Newspaper Accounts from the Charleston Mercury,
The following newspaper accounts concerning the Battle of Plymouth were published in the Charleston Mercury shortly after the battle. These accounts reflect the Confederate perspective on the battle and some of it’s aftermath. One article describes the Plymouth Pilgrims arrival at Charleston and describes them as “decidedly the least ill-looking prisoners we have seen, thus far, in the war.”
The Charleston Mercury
April 22, 1864
GLORIOUS VICTORY IN NORTH CAROLINA
Richmond, April 21. - An official dispatch from General Hoke, dated Plymouth, N.C., April 20, says: "I have stormed and carried this place, capturing one Brigadier, 1600 men, with large supplies of stores, and twenty-five pieces of artillery."
The Charleston Mercury
April 23, 1864
NEWS FROM RICHMOND
Brig. Gen. Russel [Wessells] commanded the Yankee garrison at Plymouth. He was summoned, by flag of truce, to surrender, but refused to comply, when the Confederates charged and gained the inner works. The Yankees threw down their arms. The number captured is now stated to be 2500, exclusive of negroes. Amongst the guns taken is a 200 pounder Parrott gun.
The Charleston Mercury
April 26, 1864
THE PLYMOUTH AFFAIR
We have received few additional details from the scene of our triumph at Plymouth. Our loss in killed and wounded is not large, considering the magnitude of the enterprise, but, as might have been looked for from the character of the conflict, the works having been stormed, a large portion of the wounds are of a very desperate character. When a place is taken by storm, and there is resistance, as there was in this case, the fighting is done hand to hand, guns are fired off at a trifling distance, and the wounds inflicted are, in most cases, serious, if not mortal. Some of our wounded, who have been brought to Wilson, bear evidence of the desperate character of the struggle while it lasted. They are wounded in almost every imaginable way, and but few of their hurts can be called "slight."
The Charleston Mercury
April 28, 1864
THE CAPTURE OF PLYMOUTH
We have at last the positive intelligence that Plymouth is taken. It was stormed by General Hoke, of North Carolina, on Wednesday. Full twenty-four hours before it was captured we had the news here that it was ours. Of course, the premature report grew out of the movement upon the place and the conviction that it must fall. The result is sixteen hundred prisoners, twenty-five cannon (probably siege pieces), a large amount of small arms, and valuable stores, commissary and quartermaster.
The details are not very full, but enough to show that the work is complete. It is gratifying that this first redemption of North Carolina ground from Yankee occupation - i.e., the first fortified post held by the enemy - is achieved at least chiefly by North Carolinians, under one of their own Generals. This sort of national satisfaction is just what all would be delighted to accord to each of the generous and intrepid State partners and participants in the struggle now conducted by the Confederacy for all that we hold dear on earth. Whenever the occasion arises, and it is possible to so order it, the sons of the immediate soil should bear off the chief honor of pitching the hated invader, neck and heels, out of the land.
Plymouth is situated on the Roanoke river near its junction with the Albemarle Sound, and is about one hundred miles from Weldon. On the northern shore of the sound, some fifteen miles or so from Plymouth, stands Edenton, the largest of the towns on the sound, and as by the taking of Plymouth a Confederate iron-clad is liberared from the Roanoke to patrol the sound, Edenton is no longer a safe place for Yankees.
Albemarle Sound communicates with the Pamlico Sound, which became so well known to newspaper readers in studying Burnside's expedition and his capture of the towns and islands of the sound. Roanoke Island is the point of division between the two sounds. We cannot anticipate the course of the gunboat thus now let loose, nor of the Confederate movement of which we suppose this Plymouth triumph is only a part. We may well imagine that a staunch gunboat of light draft and guns of large calibre, once past Roanoke Island, could initiate a grand ball on the amber hued waters of the Pamlico. The transports employed there by the Yankees to serve the wants and purpose of their garrison at Newbern and elsewhere, would be as much terrified by her appearance among them as would be a school of fat, delicate panfish on discovering a shark in their midst, busily engaged in gulping them down.
Newbern, on the Neuse river, near the point of its entrance into Pamlico Sound, is by land nearly due south of Plymouth, and about sixty miles distant from it. The water communication between the two places, through the two sounds, is quite circuitous, and must be near one hundred and fifty miles long. Washington, on Tar river, another stream that looses itself in Pamlico, is directly on the land route from Plymouth to Newbern and half way between them. There the Yankees are posted, it is supposed, with some show of strength. With Plymouth taken, and a gunboat on her errand in the sound, Washington would become very unhealthy for them.
