At three o'clock P. M. yesterday, I despatched the gunboat Flora Temple to Chuckatuck, but unfortunately she grounded, and remained ashore until I came up with the General Jesup, and transport Long Branch. The Flora Temple had been despatched to Chuckatuck to occupy the attention of the enemy on shore, while the other parties were advancing from the points indicated. I left Smithfield at forty minutes past three P. M., having remained there at the request of the officer commanding the first detachment, so that his detachment might return to the vessels, if it met with any serious opposition, before it had marched a distance beyond possibility of communication. Up to the time I left, no firing was heard at all. After the vessels with me had succeeded in drawing off the Flora Temple, we steamed as rapidly as possible for the mouth of the Chuckatuck, but it was quite dark and very hazy when we reached there; consequently we kept on for the Nansemond and reached there at eight o'clock P. M., when I was informed by Lieutenant Commander Gillis that the second detachment had reported as above. Immediately thereupon I sent orders by the Smith Briggs to the Flora Temple and General Jesup to proceed at daylight to the Chuckatuck, make a reconnoissance, and report to me as early as practicable at the mouth of the Nansemond. At daylight I intend landing with a detachment and feeling my way, cautiously, to Chuckatuck village. As soon as I have definite tidings I will communicate with you again. In the mean time, please request your vessels to keep a look-out on the banks of the James River for any of our men that may have strayed from the main body, if it has been captured. Please communicate the above facts to Major-General Butler, and oblige. Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Please send a boat up the Nansemond to me, and the bearer, Captain Rowe, will proceed with his vessel to Smithfield.
Report of Captain Guert Gansevoort.
United States iron-clad Roanoke, Newport news, Va., February 4, 1864.Admiral: I have the honor to inform you of the facts (as far as I can recollect) relating to the expedition which went up the river on January thirty-first, under the command of General Graham. Sunday morning, January thirty-first, about ten A. M., three army steamers came up from Fortress Monroe and went near the Minnesota, and shortly after I saw a boat coming toward this vessel with an army lieutenant (whose name I do not remember) and Lieutenant Commander Gillis. On their arrival, the army lieutenant stated to me that General Graham was going on an expedition, and wanted Lieutenant Commander Gillis to go with him. I referred him to the Admiral, and was informed that he was absent at Norfolk and would not be back until late in the afternoon. I replied that I did not consider that absence; to which they said that, to all intents and purposes, it was absence as far as the expedition was concerned; that the time that will be taken in sending to the Admiral and the return would defeat the object of the expedition. I then asked him what was the object of this expedition. He replied that it was to capture about “fifty (50) men.” I asked him how he expected to accomplish it. He said that they intended to go up the river a short distance, land the men, and then march down. I then asked what assistance Lieutenant Commander Gillis would be to them. He said that General Graham wanted him to take charge of the boats. I asked him if he expected the sailors were to be landed. He told me no; that they had a force large enough, and that it was not the intention to land the sailors. He also stated that they were not going far from the ship, and would be back in sixteen or eighteen hours, as they were ordered to return in that time. Under these conditions, I consented to let Lieutenant Commander Gillis accompany the expedition, believing that it would meet with your approbation. Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Report of Lieutenant Commander James H. Gillis.
United States gunboat Commodore Morris, Newport news, February 1, 1864.sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this vessel in an expedition under Brigadier-General Graham, having for its object the capture and breaking up of the camps of a body of rebels on the Chuckatuck Creek, in Isle of Wight county. At the request of General Graham, and after communicating with the senior officer present, I took command yesterday of the forces on Nansemond River, both army and navy, which were to act in conjunction with the forces (under the immediate command of General Graham) from Smithfield, on Pagan Creek. The force placed under my command by General Graham consisted of the army gunboat Smith Briggs and two launches, manned by thirty-four (34) men of the Naval Brigade, under command of Captain McLaughlin; besides which, I had fifty men obtained from the Minnesota. The force under General Graham consisted of seventy (70) men of the Naval Brigade, and twenty (20) cavalry; this latter force to land at Smithfield and march to the village of Chuckatuck, on Chuckatuck Creek. It was supposed that at two o'clock they would have