The President has not yet returned. The Cabinet did not convene to-day. Affairs look uncomfortable in North Carolina. The army there needs reinforcing, and had we Charleston we would send more vessels into those waters.
Neither the War Department nor army men entertain an idea that the Rebels have withdrawn any of their forces from the Rappahannock to go into North Carolina, but I have apprehensions that such may be the case. From what quarter but that can they have collected the large force that is now pressing Foster?
We have more definite yet not wholly reliable rumors from Charleston. A contest took place on the afternoon of the 7th, Tuesday, of three hours, from two till five. Two of our vessels are reported injured, — the Keokuk, said to be sunk on Morris Island, and the Ironsides, disabled. Neither is a turret vessel. On the whole, this account, if not what we wish, is not very discouraging. The movement I judged to have been merely a reconnoissance, to feel and pioneer the way for the grand attack. Fox persists that the ironclads are invulnerable. I shall not be surprised if some are damaged, perhaps disabled. In fact, I have supposed that some of them would probably be sunk, and shall be satisfied if we lose several and get Charleston. I hope we shall not lose them and fail to get the city.
SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 265-6