established an outpost at Little Bethel church, about 8 miles from Newport News and the same distance from Hampton
on the road to Yorktown
, and that a short distance farther on the road to Yorktown
, at Big Bethel church, near the head of the north branch of Back river
, there was another outpost, where works of more or less strength were in process of erection, ordered Duryea
's Fifth New York regiment ferried over Hampton creek
, at 1 o'clock of the morning of June 10th, under orders to march to New Market bridge, and thence by a by-road to the rear of the Confederates
between Big and Little Bethel.
This regiment was to cut them off and attack Little Bethel, and Colonel Townsend
with the Third New York regiment was to march an hour later, with two mounted howitzers, from Hampton
, in support of Duryea
At the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn
was ordered from Newport News, with a battalion to make a demonstration upon Little Bethel in front, supported by Colonel Bendix
's Seventh New York regiment, with two field pieces.
The commands of Townsend
were to effect a junction at a fork of the road from Hampton
to Newport News, about a mile and a half from Little Bethel.
The march was timed for the attack to be made at daybreak.
After the attack on Little Bethel, Duryea
's regiment and another from Newport News were to follow up the fugitives, if they got off, and attack the battery on the road to Big Bethel while covered by the retreating fugitives.
The troops all got into position as ordered, but by some blunder, Bendix
's regiment, which had halted at the fork of the road, with two pieces of artillery, without notice opened fire, with both artillery and musketry, on Townsend
's column marching up in Duryea
's rear, when but 100 yards away.
Some of Townsend
's men returned this fire, but his column retreated to a nearby eminence, and Washburn
, hearing this fire and thinking his communication might be cut off, reversed his march back to his reserves, as did also Duryea
, in command of the expedition, who was with Townsend
's regiment, fearing that his movement was discovered and that the enemy was in force on his line of march, sent back for reinforcements, when Butler
sent him Allen
's First New York regiment.
, in the meantime, having ascertained the true state of affairs, effected a junction of his regiments and