OCTOBER 15 - 17, 1864. - Expedition from Bernard's Mills to Murfree's Station, Va., and skirmish (16th) at the Blackwater.
Report of Lieutenant Colonel David M. Evans, Twentieth New York Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH NEW YORK CAVALRY, DISTRICT OF CURRITUCK,
Bowers' Hill, Va., October 17, 1864.
CAPTAIN: The expedition ordered by the general commanding Defenses of Norfolk and Portsmouth to South Quay, under date of October 14, has returned in safety, and is at Bernard's Mills. In the absence of Captain Carroll's official report, owing to sickness, I beg leave to submit the following, gathered from a verbal report of the operations:
During the day of the 15th Captain Carroll assembled at Bernard's Mills detachments from Company D, Captain Ford, Company K, Lieutenant Griffin, Company I, Captain Carroll, all of the Twentieth New York Cavalry, and a section of the Eighth New York Independent Battery, Lieutenant Ladd. Bivouacking until 11 p. m., they proceeded on the direct road to South Quay, halting for a short rest at Harland's Corners on the way. The expedition arrived at the Blackwater about sunrise of the 16th. At the approach of the swamp cavalrymen were dismounted and thrown forward as skirmishers. When they reached the bank of the river they received a sharp fire from behind rifle-pits on the other side. The large flat used as a ferry-boat was also on the other side. The skirmishers were immediately re-enforced by the rest of the command, the artillery placed in position, and under cover of a rapid fire, both from the artillery and the carbines of the cavalry, Private Joseph Lonsway, of Company D, Twentieth New York Cavalry, volunteered to swim the river, and succeeded in getting the boat safely over to this side. This is the second time that Joseph Lonsway, private of Company D, Twentieth New York Cavalry, has performed the same act, once before on a former raid. The boat being obtained, a detachment of twenty-five men was immediately sent over, charging the breast-works in gallant style, and, scattering the enemy in all directions, they had undisputed possession of the breast-works. Before completing the destruction of the stores and other property a body of rebel cavalry appeared preparing for the attack, on the road leading to the depot at Murfree's Station. Horses were immediately crossed over, and the detachments of D and K charged down the road, scattering the enemy again in all directions, taking a few prisoners, a roll of which will be sent on in the morning. At the depot the telegraph office was destroyed and the machine brought away. They thoroughly destroyed the depot buildings and the warehouses in the vicinity, which contained military stores; also cotton, bacon, salt, brandy, together with 100 stand of small-arms, which were ready loaded to repel an attack.
Too much praise cannot be given to officers and men for the manner in which the whole affair was conducted. Lieutenant Ladd deserves special mention for the way he conducted his artillery.
On returning from the depot a corral containing a herd of cattle which had been driven over the night before for the use of the Confederate government was made vacant. The cattle are now at Bernard's Mills, where the column arrived safely about noon of the 17th. Our casualties were 5 wounded men and several horses killed. The horses were replaced by the capture of others.
The result is the thorough destruction of the ferry and the surrounding buildings. There were destroyed 55 bales of cotton, 39 boxes of tobacco,