June 2nd Report of Captain Lynch, Virginia Navy, Commanding Naval Defenses of the Potomac

NAVAL BATTERY NO. 1,
Aquia Creek, June 2, 1861.

SIR: On Thursday p. m., as my telegram the next morning apprised you, the enemy engaged us for a short time and then withdrew. The Washington papers state that one of them had a Massachusetts regiment on board for the purpose of lauding. One of the steamers was crowded with men.

On Friday, at 10:30 a.m., two out of three steamers abreast of the battery opened fire upon us and continued the cannonade for three hours, when they withdrew. The largest steamer very much resembled the Crusader. As they kept at long shot, mostly beyond our range, I economized ammunition and only fired fifty-six times. One of the steamers bad a rifled 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 392 shot 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 upon 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 weatherboarding, 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 can not too highly applaud the spirit and alacrity, tempered by deference to orders, of Commander Cooke and Lieutenant Trobel. With the exception of Gunner’s Mate Cunningham and Master’s Mate Larmour, whose services were of inestimable value, our guns’ crews consisted only of volunteer militia, who stood their ground bravely.

We had yesterday, in addition to our guns, a small rifled one from Captain Walker’s battery, under the immediate command of Lieutenant Robertson, of Tennessee, which rendered efficient service.

In connection with the transportation of the Oolumbiads to the summit of a lofty hill, I can not speak in too highly commendable terms of the zeal and untiring energy of Lieutenant Charles C. Simms.

One of the enemy’s steamers went up the river yesterday afternoon, we think for ammunition or additional force. The Pawnee and another steamer remained at anchor all night near the Maryland shore, and at this time, 9:15 a.m., occupies the same position.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

W.F. LYNCH,
Captain, Virginia Navy.

Captain S. BARRON, Virginia Navy,
In charge of Office of Naval Detail and Equipment, Richmond, Va.


Sources

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Series I, Vol. 4. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896.