May 8 Report of Colonel Taliaferro, C.S. Army, commanding at Gloucester Point


SIR: I have the honor to report that I assumed command at this post at 7 o’clock yesterday evening. I hastened to assume the command from the fact that I learned on my way from Richmond that the howitzer battery under Lieutenant Brown, acting under the orders of Captain Whittle, of the Virginia navy, had resisted the approach of the steamer Yankee and driven her back, after the firing of some ten or twelve rounds on either side. I immediately ordered out the volunteer forces of the county, amounting to some 250 men, to reenforce the battery and prevent a landing of the enemy in boats. These troops had not been mustered into the service of the State, and no force beyond a small guard had been stationed at this place. Major Page, mustering officer, will muster in three companies to-day. I have now subsistence for 400 men for thirty days, and will erect huts for the troops this evening. I have to urge that you will order to this point some effective seacoast guns, for the small battery of 6-pounder guns now here will prove of small consequence in resisting an attack upon this place by a naval force of much importance.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.

Major-General R. E. LEE,
Commander in Chief.

This letter came to me unsealed. I presumed that I might read it. I know not [by] what authority Colonel Taliaferro says that the firing at Gloucester Point was authorized by me. This is an entire mistake.

Your obedient servant,

Captain, Virginia Navy.

Major-General LEE,
Commander in Chief, etc., Richmond, Va.

The firing was not directed by Captain Whittle. The major-general has expressed, through me, his disapproval of the firing at such a distance.

Captain, Virginia Navy.


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