But we will not anticipate. If the events to follow the capture of Plymouth are indeed to be important, the fact will soon be known. But whether they are or not, the taking of that town is an event highly cheering, and in itself of great importance. We recover the Roanoke valley entirely to Albemarle Sound, and that is a great deal. It is needless to speak of its advantages. They are understood and appreciated by our people.
We should add that the Chowan river, which empties itself into the Albemarle Sound near Edenton, has for its tributaries the Meherrin, Nottoway, and Blackwater rivers - the latter of which at least, the enemy has employed to his advantage in his movements upon Southside Virginia. With a formidable iron-clad to keep guard in the sound, the enemy cannot safely continue his aquatic performances thereabouts. Nor can he carry on with impunity his commerce for military purposes throughout the Dismal Swamp, via the Pasquotank river, to and from Elizabeth City, located on that river, also a tributary to Albemarle Sound.
It may be inferred that no Yankee sea-going monitor or iron-clad can enter either of the sounds, and that the Confederate boat now canvassing these waters will have certainly, for a time, a triumphant career. Let us at least hope a good deal without expecting too much - good policy always. Let us not run into the error, since our recent brilliant successes, of being disappointed unless we take a fortified town every day. They come in beautifully as it is. - Richmond Dispatch.
The Charleston Mercury
April 29, 1864
INTERESTING ACCOUNTS OF THE BATTLE OF PLYMOUTH.
A number of the wounded in the late Plymouth battle have arrived at Weldon and at Petersburg; the worst cases being removed to the Petersburg hospitals. About seventy wounded have been brought into Weldon.
The assault on the outer works commenced on the afternoon of Sunday week, and resulted in the capture of a redoubt by Hoke's brigade. About ten o'clock Wednesday morning the inner batteries were carried; Ransom's brigade charging handsomely over the breastworks and through the town. There were several hundred negro soldiers in the ranks of the enemy, who took to the swamp, exhibiting the cowardice of their race, and showing again how worthless, and how worse than worthless, on the battle field, are the black allies of the North.
The iron clad steamer Albemarle, Commander Cooke, participated in the attack. She ran into and sunk two Yankee gunboats. She then opened on the batteries (the other gunboats having escaped), silencing one in a few minutes.
The prisoners taken by us include Brigadier Gen, Weitzel [Wessells] and staff. The land and naval forces were commanded by General Hoke. The land force consisted of Hoke's old brigade, commanded by Colonel Mercer, of the Twenty-first Georgia; Ransom's brigade, commanded by General Ransom; and Kemper'' brigade (of Gettysburg memory), commanded by Colonel Terry. Colonel Mercer was killed. Our loss in killed and wounded is variously estimated from two to three hundred.
Pickett's brave soldiers, whose charge through half a mile of shot and shell of Gettysburg, following the uplifted sword of their brave General at their head, has made one of the brightest pages of our history, have again distinguished themselves at Plymouth, as their conspicuous loss in the fight will attest. The Eleventh Virginia, in this brigade, suffered severely.
Our troops started for Tarboro on the Friday of the week before last, and reached the cross roads, three miles from Plymouth, on Sunday evening. Kemper's brigade, consisting of the First, Eleventh and Twenty-fourth Virginia regiments, were ordered to the front, and drove in the enemy's pickets at War Neck. The other forces, Hoke's and Ransom's brigades of North Carolina troops, and one regiment of Georgians from Clingman's brigade, were subsequently engaged. Darling's battalion of artillery, in which are the Fayette from Richmond, Latham's from Lynchburg, Branch's from Petersburg, and others, commenced cannonading the enemy Monday morning, and continued their fire at intervals during the day and night.
On Tuesday desultory firing took place between our forces and the enemy, who were protected by eight forts and five gunboats. During the day the troops on our right carried by storm one of the enemy's works which mounted four guns.
The principal fort was Fort Williams, eight guns. This was regarded as the key of the position. Tuesday evening a flag of truce was sent to Fort Williams demanding the surrender of the enemy. The flag was taken by Colonel Dearing and another officer; and General Weitzel, the Yankee commander, refused to treat with them, but requested a conference with the General Commanding. At the interview which ensued the Yankee commander said to General Hoke that if he surrendered he would be sacrificed by his Government, and, he feared, would be retired from the service.
"Then," replied General Hoke, "I understand that you are fighting for your commission and for no other cause. If such is your reply, I have only to compel your surrender, which I will do if I have to fight to the last man."
