War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0313 Chapter XX. ENGAGEMENT AT SOUTH MILLS, N. C.

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that the time consumed by Colonel Hawkins in coming under fire was due to unnecessary delay on his part, and that the studious avoidance of the mention of orders received by him from me was calculated to cover this delay and convey the impression that he acted by his own authority.

With respect to the statement that "after marching about 2 miles through a swamp covered by thick undergrowth I arrived within about three-eighths of a mile of the enemy's position, where they were concealed in the woods, I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to outflank them on the right, the undergrowth and swamp being almost impenetrable," I have to state that the route pursued by the command of Colonel Hawkins did not lead through a swamp or almost impenetrable undergrowth, as is shown by the fact that two regiments (the Twenty-first Massachusetts and Fifty-first Pennsylvania) had already passed over this ground, and that I had been over the ground myself and found it dry and perfectly practicable for passage.

As to the statement that "a charge through an open field directly in front of the enemy's position was thought to be the only way in which they could be dislodged," I have to state that if the intention be to convey the idea that I, the commanding officer, thought so, it is untrue, as it was directly contrary to my opinion. If the intention be to convey the idea that he or other officers thought so and that he acted upon that conclusion, it was an act of insubordination, as it was contrary to my orders.

As to the statement that "soon after the Eighty-ninth New York commenced to move forward, supported by the Ninth New York, when the enemy retreated," &c., I have to state that it is calculated to give the false impression that this movement caused the retreat of the enemy, when in reality it ws caused by the enemy's flank being turned by the Twenty-first Massachusetts and Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers.

In conclusion, I have to state that Colonel R. C. Hawkins, in making his report directly to you instead of his commanding officer, has been guilty of a breach of military usage and discipline, and that the spirit of said report is calculated to ignore my presence as commanding officer, to ignore orders received from me, as well as to ignore the presence of those regiments which principally fought the engagement, and that the report tends to convey a false impression of the circumstances arising during the engagement and of the part which he played in it, and that it contains a perversion of truth in the statements concerning the obstacles to his progress in moving to turn the enemy's left. I beg leave also to state that the principal loss in killed and wounded is due to the unauthorized and unnecessary charge made by the Ninth New York, under the immediate command of Colonel Hawkins.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. L. RENO,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Second Division.

HEADQUARTERS,

Roanoke Island, N. C., April 21, 1862.

SIR: In accordance with orders from the department headquarters and under your immediate orders I, on the 18th, at about 11 a. m., embark on board of the transport about 2,000 men of my brigade from the following regiments: Ninth New York Volunteers, 727;