[for the Richmond Dispatch.]
more about Roanoke.
Monument Hotel, Richmond March 12, 1862.
The letter given below is from the N. C. Standard
, explanatory of the part taken by the 31st regiment State troops in the battle of Roanoke
Many complaints have come to me stating that my remarks regarding it were wrong and calculated to do injustice to a number of brave men. As far as possible, I tried to give a fair and truthful statement of facts, and if I failed to do so, it was because I was misled into error, and not with the deliberate intention of writing what was not true.
I had no desire to impugn the courage of the 31st in saying they ran immediately to their quarters; for, after the enemy had taken the battery, what else could they have done.
My only wonder was that such a panic should have seized the strangling band of soldiers I saw half running, half walking, in a very frightened manner towards the upper end of the Island
, and which I was told was the 31st. Col. Fowle Intimates
they were some other men, and, as I had to depend entirely upon hearsay as to who they were, I have no reason to doubt it; and more especially as I know Col. Fowle
to be a reliable gentleman and a brave and intrepid officer.
I therefore give prominence to his letter:
--In your paper of this date I find an extract from the report of an individual, signing himself ‘"Bohemian,"’ of the battle of Roanoke Island
, as follows:
"The 31st North Carolina at once ran
to their quarters, Col. Jordan
riding at the head of the frightened procession."
The above is totally untrue.
Eight companies of the 31st were on or near the battlefield--two of them, Capts. Liles
, were in the redoubt where the hard fighting took place, under the command of Col. Jordan
. Six of them--Capts. Betts
, and Whitty
--were held as a reserve under my command, assisted by Maj. Yeates
, in the rear of the redoubt.
The two companies first mentioned behaved in such a manner as to extort praise from all who witnessed their gallant conduct.
The six companies in reserve though under fire for four hours and a half, without being allowed to fire a gun, behaved with the utmost coolness, and showed every disposition to engage in the battle then waging.
The orders received by the reserve were, to stand fast until sent for. The Adjutant of the regiment, Lieut Holden
, was dispatched to Col. Jordan
, to inform him of our readiness to engage in the fight, and, under orders, remained near Colonel Shaw
during the whole of the fight, so as to bring the earliest information of the reserve being needed.
When the retreat commenced, two of the six companies were thrown in some slight confusion for a moment, but as soon as they heard my voice rallying them, they stood firm, and allowed their retreating brethren, who had fought so gallantly at the redoubt, to pass them.
As the last companies from the redoubt passed, the order was communicated to me to let my men fall back with the rest; and then, and not before, they fell back.
They preserved their company organization until they commenced to retreat, and then, owing to the narrowness of the road, and the number of men crowded together, it became impossible.
This correspondent says they ‘"ran."’ Mr. Editor
, he must have been looking at some other men; for the forces under my command did not run, but walked.
I walked a part of the way with them myself, and afterwards accompanied them on horseback.
Had they have run. I should have mounted my horse at once.
The other two companies of the 31st were stationed as follows: Capt. Godwin
's, at Fort Forrest, on the Tyrrell side.
G. remained at his fort, which was also manned by Capt. White
's company, of the 17th, until Saturday night, after the surrender — Whenever the enemy came within range, they fired upon them very vigorously.
After the surrender, Fort Forrest was evacuated.--Capt. Godwin
's company was the last to leave, as I have been informed.
God-win, with Capt. Vernon
, were the last men to leave the fort.
When they left they fired the magazine, which exploded about dark.--Capt. Miller
's company was left in charge of the camp.
Damiel G. Fowle
31st Reg. N. C. Vols.
Feb. 8, 1862.
I was at the battery when the fight was going on, but returned to the hospital with a wounded man about the time that Captain Wise
was carried off the field.
About twelve o'clock I started to return, but met a man hurrying by who said the day had gone against us, A moment more, and a frightened procession of soldiers came hurrying by preceded by an officer on horseback, who was riding leisurely along.
