On board steamer Satellite,
As I remarked in my previous letter, the work of clearing the decks of the steamers and of securing the prisoners occupied but a few moments.
The men immediately after took their positions, and a stranger would have supposed the crew were engaged in the regular routine of daily duty.
The boats were made fast astern, everything was hauled taught on board, ropes called up, and guns prepared for a fight.
was on board the Satellite
, and, Mr. Hoge
being wounded, Lieut. Hudgins
, the second officer in command, was put in charge of the Reliance
He was ordered to follow close after the Satellite
, which was to be taken up the river by Pilot Moore
The engineers, Messrs. Bowman
, soon got up steam and reported the vessels ready to move.
I was on the Reliance
at the time, having gone there to attend the wounds of Lieut. Hoge
and Capt. Walters
, both seriously hit, and lying side by side in the cabin.
The former was the first upon her decks, and fought with great daring; but, alas!
just in the moment of victory he was struck in the neck by a pistol ball, falling upon the deck close beside the Yankee Captain
was also hit by two balls, but as the wounds were slight he insisted upon doing his duty as soon as the flow of blood was checked.
A deserter from our army lay dying upon the deck, and three or four Yankees and negroes had wounds from cutlass or pistol.
On the other vessel the wounded were more numerous, but they were attended by the Surgeon
's steward on the steamer.
None of our men were hurt on board of her.
Just as the first gray streak of day appeared in the east the Satellite
moved out, followed closely by Lieut. Hudgins
The run up occupied some three hours, and a little after sunrise we dropped the anchors off Urbana
The first thing was to get the wounded and prisoners ashore.
had charge of this, and in a short time all were landed and delivered into the hands of the cavalry waiting to receive them.
I should here mention that on the day we launched our boats in Meachum's Creek, Col. T. L. Rosser
, so long and so favorably known to the public, brought his regiment down to co-operate with us. This was exactly what we wished, and no better officer could have been selected for the service, or one who would have given greater satisfaction to us. His regiment, the 5th cavalry, was raised principally from the counties around, and knew every path and by-way in them.
Upon his arrival we felt secure from any demonstration on land.
With the assistance of Mr. Goodwyn
, I soon got the wounded on land, and had them carried to "Roseguild," the residence of Mrs. Bailey
, where comfortable beds and rooms were provided for them.
I thus had the wounded of both vessels together and could better attend to their wants.
had no medical officer with them — only two surgeon's stewards, both of whom seemed ignorant of their duties, and not inclined to assist even their own men. The ladies of the surrounding country soon began to collect at the house, and they gave me material assistance.
Late in the evening a boat was sent off for me, and I went on board the Satellite
, leaving the wounded in charge of Dr. Nicholson
, of Middlesex county
, a gentleman well known in Virginia
To his professional skill the sufferers are much indebted.
Meantime the prisoners had been taken by the cavalry and were on their way to Richmond
Unfortunately for us neither of these steamers had beyond a few hours' coal.
, the remaining steamer on this station, had gone up the river to coal-up intending upon her return to relieve these for the same purpose.
determined, however, to make the most of the little on board.
Expecting an encounter with the Currituck
, Col. Rosser
had furnished from his regiment Capt. Clay
's company of Sharpshooters, to assist in the engagement should we meet her. Capt. Fendall Gregory
, and Lt. Nunn
, of the same regiment, also accompanied us. Owing to the difficulty in getting a sufficient amount of steam upon the Reliance
, we were delayed until dark before starting, but about 8 o'clock got under way and ran down the river.
But something was out of order on the steamer, she could not be pushed above two knots an hour, and lost steam as fast as a little could be gained; consequently she was soon far behind.
We waited an hour for her to come up, and then found her so disabled as to be of little use before extensive repairs could be made.
was therefore sent back with her, and we went on alone.
This was Sunday night. It was 11 o'clock before we reached the mouth of the river and ran out into the bay. The sea was quite high, with a strong southeasterly wind, and every prospect of an approaching storm.--Having so little coal, it was impossible to go far; but Lt. Wood
started boldly up the bay to see what there was afloat.
The waves were every moment getting higher, and the Satellite
creaked and groaned in every seam, and ran her head heavily against the sea, as if trying to commit suicide at the chagrin of capture.
Although much indisposed, pilot.
managed her admirably, and kept her well against the storm.
After cruising a while up the bay our course was turned towards the Eastern Shore.
Some few sails were seen looming up through the dark, but they were small and hardly worth the time when larger game was expected.
At 1 o'clock the sea was very high, and about all the Satellite
It would have availed us little then to have made out a sell, for the sea was too rough for boarding and our small boats would probably have swamped in such weather.
At 2 o'clock we turned back, and a little before day made Stingray Point
.--Fearing the Currituck
might have returned during the night and dropped into the anchorage, Lt. Wood
sent up a signal light; but it was not answered, and we ran safely inside.
Monday, August 24, 1863.
In the gray of the morning we ran some five miles up the river, and came to anchor near Gray's Point
Being out all night, as well as the two nights previous, everybody was much exhausted, and, as soon as the anchor dropped over the side, nearly all dropped to sleep upon the deck.
Having suffered severely with sea sickness during the night our cavalry were a forlorn looking set, and it was pitiful to see their pale, uneasy faces.
Nothing of importance occurred during the day. The sea still ran high, and the wind increased in strength.
