HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, DEPT. OF NORTH CAROLINA,
Pork Point Battery, Roanoke Island, February 9, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Third Brigade during the 7th and 8th instant from the moment the signal for landing was displayed:
The brigade is composed of the Fourth Rhode Island, Ninth New York, and Eighth Connecticut Regiments, and a battalion of the Fifth Rhode Island Regiment. On the signal being given one wing of the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment was transferred to the light-draught steamer Phoenix, and all the surf-boats, life-boats, and ships' boats belonging to the transports of my brigade filled with men from the Eighth Connecticut and Fifth Rhode Island Regiments, and attached in tow of the steamer. We then proceeded toward the shore as rapidly as safety to the small boats would permit. The steamer was run into the marsh between the steamers of Generals Foster and Reno, and the men immediately sprang into the marsh and were led by their respective commanders out to the firm ground, and there formed in line in the field to the left of Hammond's house. Capt. John N. King, brigade quartermaster, and Lieut. M. A. Hill, aide-de-camp, returned to the transports to superintend the landing of the balance of the brigade.
Orders were then given to the colonels of the Fourth Rhode Island and the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts and Tenth Connecticut Regiments of the First Brigade to send out a force to occupy the woods surrounding the landing place with a continuous line of skirmishers. The commanding general soon appeared on the field, and I reported in person the disposition I had made of the force then on the ground. Brigadier-General Reno came up immediately after and assumed command of the portions of the three brigades then landed. My entire brigade was landed before 11 o'clock p.m. The men bivouacked on their arms.
Soon after daylight on the 8th instant I received orders from General Foster to have my command ready to support his and General Reno's <ar9_106> brigades and follow along the road leading through the middle of the island, and to send four companies to occupy Ashby's house, below our camp and on the right of the road. The First Battalion Fifth Rhode Island Regiment was detailed for this latter duty. Firing was heard in our front, and it was soon evident that General Foster had engaged the enemy. Before my brigade could advance on the road, it being still occupied by General Reno I received orders from the general commanding to detach a regiment and hold the landing and bivouac grounds, and prevent the enemy from turning our position by coming through the timber down the beach. The Eighth Connecticut Regiment was detailed for this duty. Before leaving the bivouac the major commanding the First Battalion Fifth Rhode Island Regiment reported Ashby's house and premises occupied by the enemy. I ordered him to throw out skirmishers and hold his position, and if attacked he would be supported. As soon as the last of General Reno's brigade were under way I followed with the Fourth Rhode Island and Ninth New York Regiments.
On reaching the battle-field I found General Foster occupying the road on the edge of the clearing in front of the enemy's battery, and, General Reno, with his brigade on the left, endeavoring to turn the enemy's right. The troops of both brigades were exposed to a steady fire from the battery and musketry, but were nevertheless hotly engaging the enemy and gradually gaining upon his flanks. General Foster ordered me to support a portion of his force on his right who were endeavoring to turn the enemy's battery.
The Fourth Rhode Island Regiment, on reaching the boat howitzers, which were in position in the road in the edge of the clearing, bore off slightly to the right, and, exposed to the fire of the enemy's battery and continuous fire of musketry, were gallantly led by the colonel commanding, I. P. Rodman, and yourself through the clearing, and closing upon the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Regiment, they encountered an almost impenetrable cypress swamp, through which they worked their way with great difficulty. The Ninth New York Regiment, arriving on the ground, was ordered to follow the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment and turn the left flank of the battery. The regiment, under lead of the colonel, Rush C. Hawkins, entered the clearing with great spirit.
It being now ascertained that the natural obstacles on this line were of so serious a character, and that the delay in the progress of the troops through the swamps was so great, it was decided to change the course of the Ninth New York Regiment, and the order was sent to the colonel to turn to the left and charge the battery directly up the road, and the regiment, with a hearty yell and cheer, struck into the road and made for the battery on the run. "The order was given to charge the enemy with fixed bayonets. This was done in gallant style, Major Kimball taking the lead." The major was very conspicuous during the movement, and I take great pleasure in commending him to your favorable notice. Before reaching the intrenchment the enemy retreated through the timber in great confusion, abandoning their guns, ammunition, and private property.
