to Commander S. C. Rowan
, U. S. N., that “in obedience to his orders of the 26th instant, I took charge of the First and Third cutters (belonging to the steamer Pawnee
, and which were thoroughly armed and equipped,)” with twenty-three men, “towed by the “Reliance,” to report to Captain Ward
, of the Freeborn
, * * and yesterday morning he found the Freeborn
some four or five miles below Mathias's Point
, and there reported to Captain Ward
. Lieutenant Chaplin
continues as follows:” The Freeborn
then stood up for Mathias's Point
, and on arriving there, threw shot, shell and grape into the woods near where we were to land.
About ten the landing was effected, my party under the charge of Commander Ward
, who landed with me. I threw my men out as skirmishers, and on getting about three hundred yards from the boats, discovered the enemy's pickets, who fired and retreated.
My men followed them a short distance, and fired on them.
I then discovered the enemy coming towards me over the brow of the hill, and judged there were some four or five hundred men. I went back to Commander Ward
and reported, when he ordered me to take to the boats and lay off, while he went on board of his vessel and fired into the brush again.
After some fifteen minutes firing, I was ordered to land again and throw up a breast-work of sand-bags.
I sent out four men as pickets and commenced the work, and at five, had nearly completed it, when the signal was made for me to return.
I sent everything to the boats, and with seven or eight men, covered the bags with limbs, that the enemy might not distinguish it from the dense thicket near, and was about leaving, when the enemy opened on us with muskets at a distance of two hundred and fifty yards, and for some reason, the “Freeborn
” did not open on the place with her heavy guns to cover my retreat.
I sent all my men in the boats, and stayed until I had counted and found they were all safe.
By this time the boats had drifted some distance out, and rather than bring the men any nearer, swam to the third cutter and pulled off to the “Freeborn
My boat was riddled with shot, the flag-staff shot away and nineteen holes through the flag.
He also states, that when he reached the “Freeborn
” he learned of the injury to Commander Ward
, and also to several of his men. June 27th, 1861, Commander S. C. Rowan
, U. S. N., of the “Pawnee
,” reports to the Secretary of the Navy
, a specific outline of the movement against Matthias Point.
He states that, “at 9 o'clock this morning the ‘Freeborn
’ and ‘Reliance’ came up, having been repulsed by the Rebels
at Matthias Point, in which Lieutenant Chaplin
and his command escaped utter destruction by a miracle.” * * * It becomes my painful duty to announce to the Department the death