Mathias Point, June 30, 1861.
SIR: I had the honor to transmit, on the night of the 27th instant, a field report of the conflict with the enemy during that day, and now transmit one more in detail:
On the 25th instant I communicated in general terms information of the repeated attempts made by the enemy to land men under the fire of his ship’s guns, in which he was in one or two instances in a measure momentarily successful. In the midst of this cannonade I came upon the field of acting and found the condition of things so complicated that I deemed it expedient to direct the forces in person, with a view of contributing, so far as my experience might enable me to do so, to successful results. The bombardment closed about 1 o’clock, leaving on my mind an impression that the intention of the enemy was to accustom his men to land under the protection of his ship’s guns, and that soon we should have a practical demonstration of such design. On Thursday morning, the 27th instant, the reappearance of the enemy’s war steamer Freeborn, attended by two tugs, with three boats lowered and one large launch, indicated an intention not already realized. These steamers having anchored near Greimes’ Point, about 1 p. m. commenced firing on our pickets, indicating an intention to land, which was soon effected by some e fifty men, driving our pickets from the coast, contrary to our reasonable expectation. Re-enforcements were immediately sent under a field officer, Major Taliaferro, to meet the enemy, and a few moments afterward report was brought by a mounted scout that he was in the act of landing artillery on our coast. I then ordered the entire force under arms, and directed in person the movement of some four companies along Grimes’ Point at an elevated coast range constituting the key to our position, commanding the point at which the enemy had landed, over which shot, shell, shrapnel, and stands of grape wee thrown in profusion with a degree of skill and precision with which I have seldom me, sweeping our entire line of march. While advancing down the coast range I received information that the enemy had taken possession of the pine forest, on a point below the place of his landing, and that he was actually establishing a battery for his guns already on some 1,000 yards between Gemes’ Point and the timber in question, especially under the then sweeping fire of the enemy’s guns, involving the prospect of serious loss, I directed Colonel J. M. Brockenbrough, Fortieth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, who was with me, to proceed to the forest on our right, leading tot he point and direct the march of the two remaining battalions there held in readiness under Lieutenant Colonel R. A. Claybrook and Major R. M. Mayo, and drive the enemy from the forest toward the point to which we were then marching with the forces enemy’s scouts, who sought shelter in a small skirt of underbrush, and we abstained from firing on them, as it would have precipitated the retreat of the enemy from the forest before Colonel Brockenbrough’s force could have engaged him there, by which means he would have effected his escape unpunished. About 6 p. M. Colonel Brockenbrough’s force opened fire on the enemy apparently retreating to their boats, but in reality returning to the steamers to carry a howitzer battery on shore, and drove them in confusion into their boats and the river. A brief skirmish ensued, in which several of the enemy fell, and were supposed to have been killed and wounded. During the conflict the fire of our men was turned upon the steamer Freeborn as well as upon the boats, which were pushed off with precipitation and alarm. The attack was made by Major R. M. Mayo with Gouldin’s company of Sarta Greys, under First Lieutenant Saunders, and Lee’s legion of cavalry, under First Lieutenant Beale, belonging to his battalion, and terminated before the troops concentrating became generally engaged. There was every indication that the enemy suffered a severe loss, while on our part we met with none. We captured 4 shovels and 8 axes, and some 250 sandbags, and a large coil of rope, and some arms and equipments. The enemy had actually commence raising intrenchments with sand-bags, and by felling timber indicated an intention to occupy the position. I have great pleasure in expressing my satisfaction with the excellent conduct of the troops I have the honor to command. Major R. M. Mayo, First Lieutenant W. M. Saunders, First Lieutenant R. L. T. Beale, and Second Lieutenant A. G. Dade are entitled to separate notice.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Provisional Army, Commanding Forces.
First Lieutenant H. H. WALKER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, C. S . Army.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. LI, Part I. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.