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Doc. 30 1/2.-the battle at Bethel, Va.

Colonel Townsend's report.

Headquarters, camp Hamilton, June 12, 1861.
To Major R. A. Pierce, Brigade-Inspector, &c.:
sir :--I have the honor to report for the information of Brigadier-General Pierce, that on Sunday evening, June 9th, I received orders from him to have my command in readiness, with one day's rations, to move that night to form a part of a column, composed of two regiments from Newport News, and Col. Duryea's and my own, intended to make a reconnoissance in force towards Yorktown. In obedience to these orders, with the concerted sign of a white badge upon our left arm, (at midnight,) I marched my regiment to Hampton, where the General met the command and accompanied it.

On approaching a defile through a thick wood, about five or six miles from Hampton, a heavy and well-sustained fire of cannister and small arms was opened upon the regiment while it was marching in a narrow road, upon the flank in route step, and wholly unsuspicious of any enemy, inasmuch as we were ordered to reenforce Col. Duryea, who had preceded us by some two hours, and who had been ordered to throw out, as he marched, an advance guard 2 miles from his regiment, and a sustaining force half way between the advance and the regiment; therefore, had Col. Duryea been obliged to retreat upon us before we reached his locality, we should have heard distant firing, or some of his regiment would have been seen retreating.

The force which fired upon us was subsequently ascertained to be only the regiment of Col. Bendix, though a portion of the Vermont and 4th Massachusetts regiments were with it, having come down with two 6-pounder field-pieces from Newport News to join the column. These regiments took up a masked position in the woods at the commencement of the defile. The result of the fire upon us was two mortally wounded, (one since died,) three dangerously, and four officers and twenty privates slightly, making a total of twenty-nine. At the commencement of the fire the General, Captain Chamberlain, his aide-de-camp, and two mounted howitzers, were about two hundred and fifty paces in advance of the regiment; the fire was opened upon them first by a discharge of small-arms, and immediately followed by a rapidly returned volley upon my regiment and the [165] field-pieces; my men then generally discharged field-pieces; my men then generally discharged their pieces and jumped from the right to the left of the road, and recommenced loading and firing. In a few minutes the regiment was reformed in the midst of this heavy fire, and by the General's directions, retired in a thoroughly military manner, and in order to withdraw his supposed enemy from his position. On ascertaining that the enemy were our friends, and on providing for the wounded, we joined Col. Duryea and Col. Bendix.

The former having returned and proceeded on the reconnoissance at Big Bethel, some seven or more miles on, we found the enemy in force, well fortified with a battery said to be of twenty guns, in position, some of them rifled cannon. The information relative to the guns in position at the Bethel battery was given to me on the ground by Col. Duryea, who informed me that he received it from a reconnoitring officer whom he had sent to the front to ascertain the position of things. On arriving at this point, in order to feel the enemy, battle was immediately given by the orders of the General. We were ordered to take up a position in a field about eight hundred paces from the battery. I was then directed by the General to advance to a position in a road at right angles to the main road leading to the battery, and about two hundred paces from it, on the left of Col. Duryea. I was then directed to send out skirmishers to ascertain the strength of the enemy's right, for which purpose I detailed Capts. John G. Butler and Edward S. Jenny, with their companies, to cross the field immediately in front of the right of the battery, and so to skirmish as to draw the enemy's fire, which they gallantly performed. The enemy's fire was delivered vigorously almost immediately upon these companies.

Entering the field and crossing it myself, and considering that there might be a possibility of our capturing the battery, I moved the regiment up to the point where our skirmishers were engaged, a movement which the regiment performed in line of battle, as if on parade, in the face of a severe fire of artillery and small-arms, and in a manner entirely to my satisfaction. By the time the regiment had arrived at its position, it became evident that the right portion of the battery had been strongly rein-forced by men from the enemy's left, and that an effort to take the battery there was useless; besides, a company of my regiment had been separated from the regiment by a thickly-hedged ditch, and as the regiment moved forward towards the skirmishers, this company marched in the adjoining field in a line with the regiment.

This was not known to me until after the engagement. I supposed that when the regiment approached that it was the entire regiment; consequently, upon seeing among the breaks in the hedge the glistening of bayonets in the adjoining field, I immediately concluded that the enemy were outflanking us, and conceived it to be my duty to immediately retire and repel that advance. I resumed, therefore, my original position on the left of Col. Duryea. Shortly after all the forces were directed to retire, the design of the reconnoissance having been accomplished. I am not, of course, speaking of the movements of other corps excepting as immediately connected with my regiment, and it were especially gratuitous, inasmuch as their General was upon the field and directed the movements of the various commands in person.

Frederick Townsend, Colonel Third Regiment

Rebel official report.

Yorktown, Va., June 11, 1861.
Hon. J. W. Ellis, Governor of North Carolina:
sir:--I have the honor to report that eight hundred of my regiment and three hundred and sixty Virginians were engaged for five and a half hours with four and a half regiments of the enemy, at Bethel Church, nine miles from Hampton.

The enemy made three distinct and well-sustained charges, but were repulsed with heavy loss. Our cavalry pursued them for six miles, when their retreat became a total rout. Fearing that heavy reinforcements would be sent up from Fortress Monroe, we fell back at nightfall upon our works at Yorktown. I regret to report the loss of one man killed--private Henry L. Wyatt, Edgecomb Guards--and seven wounded.

The loss of the enemy, by their own confession, was one hundred and fifty, but it may be safely estimated at two hundred and fifty.

Our regiment behaved most gallantly. Not a man shrunk from his post or showed symptoms of fear. When more at leisure I will give you a detailed report of the operations.

Our Heavenly Father has most wonderfully interposed to shield our hearts in the day of battle. Unto His great name be all the praise for our success.

With much respect,

D. H. Hill, Col. First Regiment N. C. Volunteers.

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Duryea (7)
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Henry L. Wyatt (1)
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