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Doc. 179. expedition to Eastern Virginia, by the forces under General Dix.

The following is an account of the expedition as given by the correspondent of New York Herald:

Baltimore, November 21, 1861.
Geographically, the counties of Accomac and Northampton,Va., constitute a part of Maryland, from which, indeed, they are separated only by an imaginary line, beginning at the mouth of Pocomoke River, and running in a northeast direction across the thirty-eighth degree of north latitude. Accomac County, the more northern of the two, is also far the larger, containing two hundred and twenty-four thousand acres of land, of which one hundred and fifty thousand are improved and under cultivation. The population of the county is about twenty-five thousand, of whom five thousand are slaves. Many of the people are engaged in the fisheries, in attending to oyster beds, &c.; and quite a number of the young men have been for many years sailors in the United States Navy. Most of the inhabitants, however, are engaged in agricultural pursuits, the aggregate value of their farms being four millions two hundred and twenty-three thousand dollars. All the usual grains — wheat, corn, oats, rye and barley — are raised, the aggregate annual production being one million five hundred thousand bushels. The people are intelligent and industrious, and, having been left pretty much to themselves during the present political troubles, have, for the most part, observed an outward neutrality. The majority of the people have been devotedly attached to the Union, but, from motives of prudence, have acquiesced with the action of the State in going out of the Union. Many of the young men, however, in the early part of the struggle, went over to the mainland, in Middlesex and Gloucester counties, and to Yorktown, and joined the rebel forces there. [408] Others of them remained at home, but formed organizations, obtained arms, and practised military evolutions, with the avowed purpose of aiding the rebel cause. These organizations embraced fully three thousand men. There are thirty-two churches in the county, of which four are Episcopal, one Catholic, two Presbyterian, six Baptist, one Universalist, and seventeen Methodist. Northampton County, the more southern of the two, is a narrow peninsula, containing only ninety-four thousand acres of land, of which seventy-five thousand acres are improved and under cultivation. The population of the county is ten thousand, of whom four thousand are slaves. The occupations of the people are similar to those of Accomac, but the inhabitants are more Southern in their feelings, and a majority of them have been in league with the enemy during the whole time from the commencement of the troubles. It is well known that before General Dix took command of this department a system of regular and daily communication took place between the rebel sympathizers in Baltimore and the rebels in Yorktown, by means of the people of Northampton County. Letters and newspapers were regularly sent and received every day, and thus the rebel leaders were kept fully posted about our movements. Since that time this communication has been attended with more difficulty, but it has by no means been broken up. Some idea of the adroitness of the rebel sympathizers in Northampton may be formed from the fact that the New York Herald has often been received at Norfolk, by this route, on the second day after its publication, and the Baltimore papers on the day after their publication. The agricultural productions of Northampton are similar to those of Accomac County, the aggregate annual production of wheat, corn, oats and rye being proportioned to the latter. There are thirteen churches in Northampton County, of which three are Episcopal, two Presbyterian, one Catholic, two Baptist, and five Methodist. The county seat is Eastville, and the other villages are Hadlock and Franktown in the north, Bridgetown at the head of navigation at H/un>unger Creek on the west, and Capeville, near Cape Charles, on the south. The county seat of Accomac is Drummondtown, and the other villages are Horntown, near the mouth of Pocomoke River, on the north; Assawoman and Modesttown, near Assawoman Inlet, on the east; Onancock and Pungoteague on the west, and Turkey's Pen at the south. Before the war broke out the following lighthouses existed on the coast of these two counties, all of which have been dismantled by the rebels:--One at Watts' Island, Chesapeake Bay, at the entrance of Pocomoke Sound; one at the entrance of Pungoteague Creek; one at the entrance of Occohannack Creek; one at Cape Charles; one on Smith's Island, east of Cape Charles; one on Hog Island, east of Eastville, and one on Piney Island, southeast of Horntown.

The objects of the expedition have been clearly set forth in the proclamation of General Dix.1 The troops composing the expedition were transported from Baltimore, Md., to the scene of action in steamers. They landed at Newtown, in Somerset County,Md., and marched through to Horntown. Here great numbers of the proclamation of General Dix were scattered among the people, and were taken by them into the interior. Wherever the proclamation was read to the people, they expressed the greatest gratification and pleasure. Whatever supplies the troops needed, were freely brought in by the people, and were bought and paid for by the soldiers. What few rebels there were among the people, immediately departed for a more congenial clime. Before he advanced further southward, General Lockwood sent out a strong detachment to reconnoitre as far as Drummondtown. The commander of this expedition ascertained that there were no rebels in Accomac County in arms; that those who had arms had laid them down, and were ready to give them up if required; that the citizens of Drummondtown had voluntarily raised the Stars and Stripes over the Court House, and were eager to welcome the advance of the troops, but that the indications were that there might be some trouble in Northampton, as all the rebels had congregated there, apparently to resist the approach of the troops. The whole column, therefore, proceeded to Drummondtown, where they were at last accounts.

Further accounts.

Baltimore, November 21, 1861.
Information was received last night at headquarters from Accomac County of the most gratifying character, giving assurance that the expedition despatched by General Dix to the two eastern shore counties of Virginia, will meet with little or no opposition.

On Sunday the flag of the Union was hoisted at Drummondtown, the county seat of Accomac, on a pole which bore the rebel flag the day before. The people of the county had submitted to the authority of the United States, and declared their intention to do so in advance of the arrival of the troops. A flag of truce was sent by General Lockwood to Drummondtown on Saturday. On Friday night three thousand rebel troops disbanded, most of them drafted militia. Wherever the officer who bore the flag of truce went, he was importuned for General Dix's proclamation, which had been sent among them the day before. We annex some extracts from his statement. Meeting some of the disbanded men, he asked them why they had broken up so suddenly.

