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[483] to give them the cold steel if they remained long enough to afford the “Yankees” the opportunity.

Every thing was in readiness, the signal given, and on sprang all of our regiments simultaneously to the charge, with deafening yells. The rebels now sprang up from their hiding-places, with the intention of giving the Eighty-ninth New-York, who were right in front, the same reception they gave the Zouaves. The Sixth New-Hampshire, now close on to the enemy's left, discovering this movement, suddenly halted, taking a deadly aim, right oblique, and at the command “Fire,” sent a thousand well-directed bullets into the rebel ranks, cutting them up in the most shocking manner, sending terror and consternation among the foe, who broke and fled in the wildest confusion from their intrenchments, as our five regiments sprang in upon them. The day was ours. The victory was complete. The struggle was the most fearful and best contested of the Burnside Expedition.

The enemy's position was a perfect Gibraltar, and their force consisted of the whole brigade which was stationed at Elizabeth City, over five thousand strong. So says one of the prisoners we captured. Our force was less than four thousand, some of the regiments having left part of their number behind, and when our troops went into action they were nearly exhausted, having marched all night and all day through the most opppressive heat imaginable. The rebel dead and wounded lay all over the field; many of the latter, however, among whom were a large number of officers, were carried off just before they were routed. I am informed that the enemy's dead lay in heaps all through the woods. The chaplain of the Ninth New-York says he counted some sixty rebel bodies in one place, a considerable distance from their intrenchments, which doubtless was the effect of Col. Howard's battery, who, with his men, are all entitled to distinguished honors for their brave and efficient conduct all through the engagement. Col. Howard walked up the centre of the road, in front of the enemy's battery, until he arrived within musketrange, when he very coolly took a survey of their position through his glass, which so confounded them that they hardly knew what to make of this strange and daring move. After satisfying himself as to the number of their guns and their location, he turned and retraced his steps, walking down the centre of the road as deliberately as a farmer would return from the labors of the day, neither looking to the right or left at the shells which were flying in great numbers each side of him, one striking the flap of his coat.

Col. Howard, seeing that the position of the New-Hampshire regiment would give his battery some protection, ordered his four pieces up to the place where he had taken the survey. This command was obeyed cheerfully, and soon caused the rebels to fall back with their battery at the head of the road.

As soon as the battle was over, Gen. Reno detailed companies to go and bring the rebel wounded into our hospital for treatment, among whom was a colonel, whose name I was unable to ascertain. We also captured several prisoners, who said they were glad to fall into our hands.

It was a sickening sight to go over the field after the battle and behold the dead and wounded on both sides, all of whom endured their sufferings with remarkable fortitude.

Some of those who took an extensive survey of the rebel grounds after the battle, estimate the loss of the enemy as much greater than ours. Some say it will reach as high as three hundred. I am inclined to think, however, that two hundred and thirty will cover the entire loss, exclusive of prisoners.

Our loss, in killed and wounded, amounts to one hundred and thirteen, distributed as follows:

Regiments.Killed.Wounded.
Ninth New-York,960
Eighty-Ninth New-York,13
Twenty-first Massachusetts,114
Fifty-first Pennsylvania,319
Sixth New-Hampshire,12
 
Total,1598

Among the number killed was one commissioned officer, Adjutant Gadsden, of the Zouaves, and two non-commissioned officers.

This engagement took place on the nineteenth of April, in the extreme northern part of Camden County, near the State line, twenty miles from Norfolk, and has been designated as the battle of Camden. The day will long be remembered as the anniversary of that on which the first blood was spilled in the streets of Baltimore.

Gen. Burnside is much elated over this important victory. He has paid a beautiful tribute to all the regiments engaged, and ordered that they inscribe “Camden” upon their banners, in commemoration of the brilliant triumph.

During the engagement Gen. Reno was in a very exposed position, coolly directing the different movements as he rode over the field, encouraging the troops by his intrepidity.

Capt. Fearing, of Gen. Burnside's staff, accompanied Gen. Reno as a volunteer aid, and was with him all through the dangers of the engagement, rendering valuable service. I got a glimpse of him as he was leading a force into the charge in the most skilful manner. Capt. Ritchie and Lieut. Reno, of Gen. Reno's staff, were equally as conspicuous in the fight, executing the General's orders with all promptness and despatch. The latter will share the honors with New-Hampshire.

Lieuts. Breed and Gordon, of the Signal Corps, also accompanied Gen. Reno as aids, and like the rest, performed their duty in the most fear-less manner.

So far as bravery is concerned, no fault can be found with a single officer or man in the whole expedition; if anything, there was too much recklessness displayed, causing a needless sacrifice of life.

The West may say much of the fighting qualities of her troops, but she must not forget the “Yankees” under Burnside, who have so satisfactorily


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J. L. Reno (6)
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