War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0129 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N.C.

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I landed on the island, and in company with colonel Shaw and Major Duffield made a personal reconnaissance to its extreme south end. I noted three successive hommocks of high land between the breastwork for light battery and the south end, each nearly surrounded by marshes and swamps; that the dangerous points were the Hommock Landing at the south end, Pugh's Landing on the southwestern shore, and at Ashby's Landing just on the south side of the swamp south of Pork Point. That swamp on the right and the marshes on the left of Suple's Hill were reported to me by Colonel Shaw to be impassable. They appeared to be so, but I ordered them to be explored and the earthworks at Suple's Hill to be extended as far as possible on the right and left flanks. The water at Hommock Landing I ascertained to be about 4 1/2 feet. Water at high tide at Pugh's to be from 6 to 9 feet, the channel running between the main and first island of marsh, until it passes Fulker's Island, inside of the sound, and then widening out a mile until opposite Ashby's Landing, up to which a vessel drawing 6 feet of water may run close in to the shore, as a large steamer of the enemy with transports did.

I saw that the enemy might land at Pugh's' or Ashby's a portion of their force, pass the batteries with all ease, round the north end of the island, and land another portion of their forces, and gain the rear of all the batteries without exchanging a shot with them, or the least danger of damage. Not a fort was in the right position. They should have been located on the islands of marshes at the south end, with batteries at Hommock and Pugh's Landings.

By the courtesy of Flag-Captain Lynch I passed in the Sea Bird through the channel by the light-house and returned through the channel by the Tyrrel shore. If the five batteries had been placed on those islands of marsh and on the opposite shores every channel would have been guarded and the enemy would have been cut off from landing. As it was, they could have taken the island in two hours easier than they did in two days, if they had landed (as they could easily have done) in front of the breastworks at Suple's Hill and in rear of all the batteries on the north end of the island.

I found no teams for light battery or for transportation, and no tools, axes, spades, shovels, or hoes for constructing breastworks.

There were two North Carolina regiments, the Eighth and Thirty-first, and a battalion of three companies of the Seventeenth, all under Colonel Shaw. Their entire effective force was less than 1,500 men, and several companies of these were taken from the infantry to man the heavy guns of the batteries and part to man the gunboats of Captain Lynch.

The infantry were undrilled, unpaid, not sufficiently clothed and quartered, and were miserably armed with old flint muskets in bad order. In a word, the defenses were a sad farce of ignorance and neglect combined, inexcusable in any or all who were responsible for them.

Captain Lynch was energetic, zealous, and active, but he gave too much consequence entirely to his fleet of gunboats, which hindered transportation of piles, lumber, forage, supplies of all kinds, and of troops, by taking away the steam-tugs and converting them into perfectly imbecile gunboats. He reported to me the indefensible condition of what he called the floating battery at Redstone, on the Tyrrel side of Croatan Sound. I accorded with his request by the letter of which the following is a copy: