War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0143 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N.C.

Search Civil War Official Records

On the night of January 28 Colonel Henningsen arrived in Norfolk with fragments of three companies of my artillery.

On the 29th, as I was departing from the wharf at Norfolk, I ordered him to send his men and horses by land over the sand bridge to the sea-side beach and thence by shore to Nag's Head - all except men enough to guard his guns, carriages, caissons, and ordnance stores - and these would be shipped on the barges and towed down to the lower section of the canal at Currituck Canal Bridge, where they would be met by tugs and barges from the island. This order could have been executed in two or three days at most, and the artillery could have reached me by February 1 or 2. I had previously sent my own private wagon the same route to the point opposite Knott's and Crow Islands, and the beach road the whole way to Nag's Head is not only practicable, but the very best and firmest road in all this section.

I found Lieutenant Gallop, of the Eighth North Carolina Regiment (son of Mr. Gallop, who keeps the ferry between the beach and Powell's Point), on Roanoke Island, and from him got a minute description of the whole route, and gave a memorandum of the way to Lieutenant Pearce and Quartermaster Webb, of the artillery, for Colonel Henningsen, whom I saw at the wharf, and to whom I gave the order and description of the route.

By the reports of Colonel Henningsen and Lieutenant Pearce, of which the following are copies, it seems that General Huger thought differently of the beach route; changed my order to Colonel Henningsen, and attempted to send the artillery by land to Powell's Point, and the fatal consequence was that Colonel Henningsen, with more than 100 men and six field pieces, well mounted, did not reach me at all before the island was captured, and joined me not at all until after I fell back to Currituck Court-House, eight days after the action:

Extract from Colonel Henningsen's report.

On Tuesday, January 28, about 12 p.m., reached Norfolk by rail, with Batteries B, C, and D, of artillery of Wise Legion, with all the horses, five pieces, and five caissons. Horses fed in the cars that night because too dark to remove them.

On Wednesday morning January 29, reported to Brigadier General Henry A. Wise, and received orders from him to march, with the men and horses of artillery, by a route indicated by him to Lieutenant Pearce, who furnished a copy of these route orders to Captain Webb, quartermaster of artillery of Wise Legion. The guns, caissons, and wagons I was ordered by General Wise to leave in Norfolk, to be transported by water.

I gave marching orders for January 30, the condition of the horses, much injured by the cars, rendering it advisable to rest them twenty-four hours.

On Thursday (30th) was informed by Major Bradford that General Huger could not furnish water transportation for guns, caissons, or wagons, and that I must taken them by land. There were now unexpectedly six guns (a sixth iron 6-pounder without caissons having been received at Norfolk), five caissons, and fourteen wagons to be transported by land, with only six horses that had been worked in harness, and between thirty and forty horses and mules which had never been broken to harness. Through consequent accidents occurring it took forty-eight hours before we could move from Norfolk. I ordered a march, however, for next morning, and after receiving General Huger's orders, through Major Bradford, reported to General Huger. General Huger confirmed these orders and also ordered me to change the route laid down by General Wise; that is to say, he ordered me to proceed by the main-land road to Powell's Point, instead of by the beach, he (General Huger) giving as a reason that guns and wagons could not be dragged along the beach, and that, in the then state of the weather, the road would be washed over by the sea. This view, which I have since found to be erroneous, was confirmed by several of General Huger's officers and by others who professed to be acquainted with the locality.

On Friday, the 31st, attempted to march, but had much trouble and several accidents with the teams. One team ran away and damaged the forge wagon, breaking the pole. Though the forge wagon was new, being drawn just before leaving Richmond, the wood of the pole when broken was rotten half through. At 2 p.m.., when