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Doc. 132.-Rappahannock expedition.

A correspondent gives the following minute account of this expedition:

United States steamer Jacob Bell, off the town of Tappahannock, Rappahannock River, Va., April 16.
Editor Evening Star:
Having received orders from Washington, we started, April thirteenth, down the Potomac, for the Rappahannock River. When off Blackistone's Island, visited the fine frigate St. Lawrence, which lies abreast of the island at anchor. The fleet being assembled, the Jacob Bell being the flagship, Lieut. Commanding E. P. McCrae, took the lead, followed by the rest of the fleet, consisting of the Reliance, Satellite, Resolute, Island Belle and Piedmontese. At twelve o'clock at night we arrived opposite the small town of Urbana, and anchored in the morning.

On the morning of April fourteenth, a boat's crew was sent ashore, under the command of Acting Master Streets, to procure a pilot. When within twenty-five yards of the beach, they were fired upon from rifle-pits; but, as good luck would have it, no one was injured, only the boat receiving a few bullets in her hull. The Jacob Bell being the nearest in, immediately opened fire upon the rebels, which scattered them in every direction, after which we proceeded on our voyage up the river, toward Fredericksburgh, passing some three or four fine wharves, which have been partly destroyed. Stopping at the second one, where there was a white flag hoisted, they informed us that all the rebel soldiers had left that side (east) of the river. Arriving opposite Lowry's Point batteries, at twelve o'clock M., we commenced, from the whole fleet, to shell the works and fortifications, driving out the pickets which have occupied it since its evacuation, some twelve days ago, by a large body of the rebel army. After the shelling, the boats' crews landed, and [474] proceeded to burn some one hundred and fifty plank and log-houses, used by the rebels as quarters, which were entirely consumed, after which the boats returned to their ships, loaded with blankets, quilts, medicines and muskets, left by the rebels in their flight.

We next proceeded to the town of Tappahannock, some two miles above Fort Lowry, arriving off which at one o'clock, we fired a blank cartridge, and hoisted the white flag of truce, which was responded to from the people of the town, (what was left of them,) by displaying a great many white flags. After coming to an anchor, our Commander, with his gig's crew, proceeded to land, when they were met at the beach by a large concourse of persons, of all colors, and it seemed with great demonstration by the darky population, one old woman exclaiming: “Bress God! De Yankees hab come at last.” The rebels have sunk the light-ship, and a large schooner off Lowry's Point. At half-past 2 o'clock P. M., the American flag was run up over one of the largest houses in the town, when it was hailed with enthusiastic cheering by the crews of our own gunboats. Subsequently our Commander was informed, that one of the people of the place had said, as soon as we left, it would be torn down; our Commander then politely told them, if it was, he would give them six hours to leave the town, before he burnt it. When our men first landed, an old negro told them not to drink any liquor, as it was all poisoned; and on landing the second time, they were invited to drink by one of the inhabitants, but they very politely declined the invitation to do so. We were also informed there by contrabands, that four large schooners, and other obstructions, are placed in the narrow channel of the river, five miles this side of Fredericksburgh, to prevent our approach to that place, where lie the steamers St. Nicholas, Eureka and Logan, the former having two guns mounted on her.

As far as we could learn, there are no rebel soldiers on the neck of land lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock, excepting a few picket cavalry, which are mostly composed of Marylanders, to prevent the escape of negroes. The company who fired on our boats the morning of the fourteenth, we are informed, were composed of Marylanders; and it was astonishing that none were killed or hurt, as there were over forty shots fired into the boat, at the distance of twenty-five yards. It was quite amusing to see secesh, and others of Tappahannock, leaving in all directions, when we arrived off the town, some that remained, running to and fro, with white rags suspended on broom-handles, and an old darky had a bleached salt-sack tied to a limb of a tree, waving it at the rate of two-forty on a plank-road. The town is very prettily situated on the left bank of the river, some fifty miles below Fredericksburgh. It contains two churches, a jail, a hotel, and a large steam saw-mill, and many handsome old mansions, that are fast going to decay, like the rest of the old ancient towns of the Revolution.

April 15.--Laid off the town during the night. This morning, about five o'clock, espied a sloop coming down from the direction of Fredericksburgh, when we gave chase and captured her, she proving to be the Reindeer, Capt. Ailworth, who made his escape in a small boat. She was loaded with oysters, shad, cedar posts, carpet-bags, containing a quantity of clothes for the rebels, with a lot of letters, from which we learn that the rebels are evacuating Fredericksburgh, and talk of burning the town, to keep it from falling into our hands. At nine o'clock we got underway, and proceeded down the river to Corbin's Creek, to cut out some schooners which are in there, which we did in fine style, bringing out two very fine schooners, one of them being the Sidney A. Jones, of Baltimore. I have not learned the name of the other.

Just below Corbin's Creek we came to anchor, and sent the boat's crew ashore, to a storehouse at the wharf, when they soon returned with two secesh soldiers, in uniform, they nabbed at the store. They told our Captain, if he would let them alone, they would let him alone, and they wanted to go ashore again; but they were told, they would have to go to Washington first, when one of them exclaimed: “I have a horse ashore, that cost me five hundred dollars.” “So much the better,” says the Captain, “we will take the horse, too.” There were also a lot of contraband goods found in the store, which were taken, but the liquor was all destroyed. The owner of the store, holding a prominent position in the rebel army, deserved to have his whole stock demolished — fighting against his country, and at the same time extorting from the poor people of the country the enormous prices of twenty dollars a sack for salt; forty cents a pound for sugar; seventy-five cents a pound for coffee; ten cents a pound for flour; twenty-five cents a pound for bacon, and thirteen dollars a pair for boots.

April 16.--The anchor once more on the bow, and we are steaming down the beautiful Rappahannock, toward the town of Urbana, which we do not stop at. We arrived at the mouth of the river after dark, and spoke the gunboat Young Rover, of five guns, which has been her station for some time, and proceeded on up the bay, and entered the Potomac just before midnight, and by eight o'clock arrived at Wade's Bay, where we met the Yankee, Lieutenant Commanding R. H. Wyman.

On our arrival at Tappahannock, a great many, leaving in a hurry, left their houses open and exposed; and in the house of a notorious rebel, Dr. Roane, our men picked up many secesh letters, lying about the floor in confusion, among which was a secesh army signal-book, picked up by our Purser's Steward, Mr. Paul, which, from its contents, may prove of service.

The two prisoners we have, are a Mr. Kiernan, of the First Maryland regiment, and the other a Mr. Mozinga, of the Fifty-ninth Virginia regiment, and a younger brother of the owner of the store below Corbin's Creek, referred to above. They do not relish the idea of residing north of “Dixie,” and they say that the Southern Confederacy [475] pays fifty dollars a head for volunteers, and if they are not willing, why, they are forced.

Yours, etc.,

C. F. G.

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