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Doc. 54.-destruction of Winton, N. C.

A correspondent gives the following account of this affair:

United States steamer Delaware, off Winton, N. C., Feb. 21, 1862.
On the morning of the nineteenth inst., the flotilla, under the command of Com. S. C. Rowan, set out from Edenton for a reconnaissance of the Chowan River as far as Winton, and the Roanoke River as far as Plymouth. The first detachment, under Com. Rowan, consisted of the Delaware, his flag-ship, and the Perry, having on board a company of the Hawkins Zouaves; the second detachment, under command of Lieut. A. Murray, comprised the remainder of the flotilla. The greater portion of the day was spent in admiring the picturesque scenery which is to be found on the banks of the Chowan. Here and there were deserted houses, and small boats drawn up upon the shore by their timid owners, who had left them upon our approach. Solitary contrabands at intervals might have been seen waving their hats with perfect delight, with the belief, apparently, that “Massa Bobolition” had come to free them. Not a single white man, however, was to be seen until within twenty miles of Winton, when a party of fifteen horsemen, apparently reconnoitring, was discovered on a hill some distance inland. As our mission was one of peace, we did not disturb them, more especially as we learned at Elizabeth City that five hundred Union men at Winton had raised the Stars and Stripes and desired protection, which we were about taking them. (Of the warm reception the five hundred Union men gave us I'll make mention hereafter.) Toward evening the weather became quite misty, the banks of the river assuming rather a suspicious character, being, in fact, natural embankments, affording excellent protection and concealment, either to infantry or artillery. The river at this point is not over one hundred yards wide, affording hardly room enough to turn in. When about opposite to the landing-place at Winton, Col. Hawkins, who was upon the lookout at our maintop, sung out that he saw armed men — as near as he could judge, an entire regiment — drawn up in line on the hill, covered by the trees and houses. He descended from his perch in a manner far from leisurely, and had hardly reached the deck before a volley of musket-balls and buckshot greeted us. For the space of fifteen minutes we were the recipients of a perfect shower of balls, no less than two hundred and fifty piercing different parts of our fortunate little craft. I say fortunate, for not a man, wonderful to relate, was injured in any way, although there were some narrow escapes. Mr. Gabaudan, our signal-officer, who was on deck at the time, had the sleeve of his coat nearly torn off by a charge of buckshot, and many of our officers and men escaped as narrowly. The banks of the river being quite high, we were at the time unable to bring our large guns to bear with effect upon them, but after ascending the river, passing through their terrific storm of lead, we at last got into range, and fired with terrible effect our shell amongst them. When we returned and anchored some eight miles below the village, we afterward learned that they had compelled an aged negro woman to show herself upon the banks of the river, evidently for the purpose of decoying us to land, when we would have been, for a certainty, cut to pieces. But, thank God, their mean and cowardly device failed.

The following morning, at nine o'clock; the flotilla got under weigh, our commander being determined to teach them a lesson and administer a warmer reception than they greeted us with the day before. When nearly abreast of the landing, the United States steamer Perry opened the ball by throwing a nine-inch shell into the town, followed by the balance of the flotilla. Signal was at this time made to land troops from the Hunchback and other vessels containing the Hawkins Zouaves, which was successfully accomplished, and they, together with our two boat-howitzers, under the command of Acting Master Hammond, (promoted for his bravery at Roanoke Island,) took possession of the town of Winton, situated some half a mile back from the landing. The village was found to be entirely deserted, even by the five hundred Union men, of whom we saw no trace, unless they were the ones who had given us so warm a reception on the evening previous. No doubt the person who reported these Union men was a rank secessionist and spy. About this time we came to anchor, and Lieut. Commanding Quackenbush and Acting Assistant Paymaster F. R. Curtis went on shore for the purpose of reconnoitring, and while there took possession of a rebel sloop lying at the wharf, from which place they ascended the banks and entered the village, where they found the Zouaves in full possession, with our two howitzers guarding the forks of the road, ready at a moment's warning to cover the soldiers. After setting fire to the town, (with the sole exception of the church,) and witnessing the total destruction of the same, they [197] returned on board, and the flotilla weighed anchor for Roanoke Island, where we arrived in safety.

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S. C. Rowan (2)
S. P. Quackenbush (1)
A. Murray (1)
P. P. Hawkins (1)
J. H. Hammond (1)
E. C. Gabaudan (1)
Doc (1)
F. R. Curtis (1)
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February 21st, 1862 AD (1)
19th (1)
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