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[292] earth-work, mounting five heavy rifled guns, was established at Hill's Point, about six miles from Suffolk, and of such strong profile and skilful construction that our missiles could only bury themselves harmlessly in the parapet, while from their protected position they maintained a destructive fight with the gunboats. The Mount Washington, already disabled in an unequal contest with a battery higher up, grounded off Hill's Point, directly under the rebel guns. Her companions refused to leave her in this emergency, and then for six long hours raged one of the most desperate and unequal contests of the war. The gallant Lamson, on his crippled-vessel, and the equally gallant Cushing, stood over their smoking guns and bleeding gunners till the rising tide at last floated them off in safety. The Commodore Barney showed one hundred and fifty-eight ball and bullet-holes in her hull and machinery; the Mount Washington was even worse riddled.

Admiral Lee having now ordered the gunboats out of the Upper Nansemond, matters wore a desperate aspect. At this crisis the fertile genius of Lieutenant Lamson devised a plan which was approved by General Peck, the conception of which was only less brilliant than its subsequent execution. He proposed to General Getty the capture of the Hill's Point battery. The following extract, from an eye-witness, describes this brilliant feat:

Shortly before sunset, on the nineteenth of April, the gunboats on the river, and the four rifled guns at and near battery Stevens, opened a terrific fire upon the rebel battery. Meantime, detachments from the Eighty-ninth New-York volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel England, and Eighth Connecticut, Colonel Ward, in all two hundred and eighty men, embarked on board the gunboat Stepping Stones, Lieutenant Lamson, at a point about a mile above the battery. Protected by the artillery fire, the gunboat boldly steamed down the river, and ran close to the shore about two hundred yards above the rebel works, the shore at that point being an abrupt bluff. Immediately the troops disembarked, wading to their waists in water, ascended the bluff, and with loud cheers charged on the rear of the fort. Meantime, the gunboat's crew had landed four boat howitzers, placed them in position, and opened on the fort. The enemy, taken completely by surprise, were able to discharge but two or three volleys of musketry, and one gun, when our troops entered the work and captured the entire party of seven officers and one hundred and thirty men, with five brass guns and a large supply of ammunition.

The capture of the Hill's Point battery alarmed the rebels to such an extent that they instantly turned their attention to securing their own position. Defensive lines of vast length and considerable strength protected their front for a distance of several miles, trees were felled and abattis planted in front, and every measure which the resources of skilful engineering could devise were adopted to resist the terrible artillery fire of our batteries, and to foil sorties should any be made.

General Peck, continually vigilant to observe any change in the location, strength, or plans of the enemy, repeatedly sent out columns of moderate strength to attack the enemy. A reconnoissance, made on the twenty-fourth, by General Corcoran on the Edenton, and another by Colonel Foster on the Somerton road resulted in lively skirmishes, in which the enemy's outposts were driven back to their main lines, before whose formidable strength our weak columns were in turn compelled to retire.

General Peck had divided his entire circle of defence (including the Nansemond) into sections of convenient length, to the direct responsibility of which he assigned his principal subordinates. That of General Getty, which was by far the longest and weakest, was subsequently subdivided into the line of the Jericho, under General Harland, and that of the Nansemond, under Colonel Dutton.

The vast labors performed by Getty's division during the three weeks of the siege, consisting of forts, rifle-pits, batteries, roads, bridges, and timber-cutting, must be seen to be appreciated. Nevertheless, these troops exhibited to the last no other feeling than that of the most praiseworthy patience, courage, and devotion to duty.

Every able-bodied man in this division was employed every day, and not unfrequently at night either on picket or fatigue duty. Repeatedly also, the pickets themselves were compelled to handle the pick and shovel.

An amusing incident is related in this connection. A soldier in a New-Hampshire regiment, while wearily digging during the small hours of the morning, was heard to remark to his neighbor: “I say, Bill! I hope ‘Old Peck’ will die two weeks before I do.”

“Why so?” queried his friend.

“Because he'll have hell so strongly fortified that I can't get in,” was the irreverent reply.

An inspection of the defences of the Nansemond at the close of the siege, would have convinced an observer that if the river Styx is ever made equally difficult to cross, the soldier's remark was not void of reason.

On the twentieth of April, rebel reenforcements commenced arriving, fresh from the fruitless siege of Little Washington. Before the thirtieth, more than ten thousand troops under General D. H. Hill had joined Longstreet. Fortunately, however, reenforcements from Washington had commenced arriving at Suffolk, and the enemy having lost the golden moments afforded by its originally weak condition, it was now regarded as almost impregnable.

Longstreet manifestly entertained a similar opinion, but was loth to relinquish his attempt, and with his accustomed pertinacity made new but futile efforts for final success. New batteries were secretly constructed and unmasked only to be silenced by the deadly fire of our gunboats and the Parrotts from our own works. Meantime instances of individual daring and skill, on the

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