War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0312 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

Search Civil War Official Records

of to me, his immediate commanding officer, which is in violation of the Army Regulations and Rules of Service, as also that the spirit of the report indicates a disposition to ignore me, the commanding officer of the expedition, as well as the rest of my command not embraced in Colonel Hawkins' brigade. No mention is made by Colonel Hawkins in his report of the orders received on the march and during the engagement from me personally and through my aides. He gives no explanation of the way in which my orders were carried out, nor why some of the orders given him were not obeyed. To be more explicit, I will state in detail that the whole force under my command, consisting of the Sixth New Hampshire, Ninth and Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers (which three regiments composed the brigade of Colonel Hawkins), the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and Twenty-first Massachusetts, set sail from Roanoke Island by my orders, and debarked near Elizabeth City by my order and under my personal direction, and that the march toward South Mills was executed by though not according to my express orders, as Colonel Hawkins took his brigade by a most circuitous route. The orders I gave Colonel Hawkins on landing were to proceed directly to the bridge across the Pasquotank, about a mile this side of South Mills, and to occupy it. This order he did not obey promptly, and I sent two aides in succession to order him to proceed, and finally was obliged to go in person to force obedience to my order. Four hours after this I landed with the remaining two regiments, which had been delayed in disembarking by the steamers Northerner and Guide getting aground at the mouth of the river. We passed Colonel Hawkins' brigade about 12 miles out and before he had got upon the direct road, he having marched some 10 or 12 miles out of the way. The road to South Mills was open, plain, and perfectly direct, known to every resident in the country, and nothing but design bor negligence could have caused him to miss the road. With respect to the statement in Colonel Hawkins' report to you that "at about 3 p. m. I succeeded in arriving in sight of the enemy's position with about one-half of the men who had commenced the march, when we were immediately ordered into action, the Sixth New Hampshire Volunteers going to the left of the enemy's position, the Ninth and Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers going to the right through the woods to outflank the enemy on each side," I have to state that at about 1 o'clock I arrived with my whole command in front of the enemy's position, the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, followed by the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, with Colonel Howard's artillery, being in advance, the brigade under Colonel Hawkins following. I immediately sent the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers to the right with orders to turn the enemy's left, and at once sent orders to Colonel Hawkins to move forward with his whole brigade. This order not being promptly obeyed, I went back and found that he had halted his command and had not prepared to move. I immediately ordered him forward, with directions to follow (with two regiments) the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers and Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, to aid in turning the enemy's left. I then went forward and placed the two latter regiments in proper position, and, returning, met Colonel Hawkins, and again giving the orders above named, I pointed out to him the position of the Twenty-first Massachusetts and Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. The way was through an open pine wood, which had already been passed over by the above-named regiments. It is thus shown that the time at which the engagement commenced was before the time which the said report would lead one to suppose, and