General Reno started immediately in pursuit, and as soon as the Ninth New York Regiment were reformed they were ordered forward and succeeded in taking "some 40 prisoners. Among them were several of the officers and men of the Richmond Blues, with O. Jennings Wise at their head, who was badly wounded and trying to make his escape in a boat across to Nag's Head."
As soon as the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment was reformed I proceeded <ar9_107> with it up to the support of General Reno until he sent me word that he required no more regiments. The commanding general then ordered me to proceed with the Fourth Rhode Island and Tenth Connecticut Regiments, with a boat howitzer, to take Pork Point Battery. A guide being furnished me, we left the main road, and following along a narrow cross-road about a mile, we entered the battery and found that it had been but a short time evacuated, the garrison having retreated up the beach to the northern end of the island. The armament consisted of eight 32-pounder smooth-bore and one 32-pounder rifled gun. They were all spiked and the carriages seriously damaged.
From papers found in the quarters the battery is called Fort Bartow, and commanded by Maj. G. H. Hill, formerly a lieutenant in the United States Artillery. A flag-staff, with the national colors made fast, was immediately raised, and the men had scarcely finished cheering when General Foster rode in to announce to the general commanding that the enemy had surrendered.
At the taking of the masked battery the officers and men, not only of the Fourth Rhode Island and Ninth New York Regiments, but of other regiments that came under my observation, behaved with great gallantry, coolness, and bravery. All seemed imbued with determination to carry the day. Considering the length of time that they have been on board ship, that they bivouacked in the rain on the night of the 7th, and considering the great natural obstacles in front of the battery--a broad swamp surrounded by a dense tangle and thick growth of cypress, through which but a single narrow roadway or trail passed, and that completely raked by the battery--considering all this, it would seem that all engaged are worthy of much praise.
I would respectfully beg to call your attention to the adjutant of the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment, Lieutenant Curtis. He was very conspicuous in conducting and cheering on the men of his regiment while passing through the clearing.
I also wish to pay a just tribute to the officers of my Staff for their great gallantry throughout the battle and untiring zeal through the whole day. The staff is composed of the following officers: Capt. Charles T. Gardner, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. John N. King, brigade quartermaster and acting commissary; Lieuts. M. Asbury Hill and Philip M. Lydig, aides-de-camp. Lieut. L. Bradley, of the Signal Corps, was with me, and acted as aide. All of these, including Capt. J. N. King, who volunteered his services as aide early in the morning, were constantly occupied carrying orders, bringing up and conducting the troops into position, and were necessarily greatly exposed. Lieuts. J. W. Hopkins and Anthony Lang, of the Signal Corps, were also actively engaged bringing up the men during the fight. On the morning of the 9th a company of the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment took possession of Fort Blanchard, a small work mounting four 32-pounders. The guns were spiked and the carriages damaged.
A detachment from the Ninth New York Regiment took possession of a two-gun battery on the east side of the island. They found the guns spiked and pointed inland. The battery is surrounded by a marsh and swamp, the only approach to it being by a causeway from the water side. One prisoner was taken in this work, he having been left by his comrades when they evacuated the place.
I regret to have to record the death of Lieut. Col. Viguer De Monteil, of the Fifty-third New York Regiment (D'Epineuil Zouaves). The colonel of the Ninth New York Regiment reports that "he was killed instantly, while urging my men to the charge. He dies greatly lamented <ar9_108> by all my officers and men who came in contact with him. His bravery was as great as his patriotism was sincere, and I cannot but feel that had he lived he would have proved a most valuable officer?
The casualties in the Ninth New York Regiment are 2 lieutenants and 15 privates wounded--none likely to prove fatal.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. G. PARKE,
Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding Third Brigade.
Capt. LEWIS RICHMOND,
Assistant Adjutant General.