War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0172 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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in force, which was in a very few minutes thereafter, our battery opened fire. This battery was composed of three pieces-one 24-pounder howitzer, one 18-pounder field piece, and one 6-pounder. For the 18-pounder the only ammunition we had was 12-pounder ammunition. The artillery detachments may be said to have been almost totally uninstructed. Having in my command no officers acquainted with with that practice save Major Hill, whose duties confined him to Port Point Battery, I applied to Colonel Richardson, upon his arrival at Nag's Head, for some officers to instruct the men. He had none. Upon your reaching that place I made a like application to you. Captain Schermerhorn and Lieutenant Kinney were sent. The former disclaimed any particular knowledge upon the subject. They were immediately sent to Ashby's; but the enemy made his appearance so soon, little time was allowed them to drill the men.

Captain Schermerhorn was placed in charge of the 18-pounder, Lieutenant Kinney of the 24-pounder, and Lieutenant W. B. Selden, Engineer Department, who had patriotically volunteered his services in the line, was assigned to the 6-pounder, and, notwithstanding the men had received so little instruction, these pieces were handled in such a way as to produce immense havoc in the enemy's ranks; especially that of Lieutenant Selden, whose conduct elicited the unbounded admiration of all who witnessed it. Unhappily at about 11 o'clock that gallant officer received a rifle-ball in his head, and he fell without a groan, a willing sacrifice to a cause which he had espoused with all the ardor of his generous nature.

In the mean time the fire of the musketry had been kept up from the commencement of the action with unabated vigor by the following companies under cover of the breastwork; Company B, Captain Whitson, Eighth Regiment North Carolina State troops; Company B, Captain Liles, and Company F, Captain Knight, Thirty-first Regiment North Carolina troops; Company E, Captain Dickinson, and Company K, Lieutenant Roy, Fifty-ninth Virginia Volunteers; and Company E, Lieutenant J. R. Murchison, Eighth Regiment North Carolina State troops, whose second lieutenant, N. G. Munro, a promising young officer,fell on his approach near the redoubt.

By the gallant officers and brave men of the above-named companies an unceasing and effective fire was kept up from 7 a.m.. until 12.20, when, our artillery ammunition having been exhausted and our right flank having been turned by an overwhelming force of the enemy, I was compelled to yield the place.

The entire available force of my command, exclusive of the companies on duty at the several batteries, amounted to 1,434, rank and file. Of these 567 were of the Eighth North Carolina State troops, 456 of the Thirty-first North Carolina troops, and the balance of the Forty-sixth and Fifty-ninth Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, who, together with Major Lawson, was at the redoubt during the most part of the action, and rendered efficient service. The enemy's force amounted to 15,000 men, with several pieces of artillery. With the very great disparity of forces, the moment the redoubt was flanked I considered the island lost. The struggle could have been protracted, and the small body of brave men which had been held in reserve might have been brought up into the open space to receive the fire of the overwhelming force on our flank, which was under cover of trees; but they would have been sacrificed without the smallest hope of a successful result.

The mules and horses attached to the artillery had been killed during