The reply was, they had got General Dix's proclamation, and believing they could not stand out against the force we were about to send against them they thought it better to disband. But others came up in the mean time who were part of the militia, and they boldly [409] answered that they never did want to go into the business, and had all the time disapproved of it, but were compelled to it by hot-headed secessionists.

The greater part of the persons I met were of the disbanded militia. Three cheers for the Union were given with such zeal and zest as to make me conclude that there was something more in them than expressions arising from fear. I met many in squads of five, ten, twenty, etc., and they would sometimes run across the fields to meet us, expressing the deepest gratitude for the deliverance from oppression and want, for they are in want of many of the necessaries of life.

I will here state that along the road I was besieged for General Dix's proclamation, a few copies of which had been scattered about the country through which I passed. It had even reached this place yesterday. When it had got among the militia organizations, it was made the pretext for giving open expression to their latent feelings of opposition to the Confederate rulers.

The great majority of the people, I believe, look upon the troops about to be sent among them as their deliverers from cruelty and oppression. Hurrahs for the Union were quite frequent. At one place the American flag was hung out. It was a curiosity to the people, and they looked in astonishment when they saw that one owned in their very midst.

We may conclude that the people of Northampton will follow the example of Accomac. The secret of the success of the expedition is to be ascribed to the large and well-disciplined force sent into those counties. It is always a measure of humanity, as well as a right military rule, to employ a force so overwhelming as to prevent bloodshed. If half the number of troops had been sent, there would no doubt have been resistance, and very likely a sanguinary and protracted guerilla warfare, for which the country is well adapted.

We believe that the same exhibitions of returning loyalty will be made in other districts of country when we go into them with a like preponderance of force, and that the deep-seated feeling of attachment and devotion to the Union which lives in the hearts of a majority of the Southern people, will break out into open expressions when they feel that they are to be protected and sustained.

Another letter, dated on Sunday, says:

This morning a forward movement into Virginia took place--first an advance of cavalry, next the Fifth New York, (Zouaves from Federal Hill,) followed by the Wisconsin Fourth, five companies of the Twenty-first Indiana, five or six companies of the Sixth Michigan, Nimms' Boston artillery, and an independent cavalry company of Pennsylvania. It was a glorious and most imposing sight to see, as they wound around our camp and entered a wood about a quarter of a mile distant. We have here, beside the Purnel Legion, a portion of the Sixth Michigan, the Seventeenth Massachusetts, and some companies of the Second Delaware regiment.

The United States revenue gunboat Hercules, Rufus Coffin, Lieutenant commanding, arrived in port about ten o'clock yesterday, from a cruise in Pocomoke Bay and Tangier's Sound, and brings information from the eastern shore of Virginia up to Monday night. Brigadier-General Lockwood was still at Newtown, with five thousand men, and also had one thousand men at Snowhill. He designed marching to Drummondtown and establishing there his Headquarters.

The place was held by a squadron of cavalry, and the national flag was waving over it. The greater proportion of the inhabitants are Union in feeling, and received the proclamation of Maj.-Gen. Dix with delight.

In a few days General Lockwood would move into Northampton County, with a force sufficient to overcome any opposition from the secessionists, who would be obliged to succumb.

Lieutenant Coffin left General Lockwood on Sunday, and on his way to his vessel found that a number of bridges over the streams south of the Pocomoke River had been burned, and trees felled and placed over the roads, compelling him to take a circuitous route.

On Saturday four boats, with armed seamen, were despatched from the gunboats Hercules and Reliance, lying in Pocomoke Bay, under the charge of Lieutenants Tompkins and Gambrill, of the Reliance, and Lieutenant Hall and Quartermsater Berry, of the Hercules, to Syke's Island, in that bay, near the mainland of Accomac County, and of which possession was taken. Formerly there were about one hundred and forty inhabitants on the island, but on account of the apprehension entertained that they would be impressed into the rebel service, all but thirty had left. These gladly received the proclamation of General Dix, and were promised the protection of the United States. The Hercules and Tiger will return to those waters as soon as they can recoal, and with the Reliance, Captain McGowan, will cruise along the Virginia shore in connection with the military forces.

1 See page 367, Docs., ante.

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Accomac (Virginia, United States) (7)
Northampton County (Virginia, United States) (4)
Northampton (Massachusetts, United States) (4)
Baltimore, Md. (Maryland, United States) (4)
United States (United States) (3)
Pocomoke river (United States) (3)
Horntown (Virginia, United States) (3)
Cape Charles (Virginia, United States) (3)
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (2)
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (2)
Newtown (Virginia, United States) (2)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (2)
Eastville (Virginia, United States) (2)
Watt's Island (Virginia, United States) (1)
Turquie (Turkey) (1)
Somerset County (Maryland, United States) (1)
Snowhill (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Smith's Island, N.C. (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Pungoteague Creek (Virginia, United States) (1)
Pocomoke Sound (United States) (1)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Onancock (Virginia, United States) (1)
Northampton County (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Norfolk (Virginia, United States) (1)
Middlesex County (Virginia, United States) (1)
Gloucester county (Virginia, United States) (1)
Federal Hill (Maryland, United States) (1)
Chesapeake Bay (United States) (1)
Bridgetown (Canada) (1)
Assawoman Inlet (Virginia, United States) (1)

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John A. Dix (10)
Henry H. Lockwood (5)
Rufus Coffin (2)
Baptist (2)
Tompkins (1)
George McGowan (1)
George W. Hall (1)
Hadlock (1)
Gambrill (1)
Doc (1)
Quartermsater Berry (1)
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November 21st, 1861 AD (2)
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