previous next

Doc. 161.-expedition to the Pocomoke.

A letter from Fortress Monroe, dated August 3, gives the following account of this expedition:

A secret expedition consisting of tugs Fanny, Fanny Cadwallader, and Adriatic, two launches and two batteaux, manned by forty of the Naval Brigade, and bearing companies A, F and C, (Captains White, Winchester, and Louther,) of the Tenth regiment, left the fortress Wednesday morning, July 31. Their destination, and the time of their absence even, so far as possible, were kept profoundly secret. The fact that three days rations were taken, afforded the only clue that could be obtained in regard to the matter.

A portion of the expedition returned last evening for more provisions, and on their way out, met the remainder which arrived here this morning. From one of the officers I have full details. The expedition had one rifled 32-pounder, which, as will be seen, did excellent execution under the direction of Lieut. Tillotson, of the Naval Brigade, to whom belongs a high meed of praise for the coolness and accuracy with which he served the gun. The soldiers were armed with muskets. Four of the officers had rifles, and whenever they used them threw lead and consternation among the ranks of the rebels. The whole affair was in charge of Capt. Crosby, U. S. A.

The object of the excursion was to seize arms and rifled cannon said to be in conveyance from Accomac County to the rebels, in spite of the blockade, and to see if any important defence had been erected by the rebels, as reported. Leaving the fortress quite early Wednesday morning, the fleet cruised during the day up the bay, without meeting with any incident of particular importance, unless it be the souring of a large portion of the rations, which rendered them unfit for use, and much embarrassed the remainder of the journey. During the night they lay at anchor off Watt's Island, and very early in the morning proceeded to the mouth of Pocomoke River, which empties into Pocomoke Sound. In two launches, each bearing fifty men, and one of them a 32-pound howitzer, they landed at Fletcher's wharf at five o'clock Thursday morning. A company of the Roanoke Rifles, who were drilling at the time of the approach of the expedition, were frightened and fled in consternation to the woods and fields in the rear of the house near the wharf, which subsequently proved to be the Headquarters of the company. The crews of the boats immediately effected a landing and pursued the retreating rebels a short distance. They then proceeded to search the house, and found a negro, who at first refused to give any information. After some threats, however, he acknowledged that the building was used as the Headquarters of a detachment of the Roanoke Rifles, and that two or three times a week they were accustomed to meet there for drill; that the captain of the company was James Fletcher, the owner of the place; that the first-lieutenant was a Mr. Crossly, who owned a house very near, and which was searched by our troops. In their search they also found Crossly's uniform. It was brought back, together with one of the rebel guns, as a trophy, by Capt. White. In the barn they found five boxes, recently emptied of rifles, also several from which uniforms had been taken. It is only just to say that the boxes were marked “from M. Goldsmith & Co., Chestnut street, Philadelphia.” There was also an order found for assembling the Roanoke Rifles last Tuesday, together with a number of copies of Gilham's “School of tactics,” military books, papers, &c. A large quantity of oats, corn, and bacon was also stored in the barn. The bacon the soldiers were especially desirous of taking. This, Captain Crosby refused to permit, though his men had subsisted on a single ration for forty-eight hours.

The next visit was to the sutler's. Here they found a number of glasses, which the officers had evidently just left in their hasty retreat. A portion of the glasses were partly filled with liquors, and a large quantity was found inside. There was a general stock of provisions, boots, shoes, and dry goods inside, not any of which the soldiers were permitted to touch by Capt. Crosby. Their hunger, though, finally betrayed them into the taking of some eggs and gingerbread, which when Capt. C. discovered, he compelled them to pay seven dollars as a remuneration. His conduct received much censure from those who accompanied him in these things, and the idea of a company of half-starved Federal troops being compelled to put their hard-earned dimes into secession coffers in return for the necessities of life, when they were in the very Headquarters of the enemy, is certainly [478] not one of the most pleasant for contemplation in the present state of affairs.

