5 men (the rest having been worn out by fatigue), received and sustained the whole fire of the enemy's battery.
After marching about 2 miles through a swamp covered with thick undergrowth I arrived within about three-eights of a mile of the enemy's position, where they were concealed in the woods. After a short tour of observation I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to outflank hem on the right the undergrowth and swamp being almost impenetrable. A charge through an open field directly in front of the enemy's position was through to be the only way in which they could be dislodged. I then returned to where I had left the Ninth New York and found them lying on the ground completely exhausted. I stated to the regiment what I proposed to do, and asked the men if they felt equal to the task. Their answer was, "We will try, colonel, and follow wherever you may lead us." Immediately the command, "Forward!" was given, the Ninth New York taking the lead, followed by the Eighty-ninth New York. We had proceeded to within about 200 yards of the enemy's concealed position when the Ninth New York received the full and direct fire from the enemy's infantry and batteries. This completely staggered the men, who were before completely exhausted, and the order was given for the regiment to turn to the right, where it would be partly sheltered from the fire. This order was executed, but slowly. Soon after the Eighty-ninth New York commenced to move forward, supported by the Ninth New York, when the enemy retreated. When this commenced the Sixth New Hampshire poured a volley into the right wing of the Third Regiment Georgia Volunteers, which completely cut them to pieces. The troops then bivouacked on the field, where they remained until 10 p. m., when they were ordered to fall in and return to their transports.
It is seldom, if ever, that men have been called upon to perform so much in so short a time as those were who composed the Fourth Brigade under my command. Marching 50 miles and fighting a battle all in twenty-six hours you will admit is no small undertaking, and yet this was done without a murmur or a complaint.
In the charge of the Ninth New York that regiment lost 9 killed and 56 wounded. Among the former was Lieutenant Charles A. Gadsden, adjutant, who fell at the head of his regiment. He was a kind, considerate man and a most excellent soldier, and dies greatly lamented by all of his companions.
Colonel Howard, of the steamer Virginia, who was in command of the artillery, has not yet made his report, consequently I am unable to give any particulars concerning his part in the engagement, but believe that he behaved with great coolness and bravery, as well as all of the men and officers under him.
Soon after the troops had returned to Roanoke Island the Rev. T. W. Conway, chaplain of the Ninth New York Volunteers, returned, bringing with him about 50 stragglers and some of the wounded left behind on the field of battle. He remained to bury the dead and to assist the wounded. On the morning of the 20th he started out to find the rebel pickets, and after going some distance he was informed that the rebels had left the night before - re-enforcement which they had only a few moments before received included - for Suffolk, thinking that our forces were by a flank movement getting in their rear to cut them off; returned to the hospital by the way of the battle-field, where he counted 30 of the enemy's dead. After the dead were buried and the wounded who could not be brought away cared for, all the stragglers who could