War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0638 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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a point nearly opposite the burning vessels. I had left a small picket on that side, and the non-commissioned officer in command sent a negro to ascertain if the report of troops was correct. The negro returned a few moments after the command had re-embarked and reported a large force of soldiers drawn up in the road leading from the burning fleet to the Chickahominy Swamp and just within a line of woods some distance from the river. As my party passed through the woods on the other side we med with no resistance. Some of the burning vessels appeared to have been partially loaded, one of them with coal. A negro reported that he had hauling corn from the vessels to Chickahominy Swamp. The distance from the White House to the point where the vessels were burned is about 20 miles.

It affords me pleasure to say that I believe Captain Murray, of the Navy, was perfectly satisfied with the result of the expedition, as was also Captain Nicholson, who accompanied the expedition. The gunboat Currituck was carried up the stream by her officers with great boldness in a very narrow and crooked stream, the decks being completely commanded in many placed by the high banks of the river. The officers and soldiers of my command were prompt and willing and eager to engage the enemy. On the passage down it was reported that some horsemen were following the boats. I did not see them.

The necessity of retiring the gunboat from the narrow river before night prevented a very thorough examination of the burning vessels, it being nearly 4 o'clock p.m. when we reached them.

Before closing my report I would respectfully call the attention of the general to the fact that a small body of infantry occupying any of the commanding points on a narrow stream could clear the decks of a gunboat slowly working its way up. The fire of 100 men directed upon the exposed decks of a gunboat at 50 or 60 yards' distance would effectually prevent the use of her guns and kill or drive her crew below. If possible, the boats for such service should be arranged to protect the crew while working the guns and ship. The 12-pounder mountain howitzers, to fire spherical case and canister at short ranges, would add much to the defense of troops attacked in such a position, as its lightness would permit its being used and landed if necessary with great ease.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, Nineteenth Infantry.


Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Numbers 2. Report of Captain Romeyn B. Ayres,

Fifth U. S. Artillery.

CAMP IN THE FIELD, VA., May 21, 1862.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that pursuant to instructions I proceeded with a section of my battery on board the steamer Seth Lowe on the morning of the 17th instant at the White House Landing, on the Pamunkey River. A command of infantry was also on board, under Major Willard, Nineteenth Infantry. We proceeded, together with one gunboat and Commanders Murray and Nicholson, U. S. Navy, up the Pamunkey, the object of the expedition being the capture or