Posts Tagged ‘Nags Head’

From the Wilmington Journal, Feb. 12

 From Roanoke Island.

             This morning we had the pleasure of meeting Lieut. Smith of Wise’s Legion, who has kindly given us some details of the affair at Roanoke Island.  The most pleasing part of his information is that the number of the killed on our side has been greatly exaggerated.  Some one or two from nearly every company engaged, and nearly every one of our companies was engaged, succeeded in making their escape, after the battle had closed.  From them, Lt. Smith, obtained details of the killed and wounded and from all he could learn he could not find that our loss in killed could much, if at all exceed fifty.  The number of ounded would no doubt exceed that of the killed.

             The forces at the post, at the commencement of the fight or before its close were,

             8th N. C. Troops, Col. Shaw,                           700

            31 N. C. Troops, Col. Jordan,                          600

            1st Reg., Wise Legion, Col. Anderson,             500

            2d Reg., Wise Legion, Col. Richardson,            300

            Battalion, Wise Legion, Col. Green,                  500



             This is not the full strength of any of the commands named, but many were sick and had been sent off or were at Nag’s Head in Hospital.  Some were in a battery on a flat near the main land, three small companies were at Nag’s Head.

             The number that escaped, including the sick at Nag’s Head, might be incorrectly stated about 450, or at the utmost, 500.  Of these, 250 or 300 retreated along the beach from Nag’s Head, on Saturday night after having set fire to the buildings.  Some got over in a boat to the main land; nearly or quite all of those on the floating battery also got off to the main land.

             Of the loss of the enemy, it is almost impossible to speak.  They were mowed down in their attempt to land, and most have suffered terribly.  Had we possessed a field battery or had proper breastworks been thrown up, the result might have been different; or had we had sufficient force, or in face had there not been grievous mismanagement somewhere.  General Wise had remonstrated in vain with Secretary of War.  He had asked more forces from General Huger, in whose immediate department he was placed.  He had been refused in both cases, save that Gen. Huger had finally consented to let him have the two artillery companies of his Legion under the command of Col. Henninguen.  Gen. Wise ordered the batteries to march down the beach to Nag’s Head.  This, Gen. Huger countermanded, and told them to go to Elizabeth City, where there was no transportation.

             When on Saturday morning a courier from General Wise, who had ridden all night, reached Norfolk he got only a rude answer from Gen. Huger.  “They’ve got plenty of men.  Tell them to stand to their guns, and d—mn ‘em  we’ll whip, ‘em,” or nearly those words.

             Why Commodore Lynch did not carry his boats to Norfolk, through the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, instead of running them up the Pasquotank River, is remarkable.  He could have done so.  On Saturday night a boat did leave Nag’s Head, and did get to Norfolk showing that the navigation was open.  The whole affair appears like a Tragedy of Errors.

 Source: The Greensborough Patriot, Feb. 20, 1862 as found on the Confederate Newspaper Project

