Doc. 76. affair at Quantico Creek, Va.
Lieutenant Harrell's report.
U. S. Steamer Union, Acquia Creek, Oct. 11, 1861.sir: I have the honor to submit the following report for your information: Being informed of a large schooner lying in Quantico or Dumfries Creek, and knowing also that a large number of troops were collected at that point, with the view of crossing the Potomac River, as was reported to me, I conceived it to be my duty to destroy her. With this object in view I took two launches and my boat and pulled in for the vessel at half-past 2 o'clock this morning. One of the launches was commanded by Midshipman W. F. Stewart, accompanied by the Master, Edward L. Haynes, of the Rescue, and the other by Acting Master Amos Foster, of the Resolute. I also took with me the pilot of the vessel, Lewis Penn. Some little difficulty was experienced in finding the entrance to the creek, which you will remember is very narrow, but having found it we pulled up this crooked channel, within pistol shot of either shore, until we discovered the schooner. She was close to the shore in charge of a sentry, who fled at our approach and alarmed the camp. She had a new suit of sails, and all the furniture complete in the cabin, which was collected together and fired, producing a beautiful conflagration but unfortunately revealing our position to the enemy, who commenced a rapid fire from both banks of that narrow and tortuous stream, intermingled with opprobrious epithets, until we were beyond their range. Our crews returned a random fire from the boats and two steamers, gave three cheers, and pulled for their vessels, the light from the burning schooner guiding them on their way. Her destruction was complete, and, although the clothes of the men and the boats were perforated with balls, not a man was killed. Officers and men vied with each other in the performance of their duty. Acting Master Foster applied the match in the cabin of the doomed vessel. Acting Assistant Surgeon W. R. Bensall accompanied the expedition — ready, should his services be required. I hope what I have done will meet your approbation, although I have acted without orders. This little affair will show the enemy at least that we are watching him, and ready to meet and destroy his preparations for crossing this river at all times. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,