June 28th Report of Maj. Robert Murphy Mayo, C.S. Forces

MATHIAS POINT, VA., June 28, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor of communicating to you the action of my command yesterday. About 3 o’clock I received a communication, from Colonel Brockenbrough that the enemy were landing at the Point, and that he wished my co-operation. The distance from my camp to the Point is about three miles. I immediately put my command, consisting of one cavalry and three infantry companies, motion. On arriving near the Point I found Colonel Claybrook with several companies in reserve. Being confident that I was better acquainted with the topography of this Point than almost any officer in this district, I determined, without waiting further orders, to take my command through the woods in an entirely different direction from that followed by Colonel Brockenbrough and yourself. Having heard from Colonel Brockenbrough’s pickets that they thought the enemy were erecting a battery in the pines on the end of the Point, I took ten men from Captain Gouldin’s company, and, halting the rest of my forces, went into the bushes with them to ascertain the correctness of the report. Having progressed some distance into the pines, and on the immediate brink of the river, where we could see a steamer and a sail vessel about three or four hundred yards from the shore, I found that my skirmishing party was too small to examine properly the ravines and bushes, and, returning to my command, deployed Captain Gouldin’s company and Lee’s Legion (under command of Lieutenant Beale, Captain Garnett being sick and absent) dismounted as skirmishers, leaving the rest of my command in reserve. We swept entirely through the bushes on the Point and did not get in view of the enemy until we reached a marsh that separated us from them, and was entirely commanded by the steamer and the vessel. On arriving in this position we discovered the enemy getting into their boats about two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards distant, and we immediately commenced a fire both upon the boats and the steamer. The boats returned our fire two or three times, and then all of their men, except two or three who had fallen overboard, lay down in their boats, and it was some time before they could get their oarsmen to pull the boats from the shore.

We feel confident, from the number of men who never rose from the bottom of the boats and the blood upon the shore, that there were eight or then killed and several more wounded.

After we had fired five or six rounds the steamer opened fire upon us with shot and shell, but by making my men lie down nobody was hurt. After firing several times the steamer went high up the river in order to meet their boats, which could not come to them, as they would have to approach nearer to our skirmishers. Having accomplished my purpose I would not allow my men to cross the marsh, as it would have exposed them to a raking fire from the steamer, but returned in the same direction we had come.

I have never realized until yesterday how absolutely necessary artillery is at this point. With a single smooth-bored 12-pounder I could have sunk the steamer and vessel without exposing my men more than they were. I am happy to say that my men acted very gallantly throughout the action.

Very respectfully submitted.

Major, Commanding.

Colonel D. RUGGLES.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.