Battle of Plymouth Connections

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Lt. Charles Flusser, commander of the USS Commodore Perry in the battle of Elizabeth City, wrote the following in a letter to his mother dated 14 February 1862:


“One of these steamers came up to my starboard quarter only ten or fifteen yards off where there was not a man but myself, and tried to train his great gun on us, I repeatedly called the men to their gun, but they would not come so as a last chance, I drew my revolver, a small sized Colt’s and fired at the captain of the enemy’s gun. I fired three or four shots with deliberate aim, and saw the captain and the man on his left fall, whether I hit them or not I do not know, I only know that the gun was not fired.”


Apparently this ship was the CSS Ellis. Lt. James B. Cooke, commander of the Ellis, was wounded in the arm and another ball passed through his cap during the battle according to a monograph entitled “Commodore James W. Cooke” written by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Cooke. Cooke ordered the cannon spiked; the man who spiked the gun fell dying at Cooke’s feet as Cooke fired his last musket. A bullet splintered the handle of the musket Cooke was holding as he bent over the dying gunner. Cooke was bayoneted in the leg as boarders from the USS Ceres swarmed aboard.


On 19 April 1864, these two foes were fated to meet again. Flusser now commanded the Union flotilla from aboard his flagship USS Miami. Cooke was in command the ironclad ram CSS Albemarle. The Albemarle had descended the Roanoke River to aid in the Confederate attack on Plymouth, NC. Flusser had ordered the Miami and the USS Southfield chained together in a scheme to catch the Albemarle between the two Union vessels. The Albemarle rammed the Southfield, sinking her in minutes. Flusser personally fired a 100-pounder shell point blank at the Albemarle. The shell ricocheted off the iron casemate of the Albemarle and exploded, killing Flusser.