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[609]

After a time, our forces having been drawn out o the range, Capt. Renshaw pointed his guns right towards the houses behind which the rebels were supposed to be sheltered. Whether it were owing to this, or to the failure of their ammunition, or to the conviction that they had done enough for glory, their fire after a while slackened, and then wholly ceased. They had retired from the town, though not without taking with them foul pieces of artillery which had been left needlessly exposed. About a couple of hours afterward a body of cavalry followed them several miles out of town, though the rebels had put too great a distance between them and their pursuers to be overtaken. A couple of rebel ambulances, and about a dozen of their wounded were brought in.

The result of the attack, notwithstanding the success of the surprise, was the repulse of the foe. Our loss from the action cannot be more than fifteen men in killed and wounded, while it is probable they have a very few prisoners. They have, it is true, four of our field-pieces, which, on a favorable opportunity, we shall be happy to take off their hands. The explosion of the Picket, disastrous as it was, was in no degree caused by the rebels. It is supposed to have been caused by the carelessness of some one in entering the magazine.

The rebel loss was much severer than our own. Over thirty dead bodies had been discovered when our informants left Washington; and as some of these were found quite out of town, where they had been reached by the shells of the gunboat, it is not improbable that still others may yet be discovered. As many as ten or twelve of their wounded are in our hands, as well as about twenty uninjured prisoners. Had it not been for the loss of those four guns, left so exposed, we could feel quite contented with the result. As it is, we think the attack is not likely to be repeated very soon, and are sure that Gov. Clark's order to take Washington at all hazards has not been obeyed.

To what extent the people of the town, whose property has been respected, and whose liberty has been unrestricted by our forces, aided in the attack, does not yet fully appear. There are abundant reasons for believing that many of them knew of the intended assault, that information was conveyed to the rebels of the exact position of affairs in town, and that some of them aided in the fight, as far as they were able. It is credibly reported that our men were fired upon from the houses, and that some of the women of the town amused themselves by hurling glass bottles and other delicate missiles into our ranks. It is believed that Mr. James Grist, perhaps the wealthiest man in Washington, and the most influential one now remaining there, led the rebels through his own grounds into the town. A favorite pony of his was found wounded in the street, and some of the Union soldiers are ready to swear they saw him on it guiding the secesh forces. He and many others are under arrest. A thorough search has been made for arms, and not a few of the inevitable double-barreled guns found.

Our troops, though surprised, are said to have behaved admirably. The North-Carolina men, of whose usefulness there have been doubts in some minds, conducted themselves with great propriety, while one of their officers, Lieut. C. E. Lyon, formerly a sergeant in the Massachusetts Twenty-fourth, is highly complimented in the official despatches of Col. Potter, the commandant of the post.

One little incident of the fight is worthy of mention. On approaching our hospital the rebels showed fight, but, on being told what the building was, said they would respect it. The nurses, however, were to consider themselves as prisoners, and a guard was placed over them. But when the tide of battle turned, and the rebels were driven back, the nurses rose upon, and captured, and retained their guard!

Immediately on the receipt of the intelligence here, Gen. Foster started for Washington to take such measures as the exigencies of the case demand. We shall be disappointed if a week goes by and the rebels are not more severely chastised than they were yesterday morning.--(See Supplement.)


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