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Doc. 59.-battle of Tranter's Creek, N. C. Fought June 5, 1862.

A correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer, writing from Washington, N. C.; June sixth, gives the following particulars of the battle at that place:

Since the rebel citizens of Washington fled from their homes upon the first approach of our gunboats, after the occupation of Newbern, they have labored in every way to render uncomfortable those who, like wiser men, staid at home and attended to their own business. Frequent threats have been made that the town would be recaptured, and all those who adhered to the Union cause “wiped out.” Encouraged by various wealthy men living in the outskirts of the town, they have become emboldened of late, and have made occasional reconnoissances, apparently with the intention of attacking the place. The cavalry sent up for the protection of the town had a considerable skirmish, only some two weeks ago, within five or six miles of the town.

Pending the armistice which was agreed upon, while the Union prisoners were being delivered to Gen. Burnside, a considerable force of cavalry and infantry have been gathering near Pactolus, under command of the rebel Col. Singletary; and Col. Potter, commanding the forces at Washington, deemed it proper to send for reinforcements. Accordingly, on Tuesday and Wednesday last, all the remaining companies of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts at Newbern were despatched to Washington. Lieut. Avery, of the marine artillery, with three of Wiard's twelve-pounder boat-howitzers, and a party of artillerists, accompanied the expedition.

Our correspondent went up with the Massachusetts boys, and was somewhat disappointed, from the alarming rumors prevailing, to find every thing quiet, and the town in possession of its rightful inhabitants. A heavy rain which prevailed had rendered the roads very muddy, but it was decided to march the troops out, and [172] if possible, find and dislodge the enemy, who were reported to be in strong force near and beyond Tranter's Creek. The gunboat Picket, Capt. Nichols, was detailed to take part in the movement, and proceeded up the Tar River, shelling the woods as far up as Pactolus, twelve miles above Washington. His shells made scattering work along the river. Some of them fell into the rebel camp, and, it is reported, did them much damage.

The soldiers were allowed a couple of hours to rest and refresh themselves, when they were formed on the front street, the guns were inspected, and the order given to march. A portion of Col. Mix's cavalry were thrown forward as a flanking party. The companies of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, except C and D, came next, and Lieut. Avery, with two of his steel howitzers and twenty-five men, with ammunitioncarts, brought up the rear. Mr. Gilmore and his band accompanied the troops as an ambulance corps, and performed excellent service during the engagement.

The troops were commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Frank Osborn. Col. Potter, Military Governor of Washington, with Lieut. Pendleton and Assistant Surgeons Curtis and McGregor, also went along. The troops took the country road to Pactolus and Greenville. The day was oppressively hot and sultry, and several of the men gave out, being overcome by the labors of the march. We frequently halted to rest the men.

Every where the slaves came from the fields in which they were employed, and leaning in squads over the fences, scanned the soldiers with the greatest astonishment, and expressed in their simple but earnest manner the best wishes for our success. “God bress you, Yankee friends.” “Dis is de day we is been looking to see.” “Lor, massa, I never seen so many people since I was born,” and like expressions were very common. They were generally ready to answer any question asked them concerning the movements of the enemy, but they first looked carefully around to see who was near them.

Eight miles from town, we came to what is called Storehouse Landing, beyond which we found a road crossing that on which we were marching at right angles. We took the right of this road, and a mile beyond, turned again to the left. The rebels had removed the bridge on the main road, and posted themselves at Hodges's Mills, about a mile eastward. Here they had a mill-pond on one side, a deep morass or cypress swamp on the other, with two large buildings — a saw-mill and ginning-mill — to protect them in front. This place was approached by a narrow cart-path, hemmed in on both sides by dense woods.

To make sure that we should not get at them with our cavalry, they cut away the flooring over the mill-flumes. Here, skulking behind stumps and trees, concealed in the dense thicket, they awaited the approach of the Union forces, of which they had received prompt information from the neighbors.

Halting for a moment at the house of John Gray Hodges, another rebel hole, the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts moved to the attack. Uncertain as to their location, and also wholly ignorant of the ground, part of company A, led by Lieut. Jarves, were thrown out as skirmishers. As soon as they entered this dell, the rebel pickets opened from behind the mill, and from the bushes in which they were hidden. Our pickets replied, and in another moment, whole volleys were delivered sharp and quick from both sides.

