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‘ [89] [says Adjutant Walker] was owing to a variety of causes; but if other troops had done their duty as well, and gone as far as those from Massachusetts and Vermont, the name of Big Bethel would not have headed a long list of federal repulses.’ Major Whittemore was the officer who reported to the commander of the fort. In a letter never published before, he says,—

I was the first to step on shore, and the regiment was reported by myself to the Officer of the Day. I inquired of him who had possession of this fort,—the regulars or the rebels? He replied, United-States regulars. He was answered, “Then the Fourth Regiment, Massachusetts Militia, has come to help you keep it.” On the 22d of April, we were mustered into the United-States service, and were, as I believe, the first troops mustered. We remained at the fort some two or three weeks, engaged in mounting guns, and on the work necessary to put the place in suitable condition for defence. Some time in May, General Butler arrived; and one of the first things he did was to send three regiments, of which the Fourth was one, about twelve miles up the river to Newport News. We set to work, as soon as we could obtain tools, at building entrenchments, and were engaged in this work all of the time until our departure in the latter part of June. While here, the affairs at Little Bethel and Great Bethel occurred, which might have had, and ought to have had, and would have had, a very different result.

Five companies of the Fourth took part in this expedition, and were under my command, and we were all volunteers. The march was commenced at 12 1/2, A. M., and continued until daylight without interruption. Then, unfortunately, Colonel Townsend's regiment of Troy, N. Y., was mistaken for rebels, and a fire was opened between it and our rearguard, composed of a part of Colonel Bendix's New-York volunteers, which resulted in the killing and wounding of eleven men of Townsend's command. Further damage was prevented, and the affair ended, by the major of the Fourth Massachusetts riding out alone in front of his line, and discovering the New-York troops. This mishap made it evident that the object of our expedition, if it had any, had been frustrated; and it was the pretty general opinion, that the best thing to be done was to return to camp. It was decided, however, to go on; and we marched until within gunshot of Big Bethel, when the rebels opened fire with a rifled gun. The troops were immediately put in line for an attack; and the five Massachusetts companies were ordered to turn the enemy's left, in connection with

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