JUNE 27, 1861.- Attack on Mathias point, Va.
Report of Colonel Daniel Ruggles, C. S. Army.
Mathias Point, June 30, 1861.
SIR: I had the honor to transmit, on the night of the 27th instant, a field report of the conflict with the enemy during that day,* and now transmit one more in detail:
On the 25th instant I communicated in general terms information of the repeated attempts made by the enemy to land men under the fire of his ship's guns, in which he was in one or two instances in a measure momentarily successful. In the midst of this cannonade I came upon the field of acting and found the condition of things so complicated that I deemed it expedient to direct the forces in person, with a view of contributing, so far as my experience might enable me to do so, to successful results. The bombardment closed about 1 o'clock, leaving on my mind an impression that the intention of the enemy was to accustom his men to land under the protection of his ship's guns, and that soon we should have a practical demonstration of such design. On Thursday morning, the 27th instant, the reappearance of the enemy's war steamer Freeborn, attended by two tugs, with three boats lowered and one large launch, indicated an intention not already realized. These steamers having anchored near Greimes' Point, about 1 p. m. commenced firing on our pickets, indicating an intention to land, which was soon effected by some e fifty men, driving our pickets from the coast, contrary to our reasonable expectation. Re- enforcements were immediately sent under a field officer, Major Taliaferro, to meet the enemy, and a few moments afterward report was brought by a mounted scout that he was in the act of landing artillery on our coast. I then ordered the entire force under arms, and directed in person the movement of some four companies along Grimes' Point at an elevated coast range constituting the key to our position, commanding the point at which the enemy had landed, over which shot, shell, shrapnel, and stands of grape wee thrown in profusion with a degree of skill and precision with which I have seldom me, sweeping our entire line of march. While advancing down the coast range I received information that the enemy had taken possession of the pine forest, on a point below the place of his landing, and that he was actually establishing a battery for his guns already on some 1,000 yards between Gemes' Point and the timber in question, especially under the then sweeping fire of the enemy's guns, involving the prospect of serious loss, I directed Colonel J. M. Brockenbrough, Fortieth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, who was with me, to proceed to the forest on our right, leading tot he point and direct the march of the two remaining battalions there held in readiness under Lieutenant Colonel R. A. Claybrook and Major R. M. Mayo, and drive the enemy from the forest toward the point to which we were then marching with the forces enemy's scuts, who sought shelter in a small skirt of underbrush, and we abstained from firing on them, as it would have precipitated the retreat of the enemy from the forest before Colonel Brockenbrough's force could have engaged him there, by which means he would have effected his escape unpunished. About 6 p. M. Colonel Brockenbrough's
*See VOL. II, p. 136.