Doc. 57.-General Graham's expedition.
General Butler's despatch.
Brigadier-General Graham, by my direction, went with three armed transports and a competent force to the Peninsula, made a landing on the James River, seven miles below Fort Powhatan, known as the Brandon Farms, and captured twenty-two of the enemy, seven of the signal corps, and brought away ninety-nine negroes. They also destroyed twenty-four thousand pounds of pork, and large quantities of oats and corn, and captured a sloop and schooner, and two hundred and forty boxes of tobacco, and five Jews, preparing to run the blockade, and returned without the loss of a man.
Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.
A national account.
Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, January 26, 1864.One of the most brilliant exploits that has been chronicled for some time past, was accomplished yesterday by some of our troops, whose bravery is only equalled by their patriotism. Late on Sunday afternoon a gunboat expedition started from this city, composed of the army gunboats Gen. Jessup, Smith Briggs, and Flora Temple. The whole was under the command of General Graham. Before daylight, on the following morning, the boats had proceeded as far up the James River as Brandon, (which is near Harrison's Landing,) without the least opposition. From the Gen. Jessup a detachment of men were landed, under charge of Captain Lee, of the Harbor Police. Two other detachments were sent ashore, under Captain Harris, of one of the boats, and Captain Brown, of the Twenty-first connecticut regiment. Supported by the latter, the men of Captain Lee penetrated the interior of the country to the distance of three miles. Here was a signal-station of the rebels, which it was their intention to capture. Dividing the men in two bodies, Captain Lee assigned one of them to remain with Lieutenant Bullard, of General Graham's staff, in front of the station, while he with his squad marched around to the rear. The manoeuvre was a complete success. So skilfully was it managed, that the rebels in the station were not aware of the presence of the Union troops, until they were within less than fifty yards of them. The surprise was so sudden, that they did not attempt to make any hostile demonstration whatever, but quietly and gracefully yielded themselves up as prisoners. With them were taken a large number of signalling flags, telescopes, rifles, and other equipments. The captain in command of the station was away at the time on a visit to Petersburgh, and had left a sergeant and six men in charge during his temporary absence. At Brandon, a confederate agent for the collection of forage and provisions was captured, with two overseers. From a plantation near by, about one hundred and thirty negroes, field hands, were taken. These were not the only trophies; for, while these active and exciting operations were going on, Lieutenant Harris, the commander of the Gen. Jessup, captured a blockade-runner schooner heavily laden with tobacco, jewelry, state bonds, and specie, belonging to some Jews. In addition to this, a smaller vessel, a sloop, was taken. The captures are fully worth twenty thousand dollars. The expedition reflects great credit upon General Graham and Captain Lee, and all the officers and men engaged in it, when we take into consideration the hazardousness of the undertaking, and the care, sagacity, and bravery displayed in carrying it successfully through. The rebels were caught napping, and they must feel sore to think that they were outwitted.