late in the afternoon, when the enemy ceased firing. Yesterday morning a flag of truce came in with one Major Read, who stated verbally that he had come by direction of General hoke, to demand the surrender of the place, as they had possession of the Neuse River, the railroad, &c. I directed one f my aides-de-camp to go to Major Read and to say to him that his delicate jest was dully appreciated by me, but that he must leave in one-half hour, or we should fire upon him. He left immediately, and I have heard nothing from him since.
The forces on the railroad between this place and Morehead, I am told by two deserters, consisted of three brigades of Hoke, Corse, and Walker, all commanded by Walker, with some fifty or sixty pieces of artillery. I believe very little of what I hear, and although this information may be correct I doubt it-that is. I doubt if there was so large a force. Our artillery practice was excellent, and the deserters say that quite a number, something more than 40, were killed. To-day I am having the railroad repaired, the telegraph wire replaced, &c., and before another day I hope to have our communication with Morehead open. I sent a steamer to Beaufort in the evening of the 5th. She has just returned, and I learn from Colonel Jourdan, commanding the Sub-District of Beaufort, that he is all right there, and that he will be able to hold out I firmly believe against any force that may attack him.
The inclosed copy of a letter from Captain Smith, senior naval officer, will explain the operations against the "ram" in the Albermale Sound. Lieutenant King, of the Engineers, of my staff, witnessed the engagement with the ram, and I think it was a handsome affair. The Sassacus ran into the ram with all the force she could, but she could neither sink her nor roll her over. A shot went completely through the Sassacus, penetrating the boiler and killing 1 man, and scalding badly some 18 others.
The torpedoes are now in the mouth of the Roanoke River, and notwithstanding the formidable character of the ram I have no fears from her here. The rebel force that come here expected, I hear, to find the Roanoke ram here. I am confident ram here. I am confident of being able to hold everything here. the greatest difficultly I have to contend with is the trouble arising from the timid persons, women and children, and contraband, who are badly scared. We have, however, I think, laughed the most of the out of their fears.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,
Major R. S. DAVIS,
A. A. G., Dept. of Va. and N. C., Fortress Monroe, Va.
U. S. STEAMER MATTAPESETT,
Off Roanoke River, May 6, 1864.
Brigadier General I. N. PALMER,
Commanding Land Forces in North Carolina:
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 her were not attended with success. Our
*See also report of Secretary of the Navy for 1864, pp. 26-29.