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3 Series I Volume LI-I Serial 107 - Supplements Part I

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Page 3 Chapter LXIII. ENGAGEMENT AT BIG BETHEL, VA.

am adequately re- enforced or am prohibited by orders from you, I shall cause the lights at the mouth of this river to be extinguished to- morrow night, the present garrison being totally inadequate to the defense of the post.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN L. CANTWELL,

Colonel Thirtieth North Carolina Militia.

ADJUTANT- GENERAL,

Raleigh.

[1.]

JUNE 10, 1861.- Engagement at Big Bethel, or Bethel Church, Va.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel Peter T. Washburn, First Vermont Infantry.

CAMP BUTLER, Newport News, Va., June 11, 1861.

SIR: Pursuant to your order, I left camp between 12 and 1 o'clock the morning of the 10th with five companies of the Vermont regiment, being the Second Company, Captain Pelton; the Fourth Company, Captain Andeross; the Sixth Company, captain Boynton; the Eighth Company, Captain Peck, and the Tenth Company, Captain Riply; and five companies of the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, being Company F, Captain Sheppard; company G, Captain Gordon; Company H, Captain Curtis; Company K, Captain Barnes, and Company M (rifles), Captain Clark.

The strength of the command was as follows: Vermont- Second Company, 50 men, 1 officer; Fourth Company, 52 men, 3 officers; Sixth Company, 48 men, 3 officers; Eighth Company, 52 men, 3 officers; Tenth company, 60 men, 3 officers. Massachusetts- Company F, 47 men, 3 officers; Company G, 40 men, 3 officers; Company M, 73 men, 3 officers. Aggregate, 538. Colonel Bendix, with a detachment of the Seventh New York Volunteers, followed my detachment with two field pieces and eleven artillerists, under the command of Lieutenant Greble, of the Second [U. S.] Artillery. The march proceeded quietly and with great dispatch until we were within about half a mile of Little Bethel, our place of destination, Colonel Bendix having halted with his detachment and one field piece at the junction of the road from Newport News with the road from Hampton, and Lieutenant Greble having followed in the rear of my detachment with one gun. While continuing the march heavy firing of small- arms and artillery was heard in our rear in the direction of Colonel Bendix's detachment. When it had continued so long and sharply that it appeared to me that it was a serious attack, I countermarched my troops and returned to the place where Colonel Bendix was stationed, and found that he was opposed by a large body of troops coming from the direction of Hampton, a portion of whom I could then see upon a rise of land in front. I immediately formed my command in the order of battle and then, fearing that they were our friends, I caused my whole line to shout "Boston," together, four times. Receiving no response I advanced my line and was fired upon fro a howitzer, the fire doing us no injury. The enemy, as I then supposed them to be, then disappeared, and I went forward to a house near by, where I found a number of wounded men, who stated that they belonged to Colonel Townsend's New York regiment.

At this time Colonel Duryea, with his regiment, who had also heard the firing, and who had reached Little Bethel at about the same time that


Page 3 Chapter LXIII. ENGAGEMENT AT BIG BETHEL, VA.

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