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Doc. 70. the Chicamacomico engagement.

Official report of Captain Lardner.

the following are the official reports of the engagement near Hatteras Inlet:

United States steam frigate Susquehanna, off Hatteras Inlet, October 6, 1861.
sir: Late in the afternoon of the 4th instant, I received information that the enemy had landed in large force at Chicamacomico and Kine Keet, and that the Indiana regiment, posted there, was in full retreat before them. Also, that our three tugs in the inlet were aground or disabled. The Fanny had been captured the day before. I at once got under way with this ship and the Monticello, and anchored for the night close to the shore in Hatteras Cove.

At daylight I found our troops in and about the light-house, and in distress for want of provisions, which they had been without for twenty-four hours. I supplied them with food, and, at the request of the commanding officer, remained for their protection during the day. Learning that the enemy were in large force at Kine Keet, I sent the Monticello to drive them off, which important service was performed by Lieutenant Commanding Braine with great effect and good conduct. His report is enclosed.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Report of Commander Braine.

United States ship Monticello, off Cape Hatteras, October 5, 1861.
sir: I have the honor to inform you that, in obedience to your order of this morning, I stood through the inner channel of Hatteras shoals at half-past 12 P. M., and stood close along [168] shore to the northward, keeping a bright look-out from aloft. At half-past 1 P. M. we discovered several sailing vessels over the wood-land Kine Keet, and at the same time, a regiment marching to the northward, carrying a rebel flag in their midst, with many stragglers in the rear; also two tugs inside, flying the same flag. As they came out of the woods of Kine Keet, we ran close in shore and opened a deliberate fire upon them, at the distance of three-quarters of a mile. At our first shell, which fell apparently in their midst, they rolled up their flag and scattered, moving rapidly up the beach to the northward. We followed them, firing rapidly from three guns, driving them up to a clump of woods, in which they took refuge, and abreast of which their steamers lay. We now shelled the woods, and could see them embarking in small boats after their vessels, evidently in great confusion, and suffering greatly from our fire. Their steamers now opened fire upon us, firing, however, but three shots, which fell short. Two boats filled with men were struck by our shells and destroyed. Three more steamers came down the Sound, and took position opposite the woods. We were shelling also two sloops. We continued firing deliberately upon them from half-past 1 P. M. until half-past 3 P. M., when two men were discovered on the sea-beach making signals to us. Supposing them to be two of the Indiana regiment, we sent an armed boat and crew to bring them off, covering them at the same time with our fire. Upon the boat nearing the beach they took to the water. One of them was successful in reaching the boat--Private Warren O. Haver, Company H, Twentieth regiment of Indiana troops. The other man--Private Charles White, Company H, Twentieth regiment Indiana troops — was unfortunately drowned in the surf.

Private Haver informs me that he was taken prisoner on the morning of the 4th; that he witnessed our shot, which was very destructive. He states that two of our shells fell into two sloops loaded with men, blowing the vessels to pieces and sinking them. Also that several of the officers were killed and their horses seen running about the track. He had just escaped from his captors, after shooting the captain of one of the rebel companies. He states that the enemy were in the greatest confusion, rushing wildly into the water, striving to get off to their vessels.

Private Haver now directed me to the point where the rebels were congregated, waiting an opportunity to get off. I opened fire again with success, scattering them. We were now very close, in three fathoms water, and the fire at the second shell told with effect.

Six steamers were now off the point, one of which I recognized as the Fanny.

At twenty-five minutes to five P. M. we ceased firing, leaving the enemy scattered along the beach for upward of four miles. I fired repeatedly at the enemy's steamers with our rifled cannon, a Parrott thirty-pounder, and struck the Fanny, I think, once. I found the range of this piece much short of what I had anticipated, many of the shot turning end over end, and not exceeding much the range of the smooth-bore thirty-two pounder.

I enclose herewith the memorandum of the amount of ammunition expended to-day.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant D. L. Braine, Commanding United States steamer Monticello. To Captain J. L. Lardner, Commanding U. S. steamer Susquehanna, off Cape Hatteras, N. C.

