and another regiment was ordered up to his support.
had already surprised and captured a picket-guard of the enemy, consisting of thirty persons, who were sent prisoners to the fort.
, finding only a hastily deserted camp at Little Bethel, pushed on to Big Bethel, several miles further.
Here he found a substantial, though hastily constructed, breastwork, protected from assault by a deep creek, with 1,800 Confederates, under Col. J. B. Magruder
, behind it. Gen. Pierce
, who, probably, had never before seen a shot fired in actual war, ordered an attack; planting his few small guns in the open field, half a mile from the well-sheltered Rebel batteries in his front.
Our balls, of course, buried themselves harmlessly in the Rebel
while our men, though partially screened by woods and houses, were exposed to a deadly fire from the Rebels
For four hours, the action thus continued — necessarily with considerable loss on our side and very little on the other.
Finally, a more determined assault was made by a part of our infantry, led by Major Theodore Winthrop
, Aid to Gen. Butler
, who was shot dead while standing on a log, cheering his men to the charge.
His courage and conduct throughout the fight rendered him conspicuous to, and excited the admiration of; his enemies.
Lieut. John T. Greble
, of the 2d regular artillery, was likewise killed instantly by a ball through the head, while serving his gun in the face of the foe. Our total loss, in the advance and the attack, was hardly less than 100 men; while the Rebels
reported theirs at 1 killed and 7 wounded. Gen. Pierce
, whose inexperience and incapacity had largely contributed to our misfortune, finally ordered a retreat, which was made, and in good order; the Rebels
following for some miles with cavalry, but at a respectful distance.
And, so conscious were their leaders that they owed their advantage to accident, that they abandoned the position that night, and retreated so far as Yorktown
, ten miles up the Peninsula
[No further collisions of moment occurred in this department that season.
was succeeded by Gen. Wool
on the 16th of August.
Reports of a contemplated Rebel invasion of the North
, through Maryland
, were current throughout the month of May, countenanced by the fact that Maryland
Hights, opposite Harper's Ferry
, were held by Johnston
through most of that month, while a considerable force appeared opposite Williamsport
on the 19th, and seemed to meditate a crossing.
A rising in Baltimore
, and even a dash on Philadelphia
, were among their rumored purposes.
Surveys and reconnoissances had been made by them of Arlington Hights and other eminences on the Virginia
side of the Potomac
, as if with intent to plant batteries for the shelling of Washington
But the Union
forces, in that State and Maryland
, increased so rapidly, that any offensive movement