before Com. Lynch took command of the fleet. In my first communication to the office at Norfolk, and in several subsequent ones, I made application for a steam pile-driver, and received the reply, that it could not be procured. I urged the importance of obstructions to Col. Wright, commandant of the post, and he agreed with me, but said, he had no authority to obstruct the channel. Gen. Hill was here November fourteenth. I spoke to him on the subject, and he went to Norfolk, saying that he would try to send down a pile-driver. He was soon after ordered to another post, and the pile-driver never came. Gen. H. gave authority to Dr. Warren & Co. On December first I was in E. City. I saw some old schooners; asked Mr. Clarke, if he would buy them, and send them down, if I wrote for them. He replied, that he would without delay. I thereafter consulted Col. Wright, who did not consider himself authorized to buy the vessels. I wrote then to Richmond, stating the condition of the defences, and asking for authority to obstruct the channel. I have never received a reply. My letter was received by the chief of the engineer bureau, who, in a letter dated December ninth, stated that my report on the defences had been received, and would be promptly answered. Let me congratulate you and your loyal readers on these events, and myself that I have been an eye-witness of them.
Another account.The following are extracts of a letter, written by the captain of one of the companies in the Tenth Connecticut volunteers:
Roanoke Island, February 10, 1862.my dear----: The dread hour of battle has come and passed, and left me unscathed! In the few moments I have before the post leaves, I must recount briefly how we did. At noon on Friday our gunboats passed up to attack the enemy's batteries. The transports followed with all expedition. We heard the first gun fired about one P. A. Rapidly the boats came into it, and the heavy shot and shell fell back and forth like hail. After a contest of about two hours, the signal was given us to land. We loaded, got into our boats, pulled for the pilot-buoy, and then in two long lines were towed to shore, some three miles distant. In the woods we could see the glitter of hundreds of bayonets; but still on we steadily went, cheering. A gunboat came up and sent a shell howling like a fiend through the woods. The bayonet glimmers departed. Ashore, the first American flag was carried by a Massachusetts regiment, but the proud motto of old Connecticut, “Qui Trans Sust.,” was the next to follow. Three companies of our regiment, viz.: A, Capt. Pardee; D, Capt. Coit; and H, Capt. Leggett, were among the first landed; also a part of company B, Capt. Otis. At once I was ordered forward into a wood, to deploy my whole company as skirmishers, shove on about twenty yards, and then maintain my position. I did so, and for three hours we stood in mud and water up to my knees. With the shades of night closing, darkness shut down upon us, and the enemy were somewhere beyond. By that time the lines had been extended to overlap us, and we were permitted to withdraw. Wet and cold, we waded through the swamp, the grass up to our eyes, until we came out upon the sandy plain, where the troops were bivouacked. A long rail-fence supplied us with fuel, and soon we had three large fires kindled, and the men grouped about them to enjoy rest, food, and a drying. I went about ten P. M. to the headquarters — an old, hastily deserted house, and slept beneath the porch on some corn-stalks, sharing part of Dr. Kellogg's blanket. About seven A. M. we woke up, (having slept fitfully,) and found the order to form had been given. I rushed out to my company, and got them formed; then awaited the regimental formation, which was then made in two sides of a square. The regiments of our brigade were also in marching order. Gens. Foster and Burnside came up and greeted our Colonel. Both of them spoke pleasantly to us. Pretty soon Gen. Foster, with about a dozen attendants, started down the narrow road through the woods, which was to be the pathway to battle, death and victory. A reconnoissance was made, skirmishers thrown out, and by and by the rattling shot told us we had found the foe. It was a fierce, hot fire — shot by shot at first. Then came the order for our advance. On we walked slowly, stopping every few minutes for the regiments at our head to move on, and wondered what the nature of the rebel position could be. We laughed and joked together as when in camp. It was impossible to feel that all this was real and deadly. One mile was passed, then a second--heavy guns boomed, rifled shots shrieked. We heard cheering ahead. By and by the woods showed more light ahead. We heard balls among the leaves; we saw men hurry by with medical stores toward the front; we met men exhausted by the roadside. An aid came down to us with an order--“Advance the Tenth!” Col. Russell pressed his lips firmly together, and said: “We are going under fire, Captain — forward, solidly, quickly!” I was hoarse with a terrible cold, but found voice. Men came by with stretchers, carrying the brave Massachusetts boys, frightful with their bleeding wounds. We saw the dead lying beneath the trees on either side. Doctors were busy in their vocation; surgery is a noble art! We halt on the edge of a great clearing; we deploy to the right, by companies, and mine in advance. I see the smoke and flashes from the redoubts; at last we are under fire! We move forward twenty paces. I halt and dress my company. Two others wheel in at my left. The balls whistle around me. I knew I had no power to control them, but that God would shield me, and make me do my duty.