War of the Rebellion: Serial 108 Page 0522 MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter LXIII.

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Northwest bridge, or move effective men toward Suffolk, as suggested by General Huger. Accordingly I continued to fall back. My men reached Great Bridge on the 15th and I on the morning of the 16th of February. I had hardly dismounted from my horse when General Huger entered a crowded and disordered room very abruptly and blatantly asked me why I had fallen back, saying "The whole country would be demoralized." I replied calmly, "The most of the country I have left, sir, was demoralized when I reached there." I then repeated briefly the reasons for falling back, which are already herein given. I told him how futile the works were at Currituck bridge; how weak was my force; how defenseless was the position and exposed the guns which I had brought away. That he had left the choice of position to my own judgment; that he had warned me that by moving up the rivers the enemy might pass around my position. That I intended to make a stand at Northwest bridge, but found no quarters for men who had suffered much from exposure to very bad weather. That my cavalry had not reached me, and his change of my orders to Colonel Henningsen after I left Norfolk had prevented my field artillery from joining me until I reached Currituck Court-House, and that they were not with me at Currituck bridge. He had denied changing my orders by a note, but he then explained, correcting his denial of the change, and said that his reason for it was the impracticability of the beach route. I insisted that route was the best, and referred him to witnesses. He replied that he would order a survey of it. I rejoined that unfortunately it was then in the hands of the enemy. He asked then what I proposed to do. I said I would cheerfully obey his orders, and return or move forward as he would command; but I proposed to remain a short time at Great Bridge until I could construct quarters near Northwest, and thence move as the enemy might require movement. With this I understood him to be satisfied. he expressly said, "Oh, well, it is best as it is to remain here and recruit your men." This was repeated several times, and in his presence Captain Parker, of the Navy, who had just put some guns in battery on the canal, turned them over to me, and General Huger departed for Norfolk, repeating as he parted the same expressions stated. he expressed no dissatisfaction to me with my reasons for falling back, but returned to his headquarters and wrote his letter of the 16th of February. In a short time he communicated the order for me to report to General Johnston with my legion, excepting the companies of light artillery. He had reported my brigade as supernumerary. I requested a copy of his letter to the Department, and asked him whether the order was issued at his instance or with his cognizance. He declined to reply. I asked for a copy of his letter from the Department, and failed to obtain it until furnished by you, sir. I say, then, that General Huger did not send the Sixth Virginai regiment nor any other regiment to Currituck bridge. He sent only a battalion of five companies under Colonel Corprew. That if Colonel Corprew ever had such orders from General Huger as he states, they were never reported to me; that I reached Currituck bridge before command in aed to me, but by virtue of actual orders from General Huger to the senior officer commanding any troops at Currituck bridge or neighborhood, and did not assume command in any sense but that of talking what belonged to my rank and district and what I was ordered to take. That I did for good reasons remove the battery of three 32-pounders erected there, and began abandonging the place before any enemy appeared; and this proves