which regiment, by command of General Getty, has been sent to Suffolk for disgraceful conduct. The infantry and artillery was advantageously posted along the river and the fortifications advanced daily. No action occurred previous to May 3 except continual firing between opposing batteries and pickets.
On the night preceding May 3, as a part of a combined movement, I was directed to send the Fourth Rhode Island Volunteers across the Nansemond at Hill's Point in row-boats, to march thence at daybreak and occupy the Suffolk and Smithfield road near its junction with the Providence Church road, communicating with the Twenty-first Connecticut at Reed's Ferry, on the West Branch; also to cross the Twenty-first Connecticut some 3 miles lower down with a section of Vallee's battery and a squad of cavalry. This force was to advance to Chuckatuck and communicate with the Fourth Rhode Island at Reed's Ferry.
The latter force crossed, as directed, under command of Major Crosby, and marched to Chuckatuck, his progress being constantly impeded by the enemy's skirmishers, who resisted his advance with tenacity although in small force. Reaching Chuckatuck he did not consider it safe to send a detachment to Reed's Ferry, and therefore proceeded to that place with his entire column. Not meeting the fourth Rhode Island at that point, as expected, and having no other means of communicating with co-operative forces - the Reed's Ferry Bridge being burned - he marched down the West Branch to the Nansemond, losing some half a dozen men. His march was impeded from beginning to end by the enemy's skirmishers, but his movements were continued regardless of obstacles. His regiment behaved with great gallantry. While already nearly exhausted with fatigue and picket duty it performed in twelve hours a march of 18 miles, 8 miles of which were through an enemy's country, drove its opponent before it, and brought in 16 prisoners, including 1 officer. For further details of Major Crosby's march I refer to his graphic report, herewith forwarded.
Meantime Lieutenant-Colonel Buffum, with the Fourth Rhode Island, 250 strong, occupied the opposite shore before daybreak, but not being familiar with localities disembarked by mistake half a mile above Hill's Point. I had urged upon him the importance of taking a guide, which, however, he declined to do, pleading a perfect understanding of the position. I joined his command at daybreak and instantly saw the misfortune that might have resulted from his error had the enemy occupied Hill's Point in any force, as, by holding the intrenchments there thrown up by me on April 20, they might have easily kept us away. We, however, immediately occupied the place, driving out about a dozen rebels. I now formed line of battle, threw out skirmishers, and advanced. Immediately the enemy opened fire from behind fence and trees. We drove them about three-quarters of a mile, to the edge of a forest which completely environed the position from shore to shore. Here their fire was so rapid that I halted to study the position. I drew their fire in volleys two or three times to determine their force, which I estimated at from 200 to 400. Between me and them there was a quarter of a mile of open ground, over which we could not have advanced without tremendous loss. I then threw skirmishers into the timber on the right and there also discovered the enemy in greater or less force. It seemed therefore that to advance farther would insure my being cut off from Hill's Point and perhaps captured. It therefore fell back and proceeded to the gunboat Barney to consult with Captain Cushing. Here it was reported that the enemy had 500 men at Le