Capt., Louther's company were now put in command of a bridge near by, while Capt. White was sent across with his as skirmishers in the adjacent woods and fields about. Scarcely had the movement been made, when a negro woman came running down with the intelligence that the rebel troops were advancing rapidly toward them from Temperanceville, about five miles further inland. The alarm, she said, had spread, and all the country around was aroused. Not many minutes after the crack of rifles upon Capt. White's pickets announced the presence of the rebels. Our men quickly collected together, and commenced firing in return. The enemy were scattered about firing with rifles from behind the fences and haystacks, or under cover of the woods around the open field where our troops had formed. As soon as Capt. White's men were in rank, he marched them out under the open fire and directly toward the locality whence the shots came thickest, loading and firing as they went. Four of the enemy had been killed, when they were gathered up by the rebels, who fled precipitately. One squad, numbering about fifteen, was chased at least half a mile, and our men were pressing on intending to pursue them to Temperanceville, when Capt. Crosby overtook them with the order, “Make the best of your way back to the fort as soon as possible!” Not one of our men had been even wounded. The charge that had been made by them was a splendid one, and not a single soldier of ours showed any thing but bravery. The credit of the affair belongs to Capt. White and his company, and to Lieut. Ryan, who rushed on bravely at the head of about fourteen of the Naval Brigade. Lieut. Ryan had a Sharpe's rifle, and with it shot one of the rebels down deliberately. The Federal troops took a number of muskets, caps, pieces of uniforms, &c., and had it not been for the order to retreat would have captured a large number of prisoners. I may here say that the uniform of Lieut. Crossly is made of coarse Kentucky jeans, green facings, and trimmed with the “sic semper tyrannis” buttons. In the afternoon, after the retreat down Pocomoke River, they took a prize schooner, and early the following morning the fleet started for Cherrystone Creek. Arriving at the wharf at the mouth of the river, they found the schooner Passenger. Her captain is also captain of the Cherrystone Guards, a company of rebel troops who rendezvous in the vicinity. They removed a number of things from the schooner, and then fired her and another lying near. They then placed a picket line along the shore. Scarcely ten minutes afterward a cloud of dust was seen up the road, and then a column of bayonets gleaming in the early sunlight. A moment afterward a ball from a heavy gun came whizzing down the road, and struck in the water a very little distance from them. Lieut. Tillotson, of the Naval Brigade, in charge of our 82-pounder upon one of the launches, then sighted the piece accurately and sent a concussion shell into their very midst. The rebels then scattered into the woods. Our men upon the boats discharged their muskets into the woods, and the pickets having been taken on board, and several shots given from Tillotson's gun, Capt. Crosby again gave the order to retreat and the expedition floated down the river. The Fanny Cadwallader was found some distance below run aground, and all efforts to get her off were for a time unavailing. She was near the shore, and had the enemy known the circumstances, they could not have found a more favorable opportunity for attacking the expedition, and would certainly have sunk the boat aground and scattered the fleet, had they come in season.

In a short time the order was given by Capt. Crosby to throw her coal overboard. Several of the men were detailed for the purpose, and commenced the speedy execution of the order. The Fanny was then attached to the Fanny Cadwallader, and had scarcely succeeded, after much effort, in getting her off, when Capt. White, who was again ashore with pickets, saw movements in the woods and a large white wagon approaching, guarded by several soldiers. The picket fell back to the boats. A few moments afterward a shot from a rebel howitzer was sent whirling toward the launch which bore Tillotson's gun, and a shower of musket and rifle balls fell among the boats. Tillotson answered the fire bravely and effectively. The action continued briskly for about fifteen minutes, the rebels firing from behind a sand battery and the trees. Their aim, however, was much too high and none of their shots scarcely but fell beyond. Some of the rifle balls struck the smoke-stacks of the steamers, and quite a number of bullets marked the upper parts of the boats. Not one of our men, so far as I am able to learn, was injured. The rebels had two howitzers playing mostly on the launch, where Tillotson kept up a heavy fire, finally dismounting one piece, and, for a time, silencing the other. Capt. Crosby gave the order to retreat, and at the same instant the rebels gave Tillotson a shell. He again fired, and the launch commenced the retreat. Again and again he fired in answer to the gun upon shore, as his boat moved off, until at last she was silenced. Tillotson, after the action closed, received three loud, long, and hearty cheers for his bravery, and the expedition then moved off toward the fortress, where it arrived early this morning. The last engagement occurred at about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon and continued more than half an hour.

The prize schooner taken at Pocomoke River now lays in the harbor. She is a trim-rigged little craft, and it is regretted by our men that she was not as well stored as built.

--N. Y. World, August 7.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Tillotson (8)
White (7)
Atwood Crosby (6)
Crossly (3)
John Ryan (2)
Louther (2)
James Fletcher (2)
Winchester (1)
Sharpe (1)
M. Goldsmith (1)
Gilham (1)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 7th (1)
August 3rd (1)
July 31st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: