|CSS Palmetto State|
The U.S.N's blockade nearest to Charleston's forts had only two wooden gunboats: USS Keystone State and Mercedita. The Confederate ironclads put to sea at 11:30 p.m. and, due to their slow speed, reached the U.S.N's patrol lines at 4:30 the next morning. Both the dark night and a heavy fog assisted the ironclads in achieving the element of surprise.
|Palmetto State rams Mercedita and Keystone State|
and Chicora exchange shots.
|USS Keystone State|
Fortunately for Keystone State, time was against the Confederates. As daylight appeared, other ships of the blockading squadron, specifically USS Housatonic, Augusta, Memphis, Flag, and Quaker City rushed to the scene of battle. Also as the sun rose, the tide ebbed. Fearing that he would not get his ships back across the sand bar at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, Ingraham decided to call off the attack. As the ironclads withdrew, Housatonic took a shot at Palmetto State and knocked off her smoke stack. The battle was over.
As the Union pulled back to repair their ships and remove casualties, General Beauregard and Ingraham immediately wrote letters to every foreign consulate to proclaim the blockade at Charleston had been risen (which would have forced the U.S. Navy to reissue a new blockade proclamation and keep the port open for 72 hours). At first the English, French, and Spanish diplomats agreed. But upon seeing the arrival of USS New Ironsides and other ships just a day later, the British consulate, Frederick Milnes Edge, changed his mind. He personally apologized to Admiral DuPont for his hasty declaration and wrote that it was his new opinion that the blockade at Charleston was still in force.