companies of the First Regiment), under Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, to re-enforce Colonel Shaw's force. We had but one tug and two barges for transports. They were landed early on Friday morning. Colonel Shaw was ordered to divide his forces into three divisions. He had for infantry duty, independent of the detachments for the batteries, but 803 men, and the ten companies added made 1,250 effective infantry. He had but three pieces of field artillery-a 24-pounder,an 18-pounder, and 18-pounder, and a small 6 pounder brass howitzer-with no teams for the guns, and with 12-pounder ammunition only for the 24 and 18-pounders. I sent Captain Schermerhorn and Lieutenant Kinney to assist Lieutenant Selden in commanding these, but there was no artillery company to work them. The artillery of the Legion, under Colonel Henningsen, had arrived. Colonel Shaw was ordered to leave one-third of his force at Suple's Hill, and to post one-third at Ashby's and one-third at Pugh's Landing, to concentrate his forces wherever the enemy might land, and to fight them at the water's edge as long as prudent, and by all means to save his field pieces, with which to fall back upon Suple's Hill, and there to make his final stand. Colonel Jordan was stationed at Ashby's.
On the morning of the 7th, about 9 a.m.., the signal was given of the approach of the enemy, and exactly at 11.16 1/2 a.m.. the enemy opened upon our batteries. The fire at first was slow, but rapidly increased to a continued roar of the heaviest artillery, which continued exactly six hours and thirty-eight minutes and until after sundown. But little damage was done to any of the works except those at Pork Point (Fort Bartow). Its walls were dilapidated much, but no guns disabled; 1 man killed and 3 wounded. It was repaired by the next morning. About 3.30 p.m.. of the 7th the enemy ran up to Ashby's Landing a three-masted heavy steamer, and covered the landing of their troops with mounted artillery from a long train of transports, and Colonel Jordan retired before them without a struggle to Suple's Hill.
The next morning I got over four more companies of the First Regiment, about 180 men, under Major Fry, and the battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel Green arrived, but neither were in the action; why, is not explained. But the enemy early, on the morning of the 8th, advanced on Suple's Hill, and were met by about 1,250 men only. They brought up a 24-pounder and two 12-pounder howitzers, at least, well mounted and worked. The fight began in earnest between 7 and 8 a.m.., and continued unintermittingly until about 1 p.m..; about 10,000 against 1,250. Twice the enemy were repelled with great slaughter, but they fell back and took to the marshes and swamps on either hand, and by wading through mud and water to their knees outflanked us. The fight on the flanks was hot and close, the Richmond Blues, under Captain Wise, leading the left skirmishers, and Lieutenant Haslett leading the Ben. McCulloch Rangers on the right. As soon as the flanks were thus attacked the enemy rallied a third time, charged, and took the three field pieces. Colonel Shaw then ordered a retreat, and the Eighth North Carolina Regiment broke, but the other forces fought on, and the fighting continued irregularly until night.
I ordered Colonel Richardson, with his three companies, to rally and rescue those who escaped. The enemy had cut them off from crossing the Roanoke, and advanced at once on the redoubt at Midgett's Hommock. Its commandant spiked its guns, and with his force escaped to Nag's Beach; a number of others escaped by boats-in all, thus far, about 150. With these we came to Gallop's Ferry, 15 miles above Nag's Head, the night of the 8th, having sent all the heavy baggage, stores, &c., we could by the tugs Roanoke and White in safety (we now know) to the canal bridge. This morning the remnant of my forces will reach there, where I shall await your orders.
It is impossible to state the loss of killed and wounded on either side, but the number must be great. But few of the casualties are yet reported. Sergeant Metzler, of the McCulloch Rangers, escaped about 5 p.m.. on the 8th, and has just reported to me that the swamp to our right at Suple's Hill, which Colonel Shaw and all had reported to be impassable to infantry, was easily passed by the enemy in quick-time; that Lieutenant Selden, in command of the 6-pounder brass howitzer, behaved with exemplary coolness and courage, and three times mowed a lane through the ranks of the enemy, killing, he thinks, at least 200 in the three fires, and was killed himself as he was sighting his gun with its last charge; that Captain Wise, on the night of the 7th, was in command of 10 of the Blues and 10 of the Rangers on picket duty; that upon returning from picket he joined the guard to the company of Rangers and drove in the enemy's picket. This was the commencement of the action. On returning from this duty he was ordered in command of his own company of the Blues to prevent the enemy from turning our left flank, Colonel Shaw saying that if the left could be guarded the right was protected by the swamp. Early in the action he was wounded severely, and while wrapped in his blanket, being taken off the field, was struck twice again; was carried to the hospital, and is there reported to have died; that Captain Coles, of the Albemarle Rangers, was killed fighting firmly and bravely; that all the men of the Legion, about 450, in the action were cool and firm and fought to the last; that most of the North Carolina regiments were kept in reserve, and finally fell back under orders of Colonel Jordan; that the artillery exhausted its ammunition before it was taken, and the 24-pounder and 18-pounder were not so efficient as the 6-pounder,