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[252] by Gen. Ferry, and afterward ordered by General Peck, must have succeeded admirably. It was this: to mount two or three companies of infantry behind the cavalry, ford the river, dismount the infantry, drive the enemy from the heavy underbrush, and hold him in check until the pontoon-bridge was laid across. By this plan a crossing of the Blackwater would have been effected without the aid of artillery, as it was believed the heavy guns would warn the enemy at Wakefield and Franklin, and a much superior force being at both these places, a rapid reenforcement could lave been sent by railroad, and the fresh troops being thus precipitated in overwhelming numbers upon our force, would compel them to fall back. This afterward proved correct.

Two companies of the Thirteenth Indiana were now mounted behind the cavalry, and the whole attempted to cross, but were met with such severe volleys of musketry and artillery from the opposite bank, which, added to the unexpected depth of the water, rendered the crossing impossible without serious loss of life. The whole were therefore recalled. Three pieces of artillery, under the command of Capt. Howard, were now ordered up, and choosing a favorable position for the guns, a heavy fire of shell and canister was opened upon the rebels, which soon drove them from the bank, and, the firing still continuing, they retreated and fell back out of rangel to the thick woods and undergrowth beyond. While the firing was going on, our pickets opposite Zuni, about a mile and a half up the river, reported that the enemy were attempting to cross at the railroad bridge, and that the Union pickets had been fired upon by both infantry and artillery, who were assembling at that point in large numbers, evidently with the intention of outflanking us. General Ferry at once ordered his Adjutant-General, Capt. Ives, with a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery, to this point for the purpose of dispersing them. Arriving there, Captain Ives found the enemy in plain sight, not more than an eighth of a mile distant, their battery in full view, and the infantry showing themselves on the outside of the works with apparent impunity. The section under the command of Lieutenant Beecher, of the Fourth United States artillery, now commenced a galling fire, under the cover of which a company of the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania deployed as skirmishers to the banks of the river for the purpose of picking off the enemy's artillery-men on the opposite side. Three shots silenced the rebel battery, and a dozen more destroyed the fortifications and drove the enemy away, they taking with them a large gun which had been mounted on a truck and run from place to place upon the railroad track, and which they fired very rapidly, doing, however, but little execution. The party under Captain Ives now returned to the main body, where the firing had been going on for three or four hours, driving the enemy back so effectually that three companies of the Thirteenth Indiana crossed the Blackwater in the pontoon-boats. Colonel Dodge also crossed over in the face of a large force of the enemy, who had doubtless been attracted by the firing, and had arrived to reinforce their comrades, having, as was supposed, reached the place in the cars from Wakefield.

As the expedition was partially a diversion in flavor of other and more important military movements by our forces, and as General Ferry had received orders to be particularly cautious not to bring on an engagement, our men were recalled from the opposite side, and returned with a captain and twelve men whom they had captured. The whole now made preparations to retrace their steps, and at half-past 10 o'clock this morning the last of the column passed through Suffolk on their way to the camps.

The rebel captain was wounded so seriously that it was necessary to bring him in an ambulance.

Our loss is three killed and eleven wounded. The enemy's was much greater, the prisoners reporting as many as thirty killed and wounded by our artillery-fire at the crossing.

We were compelled to leave and destroy one old wagon which stuck so deeply in the mud that it was found impossible to extricate it. The contents were taken out before setting it on fire.

Before the head of the returning column had reached here, and I believe even before they started homeward, secession reports of a disastrous defeat, of a captured pontoon-train, a bloody repulse while crossing the river, and a hasty retreat, spread like lightning, both last night and this morning; and as our gallant fellows marched through the village they were greeted with jeering smiles from the male secessionists and a more demonstrative evidence of satisfaction from the females. One, an old woman, waved her hands as our soldiers passed her dwelling, and said: “I prayed to God all last night that you might never live to cross the Blackwater, and now my prayers have been answered, for you were driven back when you tried to cross, and you have come back faster than you went.” Another, seeing some men who had beet manning the battery walking behind the artillery, and supposing that because they had no muskets they had been thrown away to aid them in their flight, cried out, “Where's your guns? The next time you hear them they will be turned against you,” etc.

The following is a list of our loss as far as I could collect it up to the time for the train to leave for Norfolk:

Killed--Lieut. John Robinson, Sixth Massachusetts; Lieut. Barr, company I, Sixth Massachusetts; one of the Eleventh Pennsylvania cavalry.

Wounded — A sergeant of the Mounted Rifles private McFarland, Thirteenth Indiana, leg shot off, mortally; private Hinton, company F, Thirteenth Indiana; private Brady, company C, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, in the leg, by a shell; private Cox, company C, Fifty-eighth Pennsyvania, in the leg, by a shell.

--N. Y. Herald.

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Henry Ives (3)
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