New York Herald narrative.

Hatteras Inlet, October 7.
On the morning of the 4th inst., about daylight, the lookouts of Colonel Brown's encampment, consisting of about eight hundred men of the Twentieth Indiana regiment, located some thirty miles above Fort Hatteras, reported six rebel steamers, with schooners and flat-boats in tow, all loaded with troops, coming out of Croatan Sound, and steering straight for the encampment. The colonel immediately despatched a courier to inform Colonel Hawkins, at Fort Hatteras, of his situation, stating that he would retreat to the light-house on the Cape, and there make a stand.

The steamers landed about fifteen hundred men three miles above Colonel Brown, and then came on down, throwing shells into the tents, destroying them, also a house which had been used as a hospital, killing what sick remained therein. They then passed on down and commenced landing troops below, intending to cut off all retreat, and, having them between their two forces, make sure, no doubt, of bagging Colonel Brown and his men at their leisure. But they were not quick enough; Colonel B. hastily destroyed what he could not carry off with him, and left on the double quick, and succeeded in reaching the light-house about nine in the evening, having performed a rapid march through the heavy sand.

Colonel Hawkins, upon receiving the information from Colonel B., despatched a note to Capt. Lardner, of the Susquehanna, informing him of the condition of affairs, and then started on the double quick, with six companies of his Zouaves to reinforce the retreating troops. Capt. L. immediately got the Susquehanna under way, at the same time ordering the Monticello to do the same, and proceeded up and anchored in Light-house Cove, about eight o'clock in the evening, within half gunshot of the light. When daylight broke, the troops on shore and the sailors were within speaking distance of each other. Colonel Brown's troops had not eaten any thing since the previous morning — which fact being made known to Capt. Lardner, he immediately supplied them with provisions. At the request of Col. Hawkins, Capt. L. remained at anchor to protect the troops against such superior numbers as were [169] supposed to be in pursuit of them. He at the same time ordered the Monticello to double Cape Hatteras, and proceed close along the shore, and see if he could discover any traces of the enemy. He had proceeded but a short distance when the rebels were discovered in full plume, and within half gunshot; the Monticello opened fire on them at once with shells that exploded with the utmost precision, scattering them in all directions, killing and wounding them by hundreds. The enemy consisted of one regiment of Virginians, the Seventh Georgia, and about twelve hundred North Carolina militia, making a total of about three thousand men, under the command of General Huger, who, it is said, was killed at the commencement of the shelling process. Lieutenant Commanding Braine says that he expended to their account two hundred and eighteen shells, every one of which did good service. Two schooners and two flat-boats, loaded with troops, which had not yet landed, or else had just reembarked for their return, were entirely destroyed by the explosion of the shells thrown into them, killing and wounding all on board. A shell entered the side of one of the schooners, and then exploded, filling the air with fragments of the wreck and limbs of human beings. It is considered as being within bounds to say that at least five hundred were either killed or wounded. Hundreds of the rebels were seen to wade out into the sound up to their necks, and when they would hear a shell coming they would crouch down under the water, and remain as long as they could, and then poke up their heads and listen for the approach of the next messenger of death, and repeat the operation. A more perfect trap could not well have been arranged for their destruction. The belt of land where they were discovered is not more than a third of a mile wide, and separates Pamlico Sound from the ocean. Their steamers attempted to come in close enough to take them off; but a shell or two sent ploughing after them induced them to keep at a safe distance, and their troops were left to their fate. As soon as night set in the Monticello ceased firing. During the night they must have embarked, as the following morning discovered no traces of their presence. It is very unfortunate that Colonel Hawkins did not march up the beach under the cover of the guns of the Monticello — the Susquehanna would also have been along in that case — so as to have been on hand, and either capture or cut them to pieces after they had been scattered and dispersed by the shells from the ships.

Statement of an escaped Indianian.

