Compte's house, about half a mile to the right of my advance, between me and Reed's Ferry.
It now occurred to me that if the main advance from Suffolk was successful the force opposed to me would be intercepted between General Getty, the West Branch, and myself, and I accordingly resolved to attract their attention by continual skirmishing. Captain Cushing kindly supplied me with a boat howitzers and a detachment of sailors. Colonel Pease, One hundred and seventeenth New York, also sent me, at my request, 100 men, and I once more advanced, driving the enemy to the skirt of the woods. Skirmishing continued for a couple of hours, when the enemy brought artillery and opened fire upon me. My howitzer having expended its ammunition I again retired with slight loss.
During the engagement the officers of the regiment behaved with great coolness and bravery, and there were individual instances of gallantry among the men, but I regret to state that the mass of the men exhibited an aversion to exposing themselves, a willingness to retreat, and a contempt for good order that I scarcely expected in a regiment of two years' experience and which has five battles inscribed upon its flag.
At about 3 p. m. I received a dispatch from Major Crosby announcing his success. I therefore meditated a joint movement of the two regiments upon the enemy near Le Compte's house, which I was assured would result successfully though involving considerable loss; but learning that the Twenty-first Connecticut was utterly exhausted and without food for man or horse I concluded to await orders from the general commanding. After dark, by order of General Getty, I withdrew the troops from Hill's Point, bringing over also some valuable pieces of timber, which i found useful the following day.
On the 4th the enemy retired altogether from our front, and I withdrew Major Crosby's force. The horses and artillery were embarked by the aid of an improvised floating wharf which I constructed out of row-boats and loose timber.
Ever since the commencement of the siege I have been generally well seconded by the officers and soldiers under my command. All have nobly done their duty, but some have done more. Among these I take pleasure in mentioning Major H. B. Crosby, of the Twenty-first Connecticut, who has always shown himself a zealous, industrious, brave, and trustworthy officer. I would also specially commend Colonel Derrom, Twenty-fifth New Jersey, to whose ability as an engineer the service is much indebted; Colonel Donohoe, of the Tenth new Hampshire, to whom I am indebted for valuable co-operation in superintending the river defenses; Major Storer, of the Thirteenth New Hampshire; Captains Brown and Reed, of the Fourth Rhode Island, and Lieutenant Bruce, of my staff, for their faithful and soldierly deportment in the various trying scenes in which they separately participated. I am indebted for repeated and valuable favors to Lieutenants Cushing and Lamson, U. S. Navy, commanding flotilla. I also take pride in calling the attention of the general commanding to the general admirable behavior in action of the three new regiments of my brigade. I transmit herewith a list of casualties in my brigade.*
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. H. DUTTON,
Captain CHARLES T. GARDNER,
*Embodied in revised statement, p. 287.