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[444] which in the aggregate amounted to nearly one hundred and fifty, that escaped, except two others that were sent out the night before in a small boat to report the perilous situation of the force under Captain Lee. These men were picked up near the mouth of the James River, and taken on board the flag-ship of the navy that is stationed there. Their mission was to go up the Nansemond River to report to General Graham for reenforcements, but being detained, word did not reach him as soon as the exigency of the case required.

Captain Lee and those who escaped with him, five in all, walked about seven miles, when they fell in with the gunboats of General Graham going to their relief. They were taken on board of one of the boats, and reached Fortress Monroe last night about eight o'clock.

The gunboat Smith Briggs is a total wreck, and what remains of her is in the possession of the rebels. Nearly all our brave men who fought so valiantly are now prisoners. The most of them are supposed to be badly wounded. The number killed is not known, but must be very large. The rebels, too, must have suffered severely, as our men fought long, persistently, and to much effect.

It is surmised that, though the rebels were finally victorious, they lost at least three to our one in killed and wounded. The rebels greatly outnumbered us. They had a full regiment of infantry, one of cavalry, and a battery of artillery, while our whole force engaged did not amount to over one hundred and fifty men.

During the fiercest part of the shelling, two small navy boats came up, and were apparently about to render assistance to the army gunboat Smith Briggs, when their commanding officer was shot through the breast. They then immediately retired, as the officer was evidently badly wounded.

Our men cannot be too highly praised for their valor, and it is to be greatly regretted that they suffered so much. The boats that reconnoitred the Nansemond returned safely.

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S. P. Lee (2)
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