The artillery were ordered forward and took a position within half musket-range, being obliged to draw the pieces up a bridge of slabs, near which the mill stands. Lieut. Avery now opened with grape, canister and solid shot upon the the rebels, who fell out of the trees, and were driven from behind the mills and covers which concealed them.

The firing continued for about forty-five minutes. The buildings were riddled with our Minie balls and grape, and limbs of trees fell in a shower over the rebels' heads. Several of our men were wounded early in the engagement, others were killed and were carried to an empty building immediately in the rear.

As soon as the rebel fire ceased, our boys made a dash to follow them, but found the bridges cut away so that only one at a time could get across. For the same reason the cavalry, which had been patiently waiting inactive, found it impossible to follow them. They had shut the door behind them and “skedaddled.”

The officers and men of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts showed the coolest bravery throughout the brief engagement. Lieut. Avery and his brave little body of marines also fought their guns with the most persistent courage and steadiness. An inspection of the ground, however, showed that their powerful Wiard rifled guns could have rendered even more effective service if they had been placed on the opposite side of the pond, out of rebel musket-range.

Wagons were obtained from the farms near by, and the dead and wounded were conveyed back to Washington. The regiment started on the return at six o'clock, and reached town through a drenching rain at nine o'clock P. M.

The following is a list of killed and wounded in the fight at Tranter's Creek:

Twenty-Fourth Massachusetts.

Sergeant George L. Litchfield, Co. A, Roxbury, Mass., killed; Private Leroy Dorland, Co. A, Palmer, Mass., killed; Private Orville Brock, Co. I, killed; Corporal Melbourn Croscrup, Co. F, Lynn, killed; Private Geo. H. Baxter, Co. F, Newtown, Mass., killed; Private Austin Gill, Co. K, killed; Wm. H. Moore, Captain of Gun, Marine Artillery, Chicago, Ill., killed; Lieut. Horatio Jarves, Co. A, wounded by ball through left ankle-joint; Capt. W. F. Redding, Co. A, wrist, slight; Private James A. Beal, Co. B, forehead, slight; Private Joseph A. Collins, Co. E, temple; Private John. Vaughn, Co. E, hip, severely; Private M. J. O'Brien, Co. I, bayonet wound; Private Wm. [173] Reynolds, Co. I, shoulder, slight; Private G. A. Howard, Co. I, hand, slight; Private Jas. Gibbon, marine artillery, flesh-wound, leg; Private William A. Clark, marine artillery, spent ball; Private Albert Gibbs, marine artillery, neck and shoulder.

Another account.

Washington, N. C., June 7, 1862.
During last week and the early part of the present, we were frequently annoyed by scouting parties of the rebels, who came within a short distance of the town and continually threatened it. Indeed, so likely appeared an attack, (and no doubt our weak position here at the time invited it,) that reinforcements were sent for, while every preparation was made to resist any inroad which the prowling bands might make.

On Thursday morning a reconnoissance in force started from here, under command of Lieut.-Col. Osborn, commanding the Twenty--fourth Massachusetts regiment, accompanied by Col. Potter, of the First North-Carolina (Union) volunteers, and Lieuts. Strong and Pendleton--the two latter officers acting as Aids. The expedition consisted of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts regiment, company I of the Third New-York cavalry, under command of Capt. Jocknick and Lieut. Allis, and a detachment from Col. Howard's marine artillery, under command of Lieut. Avery.

The infantry and artillery having taken up the line of march, formed a junction with the cavalry on the outskirts of the town, when all advanced along the Greenville road, while the gunboat Picket, Capt. Nichols, proceeded up Tar River, and shelled the woods ahead.

We crossed Cherry Run, and reached Four Corners without any incident of note occurring, and without the slightest trace of the enemy. We were now a mile from Tranter's Creek, and as it was known that the bridge on the main or Greenville road had been destroyed, the column took another road on the right, which crossed the creek a little distance higher up.

