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[209] these logs the hulls of small vessels, loaded with heavy materials, were sunk; also, in the channels below. The tops of the piles were cut off, so as to be visible at low-water. At hightide vessels drawing from six to seven feet of water can be forced around the edges near the east shore, the bottom being soft mud.

Above the mouth of the western branch, was a masked battery for five guns, which, however, had been hidden or removed.

Being unable to do anything in this place as long as high-water lasted, I proceeded up the river to Suffolk, and reported my arrival verbally to Gen. Mansfield, and per telegraph to Major-Gen. Dix.

At noon as the tide had fallen sufficiently, I returned to the obstruction near the mouth of West Branch, and removed of it as much as possible, till the return of high-water forced me to abandon the work.

At five P. M. I returned to Suffolk, and embarked companies K, Capt. J. E. Mulford, and F, Capt. W. A. S. Sanders, of the Third New-York volunteers, all under command of Major Abel Smith; for I wished to make a reconnaissance up the west bank of the river. I left at nine o'clock P. M. At Halloway's Point, about half-way between Suffolk and Pig Point, a large, substantially-built pier afforded accommodation for landing to a steamer. Accordingly, at half-past 10 o'clock I disembarked the whole force, with the exception of ten men and a corporal of the Third New-York volunteers, and six men and a corporal of the Ninty-ninth New-York volunteers, to serve as artillery. The road to Chucatuck village, distant about five and a half miles, is a country road, but in good condition, and if only the first quarter of a mile is a little improved, artillery and transportation of the heaviest kind can be passed over it without any difficulty. Proceeding on, I took the necessary precaution to prevent intelligence of our approach being sent to the enemy, who, as I was informed, was in the habit of sending at night mounted scouts to the village. The people were for the most part somewhat violent in their expression of rebel sentiment; but reasonable arguments and kind treatment had a good effect on them, and when I left there next morning I felt convinced that a considerable revulsion in their ideas had taken place, for they certainly could not help to admire the good discipline of the troops, and the gentlemanly, soldier-like conduct of the officers. At about one o'clock A. M. the column reached Chucatuck village, at the head of Chucatuck River. I posted detachments on all the roads leading to and from it, and surrounded the village with a chain of sentinels. The whole was done so quietly that even no dog barked. After posting the necessary pickets, as also the reserve, in convenient positions, I directed my colored guide, and also one negro whom I found sleeping in the porch of a house, to collect all the negroes in the village, for I believed them the only ones willing to give reliable information.

From them I learned that the last scout of the enemy's troops had visited the place a week previous, but that four residents of the village were very active as spies, and in other nefarious practices. Their names are Henry L. Tynes or Tyner, Richard Denton, George Crum, a miller, and George Willis Duder, also a resident of the western shore, and Mr. Lewis, who lives about five miles above Barrell Point. The road from Chucatuck village to Petersburgh is a good turnpike, and, I was told, for a distance of at least twenty-five miles unobstructed. Everett's bridge is still unburned; probably also the county bridge across Black River, where the enemy's scouts pass in and out of their lines.

As daylight approached I returned on board, where the column arrived at five o'clock A. M. I can hardly speak in terms of sufficient commendation of the services of Capt. Lee, Ninety-ninth New-York volunteers, whose practical experience was of the greatest value in sounding and removing the obstacles. Also the men under his command, who were indefatigable, having worked hard from daylight till dark, and after that making a forced march during the greater part of the night.

The detachment of the Third New-York volunteers behaved likewise splendidly, showing the highest state of discipline and the most soldier-like conduct during the whole time they were with me.

Major Abel Smith made all the disposition of his command on the march in the ablest and most thorough manner, showing all the skill and discretion which are absolutely necessary for the success of secret reconnoissances.

Capt. Fuller, of the steam-tug C. P. Smith, was indefatigable in the performance of his duty, and handled his boat with the greatest skill and dexterity in steering her through the obstructions.

The colored pilot, William, rendered the most valuable service on the river and as a guide on the march to Chucatuck village; also, in collecting information.

Hoping soon to be able to report the entire removal of all obstructions, I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

H. Hyner, Captain Volunteer Topographical Engineers.

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