War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0167 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N. C.

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Major Fry's report was written in pencil and underscored as copied. He does not report when he reached the island nor how long it took him to land nor when he reported to Colonel Shaw. His aggregate was more than 150; he had four companies, which averaged at least 45 men each, making his aggregate 180. He took several hours to land, and reached the island in full time to re-enforce our troops had he advanced at once. We had then but one tug and two barges, and he kept them waiting at least two and a half hours to land in lighters and boats, instead of beaching his barges and wading his men ashore. He, too, did not advance in time, but arrived at the island in full time to be in the battle and at a favorable moment.

Major Hill's and Captain Taylor's reports are clear and intelligible, and show that but three guns of all the batteries located on the island or its sound could be brought to bear on the enemy. These reports embrace the full official accounts of the surrender of Roanoke Island. Of the causes of our defeat I have heretofore sent to the Department detailed official vouchers.

It is but just to about 400 or 500 of our infantry forces, and to the officers and men in three of the batteries, particularly those at Pork Point, to say that they fought firmly, coolly, efficiently, and as long as humanity would allow, without a sufficiency of means of any kind; to Colonel Shaw to say that he acted bravely, and to myself to say that Providence did not permit me to share the fate of my men. I did all that time, weather, sickness, and my superiors would permit the way of preparations, and none whatever available were made. The consequence was a defeat, which I had again and again foretold in vain, and which grieves, but does not humiliate or subdue, me.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


There are some remarks on the report of Brigadier-General Wise, dated March 5, which require explanation from me:

First. "My artillery of the Legion not having reached me, owing to the interruption of my orders to Colonel Henningsen by General Wise to march with the men and horses of the artillery by a route indicated by him (the sea-beach to Nag's Head). "The guns, caissons, and wagons I am ordered by General Wise to leave in Norfolk, to be transported by water." Now, every tug, barge, and vessel that could be procured was engaged to transport troops, &c., to Roanoke Island, and if the men and horses were separated from their guns they would probably never meet again. I therefore ordered Colonel Henningsen to carry his artillery with him to the nearest point to Roanoke Island. My object was to get it there; not to detain it. This was on the 29th and 30th of January.

Second. The remark that Major Hill's and Captain Taylor's reports show that only three guns of all the batteries located on the island or its sounds could be brought to bear on the enemy is disingenuous. The enemy selected a position in which only three guns bore on them, and