The general assault followed Wednesday morning. It was made by all forces. As our troops came within range of the enemy's artillery they suffered very severely, as the ground in front had been surveyed and was staked off with target posts for artillery practice. As our troops steadily advanced upon the enemy's works, the Yankees, not waiting for their charge, threw away their arms and rushed forward with cries and tokens of surrender. There were white handkerchiefs suddenly unfurled at all parts of the enemy's lines. General Weitzel and his staff were left alone in Fort Williams, the garrison having gone over to us under the white handkerchief display, and they thus fell into our hands as prisoners of war.
The President, immediately on hearing of the capture of Plymouth, sent Gen. Hoke the following despatch:
"Brigadier General Hoke:
"In the name of the Confederacy, I thank you for your success. You are a Major General from the date of the capture of Plymouth.
"(Signed) JEFFERSON DAVIS"
Gen. Hoke was the junior Brigadier in Pickett's division.
The Charleston Mercury
April 30th, 1864
The Yankee accounts of the battle of Plymouth represent their loss to have been 150 killed and 2,500 captured; and the rebel loss 1,500 killed and wounded! All the negroes found in uniform were taken out and shot!
ARRIVAL OF THE "PILGRIMS" FROM PLYMOUTH.
The rank and file (whites) of the captured garrison of Plymouth, N.C., arrived in the city on Friday morning, en route to the prison depot at Americus, Ga. The greater portion of the prisoners were sent forward; but 638 were kept over and will go on to-day. They occupied the court yard of the Upper Wards Guard House, and thus had an excellent opportunity to hear the whizzing of the shells fired at the city by their compatriots on Morris Island. The prisoners are chiefly New York artillerists and marines. They are nearly all native Yankees, and, of course, notwithstanding their disgraceful conduct at Plymouth, impudent and boastful, to a degree. Owing to the fact that they have long been engaged in garrison duty, their clothes and equipments were in good condition, and, altogether, they were decidedly the least ill-looking prisoners we have seen, thus far, in the war.
The Charleston Mercury
May 2nd, 1864
THE IRON-CLAD ALBEMARLE AT PLYMOUTH.
A correspondent furnishes the Richmond Sentinel with the following account of the part played by the navy in the victory at Plymouth:
The Albemarle left her anchorage, three miles above Plymouth at 2, p.m., on Tuesday last, passed safely over the enemy's torpedoes and obstructions, passed by the fort at Warren Neck, mounting three heavy guns, one of which was a 200 pounder Parrott, and succeeded, also in passing a fort in the town where another 200 pounder Parrott was mounted. Commander Cook then attacked two large gunboats - the Miami, ten guns, and the Southfields, six gun - sinking the latter at once, and also disabling the former that she sunk after reaching Edenton, a point twelve miles distant. The crew of the Southfields consisted of one hundred and seventeen men, only eight of whom are thought to have escaped drowning. The Albemarle then took position one mile below the town, and shelled the enemy's batteries until the following morning, when the army participated in the attack, and, with the invaluable aid of the Albemarle, succeeded in capturing the town.
Every one cognizant of the facts knows that Plymouth could not have been taken by the army without the aid of the Albemarle. Gen. Hoke admitted this publicly.
Another correspondent writes:
The Albemarle struck the Southfields amidships, cutting into her about ten feet, the Yankee vessel sinking rapidly, and being fastened so tightly to the Albemarle as to bear her bow under till the water ran into the port holes. In endeavoring to clear her of the wreck the crew had a hand to hand fight with the Yankees, using pistols and cutlasses; in which we lost but one man, although the Miami was poring shot after shot into them. When the Southfields sunk the boats of the Albemarle picked up eight men, one of whom has since died, which are all that were saved out of a crew of one hundred and seventeen. The Albemarle did not succeed in striking the Miami with her ram, but damaged her so much with her guns that she afterwards sunk. It is said that one shot from the Albemarle killed and wounded twenty of the crew of the Miami.
[Historical note - The Miami never sank.]
Thursday, May 5, 1864
THE CAPTURE OF PLYMOUTH IN THE NORTH.
The news of the fall of Plymouth had reached the North. Of course, after their several days' felicitation that "the Fort would surely hold out," this news was sudden and unwelcome to them. The Tribune announces it under this imposing head, in very large capitals:
Surrender of Plymouth - General Wessels and one thousand five hundred men prisoners - Our loss one hundred and fifty killed - the rebel loss one thousand and seven hundred killed - North Carolina troops taken out and shot after surrendering - All negroes in uniform also murdered - The enemy moving on Washington and Newbern.
