if possible, find and dislodge the enemy, who were reported to be in strong force near and beyond Tranter's Creek
The gunboat Picket
, Capt. Nichols
, was detailed to take part in the movement, and proceeded up the Tar River
, shelling the woods as far up as Pactolus
, twelve miles above Washington
His shells made scattering work along the river.
Some of them fell into the rebel camp, and, it is reported, did them much damage.
The soldiers were allowed a couple of hours to rest and refresh themselves, when they were formed on the front street, the guns were inspected, and the order given to march.
A portion of Col. Mix
's cavalry were thrown forward as a flanking party.
The companies of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, except C and D, came next, and Lieut. Avery
, with two of his steel howitzers and twenty-five men, with ammunitioncarts, brought up the rear.
and his band accompanied the troops as an ambulance corps, and performed excellent service during the engagement.
The troops were commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Frank Osborn
. Col. Potter
, Military Governor
, with Lieut. Pendleton
and Assistant Surgeons Curtis
, also went along.
The troops took the country road to Pactolus
The day was oppressively hot and sultry, and several of the men gave out, being overcome by the labors of the march.
We frequently halted to rest the men.
Every where the slaves came from the fields in which they were employed, and leaning in squads over the fences, scanned the soldiers with the greatest astonishment, and expressed in their simple but earnest manner the best wishes for our success.
“God bress you, Yankee friends.”
“Dis is de day we is been looking to see.”
“Lor, massa, I never seen so many people since I was born,” and like expressions were very common.
They were generally ready to answer any question asked them concerning the movements of the enemy, but they first looked carefully around to see who was near them.
Eight miles from town, we came to what is called Storehouse Landing, beyond which we found a road crossing that on which we were marching at right angles.
We took the right of this road, and a mile beyond, turned again to the left.
The rebels had removed the bridge on the main road, and posted themselves at Hodges's Mills, about a mile eastward.
Here they had a mill-pond on one side, a deep morass or cypress swamp on the other, with two large buildings — a saw-mill and ginning-mill — to protect them in front.
This place was approached by a narrow cart-path, hemmed in on both sides by dense woods.
To make sure that we should not get at them with our cavalry, they cut away the flooring over the mill-flumes.
Here, skulking behind stumps and trees, concealed in the dense thicket, they awaited the approach of the Union
forces, of which they had received prompt information from the neighbors.
Halting for a moment at the house of John Gray Hodges
, another rebel hole, the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts moved to the attack.
Uncertain as to their location, and also wholly ignorant of the ground, part of company A, led by Lieut. Jarves
, were thrown out as skirmishers.
As soon as they entered this dell, the rebel pickets opened from behind the mill, and from the bushes in which they were hidden.
Our pickets replied, and in another moment, whole volleys were delivered sharp and quick from both sides.
The artillery were ordered forward and took a position within half musket-range, being obliged to draw the pieces up a bridge of slabs, near which the mill stands.
now opened with grape, canister and solid shot upon the the rebels, who fell out of the trees, and were driven from behind the mills and covers which concealed them.
The firing continued for about forty-five minutes. The buildings were riddled with our Minie balls and grape, and limbs of trees fell in a shower over the rebels' heads.
Several of our men were wounded early in the engagement, others were killed and were carried to an empty building immediately in the rear.
As soon as the rebel fire ceased, our boys made a dash to follow them, but found the bridges cut away so that only one at a time could get across.
For the same reason the cavalry, which had been patiently waiting inactive, found it impossible to follow them.
They had shut the door behind them and “skedaddled.”
The officers and men of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts showed the coolest bravery throughout the brief engagement.
and his brave little body of marines also fought their guns with the most persistent courage and steadiness.
An inspection of the ground, however, showed that their powerful Wiard rifled guns could have rendered even more effective service if they had been placed on the opposite side of the pond, out of rebel musket-range.
Wagons were obtained from the farms near by, and the dead and wounded were conveyed back to Washington
The regiment started on the return at six o'clock, and reached town through a drenching rain at nine o'clock P. M.
The following is a list of killed and wounded in the fight at Tranter's Creek
Sergeant George L. Litchfield
, Co. A, Roxbury, Mass.
, killed; Private Leroy Dorland
, Co. A, Palmer, Mass.
, killed; Private Orville Brock
, Co. I, killed; Corporal Melbourn Croscrup
, Co. F, Lynn
, killed; Private Geo. H. Baxter
, Co. F, Newtown, Mass.
, killed; Private Austin Gill
, Co. K, killed; Wm. H. Moore
of Gun, Marine Artillery, Chicago, Ill.
, killed; Lieut. Horatio Jarves
, Co. A, wounded by ball through left ankle-joint; Capt. W. F. Redding
, Co. A, wrist, slight; Private James A. Beal
, Co. B, forehead, slight; Private Joseph A. Collins
, Co. E, temple; Private John
, Co. E, hip, severely; Private M. J. O'Brien
, Co. I, bayonet wound; Private Wm