hostile move except that of occupying Alexandria
But, at the time of this occupation, the Confederates
had already erected three strong earthworks at the railway terminus at Aquia Creek, Virginia
, and other batteries were protecting the landing, three being mounted in positions on the higher ground, back of the river.
On the 29th of May, the Thomas Freeborn
, a paddle-wheel steamer of about two hundred and fifty tons, mounting three guns, with the Anacostia
, a small screw steamer of about two hundred tons, and the Resolute
, less than half the latter's size, came down the river.
Commander James H. Ward
was at the head of the little squadron, whose largest guns were but 32-pounders.
Upon reaching Aquia Creek
engaged these batteries.
Little damage was done, but these were the first shots fired by the navy in the Civil War
. On the 1st of June, the action was renewed with great vigor.
had joined the squadron, every vessel of which had been hit more than once, but although Commander Ward
relates that more than a thousand shot had been discharged within range, he had no damage to report, which was, as he wrote, “truly remarkable,” and later in the war, when gunnery practice had improved, it would have been impossible.
Again, on the 2d of June, the Pawnee
attacked the batteries, and though struck a number of times, had no casualties to report.
On the 5th, the steamer Harriet Lane
, of historic memory, attacked the Confederate batteries at Pig Point
, near Hampton Roads
, and Captain John Faunce
, while bearing testimony to the gallant conduct of the officers and men under his command, regretfully announced that he had five casualties on board his little vessel.
On the 27th of June, the navy lost its first officer and it was no other than the gallant Commander Ward
, of the Freeborn
, who was shot and mortally wounded while in the act of sighting the bow gun. A party had been landed in order to clear the ground at Mathias Point
, and this had been surprised