Although the result of the day was most unfortunate, it is but justice to the officers and men of the Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment, as well as to the other troops engaged, to say that they behaved most nobly during the entire day, and that the nation has no occasion to blush for dishonor to its arms. The loss of the regiment in arms, equipments, and clothing is necessarily heavy, the particulars of which I will immediately forward.
In conclusion, it may not be improper for me to say that, notwithstanding the regiment mourns the loss of the brave officers and soldiers whose names are borne on the list I annex, its spirit is entirely unbroken and its organization is in no way demoralized. It will answer any summons from you to another contest with the foe, although with diminished numbers, with as hearty a zest as on the morning of October 21.
I remain, general, respectfully,
No. 5. Reports of Colonel Edward W. Hinks, Nineteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
HDQRS. NINETEENTH MASS. VOLUNTEERS,
Camp Benton, near Poolesville, Md., October 23, 1861.
SIR: Learning that a column of our troops was crossing the Potomac on the 21st instant at a point near the center of Harrison's Island, in which the companies of my regiment, stationed as pickets upon the river, had been ordered to join by General Baker, I hastened thither in anticipation of orders from General Stone.
I arrived there about 1.30 p. m., and found among the troops at the point of crossing great confusion, no competent officer seeming to have been left in charge of the transportation, and the progress made in embarking was very slow. I at once took charge at this point; caused a line to be stretched across the river by which to propel the boats, and forwarded troops in the following order, to wit: Part of California regiment, not already crossed; the Rhode Island and New York Batteries; the Forty-second New York (Tammany) Regiment, and the Nineteenth massachusetts. With the latter regiment I proceeded to the island. I learned that General Baker had been killed, and found everything in confusion, our column being entirely routed and in precipitate retreat, throwing away their arms, deserting their killed and wounded, and leaving a large number of prisoners in the hands of the enemy, who threatened to occupy the island, I sent the Nineteenth massachusetts regiment to the front, and placed one gun of the Rhode Island Battery and two of the New York Battery in position, supported by two companies of the Twentieth Massachusetts and so much of the Tammany regiment as was upon the island and could be induced to remain, which disposition being made, and pickets extended upon the Virginia side of the island, I commenced active measures for the gathering of the wounded and the rescue of straggling parties of our troops upon the Virginia shore by the construction of rafts and the use of small boats, the boats used for crossing to the Virginia shore having been swamped