Matagorda, January 4, 1863.
Lieutenant JAMES PERRY BRYAN, Adjutant:
SIR: In the afternoon of December the 30th I received a communication from Captain Marmion, of the steam gunboat John F. Carr, through Captain Crofts, of the steamer Cora, that if I should hear any firing from the Carr to come over or send a detachment of 30 men.
Not long after receiving this intelligence I heard several guns from the Carr, which was then lying in the bay near the peninsula, and opposite the town of Matagorda. I immediately placed my men, consisting of 1 lieutenant, 4 non-commissioned officers, and 35 privates, together with 3 volunteers from the town of Matagorda (commanded by myself), on board of the Cora, and started from the wharf for the Carr, which I reached about sunset. Upon consultation with Captains Marmion and Hall it was agreed that we should make a night attack upon the enemy's encampment or entrenchment, provided we deemed it prudent after reconnoitering.
The plan was to land our force, consisting of my own men and 15 from the gunboats, including officers, on the peninsula by the small boats; move up to within a safe distance, reconnoiter, and, if prudent, make the attack. The steamers Carr and Cora were lying at anchor about 1,000 to 1,200 yards from the peninsula. We left these steamers in the small boats for the peninsula about 10 o'clock p. m., and after running about half way to the shore a most terrific norther began to blow, which induced us to abandon the attack and order a return to the steamers.
The boat which were Captains Marmion, Hall, Lubbock, and myself, together with Mr. Wilcox, of the Signal Corps, and three others, succeeded in reaching the steamers. The two other boats filled and sank, and 18 of my men were lost, together with the 3 volunteers above mentioned, to wit: Sergeants Matthews and Jones, Corporal McKinley, Privates McKinley, Connor, J. and F. Secrist, Thomas Wadsworth, James Seaborn, May, Mcneley, Walton, A. C. Johnson, Hines, Gibson, Copeland, and Howell; George M. Bowie has not been found, but no doubt he was drowned; volunteers, James Rugeley, Duggan, and Lake. Fifteen minutes longer and the whole party would have landed, and I believe we could have taken the enemy, as they numbered but few, if any, more than we did.
When our men who escaped drowning reached their entrenchments, about 12 o'clock m., their fires were still burning. While attempting to reach the steamers several of my men discharged their guns, and immediately rockets were thrown up from their steamers on the outside, and I think at that time the enemy left their entrenchments.
Never did an undertaking at its commencement appear more auspicious or one which ended more disastrously. As I am now too few in numbers to discharge my duties fully at this post I would be glad to have Lieutenant Davis relieved at Elliott's Ferry by a company or detachment. Let him return to his company.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. S. RUGELEY,
Captain Company D, Brown's Regiment T. C.