War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0331 Chapter XXX. SIEGE OF SUFFOLK. VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 25. Report of Major L. M. Shumaker, C. S. Artillery, Chief of Artillery, of the capture of Battery Huger, April 19.


Near Ely's, Va., April 21, 1863.

GENERAL: In obedience to your order I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 19th I directed Major Boggs to send Captain [D. L.] Smoot, [Alexandria Light Artillery, or Company E, Eighteenth Battalion Virginia Artillery], with his two 30-pounder Parrott guns, into the works constructed for him to the west of Hill's Point Battery, occupied by Captain Stribling. Captain Smoot got into position just before daylight, and I directed Major Boggs to order him not to unmask or fire until the boats above Hill's Point attempted to come down or those below attempted to pass up. I also directed him to send Captain Bradford, with his four heavy 12-pounders, to relieve Captain [S. T.] Martin, [Battery B, Twelfth Virginia Battalion], then occupying Major Henry's position with four 12-pounder howitzers, and to instruct him not to fire at anything but a gunboat, and only then when they came within short range, stating that your orders to me were to sink the boats if possible. Captain Stribling's battery was placed in the work at Hill's Point after I had explained the position and character of the work to both General Longstreet and yourself.

On Thursday night, the 16th, I had thoroughly inspected the work, and, finding the platforms burned away, took the heavy siding from a corn-crib on the Riddick farm to make floors for the carriages. These floors did not raise the guns of heavy caliber, mounted on barbette carriages. I ordered Captain Stribling to cut embrasures for all his pieces, which was done as far as could be that night and finished the succeeding night, so that on the morning of the 19th I had three batteries in position on the Nansemond River, to wit: Bradford's at Norfleet's Landing, Major Henry's position; Captain Stribling's, consisting of two 24-pounder howitzers and three 12-pounder Napoleons, at Hill's Point, in a very strong earthwork; and Captain Smoot, with two 30-pounder Parrott rifles, to the west of an about two-thirds of a mile Hill's Point, where the river widens and a semicircular bluff bounds a large marsh.

On the morning of the 17th there were three gunboats above Hill's Point and below Norfleet's Landing, and five below Hill's Point lying below the mouth of the West Branch of the Nansemond River. About 10 o'clock three of these attempted to pass up by the battery at Hill's Point, and one of them succeeded in passing; the others were driven back, one of them severely damaged, as she was towed down the river afterward, disabled, and thought by the citizens to be sinking.

Thus, on the morning of the 19th there were four gunboats above Hill's Point and three below. About 10 o'clock Colonel Cunningham came down from headquarters (as I understood from himself and Lieutenant Etting) to relieve me, and he at once took charge and went around to Smoot's position. Shortly afterward the 30-pounder guns opened, and then commenced a general firing from all the gunboats and two of the enemy's land batteries, four of the boats and two batteries firing upon Hill's Point, the others directing their fire upon Smoot's position and occasionally shelling the woods where our sharpshooters were. About 4 o'clock there was a general cessation of firing, and I sent a messenger