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gun, the shell from which penetrated through the sand bank, and one of them exploded in and completely demolished the room occupied by the officers and myself. Upon our part no one was injured; but lookers-on from the hills and opposite shores state that the enemy was repeatedly struck.
"Yesterday, the steamers which had laid off during the night were reinforced by the Pawnee, and at 11:30 A. M. they commenced a brisk cannonade, which continued with little interruption until about 4:30 P.M., during which the Pawnee fired 392shot and shell, and the other steamer 207, the greater portion of the latter being rifled shells.
"Our sand banks not being en barbette, we could only fire as the enemy came within range through the embrasures. This, added to the long distance at which he kept, and the necessity of occasionally repairing damages to the breastwork, combined with my desire to save ammunition, constrained me to withhold fire, except when something like a fair shot presented. The houses in the rear were very much knocked about, and the railroad track torn up in three or four places; but, thanks to a kind Providence, who seems to smile benignly on our cause, no one with us was injured.
"As the enemy had on Friday made the buildings at the extremity of the wharf his line of sight upon the battery, I had all the furniture, etc., together with the weather-boarding, conveyed to the rear of the battery, and in the course of the forenoon set fire to and blew up the platform and outer end of the bridge.
"I have spoken of Commander Thorburn's zeal in the first engagement, and cannot too highly applaud the spirit and alacrity, tempered by deference to orders, of Commander Cooke and Lieut. Trobel. With the exception of Gunner's Mate Cunningham and Master's Mate Larmour, whose services were of inestimable value, our guns' crews consisted of only volunteer militia, who stood their ground bravely.
"We had yesterday, in addition to our guns, a small rifled one from Capt. Walker's battery, under the immediate command of Lieut. Robertson, of Tennessee, which rendered efficient service.
"In connection with the transportation of the Columbiads to the summit of a lofty hill, I cannot speak in too highly commendable terms of the zeal and untiring energy of Lieut. Chas. C. Simms."
The result, or rather want of result, of the cannonade of the earth battery at Aquia Creek by the Federal gunboats, attracted the immediate attention of Gen. Lee, and on June 10th he wrote to Gen. Holmes, commander at Fredericksburg:
"It is probable, that realizing the inutility of cannonading the batteries at Aquia Creek with smoothbore guns, the naval force of the United States will hereafter employ rifled cannon of large calibre at long range. It is therefore advisable that the batteries should be rendered as secure as possible by the application of some such means as were so successfully employed at Charleston. Railroad iron, laid at an angle of about forty-five degrees with the horizon, on the exterior slope, the upper ends projecting above the exterior crest, would probably answer the purpose."
In that first battle, the accurate firing of the battery under Capt. Lynch, C. S. navy, was attested by the damage done to the flotilla—the Freeborn being obliged to return to Washington for repairs. The U. S. Potomac flotilla had been increased by the Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and, though a number of the shots from the battery struck the hulls of the vessels, there was no irreparable damage.1 The Federal newspaper accounts of this "opening of the hall" were extravagant in expression, and far beyond the facts of the fight; "the observer, through a telescope," who "saw a number of the bodies of them carried away in wagons," was himself carried away in imagination. One finger was the total loss sustained in the battery. Nor was the official report of Commander Ward, May 31st, 1802, more accurate in his conjectures of damage inflicted by the battery of his flotilla, while his commendation of the working of the gun-carriage of his own invention was not wholly without a business look. The report of Commander Ward, of June 1st, is not without its testimony in behalf of Capt. Lynch and the other Confederate naval officers who commanded the Aquia Creek batteries. He reported that:
"Several shots came on board of us, causing the vessel to leak badly, and, besides other injuries, clipping the port wheel, the wrought-iron shaft being gouged by a shot which would have shattered it if of cast iron. « * * I proceeded to Washington to repair damages and refill my exhausted magazine. The Pawnee remains meantime below to supply my place in the blockade. Capt. Rowan of that ship joined me last night, replenishing my exhausted stores, and most gallantly opened fire this morning, having followed my lead in shore towards the batteries. His ship received numerous wounds, both below and aloft, inflicted by the enemy's shot. On account of her size, she being more easily hit, she appeared to be their favorite mark, and was herself often a sheet of flame, owing to the rapidity of her repeated charges."
Major Thomas H. Williamson, Chief Engineer of the State of Virginia, as early as May 4th recommended the establishment of a battery at Mathias Point, on the Potomac, where a bluff-headland, twenty feet above the water, commanded the channel at a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, for more than a mile of sailing. Capt. Lynch, C. S. navy, was also consulted, and, upon the recommendation of these officers, a battery of ten heavy guns was constructed. But. before the battery was commenced, a small party of the enemy, on June 24th, landed at Mathias Point, and burned the house of Dr. Howe; and two days after, on June 26th, Commander Ward, of the U. S. Potomac flotilla, dispatched Lieut. Chaplin with a party from the Resolute, protected by the Reliance, and provided with implements for holding the Point and erecting a battery. About 1 P. M. the Confederate pickets reported that the enemy had landed, and that, under the heavy fire of shell and shot from the enemy's steamers, they had been compelled to retire. A vigorous attack was immediately made by the Confederate troops under Col. R. M. Mayo, and the enemy were driven to their boats and vessels, having sustained very heavy loss. Capt. Ward, commander of the Potomac flotilla, was killed and many wounded. Col. Mayo reported the "absolute necessity " for a battery of heavy artillery at the Point,
i Porter"I Hist. p. 41.
and the battery was erected, which, in conjunction with that erected soon afterwards at Evansport, completed the blockade of the Potomac.