‘"What's the news below"’ I asked.
‘"We're whipped — the Yankees
are after us,"’ was the reply.
Joining in the procession, I went with them up the road, expecting that our whole force was rapidly retreating.
‘"What regiment is this?"’ I asked of two or three soldiers near me.
‘"Who is that officer on horseback?"’
,"’ they said.
Upon that I took it for granted the officer was leading out his men, and hurried on in the vain endeavor to keep up with the party.
Up the road we went for a mile or more, through a dense pine forest, with a thick undergrowth of gallberry bushes, and finally,
turned down to the quarters of the 31st.
On the way I saw some men throw away their ammunition, and also two boxes of spherical case beside the war. I asked a band of men, who told me they belonged to the 31st, to resist in getting it to camp, but all refused, and passed hastily on. Going into camp, I found Col. Jordan
before his quarters, and immediately told him of the ammunition thrown away, desiring that he send some of his men for it. I have forgotten his reply.
Remaining there but a moment, I saw troops of soldiers running in, and then scattering in every direction.
My inference was they belonged to the 31st; if I was mistaken, I am glad to be corrected, and take the first opportunity of stating the fact to the public.
As far as the disposition of the forces on the island is concerned, I gave the statement made to me by an officer of the Wise Legion
Of course it was impossible for me to have any personal knowledge concerning it, since I was principally in the hospitals.
The duties of a newspaper correspondent are much more difficult and annoying than many are inclined to believe.
He is obliged to know everything, hear everything, and do everything at the same time — in fact, he is expected to be ubiquitous.
If anything escapes his eye, up jumps somebody and accuses him of a willful omission of facts to the prejudice of another; if he be led into error by the statements of others, he is accused of falsification; whether he blame severely, makes what he believes a plain statement of events, or praises but feebly, it is all the same.--Somebody is dissatisfied.
What wonder the band of young fellows who began with this war, and who wrote such pleasant, interesting, and gossippy letters for the Southern
papers, has dwindled down to one or two?
Who can blame them for leaving a labor that met with little true reward — the appreciation of the country?
To have accomplished the task expected of them would have required the fabled lamps of Aladdin; and even then, I have my doubts.--While the vast public looks to the pen of the correspondent for news, and for the daily record of events, few individuals are willing to assist him in his search after the truth.--On the contrary, there are many who will rather place falsehoods in his way, in order to mislead him into error.
While endeavoring to do justice to everybody, to state the truth, and nothing but the truth, it is not surprising that he should sometimes be wrong, and should make some erroneous statements, either through haste in writing, or on the responsibility of friends.
Personally, I have avoided any great amount of trouble up to the present time, and now the North Carolina
journals make a general charge against all Virginia
correspondents and all Virginia
newspapers, as well as against me. This is wrong.
An erroneous statement was made, which might have been corrected sometime ago by any one engaged, as Colonel Fowle
has done now.--Busily engaged in literary tasks, that could not be neglected, I have seen few of the North Carolina
papers, and believe this to be the first time anything regarding the action of the 31st has been published.
Instead of the Virginia
correspondents and papers desiring to detract from the courage of the North Carolina
troops, exactly the reverse is true.--They are ready to do justice to everybody whenever the facts can be obtained.
How about the battle of Bethel
, when the Virginia
papers rung for weeks with the praises of the gallant North Carolinians?
So in the present fight, all who were known to be in it were properly praised.
None of us could speak in too high terms of those companies under Major Hill
, in the fort, who fought the Navy for two days; of those companies who fought in the battery with the Virginias; or of Col. Green
and his braves, and against such overwhelming odds.
Whenever I failed to praise those who deserved it, want of information was the cause.
But of this enough has been said to satisfy those aggrieved — if not, any further communications written in the reasonable and gentlemanly style as the above from Col. Fowle
, will receive as early notice as possible.
I do not believe there is a man in the State
who desires to do injustice to the North Carolina