May 7 Report of Lt. Thomas O. Selfridge

Hampton Roads, May 7, 1861.

SIR: In accordance with your orders I left here at 10 a.m. in the steamer Yankee for an examination of the fortifications on Gloucester Point. I had approached within about 2,000 yards of this point when a shot across my bow first apprised me that the enemy had guns mounted. I continued to steam ahead slowly, when another was fired in line, but a little short. I stopped steaming, moved all heavy articles to the port side and started all the water in the starboard tanks, as the Yankee had a considerable list to starboard, from moving her two guns to that side. I fired 4 rounds shot and two shell at the extreme elevation the guns would permit, but they all fell short. Twelve shots in all were fired by the enemy, two shells passed about 10 feet over and burst some 20 yards beyond; the remainder fell short. Finding the guns opposed to me so much superior in range and caliber to the Yankee’s light 32’s, I considered it my duty, though reluctantly, to return. The guns mounted, as near as I could judge, were one 8-inch shell and two long 32’s, and there were probably forty men behind the breastwork. I could discover no armed parties other than these in the vicinity.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy.


Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Series I, Vol. 4. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896.