In August the Confederate authorities determined to erect the batteries at Evansport, near the mouth of Quantico Creek, which had been recommended by Capt. Lynch on June 4th. Brig. Gen. French, with a portion of the command of Gen. Holmes, was ordered to erect the batteries under the direction of Commander Frederick Chatard of the C. S. navy, assisted by Commander H. J. Hartstene and Lieut. Charles W. Read, all of the navy. The place selected for their erection was admirably suited for offence and defence. The construction of the batteries was an exceedingly difficult undertaking, and had to be carried on with the greatest secrecy and caution, for the river was most rigidly patroled by the Federal gunboats night and day, while larger vessels and transports were passing up and down at all hours. It seemed almost impossible under such circumstances that four powerful batteries, mounting in all about twenty heavy guns, could be constructed without interruption at the very river's edge; yet it was accomplished. A stinted growth of pines skirting the edge of the Potomac Bluff formed the screen behind which the work was performed. Two of the batteries were nearly completed and fully manned when discovered on the morning of October 15th, 1861. Their armament consisted of nine-inch Dahlgrens, forty-two-pounder navy guns, two rifled thirty-two-pounders, and an Armstrong gun, which carried a ball of 135 pounds' weight. It was received from England by way of Bermuda, and brought in by the blockaders. The Potomac there being but a mile and a half wide, with a channel close to the Virginia shore, was completely commanded by the guns of the Confederate batteries. Before the batteries were established the bosom of the broad river was whitened with the sails of transport fleets, and its waves were plowed by rapid war steamers continually passing between Washington and the sea. After the establishment of the batteries nothing was to be seen but the dark and swelling river, and occasionally a small schooner stealing furtively along the Maryland shore. On these insignificant crafts our gunners did not care to waste their ammunition. Sometimes, in the darkness of night, a steamer managed to slip past; but for all practical purposes the river was closed against the enemy.
The first shot that notified Capt. Chatard that his batteries were discovered came from the sloop-of-war Pocahontas as she was passing down the river. The garrisons had been in the fortifications but a few days, and the troops in Battery No. 2, at Freestone Point, preparatory to unmasking their position, had been ordered to cut the small pines in front of them on one side, so that each one of them afterward could be easily leveled by a single blow of an axe. A storm of wind coming on at night blew some of the pines down, so that when the Pocahontas came by early in the morning the battery and the men at work were discovered through the openings. She promptly notified the Confederates of the discovery by a shell which struck the battery square in the centre of the rampart, pushing its way clean through to the woodwork inside, but injured no one. The Pocahontas fired but the single shot and passed on. About a mile astern, and following in her wake, the Seminole was steaming majestically down the river. Orders were instantly given in the battery to prepare for action. All concealment was now thrown off. A party of men with axes soon leveled the thin green pines in front, and the details, hurriedly told off, sprang with alacrity to the guns, which were quickly loaded with shot and shell. Promptly they opened on her, shot after shot followed in quick succession, and the Seminole, without hastening her speed, gallantly replied to every shot, and poured her broadsides into the batteries in quick succession.
A letter from the U. S. steam-sloop Seminole, published in the Philadelphia Bulletin, and dated Oct. 16th, shows the accuracv of firing attained by the batteries under the instruction and drill of the Confederate naval officers. The Seminole was
going from Washington to Old Point, and passing Evansport atteries encountered their fire:
"They sent us at least thirty rifled balls and shells, all splendidly aimed, their guns being evidently well manned. Some of their shot and shell went over us, about eight or nine feet clear of the deck, and only a few feet above my head. These fell or burst from twenty to forty rods beyond on our port side. Some burst just outside, before reaching us, and some just over our heads. Fragments of shell flew about the deck, and splinters in thousands.
"We were struck eleven times. One ball cut away the main stays, scattering bits of iron chain down on the deck. One shot cut through and shivered the mizzen mast. Several banged clear through the ship, in at one side and out at the other. One rifled ball came through in that way, struck and carried away the brass hand-rail guard around the engine hatch, and went out through the opposite side of the ship. This ball went within five feet of me, and sent a piece of brass, bent double like a boomerang, whizzing over my head. How the balls do hiss, and the shells sing aloud—a perfectly distinct, fascinating, locust-like song; but growing louder and faster as they come nearer, plunging, hissing and bursting through the air! * * *
"The fight was a severe one, and without knowing what the other side suffered, I do know that the Seminole suffered severely."
Early on the morning following the firing on the Seminole. the Pawnee, in passing the batteries, received seven shots. One of them, a thirty-two-pounder, struck amidships, about eighteen inches above the water-line. A second took effect on the starboard quarter, passing through the dingy, and made its appearance in the ward-room, but was prevented from entering by striking on the plank shear. A third struck the bluff of the starboard bow, while a fourth struck the vessel in