forty-three guns in all. As night approached, thousands of lights from the shipping and their tents disclosed the objects for attack. The guns were silently conducted over the difficult ground and winding roads, and before twelve all the guns were in position, (except two siege guns under charge of Captain Milledge,) awaiting action. Silence as profound as the darkness of the night reigned in the enemy's camp. At a signal the thunder of over forty guns startled them from their midnight slumbers. From the screams, scenes of wild confusion must have followed, as sailors rushed on the decks of their vessels and soldiers fled from their tents in midnight darkness, amidst bursting shells, falling fast around them. The gunboats soon returned the fire, and in about fifteen or twenty minutes a rapid fire was opened on us from their land batteries, but without any damage, many of the shots passing over the whole length of the point or peninsula. The red glare of the fire of so many guns and exploding shells, on such a night, is seldom witnessed. Gradually the firing on our part ceased, and the guns were withdrawn, under a heavy fire. The rain, the difficulty of seeing the roads at all, and the exposed position of the peninsula, induced us to leave the caissons behind, with the baggage wagons, and thus the number of rounds to be fired was limited; over a thousand were fired on our part. What damage we inflicted on their vessels and their camps probably will never be made known; but considering that many of the guns were within from a thousand yards to a mile of the transports, and that behind them was one vast encampment, it could not have been otherwise than destructive. Subsequent information from deserters, and prisoners, and friends, place the men killed at over forty, and of their horses a greater number. Many transport steamers appeared in Norfolk greatly damaged shortly after the attack. Our loss from the enemy was one man killed and two wounded. Three men were wounded by the careless and premature discharge of one of our guns, and two men slightly injured by the overturning of a gun in the road. I am indebted to General Pendleton and the officers under him for the careful and successful execution of the parts assigned them. Colonels Manning and Daniel's brigades and Major Ross, of the Second Georgia battalion, at Ruffin's house, protected the whole of the attack. General Ransom's brigade guarded the City Point road, seven miles from Petersburg. Major A. Anderson, Lieutenant C. D. Myers, Captain J. A. Baker, Lieutenant Shingleur, Captain Overton, and Lieutenant Storrs, members of my staff, rendered valuable services. Of the command exposed to fire, all behaved well, except some privates belonging to the siege pieces. I enclose the report of General Pendleton. I have the honor to be, Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
S. G. French, Brigadier-General.
Brigadier-General Pendleton's Report of his night attack on enemy's shipping.
headquarters artillery corps, near Petersburg, August 9, 1862.General: The report of our operations in attacking the enemy's shipping near Coggin's Point, on the night of the thirty-first July, which I now have the honor to submit, has been delayed by the absence, on other duty, of one of the officers from whom it was necessary to obtain some important facts. General Lee, having intimated to me, on Monday, twenty-eight July, his wish to effect something against the enemy's boats by artillery on this side of James River, and my services having been tendered and accepted for conducting the expedition, I detailed from the reserve artillery under my command, near Richmond, a force deemed sufficient for the service, and placed it en route for Petersburg early on Tuesday, twenty-ninth. This force consisted of certain batteries and sections of batteries from Colonel Brown's artillery regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Cutts's and Major Nelson's artillery battalions, in all thirty-two field pieces, and two heavy rifles or siege carriages, manned by Captain Dabney, with the men and horses of Captain Milledge's artillery company, from Major Richardson's battalion, to operate two other large rifles transported by railroad. The command reached Petersburg by sunset, July twenty-ninth. General D. H. Hill, commanding, having been reported to early in the day, by telegram, and later by a member of my staff sent forward for the purpose, we encamped that evening a short distance beyond the city, on the Suffolk road. About midnight a despatch from General Hill was brought me, indicating Coggin's Point as our destination, and directing me to have my command ready to march early the next morning. Meantime, Major Allen, of Claremont, arrived at Mr. Ware's, where I was lodging, and gave me information, deemed valuable, respecting the river and the shipping. This we proceeded, very early on the thirtieth, to submit to General Hill. We had, however, set out, and preferred not halting for a conversation, and as Major Allen's duty lay in a different direction, we could make but slight use of his knowledge. The infantry force and several batteries brought by General Hill, and the artillery under my command, reached Perkinson's sawmill, some seven miles below, by ten o'clock, and there halted. Within an hour or two you arrived, and we were informed that the fleet, &c., was to be attacked the approaching night, and that you were to superintend the expedition. After some consultation it was determined to move the whole force forward about two miles, and there leave wagons and caissons. Colonel Brown and Lieutenant-Colonel Coleman were detailed, with certain batteries, to proceed to Wood's Point or to Claremont, if necessary and practicable.
Brigadier-General S. G. French, commanding Expedition:
Brigadier-General S. G. French, commanding Expedition: