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ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Report of Lieutenant Mortimer M. Benton, CSS Roanoke, June 21, 1864

[Engagement of Federal fleet with Confederate ironclads and shore batteries at Howlett’s, June 21, 1864.]

Report of Lieutenant Benton, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Roanoke.

C. S. S. Roanoke, June 22, 1864.

Illustration of Howlett Battery and Trent's Reach in the London Illustrated News

Battery Dantzler and the Confederate James River Squadron combined forces against the Union monitors in Trent’s Reach on June 21, 1864. (October 22, 1864 London Illustrated News)

Sir: I have the honor to report that yesterday at 12:50 p. m. I commenced firing at the enemy in the lower part of Trent’s Reach from my position just above Signal Tower. After firing a few times from this position, using 15-second shell and two percussion shell, I was convinced that my shell were doing no good, and moved up to the ferry, whence I fired 1 percussion shell, but as the range was too great for my gun and there was no indication of the presence of gunboats, I dropped down to a position opposite Cox’s Mill. From this position at 4:55 I opened on a gunboat lying near Aiken’s, firing 1 10-second shell and 11 percussion shells. In obedience to a signal from the flagship, at 6:20 ceased firing. The lookout at the masthead reported these shells as falling near the enemy, two apparently striking him.

I am happy to report no casualties, as none of the enemy’s shot struck us.

My men and officers were in excellent spirits all day, displaying a spirit which promises well should they ever be placed in a position where there is warm work and real fighting.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M[ortimer]. M. Benton,
Commanding Roanoke.

Flag-Officer Jno. [Jonathan] K. Mitchell,
Commanding James River Squadron.1

Map of the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett's Bluff

This map shows the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett’s Bluff, covered in this report by Lt. Benton.



  1. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10, pp. 190191
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