Report of Lt. James W. Cooke

        Commanding C. S. S. Ellis.

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April 16, 1862.


SIR: In consequence of being wounded in my right arm, and unable to write, I have until now deferred making out to you my official report of the engagements of the 8th [7th] and 11th [10th] of February:

That of the 8th [7th], at Roanoke Island, commenced about 10:30 a.m., at long range. At 2 p.m., finding all of my ammunition expended, I obtained your permission to be supplied from the Forrest. As I procured that, she had dropped out of the enemy's range in a crippled condition. I very soon expended all that she had, and soon after the Curlew becoming disabled and in a sinking condition, I was again supplied from her, and renewed the attack. At about 4:30 p.m., as we were retiring from the engagement, the firing having generally ceased, Midshipman Camm, the second in command, had his left arm taken off just below the shoulder by a Parrott shell. He had fired his eighty-fourth round when wounded, and I can not speak too highly of this efficient and meritorious officer, who had bravely performed his duty throughout the action. I then, by your order, went to the assistance of the Curlew to remove ordnance and ordnance stores, etc., to the schooner Black Warrior, for the purpose of falling back to Elizabeth City, where we arrived on Saturday morning, and where we were attacked on Monday, the 11th [10th], by the Federal gunboats by an overwhelming and overpowering force, In consequence of the width of the river, the enemy were enabled to run down upon us with his entire force, numbering, I think, 14 gunboats, and anyone of which was superior to ours, and of a heavier metal. Being surrounded and boarded by two of the enemy's vessels, and having made every possible effort to resistance, and seeing that further resistance was useless, I gave the order to blow the vessel up, which was prevented by one of my negro coal hearers discovering it and betraying it to the enemy. I also gave the order for the men to save themselves, if possible, we being very near the shore, one of the gun's crew being killed and several wounded. The rest left the vessel, and, in endeavoring to make their way to the shore, Midshipman Jackson, the second in command (who came on board in the place of Mr. Camm) was wounded, and died in twenty hours on board one of the Federal vessels. Several of the men were also wounded in the water, one, I believe, mortally, William Walker, ordinary seaman.

Midshipman Jackson was a meritorious and promising officer, and the country has sustained a loss in his death.

I must here speak of the efficient services of Mr. Knight (rated as fireman, but performing the duties of boatswain, gunner, and watch officer); Mr. Mayo, the pilot; also Mr. Bagley, the clerk, and the crew, all of whom performed their respective duties with promptness and efficiency.

After the surrender, I am sorry to say that the two negro coal heavers and the steward, as also one or two of the men from the Sea Bird, deserted to the enemy, when called upon in my presence to take their parole.


J. W. Cooke

Lieutentant,  Commanding Ellis


Flag-Officer W. F. Lynch

Commanding Virginia and North Carolina Naval Defenses


Navy O.R.

Series I, Volume 6

pp. 597-598