About night three sails made their appearance in the bay, all beating down upon the starboard tack directly towards us. We made out towards them, and for an hour or two chased the larger of the two down towards Gwin's Island and the mouth of the Piankatank
About 9 o'clock she was overhauled, and proved to be the schooner Golden Rod
; laden with coals, from Baltimore
, and bound for Maine
The captain and crew were the most surprised men I ever saw. The other two sail (schooners both) had anchored just inside the point, and these were picked up upon our return.
They were the Two Brothers and the Coquette
, anchor-sweepers, from Philadelphia
Both had a number of very fine anchors and cables on board.
Taking the three in tow we ran up to Urbanna
again, and let go anchors.
As the Reliance
had but a few bushels of coal left she was sent up to Port Royal
that morning, but, since our capture of the Golden Rod
, she was ordered to return.
Running the Satellite
alongside the schooner we took on board coal to last a day or two, and prepared to run down the river.--The schooners were made ready for burning, and instructions left with Lt. Hudgins
to take charge of them and apply the match should the enemy force us to retire.
Tuesday, Aug. 25th.
Early this morning I went ashore to carry the wounded some few captured luxuries, taken from the prizes.
was doing very well although his wound was painful.
seemed failing: his symptoms were bad. The deserter was dead, and an old boatswain beyond recovery.
, and purser's steward, Stavey, were both doing well.
The ladies were assiduous in their endeavors to make all comfortable, and I am sure the wounded will ever cherish kindly recollections of their care.
We remained a few hours at Urbanna
, then again ran down the river and laid under lee of the land, some two miles from the bay, waiting patiently for "something to turn up." The sea seemed to be higher than before, and we could see the white foam caps flash in the light, and the heavy breakers dash upon the beach with their continuous, saddening roar.
It was too much for the Satellite
— the elements were against us. From a picket we ascertained the Currituck
had arrived off the Plankatank, had communicated with the shore, and afterwards steamed rapidly in the direction of Fortress Monroe
We knew, then, she was aware of the nature of our exploit, and had gone for aid to pursue us.--Sure enough, later in the evening the black smoke stacks of three large gunboats became visible in the distance.
Had the weather been favorable Lieut. Wood
intended to have run out before the steamers came up; but the pilots decided the sea was too rough for our engines.
This being the case, we had the choice of an unequal fight or a retreat up the river.
The odds were too great for the former, and so we headed for Urbanna
Meantime Lieut. Hudgins
had arrived with the Reliance
, and was coaling from the schooner.
Upon nearing them a boat was sent ahead to show who we were, and in an hour after we, too, were alongside them.
The storm now burst upon us in all its fury, and the wind shrieked around us as if all the sea-demons had been turned loose.
Although nearly twenty miles from the bay, the waves were higher than I supposed they ever were in the river.
The wind-veered to the Northward, and the weather turned intensely cold.
That night the sharpshooters were sent ashore to their command, and we lay at anchor.
Wednesday, Aug. 26th.
This morning the storm cleared away, but the weather was chilly and the river rough.
A pilot was obtained from the shore and preparations were made to run up to Port Royal
, where the steamers and the prizes could be dismantled.
The larger schooner drew eleven feet of water, and this the pilot thought too much to be gotten up without difficulty; so at daylight she was fired.
Taking the other two prizes in tow we started on, pilot Moore
bringing up the Reliance
After a few miles he brought her alongside the Satellite
, and the two then worked together, making quite good time against the strong ebb tide and the high headwind.
About 10 o'clock the weather moderated a little.
The sun came out, and the wind died away.
The run up was quite pleasant, and I enjoyed fully the beauty of the scenery along the route.
I do not know of a more beautiful river in this country than the Rappahannock
The shores are high and slope from the hills behind gracefully down to the water.
Well cultivated farms on either side, splendid residences, with patches of woodland here and there to throw a dash of genuine nature into the scene.
The Confederate flag was flying from the Satellite
, and from some old bunting on board, the officers of the Reliance
improvised a small flag of the new pattern — the white ground with battle-flag union.
Our advance caused considerable excitement on the route: the people did not know what to make of it. Some stared in mute astonishment, others thought it a trick of the Yankees
, others again greeted us with enthusiastic cheers.
The sun went down just as we entered Port Tobacco bay
, its soft light lingering for a time upon the hazy hillsides.
The picture that was then presented us was beautiful beyond description, and will linger long in some niche of the mind where memory shall hang it.
A short run from here brought us to Port Royal
There some of our troops were stationed, with a battery of artillery.
We were hailed from the banks and warned not to surprise it for fear of receiving a few shots before our character could be made known.
A boat was therefore sent ahead, and in half an hour after we dropped anchor just off the town.
Thursday, Aug. 6th.
Early in the day Lt. Wood
went ashore to report our arrival to the commanding officer
We were very kindly greeted by all and promised every assistance in dismantling and getting ashore the cargo of the prize.
The troops at this place were the 47th and 48th Alabama regiments, with a fine battery of Napoleons, the name of which has escaped me. They had been here some days, and acted as a protection to a train of wagons foraging in this vicinity.
were some fifteen miles from here, at King George C. H., where, it is said, they have a considerable force of cavalry and infantry.
On Tuesday a skirmish occurred near King George C. H., in which the enemy were repulsed, leaving ten dead upon the field.
Our loss was slight — some two or three wounded.
During the day several parties of ladies came off to visit us, some of whom recognized the gunboats, and had before seen them upon the river during the negro and chicken stealing expeditions of the Yankees
We received considerable attention from the shore, and had the Richmond papers sent off to us, the first received for many days.
In the evening I saw dress parade and listened for a sweet half hour to the rich tones of the organ in the village church.