H - Captain Stribling's answer; shows he apprehended no land attack.
J - Report of property lost by the capture.
K - Report of Major Boggs, of the artillery.*
As before stated, I was ill in camp, which was some 9 or 10 miles distant from Hill's Point. As soon as I heard that the attack had been made and the report that the guns had been captured by the enemy I started for the purpose of retaking the work. On arriving there, about 1 a. m. on the morning of the 20th, I found on the ground Major-General Hood, General Law, and General Robertson, with his brigade. The night was dark, the ground unknown to the troops, the enemy's pickets out in advance of the work, and to have retaken the work by crossing the open plain under the fire of seven gunboats stationed near the fort, that of the land batteries, and that of the enemy in the work was believed would involve a sacrifice of men of more value to us than the fort if recaptured. The enemy, as you are aware, the night following evacuated the work. The report shows that 93 men, all the horses, harness, running -gear of cannons, limbers of guns, fuse, wagons, &c., were not in the work, and that the loss was only the five guns and most of the ammunition chests.
You are perhaps aware that on neither of those works could any labor be performed in the day-time, owing to the opposite bank being strongly occupied by the enemy, and I do not think the parties in the fort had time to prepare embrasures for the guns looking to the rear in anticipation of a land attack.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. G. FRENCH,
Major G. MOXLEY SORREL,
Near Suffolk, Va., April 25, 1863.
There seems to have been a general back of vigilance and prompt attention to duties on the part of most of the parties connected with this affair. General French seems to be under the impression that General Hood's command was expected to protect the batteries. Such was not the expectation, and his conclusion that General Hood's command was expected to protect them seems strange, as the batteries were under his control exclusively, and he was twice ordered to take the Fifty-fifth North Carolina, the largest in this army, for that purpose. General Hood naturally and properly considered himself relieved from responsibilities with the river batteries when they were especially assigned to the charge of General French. His (General Hood's) division was on our left, and was ready, of course, to resist any general attack of the enemy; but the staff officers of general french should have made all of their reports to General French, that he might have made the necessary arrangements to resist any landing by the enemy. The slight loss of Colonel Connally's regiment while lying within 600 yards of the old fort will hardly justify the conclusion that nothing could live through the enemy's artillery fire. The attack was made about could sunset, or a little later. The cannonade being more brisk than any that we had previously had with the gunboats, I took out my watch and
*See Report Numbers 26.