every officer and man did his duty nobly and deserves well of their country.
We had but little opportunity of trying our vessels, as the enemy did not close, and not a single shot struck either vessel.
I am highly indebted to Commander [H. J.] Hartstene, who gallantly volunteered to take charge of three steamers, with 50 men on board, who accompanied us in case we should need their services, but they could not get over the bar, but joined us after daylight at the North Channel,