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River defences

--Exchange of Prisoners, &c.--It being determined upon to release the large number of Federal prisoners confined in Libby's and other factories, Lieut. Turner, in command of the Curtis Peck and Northampton, shipped some 860 of those worthies, and at 2 A. M. Monday proceeded down the river towards Newports News. Arriving abreast of Jamestown Island next day at noon, a small shore battery of ours brought the vessels to, by several well directed shells, which fell and exploded in uncomfortable proximity to the prisoners. Being hailed by the U. S. ship Port Royal, (Captain Rogers,) the mission of Lt. Turner was explained — Rogers answering, that if the men were willing to march overland to Newport News, they might be landed then and there. This being objected to, the prisoners were conveyed to the wharf at Newport News, and were received by Gen. Robinson, who, in the absence of Gen. Mansfield, commanded with a force of some 2,500. Messengers being dispatched to General Wool, at Fortress Monroe, that General arrived, being accompanied by Gen. Mansfield. The exchange was agreed upon, but owing to want of familities and due preparation, the formal disposition of the 860 Federals was not effected until after hours of labor. Some 170 of our men — captured on the Peninsula at various times — were transferred to the care of Lieut. Turner; but the obligation of parole being explained to them by Federal officers, most of them — principally of the 5th North Carolina and 32d Virginia regiments--absolutely refused to take the obligation, avowing their unwillingness, to return to Richmond or to fight for the Confederacy again! Some few Alabamians, Mississippians, and Floridans acting similarly, likewise--one of Latham's North Carolina Battery absolutely refusing to return under any circumstance or inducement! The total number of our men brought up by Lieut. Turner was 219 non-commissioned officers and men, besides eight commissioned officers. Eight surgeons, who volunteered to stay with the wounded at Williamsburg, likewise availed themselves of the opportunity to return within our lines, and say that they were very scurvily treated at the hands of Dr. Cuyler, U. S. A. Surgeon in Chief at the post, who added insult to injury by claiming to be a Georgian.

On his way down, Lieut. Turner met the Monitor below City Point, and her presence was loudly hailed with vociferous cheers by the prisoners. The iron-clad Galena, Stevens's Battery, with the Monitor, and many gunboats, were seen slowly and cautiously making their way towards Richmond, which city was promised to be visited by them in a few days. The Federal vessels have perfectly buoyed all the channels, so that every inch of water, and every foot of sand-bar, are perfectly known to and noted by them. In a long conversation, Captain Rogers, of the Port Royal, seemed sanguine of Federal success, and thought that all farther resistance on our part was unnecessary and futile. Our river batteries this Federal officer seemed to look upon and treat with superb contempt, considering them beneath his notice or attention. On his way down Lieut. Turner saw and heard the magazine of a one-gun battery blow up — supposed to have happened from orders of those in command.

On reaching Warwick bar, the point of obstruction, our paroled prisoners were landed, and everything of value being transferred to shore, the Curtis Peck, Northampton, and gun boat Jamestown were scuttled, and sunk at that ponit. Yet Lieut. Turner is of opinion that such impediments will prove of very little, if any, obstruction to the progress of the Federals. At last accounts, the Federal flotilla were reported below City Point, and yesterday, 10 A. M., but one and a half mile from the landing there, making their way cautionsly and slowly towards our city.

We are greatly indebted to Lieut. Turner for politeness, and particularly so for a copy of the New York Herald, May 10th.

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George Turner (8)
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Mansfield (2)
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Libby (1)
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October, 5 AD (1)
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