The road near where it crosses the bridge, descends through a ravine or gorge, and turning suddenly to the left, skirts along by the edge of the creek, which at this point is more properly a wide pond or swamp, filled with stumps of trees. On the bridge are a saw-mill and cotton-gin, whose power is derived from the flowing of the water. The rebels had taken up the boards of the bridge between the two buildings, and with them constructed a breastwork, if it might be so called, near the cotton-gin.

The column at length got in motion again from the widow's house, and the skirmishers having descended the ravine, cautiously moved toward the bridge. Suddenly, they discovered a row of heads behind the breastwork of boards, and the guns all levelled toward them. Sergeant Shepard and a companion fired, and a heavy volley came in return. Lieut. Jarves fell at the first fire. The rest of the advance returned the volley, and then fell back on the main body. Col. Osborn immediately ordered forward the artillery, and in less time than it takes to narrate it, the gallant marines, under Lieut. Avery, came dashing down the hill with their guns, which they stationed, one bearing on the enemy's front, through the arch of the saw-mill, the other to the left of the bridge, and raking the enemy on their right flank. The main body of the infantry also came forward on the double-quick, while Capt. Jocknick formed his cavalry on the brow of the hill, ready to charge the enemy at the decisive moment, though, as it afterwards happened, no opportunity was afforded to his men to strike a blow.

On account of the narrowness of the road, only three companies of the infantry could be brought into action at once, and the rest were disposed of in the rear, where they were ordered to lie down. With one company in the road and one on either side, the engagement regularly opened on our side. Lieut. Avery discharged several rounds of shell and canister at the enemy's position; for they were so concealed in the bridge and behind the trees as to be completely out of sight. The infantry poured a terrific fire across and on either side of the bridge, the riddled beams and posts of which soon gave token of the showers of balls which were passing and repassing. A number of rebels had secreted themselves in the loft of the cotton-gin, and were firing very briskly when driven out by a shell which Lieut. Avery lodged in the building. Others again were discovered ensconced in the tree-tops on the opposite side of the creek. Lieut. Avery elevated his piece and fired a couple of rounds of canister through the branches, whereupon several bodies were seen to fall to the ground, at sight of which our boys burst into a prolonged cheer or yell. The steady firing of the artillery and the volleys from the Twenty-fourth, at length drove the rebels from the bridge, and falling back they kept up a desultory fire from the trees and the edge of the creek. At length the word was given to charge. The artillery fired a round to clear the way, and under cover of the smoke and the effects of the canister, our boys, with fixed bayonets, dashed upon the bridge, and headed by Col. Potter, advanced on a run to a point where the boards had been taken up. Replacing them as best they could, they passed over, and found themselves undisputed occupants of the field, for the rebels had field down the creek and through the woods, leaving behind them three of their dead, and a large quantity of muskets, shot-guns, swords, sabres, and other weapons. Their rout was thorough and complete. The ground was covered with pools of blood, showing that their loss was pretty heavy, though it is impossible to ascertain the exact figures, as they carried off all their dead and wounded, except the three bodies above referred to, which they could not rescue, owing to the heavy fire of our artillery on the spot where they were lying. At the opposite side of the bridge the rebels had thrown up a temporary breastwork of cotton bales in an angular shape, with the corner nearest the approach [174] from the bridge; but it failed to serve them as a means of defence.

Our loss on the battle-field was four killed and twelve wounded; but three of the latter died soon after the fight, so that our loss now stands seven killed and nine wounded.

The fight commenced shortly before three o'clock, and lasted over half an hour. The dead and wounded were then placed in ambulances extemporized for the occasion, the column formed in line again and returned, reaching here about nine o'clock at night, having marched in all nearly twenty miles, part of the way through swampy ground and in some places through water almost knee-deep. To add to the fatigue and annoyance, rain commenced to fall soon after the return march was begun, and continued until they arrived in town.

Negroes who arrived in town last night, reported that yesterday morning the rebels recrossed the bridge under a flag of truce, thinking that we had encamped in the vicinity, for the purpose of obtaining permission to bury the dead. The negroes also report the rebels to have admitted a loss of one hundred and five killed, wounded, and missing, and that among the number killed was Col. Singletary, who commanded the rebel forces. These figures are no doubt highly exaggerated; but some little probability is given to the statement about Col. Singletary, as an officer's sword was found among the number of arms left by the rebels in their flight.

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