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[121]

About eleven A. M., on the seventh, I heard that about four thousand of the troops recently stationed at Gloucester Point (who had retreated up the north side of the York River, with the view of crossing at this place, and were prevented by our presence) were crossing the Mattapony River at Frazier's Ferry, thirty miles above here. I immediately asked and obtained permission to go after them, and by three P. M. had carried the old flag thirty-six miles above West-Point, till our progress was checked by our draught of water. I learned that four thousand of the rebels had passed the previous night, on their way to Dunkirk Bridge.

I found white flags hoisted on both shores of the river, and the people generally apparently pleased to see the Union flag once more among them.

About three miles above this place the Mattapony has been obstructed by the sinking of six vessels in the channel, but we passed round the south side of them in five fathoms water.

In the evening we returned to our anchorage, and during the night shelled out a party who were endeavoring to set fire to the timber in the ship-yard, which had escaped the general destruction by the rebels on their evacuation of the place during the fourth instant.

I will mention that we had the pleasure of firing the last naval shot at Yorktown on the evening previous to the evacuation, and that one of our twelve-pound Hotchkiss shell, projected a fraction over four miles, exploded and killed five of the enemy, and one of the solid shot passed about one half a mile beyond the town, or four and a half miles.

All the prisoners who have been captured, or have given themselves up to me, agree in saying that the rebel army from Yorktown ( “one hundred and twenty-five thousand well men” ) will fall back to the Chickahominy, and that Gen. Johnston declares that he will not attempt to make a stand where our gunboats can cut up his men; they also say that the people “feel that it is all over with them,” and soldiers desert whenever they can.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thos. S. Phelps, Lieut. Commanding, Assistant in Coast Survey. Prof. A. D. Bache, Ll.D., Superintendent United States Coast Survey.

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