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[476] the rebels opened upon us with artillery, ,before my advanced guard discovered them.

I immediately reconnoitred their position, and found that they were posted in an advantageous position, in line perpendicular to the road-their infantry in ditches, and their artillery commanding all the direct approaches; their rear protected by a dense forest. I ordered the Fifty-first Pennsylvania immediately to file to the right, and pass over to the edge of the woods to turn their left. I also ordered the Twenty-first Massachusetts to pursue the same course; and when Col. Hawkins came up with his brigade, I sent him with the Ninth and Eighty-Ninth New-York to their support. The Sixth New-Hampshire were formed in line to the left of the road, and ordered to support our four pieces of artillery. Owing to the excessive fatigue of the men, they could not reach their position for some time.

In the mean time the enemy kept up a brisk artillery fire, which was gallantly responded to by our small pieces, under charge of Colonel Howard, of the “Coast guard,” who, during the entire engagement, displayed most conspicuous gallantry, and rendered very efficient service, both during the action and upon the return, he bringing up the rear. As soon as the Fifty-first Pennsylvania and Twenty-first Massachusetts had succeeded in turning their left, they opened a brisk musketry fire, and about the same time the Ninth New-York, also coming in range, and being too eager to engage, unfortunately charged upon the enemy's artillery. It was a most gallant charge, but they were exposed to a most deadly fire of grape and musketry, and were forced to retire, but rallied immediately upon the Eighty-ninth New-York coming up. I then ordered both regiments to form a junction with the Twenty-first Massachusetts.

In the mean time the Fifty-first Pennsylvania and Twenty-first Massachusetts kept up an incessant fire upon the rebels, who now had withdrawn their artillery and had commenced to retreat in good order. The Sixth New-Hampshire had steadily advanced in line to the left of the road, and when within about two hundred yards poured in a most deadly volley, which completely demoralized the enemy and ended the battle. Our men were so completely fagged out by the intense heat and their long march that we could not pursue them. The men rested under arms in line of battle until about ten o'clock P. M., when I ordered a return to our boats, having accomplished the principal object of the expedition, conveying the idea that the entire “Burnside expedition” was marching upon Norfolk. Owing to want of transportation, I was compelled to leave some sixteen of our most severely wounded men. Assist. Surg. Warren was left with them. I sent a flag of truce the next day to ask that they might be returned to us, Commander Rowan kindly volunteering to attend to it.

We took only a few prisoners, some ten or fifteen, most of whom belonged to the Third Georgia regiment.

The Ninth New-York suffered most severely, owing to their premature charge-our total loss in killed and wounded being about ninety, some sixty belonging to that regiment.

The officers and men of the several regiments all behaved with their usual gallantry, and many are worthy of particular mention, and I presume the brigade and regimental commanders will do justice to their respective commands. I will forward their reports as soon as received.

The return march was made in perfect order, and few if any stragglers were left behind. Considering that during the advance the weather was intensely hot and that on the return a severe rain rendered the roads very muddy, and that a portion of the command had to march forty-five miles, and the others thirty-five, and fight a battalion the mean time, and that all this was accomplished in less than twenty-four hours, I think that the Commanding General has every reason to be satisfied with his command.

I desire to return my thanks to Commander Rowan and the officers and men under him for their untiring energy in disembarking and reembarking my command; and also to Lieut. Flusser for the gallant manner in which he assisted us by proceeding up the river and driving the enemy out of the woods along the banks.

Col. Hawkins, commanding the First brigade, and Lieut.-Col. Bell commanding the Second, both displayed a conspicuous courage, as did also the regimental commanders. Lieut.-Col. Clark commanded the Twenty-first Massachusetts, Major Schall the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, Lieut.-Col. Kimball the Ninth New-York, and Lieut.-Col. Griffen the Sixth New-Hampshire. Capt. Fearing, the aid-de-camp of Gen. Burnside, accompanied me as a volunteer aid, and rendered efficient and gallant service; also Capt. Ritchie, A. C.S., and Lieutenants Gordon and Breed, of the Signal Corps. My own aids, Lieuts. Reno and Morris, behaved with their usual gallantry.

As soon as the brigade and regimental reports are furnished I will forward them, together with a complete list of killed and wounded.

The enemy's loss was considerable, but they succeeded in carrying off most of their wounded. Several, however, were left on the field, one of which was a captain of the Third Georgia regiment. The color-bearer of the Third Georgia regiment was shot down by the Twenty-first Massachusetts while waving defiantly his traitorous flag. The enemy had from six to ten pieces of artillery and from eighteen hundred to two thousand men. We approached to within thirty miles of Norfolk, and undoubtedly the defeat of one of their best regiments, the Third Georgia, produced considerable panic at Norfolk.

I have the honor to be, respectfully,

J. L. Reno, Commanding Brigadier-General Second Division.


Report of Lieut.-Col. Kimball.

headquarters, Ninth regiment N. Y. V., Roanoke Island, N. C., April 21, 1862
Colonel: I have the honor to report that in pursuance of your order of the eighteenth inst.,


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