War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0317 Chapter XX. ENGAGEMENT AT SOUTH MILLS, N. C.

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reports concerning my conduct and the command at the recent battle of Camden which are calculated to do me and the gallant men with me great injustice. You remember that my orders were not to risk any disaster, and that I did go prepared to remain absent more than two days. After ascertaining that the Navy could not make a junction with me at the bridge, and hearing from a variety of sources that I considered reliable that re-enforcement reliable that re-enforcements were on the way, I deemed it for the best to retire, and no man more highly approved that course than the rascal Hawkins. In fact, it was his bad conduct in placing his regiment in a position to get whipped and demoralized that principally induced me to change my first intention, which was to remain on the field and proceed to South Mills in the morning. The commanding officers of both the Twenty-first came to me to urge that course, stating that they had not sufficient ammunition to risk another battle. The doctors also stated that the wounded could be moved more easily then at any other time, and not being able to divine the future or imagine that they would abandon a 32-pounder battery, which I knew they had at South Mills, I believed I was carrying out your wishes in returning. If such was the fact, I think that out of justice to me and the command you should publish an order to that effect. You have no idea how industriously some scoundrel has been spreading reports that we were badly whipped, and how dissatisfied the officer and men of the twenty-first and Fifty-first are that no official contradiction of such lying reports has been made.

All well here. We will keep up a sharp lookout for our secesh friends. I think that I will send the One hundred and third New York to Parke. My love to him, yourself, and others.

Yours, truly,



Numbers 5. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas S. Bell, Fifty-first Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.


New Berne, N. C., April 23, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report, for the information of the general commanding the division, that on the landing of the Fifty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers and Twenty-first Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers at the point on the Pasquotank River about 3 miles below Elizabeth City, between the hours of 6 and 7 a. m. on the 19th instant, I by his order took command of the two regiments and formed them in line in the open field. Sending forward Company A, of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, as an advance guard to the column, the wagons hauling the cannon and loaded with the ammunition, &c., were next put in line. These were followed by the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and Twenty-first Massachusetts. Everything being in readiness, the march was commenced about 7.30 o'clock.

Colonel Hawkins (ninth New York), commanding the First [Fourth] Brigade, composed of the Ninth New York, Eighty-ninth New York, and Sixth New Hampshire Volunteers, had marched from the point of landing between the hours of 2 and 3 a. m., and supposed to be in posses-