War of the Rebellion: Serial 002 Page 0079 Chapter IX. ENGAGEMENT AT BIG BETHEL, VA.

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and musketry upon Townsend's column, which in the hurry and confusion was irregularly returned by some of Townsend's men, who feared that they had fallen into an ambuscade. Townsend's column immediately retreated to the eminence near by, and were not pursued by Bendix's men. By this almost criminal blunder two men of Townsend's regiment were killed,and eight (more or less) wounded. Hearing this cannonading and firing in his rear, Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn, not knowing but that his communication might be cut off, immediately reversed his march, as did Colonel Duryea, and marched back to form a junction with his reserves. General Pierce, who was with Townsend's regiment fearing that the enemy had got notice of our approach and had posted himself in force on the line of march, and not getting any communications from Colonel Dureya, sent back to me for re-enforcements, and I immediately ordered Colonel Allen's regiment to be put in motion, and they reached Hampton about 7 o'clock. In the mean time, the true state of facts having been ascertained by General Pierce, the regiment effected a junction and resumed the line of march. At the moment of the firing of Bendix, Colonel Duryea had surprised a part of an outlying guard of the enemy, consisting of three persons, who have been brought in to me. Of course, by this firing, all hope of a surprise upon the camp at Little Bethel was lost and marching upon it is was found to have been vacated, and the cavalry had pressed on toward Big Bethel. Colonel Duryea, however, destroyed the camp at Little Bethel, and advanced. General Pierce then as he informs me, with the advice of his colonels, thought best to attempt to carry the works of the enemy at Big Bethel, and made dispositions to that effect.

the attack commenced, as I am informed (for I have not yet received any official reports) about half past 9 o'clock General Pierce sent a note to me, saying that there was a sharp engagement with the enemy, and that he thought he should be able to maintain his position until re-enforcements could come up. Acting upon this information, Colonel Carr's regiment, which had been ordered in the morning to proceed afar as New Bridge, was allowed to go forward. i received this information, for which I had sent a special messenger about 12 o'clock.

I immediately made disposition from Newport New to have Colonel Phelps, from the four regiments there, to forward aid, if necessary. As soon as these orders could be sent forward I repaired to Hampton, for the purpose of having proper ambulances and wagons for the sick and wounded, intending to go forward and join the command. While the wagons were going forward messenger came announcing that the engagement had terminated, and that the troops were retiring in good order to camp.

I remained upon the ground at Hampton, personally seeing the wounded put in boats and towed around to the hospital, and ordering forward Lieutenant Morris, with two boat howitzers, to cover the rear of the returning column in case it should be attacked. Having been informed that the ammunition of the artillery had been expended, and seeing the head of the column approach Hampton in good order, I waited for General Pierce to come up. I am informed by him that the dead and wounded had all been brought off, and that the return had been conducted in good order and without haste. I learned from him that the men behaved with great steadiness, with the exception of some few instances, and that the attack was made with propriety, vigor and courage, but that the enemy were found to be supported by a battery variously estimated as of from fifteen to twenty pieces, some of which