The following narrative is given by private Haver, Company H, of Col. Brown's regiment, who was captured by the rebels, but finally escaped:

He says that privates Bennet, White, and himself were busily engaged destroying whatever they could, to prevent the enemy from getting any plunder, but remained rather too long, and were captured by the Georgians. Bennet was shot dead in his attempt to escape. White and Haver were tied and put under charge of Capt. Wilson, of the Georgia Seventh. Toward sundown, Captain W. and several other officers were cooking and eating some ducks they had captured, or rather stolen from the poor people residing there; and being himself very hungry, he ventured to ask them if they would give him some after they were done. One of the party looked at him, calling him “a damned black republican son of a b — h,” and said, “we don't eat with niggers.” A little before daylight the following morning he succeeded in getting his hands clear, then released his companion White, and drew a small revolver that had remained secreted between his two shirts when he was disarmed, and shot Capt. W., and then they both fled into a piece of marsh, or bog, that was a short distance off. They were pursued, but unsuccessfully; they buried themselves in the soft bog, with their heads only above the surface and concealed by the thick rushes. Several times the feet of their pursuers were heard rustling among the rushes and high grass, causing their hearts to beat with increased rapidity; for, had they been caught, they would have been shot at once.

Fortunately for them the Monticello commenced firing her shells into the enemy, which gave them something else to do beside hunting up their escaped prisoners. Haver says that notwithstanding the very uncomfortable position they were in, he could not help but laugh to see the scattering made among them by the explosion of the shells. He says that Colonel Bartow was knocked off his horse by the bursting of a shell, and he did not see him again — no doubt he was killed — and also says the shrieking and lamentations of the rebels were heart-rending. Some would exclaim: “My God, we will all be killed,” and one close by him, as a shell exploded, exclaimed: “Oh! My God, there's George; he is killed.” Such were the scenes that were passing around them, till, seeing a favorable opportunity, they left their place of concealment and pushed for the beach, hoping to be taken off by the Monticello. They were pursued, but for only a short distance. As soon as they reached the beach Capt. Braine sent a boat for them, although the surf was very heavy at the time. They were so eager to get among their friends, that, before the boat was near enough to take them, they both plunged into the surf, and, while the boat was picking Haver out of the water, Charles White was drowned. Although a good swimmer, he was so exhausted for want of food, and by the exertions put forth to gain his liberty, that he sank, to rise no more, which was rather a hard fate to meet after succeeding so well in freeing himself from the enemy. I must close this, to send by the Susquehanna, as she is about leaving for Hampton Roads to coal.


Norfolk day Book account:

Captain Carrsville, of the Craville Guards, Third Georgia regiment, gives us the following statement:

Colonel Wright left Camp Georgia, Roanoke Island, on Thursday, midnight, and arrived at Chicamacomico on Friday, October 4th. Col. Wright made the attack on the Federals at nine o'clock in the morning, by firing shell from two ten-pound howitzers from on board the transport Cotton Plant, when about one mile from the shore. As soon as the colonel opened fire, they began to retreat. The howitzers were commanded by Lieutenant J. R Sturgis, with forty men. When the colonel saw they were about to retreat, he embarked the guns of his three companies on board of a flat-boat, for the purpose of effecting a landing and putting chase after them. Company H, commanded by Capt. Nesmit, Company E, commanded by Captain Griffin, and Company N, commanded by Captain Jones, were landed immediately, leaving the remaining portion of the Third Georgia regiment, and the North Carolina regiment, some four or five miles in the rear, on board the other vessels of the fleet. The three companies that landed consisted of two hundred and ten men, while the enemy, from their muster-rolls, were about one thousand two hundred strong.

When the colonel landed, he had signalled the remaining portion of the Georgia Third to advance, and, when near shore, they commenced disembarking in their flat-boats. Colonel Wright took but one of his howitzers ashore with him, leaving the other on board the Cotton Plant, under command of Captain Carrsville, to cover his landing.

After the three companies had effected a safe landing, the other howitzer was brought on shore, and they then commenced the pursuit of the flying Yankees, and were joined by each company of the remaining portion of the Georgia regiment as fast as they effected a landing. The two howitzers and ammunition were drawn through the deep sand by the men, during the entire pursuit of twenty-five miles, having in the mean time encamped on Friday night at Kinnykeet, a distance of eighteen miles from the starting-point.

