The CSS Albemarle and the Battle of Batchelor’s Bay

The last picture taken of the CSS Albemarle before being scrapped in 1867. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

The last picture taken of the CSS Albemarle before being scrapped in 1867. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

On May 5, 1864, the CSS Albemarle crossed Batchelor’s Bay and fought seven Union warships. Upon entering the Albemarle Sound the Confederate ram, under command of Captain J. W. Cooke, and her escort vessels were attacked by four double-ended steamers and three smaller gunboats under Captain Melancton Smith. The Albemarle opened attack late in the day. Leading the first line of attack was the Union flagship, the Mattabesett. The Albemarle returned fire, destroying the launch and cutting away some of the standing and running rigging.

The steamer Sassacus then struck the ironclad. The crew of the Albemarle responded with a 100-pound shot through the starboard boiler of the Union vessel and into her wardroom. The scalded men managed to free the ship as they drifted out of range. All parties then withdrew. Only by throwing butter, lard and bacon into the boilers was it possible for the crew of the Albemarle to raise enough steam to return to Plymouth.

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