The fall of Plymouth is officially announced in the following despatch from Major General PECK:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY AND DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
NEWBERN, N.C., April 21, 1864
General Orders No. 66 - With feelings of the deepest sorrow the Commanding General announces the fall of Plymouth, North Carolina, and the capture of its gallant commander, Brigadier General H. W. Wessels, and his command. This result, however, did not obtain until after the most gallant and determined resistance had been made. Five times the enemy stormed the lines of the General, and as many times were they repulsed with great slaughter, and but for the powerful assistance of the rebel iron-clad ram, and the floating sharpshooter battery, the "Cotton Plant," Plymouth would still have been in our hands. For their noble defence the gallant General Wessels and his brave band have and deserve the warmest thanks of the whole country, while all will sympathise with them in their misfortune.
To the officers and men of the navy the Commanding General tenders his thanks for their hearty co-operation with the army, and the bravery, determination and courage that marked their part of the unequal contest. With sorrow he records the death of the noble sailor and gallant patriot, Lieutenant Commander C. W. Flusser, United States Navy, who in the heat of battle fell dead on the deck of his ship with the lanyard of his gun in his hand.
The Commanding General believes that these misfortunes will tend not to discourage but to nerve the army of North Carolina to equal deeds of bravery and gallantry hereafter.
Until further orders the headquarters of the sub-district of the Albemarle will be at Roanoke Island. The command devolves upon Colonel D. W. Wardrop, of the 99th New York infantry.
By command of Major General JOHN G. PECK,
J. A. JUDSON,
Assistant Adjutant General.
A despatch from Newbern gives the following particulars of the attack on Plymouth:
The battle lasted, night and day, from Sunday, the 16th [17th], to the 20th instant, and resulted in the capture of the city by the enemy at Wednesday noon, including General Wessels and his force of 1500 men. The enemy obtained possession of the town at 8 o'clock in the morning. Gen. Wessels and his troops retired into Fort Williams and held out until noon; repulsing the enemy in seven desperate assaults. Their loss is said to be 1700, while our loss was slight.
Two companies belonging to the 2d North Carolina (Union) volunteers were among the captured at Plymouth, the most of whom were taken out and shot by the enemy after our forces had surrendered. All the negroes found in uniform were also shot.
The Newbern correspondent of the N.Y. Herald says:
The rebel ram at Plymouth, North Carolina, has had the effect of not only doing great damage to our shipping there, but has precipitated movements materially. The news we receive from there is conflicting yet painful. The ram of so much has been said, and precaution taken to guard against it, ran past Fort Gray on Monday night, after the moon had disappeared, on the opposite bank of the Roanoke River, and thus eluded the vigilance of our gunboats. This rebel monster had no steam on, but floated down with the current. After leaving the range of Fort Gray her engines were set in motion, and, bow on, she pushed for our gunboats, and succeeded in the sinking of the gunboat Southfield, a ferry boat, carrying a battery of six heavy guns. The Southfield and Miami, flagship of Captain Flusser, were chained together, to present a formidable front to the ram, and to keep the other afloat in case one was disabled. The ram shot past the Miami and bored her prow into the quarter of the Southfield with great force. The crunching of the saw like prow of the rebel ram among the timber was fearful, and the orifice created thereby was probably ten to twelve feet. The Southfield sank in ten minutes after being attacked.
A last shot before sinking was fired by the crew of the Southfield into the rebel ram, by running the one hundred pounder Parrott forward - the stern of the boat having sunk first - but the sides of the rebel gunboat being "slushed" with grease the shot had no effect, and rebounded back into the water.
Finding the Southfield gone, the ram made for the Miami. Captain Flusser stood by the large gun and asked what charge it contained. He was answered a shell, and he made the remark, "Let us fire this, and afterwards we will give him a better dose, solid shot." Captain Flusser sighted the gun himself, the iron clad being only half a length from him. The shell fired was a ten second fuse, which struck the roof of the ram, rebounded and hit Captain Flusser. In striking him the shell exploded and killed the gallant officer instantly, almost tearing him to pieces.
The Miami retired below Plymouth, having succeeded in picking up a number of the officers and crew of the Southfield. Captain French, of the last named vessel, was also on board. The commanding officer of the Miami considered it best to withdraw, as the men were perfectly frantic at the fall of their commander, whom they dearly loved. Of course, the rebel ram had full away for the time being, but steers clear of Gen. Wessells' two hundred pounder Parrotts.