The pursuit was continued early next morning, to within one mile of the Hatteras Light-house. When about six miles from the starting-place, Col. Wright, being on horseback, and considerably in advance of his command, overtook a party of thirteen Yankees, together with their adjutant. He made a gallant charge on them, when the adjutant shot his horse, and commenced loading again, when the colonel grabbed up a small Yankee, and presented him as a breastwork to ward off the adjutant's fire. With this he advanced on the adjutant with his repeater, and captured four, including the adjutant.

As our forces continued to advance, they commenced taking prisoners — in all about forty--and killed seven or eight of the flying Hessians.

One of the North Carolina companies landed at the same time as the Georgians, and joined in the pursuit with great bravery, while the other portion of the North Carolina regiment were ordered to hasten to the light-house, just below Kinnykeet, to intercept the retreat of the Federalists. Kinnykeet is eight miles below the light-house, toward Chicamacomico. They were unable to land, owing to the shoal water, though they did every thing they could to acccomplish that object. They got their guns on board the flat and shoved off, but got aground, and even waded in till they found themselves again getting into deep water. They sent a small boat to take the soundings, but found it impossible to land, owing to the peculiar formation of the flats.

Col. Wright continued in pursuit till he found the North Carolina regiment, under Col. Shaw, unable to land, and ascertaining that the Yankees had been reinforced by nine hundred men from Hatteras, he withdrew his forces to the position he had occupied the night before. After getting back to this position, the Federal steamer Monticello took up a position about half a mile from shore, and opened fire on them by broadsiders, with 11-inch shell, and continued to shell them for five hours, without injury to any one except a slight bruise on one man's leg, who fell down in endeavoring to dodge a ball which rolled over his leg, and a slight scratch on another's face from the explosion of a shell.

During the shelling a great portion of the Georgia forces retired back to the enemy's vacated camp, and finally the balance succeeded in embarking on board our steamers, which had now got in the neighborhood. They embarked their two howitzers with them, on board the Curlew, from that point.

The Cotton Plant, under orders from Corn. Lynch, now ran up the Chicamacomico, and took on board the entire forces which had got back to that point, together with the enemy's entire camp equipage, consisting of three hundred tents, carriage boxes, haversacks, canteens, cooking utensils, provisions, etc., together with their private wardrobe, which they were in too great haste to take with them. The entire expedition then returned to Roanoke Island, where they arrived on Sunday night at twelve o'clock.

The Day Book gives the following particulars:

The Twentieth Indiana regiment was drawn up on shore, preparatory to giving our forces battle, probably to frighten them off; but seeing the determined action of our forces toward landing, the cowardly whelps took to their heels down toward Hatteras, leaving every thing, even their private wardrobes, papers, etc. This example of gallantry was set them [171] by their colonel, who put spurs to his horse, and was the swiftest of the whole pack.

Our entire fleet, except the Cotton Plant, then moved their position to Hatteras Light-house, in order to intercept the retreat of the Yankees; but it coming up dark before they could commence landing, and through want of sufficient boats to make an expeditious landing, the Yankees made their escape to the fort at Hatteras.

The Georgia troops, from the Cotton Plant, having effected a landing, put out down the beach in pursuit of the flying Yankees; but they, being entirely too fleet of foot for them, escaped to Hatteras Light-house, where they were reinforced.

At the time of the retreat of the Yankees, had it been high tide, they would not have escaped, as the sand was of such a nature as to utterly preclude the possibility of running, save below the high-water mark. Our men had to drag their field-howitzers through this sand twelve miles--that is from Chicamacomico to Hatteras Light; and during the chase, one member of the Georgia regiment died from exhaustion in pursuing the Yankees. His remains were brought to Norfolk by the Junaluska.

A sergeant-major of the Indiana regiment shot the horse of Col. Wright of the Georgia regiment from under him, which appeared to be the only evidence of bravery evinced by the whole party. Col. Wright captured this man, and for his bravery treated him very courteously.

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