War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0339 Chapter XXX. SIEGE OF SUFFOLK, VA.

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too late - that the fort had been taken before he could render assistance. I had never been to the fort, knew nothing of its position or the grounds around it, and asked Captain Terrell if he could give me any information concerning it, telling him that I intended to charge and retake the guns. He stated that he had been to the fort and knew all about its position; that it was situated on a point of land extending down to the rive,r and that there was a deep ravine or marsh in its front over which my men could not possibly charge. In addition to this the fort was defended by six gunboats - three above and three below - and two land batteries across the river. In intended to charge and retake the fort, if possible, but upon learning its position and defense from Captain Terrell knew that it would be worse than folly to make the attempt. Wishing, however, to ascertain if it was still occupied by the enemy I moved up to within some 500 or 600 yards of the fort, formed line of battle, and ordered the men to lie down. I then ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, with two companies deployed as skirmishers, to advance until fired upon, then to fall back upon the regiment. He had not advanced more than 50 or 60 yards before he was fired upon by the enemy's skirmishers, and, as ordered, fell back. The fire of my skirmishers discovered to the enemy the position of the regiment, when they opened upon me a heavy cross-fire from the six gunboats and two batteries. I immediately withdrew my regiment out of range of their grape-shot, and, thinking they would probably advance with the intention of capturing the battery of 32-pounder pieces in my rear, formed a second line of battle about half a mile from the Old Fort, threw forward skirmishers under command of Major Belo, and, although shelled from the gunboats, awaited patiently the enemy's advance until, I suppose, about 1 a. m., when General Law came up and told me that I was too far in advance and to fall back upon the skirt of woods some quarter of a mile in my rear; also to draw in my line of skirmishers. I obeyed General law's orders. this, as stated above, was about 1 o'clock. At daylight, or very soon thereafter, General Hood came up and placed me under command of General Robertson, with whom I remained until near sundown, when I was ordered by General Hood, through General Robertson, to rejoining my brigade. General law not attempting to retake the fort during the night of the 19th, and General Hood not attempting it on the 20th, establishes the fact that the attempt would have been injudicious, and that I was fortunate in meeting with Captain Terrell, whose statement relative or its position and defense alone prevented my making it.

It will be seen, major, from this report that I did not have any men in or near the fort when it was captured; that it was attacked so soon after Colonel Cunningham left me that I could not possibly have placed men in position for its support; that when captured two companies from General Law's brigade were moving forward to relieve the two companies which were in it, and that I moved with all possible dispatch to recapture the fort, had it been possible.

As I was the commanding officer on the field at the time, I deem it my duty to give Captain Terrell's statement concerning the action of the two companies under his command, which was that all the men in the two companies deserted him except nine. I do not know the names of the nine men who remained with the captain or I would give them, thinking they deserve favorable notice.

The fire upon my regiment, as you may well imagine, was very heavy indeed, yet both officers and men received it unflinchingly and with