War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0637 Chapter XXIII. EXPEDITION UP PAMUNKEY RIVER, VA.

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MAY 17, 1862.-Expedition up the Pamunkey River, Va.


Numbers 1.-Major George L. Willard, Nineteenth U. S. Infantry.

Numbers 2.-Captain Romeyn B. Ayres, Fifth U. S. Artillery.

Numbers 1. Report of Major George L. Willard,

Nineteenth U. S. Infantry.


May 8, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in compliance with verbal orders from Brigadier General A. Porter, I left this place at 9 o'clock a.m. yesterday, with a small force, consisting of Companies F and G, Eighth Infantry, 10 men of Company B and 15 men of Company D, Seventeenth Infantry, and 34 of Captain Steel's company of Sturges Rifles, making a total of 140 enlisted men, with the following named officer: Captain R. T. Frank, Lieuts. A. T. Smith and E. Carter, Eighth Infantry; Captain Steel and Lieutenant Foster of the Sturges Rifles; Lieutenant F. A. Field, Eleventh Infantry, and Asst. Surg. J. H. Frantz, medical department. We embarked on board the tug-boat Seth Lowe, where I found Captain Murray, U. S. Navy, with whom I had been directed to co-operate in an attempt to capture or destroy a fleet of steamers and schooners the Confederates had taken up the Pamunkey River. Captain R. B. Ayres, Fifth Artillery, with two guns, soon came on board, when we steamed up the river, and at 10 o'clock a.m. overtook the gunboat Currituck. She preceded us up the river. Contrabands came aboard at Putney's Mill, and reported the enemy's pickets 30 strong at Smith's Store, 10 miles from the White House. White flags were flying from nearly all the houses on the banks of the river.

At 12 o'clock m. we discovered a dense smoke ahead. The river being narrow, the gunboat was frequently aground, causing some detention.

At 2 o'clock p.m. we passed through the "Thoroughfare," a very narrow channel, which the enemy had attempted to obstruct be felling trees from each bank into the stream. Passing through with slight detention, we soon found the channel effectually stopped by two sunken schooners, which we were unable to move. Under these circumstances, upon consultation with Captain Murray, I landed all the infantry, except a small picket, on the left bank (north side) of the river, and pushing our way through a thick growth of underwood for nearly a mile reached the cause of the smoke, which proved to be one propeller, one large steamer, and seven schooners. They were burning rapidly, although the iron work had not yet fallen. They lay in the river in all directions, and as the smoke and noise of burning timbers could be seen and heard still farther up the river, no doubt of the complete destruction of all the vessels in the river exists.

Having satisfied myself that the object of the expedition had been accomplished, we returned at 4 o'clock p.m. to the steamers. The river at the point the channel was obstructed was so narrow that it was necessary to back down some distance before we were able to turn the boats. We returned to this place at 7 o'clock p.m. on the same day.

During my absence from the steamers a sailor from the gunboat reported a body of troops on the south side, drawn up in line of battle, at