the order to strike the flag. I then made answer: “That cannot be done.” The coxswain, Thomas McCarty, and quartermaster, Julius Bartlet, repeated the answer: “No, no.” By this time we were out of musket-range, with the exception of those who ran down the bank and kept up a brisk fire until we were out of range. The muskets in the boat were discharged at the enemy by those who did not man the oars. We then proceeded down the creek to the United States gunboat Shokokon, having our wounded put on board and cared for. At five P. M. reported on board. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Report of Acting Master W. B. Sheldon.
United States steamer Shokokon, off Newport news, Va., February 1, 1864.sir: I beg leave to submit the following report, so far as my knowledge extends, of the circumstances of the attack on the boats, and wounding one officer and three seamen (up Smithfield Creek) belonging to the United States flag-ship Minnesota. About ten o'clock A. M. this day I left the flag-ship with two launches belonging to the Minnesota, and proceeded with them in tow up the James River, arriving off Smithfield Creek at half-past 11 A. M. The army gunboat Smith Briggs arriving, offered to take the launches alongside of her and tow them in, there not being water enough for this vessel to proceed further, it being very foggy at the time. The Smith Briggs proceeded up the creek with the launches about four miles. I heard heavy and rapid firing; soon after it cleared away enough to see that the firing was from shore, and was returned by the Smith Briggs and launches; they then passed around a point of land, from sight. About a half-hour after, saw the launches returning. I immediately sent a boat with the surgeon to assist the wounded, if any. At half-past 3 P. M. the boats returned, having on board Acting Master Pierson and three seamen, wounded. I learned that the Smith Briggs had been captured and destroyed. I started with the wounded for the flag-ship, arriving at about half-past 5 P. M. this day. Yours, very respectfully,
Report of pilot Henry Stevens.
United States flag-ship Minnesota, off Newport news, Va., February 4, 1864.sir: According to your orders, I proceeded as pilot of the expedition in command of Acting Master A. B. Pierson, he having the two launches of this ship under his command. After leaving this ship, the United States steamer Shokokon took the launches in tow and proceeded to the mouth of Smithfield Creek, where she anchored, the water being too shallow for her to proceed up the creek. The army boat Smith Briggs, on coming up, volunteered to take the launches in tow, which Mr. Pierson agreed to. After proceeding about two and a half miles up the creek, we perceived a man on the shore waving a white rag. The captain of the Briggs hove his vessel to, and sent a boat to get the man, who proved to be a soldier belonging to our forces, and was taken the night previous by the rebels, but had escaped. When within half a mile of Smithfield wharf, the captain of the Briggs said: “I must let you go; I cannot tow you further.” We cast off then from the Briggs and immediately opened fire on the rebel battery, they having opened fire on our forces about five minutes previous, and being about a mile and a half distant from us. After firing about five rounds, we followed the Briggs toward the village. After getting to within about two hundred and fifty yards of the dock, I observed that it was crowded with soldiers, the Briggs at that time lying close to the docks, and firing at right angles to it. We kept on our course toward the wharf for a couple of moments longer, when a body of rebels ran down a hill and charged on our soldiers on the wharf, driving many of them overboard, and at the same time opening fire on the launches from the left bank of the creek. At that time Mr. Pierson gave the order to turn round with her head down the creek, and at the same moment received a shot in the right arm, and ordered the flag to be hauled down. Mr. McCarty, coxswain of the launch, said, “I will kill the first man that touches the colors,” or some words to that effect. Mr. Pierson said then: “If you will not haul it down, let it stay up.” At this time the boats were going slowly down the creek, the enemy meanwhile keeping up a brisk fire at us. Mr. Pierson received another shot which struck him in the breast, and after a moment or so said, “I must lie down; I feel faint;” which he did accordingly. I think the rebels had possession of the Smith Briggs at that time, for while we were going down her guns were trained on us, and opened fire. We made the best of our way down the creek, and got alongside of the Shokokon at half-past 2 P. M. I ought to have stated that previous to the boats turning round, three of the men were wounded and fell to the bottom of the launch. I saw the Briggs on fire, and also saw her blow up at fifty minutes past three P. M. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Report of Assistant-Surgeon A. Matthewson.
United States steamer Minnesota, off Newport news, Va., February 1, 1864.sir: I respectfully report, that in the engagement of this date with the rebel force at Smithfield, Va., the following persons, attached to the United States steamer Minnesota, were wounded: A. B. Pierson, Acting Master, by a musket-shot, producing severe flesh-wounds of the right-arm