On the 14th instant the enemy had planted a battery in the earth works on Hill's Point, and, in the engagement that ensued between them and our naval forces in the river, almost entirely destroyed the gunboat Mount Washington. After this action five gunboats returned to the Upper Nansemond, above Hill's Point, and it became evident that their safety required that this battery should be silenced, for the channel of the river runs within 50 yards of Hill's Point, and the action of the 14th showed conclusively that it would be almost certain destruction for any boat to attempt to run past. It was therefore with a view to deliver our gunboats from a dangerous position, as well as to annoy the enemy and to gain possession of an important point for future operations, that an expedition to cut out the battery was undertaken. The plan of operation, as arranged with Lieutenant Lamson, U. S. Navy, commanding flotilla, was as follows: Five hundred men were to embark on the gunboat Stepping Stones at Dr. Council's landing, proceeded down the river, land on Hill's Point just above the battery, and charge the works with the bayonet. Lieutenant Lamson volunteered to land four boat howitzers to co-operate in this movement, and at his request was furnished with 40 men to man the drag-ropes.
At 5.30 p. m. on April 19, detachments of 130 men from the Eighth Connecticut and 140 men from the Eighty-ninth New York embarked on the Stepping Stones at Dr. Council's landing. A canvas screen, which effectually concealed the men, was drawn up all around the deck, and the boat pushed off and steamed rapidly down the stream. As she approached the battery not a shot was fired or a sound heard to indicate the presence of the enemy. He was waiting, with all his guns double-shotted with canister, until the vessel should come abreast and within 50 yards of his battery. At 300 yards above the battery Lieutenant Lamson headed his boat inshore, but striking on a spile she glanced off, and, borne on the ebb-tide, was on the eve of shooting in front of the battery, when Lieutenant Lamson, with admirable presence of mind, reversed the paddle-wheels and backed here aground. The men jumped off from both ends of the boat up to their waists in mud and water, scrambled hastily ashore, and with a cheer dashed for the battery. In an instant Lieutenant Lamson had landed his howitzers and followed. The enemy, apprised of our approach by the cheers, opened a hot fire of musketry, and was enabled even to reverse and fire one of his guns; but seeing himself cut off, and receiving one or two discharges of canister from Lamson's howitzers, he surrendered. The capture of 5 guns, 7 officers, and 130 men, the liberation of the five gunboats above, and the occupation of a point of vital importance to the enemy and an admirable point of operations for us were the results of one of the most brilliant achievements of the war. Our loss was 4 killed and 10 wounded.
The battery taken, our whole attention was turned to fortifying the position and preparing for attack. The boat howitzers were placed in battery just above the landing place in a position to sweep the plain in front over which the attacking party must pass, rifle-pits were commenced, and pickets thrown out. Colonel A. H. Dutton was placed in command. Five companies of the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, a detachment of 60 men of the Ninth Vermont, Colonel Pease, One hundred and seventeenth New York, with four companies of his regiment, and Lieutenant Crabb, Battery A, Fifth U. S. Artillery, with gun detachments to man the captured pieces, were sent over to re-enforce the position, and by morning a formidable line of rifle-pits and batteries was erected.