Numbers 2. Report of Colonel Rush C. Hawkins, Ninth New York Infantry.
Off Roanoke Island, N. C., February 21, 1862.
SIR: Agreeably to your orders of the 17th instant I called upon Captain Rowan, and made arrangements to embark my regiment on board of some of the gunboats of his division for the purpose of proceeding up the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers and destroying the bridges of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad.
At 12 m. of the 18th instant the regiment embarked and the expedition got underway, and that night anchored off the mouth of the Roanoke River, where it remained until 10 a.m.. of the 19th instant, and then commenced its journey up the Chowan River. Nothing of importance occurred until about 3.30 p.m.. The flag-steamer Delaware was about 1 mile ahead of any of the other boats. I was on the cross-trees of the mainmast, where I had been on the lookout for about two hours. The steamer was within 350 yards of the wharf at Winton when I discovered the high bank, which we were nearing very rapidly, was covered with Confederate soldiers. I immediately gave the alarm, but not in time to change our course until the steamer had got within 100 yards of the shore, when we received the whole fire of about 700 infantry or more, which continued until we had passed out of range up the river, where we turned around and commenced shelling the town, the enemy returning the fire with four pieces of artillery from the shore.
In the meantime the gunboat Perry, having come within range, commenced firing from below. Soon after the enemy was dislodged and retired, when the Delaware returned down the river, receiving four shots as she passed the wharf. The whole fleet came to an anchor about 7 miles below Winton. A consultation was held, and it was agreed to return the next morning and burn the town if found to be occupied by the rebels.
About 11.30 a.m.. of the 20th instant our gunboats arrived and took their positions, some above, some below, and others opposite to the town, when our guns commenced firing, and in twenty minutes after my regiment landed, accompanies by three boat guns, under the command of Lieutenant Flusser, of the gunboat Perry. The guns were placed in positions so as to command the approaches to the town; the regiment drawn up in line awaiting the attack of the enemy. In the mean time parties of observation were sent out in all directions. It was soon ascertained that the enemy had retreated as soon as our force appeared in sight that morning, leaving everything behind except their arms and accouterments. Six companies of my regiment took possession of the main approach to the town and I commenced making a personal inspection of all the buildings. I found that nearly all of them had been taken possession of and had been occupied by the Confederate troops as quarters and store-houses (see Exhibits A and B).* I then ordered that every building containing stores for the enemy and occupied by them as quarters should be fired, and placed guards in the others to see that they were not disturbed or destroyed. The property destroyed belonging to the Confederate forces consisted of bacon, corn-meal, flour, sugar, powder, mess-pans, camp-kettles, knap-
*Omitted as unimportant.