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Roanoke Island

Feb 12 1862

My dear Sister


I wish you could see me just now – it is a clear warm day, so that thick clothes are rather burdensome. I am up at headquarters a two story house with a rough partition dividing the house in two rooms – upstairs it is all one room – no lathing or upper floor, only the shingles over head – we have two cot beds in the rooms & 3 chairs – 6 windows, and a ladder to get up & down.  We have 4 prisoners in the room, and two or three of us are obliged to be with them all the time – they are all officers & very pleasant gentlemanly men—they are rather sad, but behave themselves very well they have been writing home & we read their letters, & if there is nothing Contraband in them, we promise to mail them at Old Point – two of them were not in action but came on with reinforcements & were nabbed as they landed – it is funny to feel that I am watching the Secesh, but they are no trouble yet – as we guard them to closely – yet give them every attention we can. The Spaulding goes home to day or tomorrow, with prisoners & a mail. A flag of truce came down yesterday for [illeg] today of [illeg] & the wounded – the boat lies out in the harbor & we cant help laughing at the whole appearance of the thing – She is the feeblest piece of waterworks I ever saw — & the secesh flag looks more like a rag than anything I ever saw – several officers have found old acquaintances in the prisoners & the meeting has been sometimes very sad & sometimes very funny – the General saw a fellow looking at him & in a few minutes he came forward & says “Will General Burnside allow an old acquaintance to speak a few words to him.”  The General shook him heartily by the hand with “Good Heavens, Jim, how came you here” – it was an old crony, that he had not met for years — & did not know of his Secesh principles – As I came up this morning I saw an old lady standing among the crowd in the Yards – She was dressed in a black quilted hood a short cloak & a black dress & white stockings – didn’t know what hoops were – I went up & spoke with her – she said she wasn’t nothing but a wider – had come over from Nags head, cause she didn’t like to be left all alone there, & if she could get a pass should go back all right – I asked her if she was for the Union or Secesh – “Well I never studied much & I don’t know what I am – I never knew much about it – only I am a widow my husband died &c &c” – Several have come in this morning & voluntarily taken the oath of allegiance – I am writing this on top of a cigar box, and watching all the time too; Shall send [illeg] it by a Mr. Vizzitelli – to whom I have given a note to Henry – and have asked Mr Vizzitelli to call on him – Mr V- has been a very pleasant friend to me, but decidedly English. The vessel that will take [illeg] prisoners will probably return — & if you see Mr. V – he will tell you all about it – The Dr tells me that the number of our killed is 32 & the wounded a little over 200 – the rebels lose about 15 killed & 60 wounded –


Feb 13th Thursday [1862]

Your letter of the 1st is just received by an arrival fr Fort Monroe and you will get news of our victory tomorrow – if you make such a fuss over Tennessee what will you do over our success – I am too tired to write to night – I have been writing constantly since 1 o’clock this [illeg] it is now 7 PM & have got more to do this eve. My next shall answer your letter more fully. The dispatches as they are printed look very natural to me – as I write every word of it.  My report to day is 3 full foolscap sheets – tell me what you think of it – I shall write you all together as I suppose Amelia is with you now – the3 last few days have been splendid – we have windows open till late at night – how much I think of you all & look forward to seeing sometime again – I will write you fully by next mail & hope to hear from you often – good night – aff yrs


Source: Daniel Larned Papers, Library of Congress, Transcribed from original by John Darden for Tryon Palace Historic Site & Gardens

*** Daniel Larned was General Burnside’s Private Secretary for most of the Civil War

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February 10, 1862

Tonight’s mail brought the news of the attack & fall of Roanoke Island!  It has fallen to our horror & dismay, for we were led to expect some fighting at least there.  I fairly burst into tears as I read it.  Capt O Jenning Wise is mortally wounded & a prisoner.  Gen Wise sick with Pneumonia at Nags Head, the command devolved on the senior Colonel, Shaw.  After a short fight with the boats they, being out of ammunition, retreated to ElizabethCityfor some.  Burnside threw out a large force which landed & walked over a Swamp—which our engineers had pronounced impassable!—flanked our men who, some of them fought well when the order for surrender was given.  Oh why did not our men have a leader worthy of them!  When will our rulers begin to think that we have a deadly & determined foe to conquer.  Roanoke Island is now called the back door key toNorfolk.  Why did they not find that out before putting it in the hands of our enemies! Albemarle Sound & its tributaries are now open to inroads & incursions of all kinds.  Wherever their Gun boats can go they will be masters.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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February 9, 1862

Sunday—Dined at father’s yesterday & was persuaded to remain all night and to dinner today.  The Misses S—nice lady like girls; the young folks seem to enjoy themselves greatly together.  Talked of Burnside & wondered what he intends to do.  Mr Smith is sureNorfolk is the point of attack, says he learns that we are well prepared for him atRoanoke Island, that Wise is in command.  We heard the reverse in Raleigh, that Cols Shaw & Wright did nothing all the Fall but wrangle about the command: in one case one Regt leveling the entrenchments thrown up by the others, each claiming to rank the other; that Wise was building a bridge from the Island to Nag’s Head for the men to retreat on, which I do not believe and much more to the same purpose.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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