A demand for the surrender of Plymouth was made by the rebel commander, under flag of truce, to Brigadier General Wessels, giving him half an hour to make up his mind, and volunteering the information, that he (the rebel commander) had twelve thousand troops opposed to him. Gen. Wessels replied: "I do not need half a second: my mind is made up: if you want Plymouth come and take it." This was the last heard from them. General Wessels is a fine soldier, and every one has the utmost confidence in him.
Every house in Plymouth was riddled by the shells, the inhabitants having been sent to Roanoke Island. General Peck ordered reinforcements to Plymouth the moment he received word of the attack. They have doubtless failed to reach that place, owing to the presence of the ram at the mouth of the Roanoke. This ram draws nine feet of water. Her hull is fifteen inches out of water. She carries four guns, and is built much like the Merrimac. It is reported that she can make seven knots, but this is doubted.
A despatch from New York says: A letter from Newbern on the 22d, after confirming the capture of Plymouth, has the following: "It is reported that the enemy have left Plymouth, and are now moving on Washington and Newbern. The rebel ram on the Nuse [Neuse] at Kinston has moved towards Newbern, and is expected to make an attack in a day or two. The rebel rams at Plymouth are expected to act in connection with other rams in the attack on Washington and Newbern. She carries three small and one 64-pounder.
Friday, May 6, 1864
HISTORY OF THE CAPTURE OF PLYMOUTH, NORTH CAROLINA
A correspondent of the Raleigh (N.C.) Confederate sends that paper a history of the capture of Plymouth, which is very interesting. The land forces marched from Tarboro on Friday, the 15th, having been quietly and rapidly collected at that place during the night of the 14th. He says:
On Sunday, the 17th, at 4 P.M., we were within two miles of Plymouth, having marched through swamps and across swollen creeks, a distance of seventy-five miles, without the knowledge of the enemy. His pickets on the Washington road was taken -- our infantry thrown into line and the batteries into position. Kemper's brigade, with a battery of 12 pounder Napoleons and three 20-pounder Parrotts, was detached to attack Warren Neck, a strong position on the river a mile above the town, which the enemy thought, and we feared, would effectually stop the passage of the Albemarle, and so deprive us of her valuable aid, and by leaving the gunboats in the river near the town, seriously increase the difficulty of taking it.
THE DEFENCES OF PLYMOUTH
Plymouth, as is known to all our readers, is situated on the South bank of the Roanoke, which here flows in an Easterly direction. The town is approached by four roads, the Washington on the West, the Columbia on the East, along the river, and between these two the Bath and Lee's Mill roads. The defences of the town consisted of the following works: On the West of the Washington road, about 800 yards from the town, a strong earthwork, Fort Wessell, surrounded by a deep moat and mounting three guns, one 32-pounder and two 6 pounders. On the East of the Columbia road, a work with a moat in front and stockades in the rear, mounting two 32-pounders and two 12-pounders. On the West of the same road, a well constructed work with a moat in front, but open in the rear, mounting three guns. In the rear of this and within the town was another work, partly earth, neatly turfed, and partly stockade, facing to the Southwest and open towards the river, mounting two guns, the stockades being pierced for musketry. The Lee's Mill, Bath and Washington roads were covered by a line of heavy entrenchments, mounting nine guns, and terminating at the latter road in a strong fort, surrounded by a very wide and deep moat, and mounting six heavy guns. This was Fort Williams, as strong to resist bombardment or assault as the skill of engineering could make it. On the river face of the town was a camp, entrenched to resist any attack from the water, and a little down an earthwork for the same purpose. The force in the town and at Warren Neck consisted of the 16th Connecticut, 85th New York, 101st and 103d Pennsylvania, two companies of Massachusetts heavy artillery, one battery of light artillery, and two squadron of cavalry, the whole commanded by Brigadier General Wessell, of the old United States army.
FEINT ON WARREN NECK
On the night of the 17th, an attack was made upon Warren Neck under the direction of Colonel Deering; and a gunboat of the enemy coming to the assistance of the garrison, was sunk, and a force of infantry sent from the town was repulsed; but the enemy successfully resisted all attempts to take this stronghold. On Monday our artillery opened vigorously upon the town; and during the day both parties pounded away at each other incessantly, but beyond a little skirmishing with the enemy, and maneuvering for position, our infantry did nothing. Toward evening, however, it became evident that something was on foot; and Ransom's brigade, with the 8th North Carolina, was drawn up in the woods facing the works on the Washington, Lee's Mill and Bath roads. A heavy line of skirmishers was thrown out under the command of Capt. John C. Pegram, A.A.G.; and advancing rapidly with the peculiar gait of the sharp-shooters and the yell with which our boys go to the charge, drove the enemy back into his works, and approached within two hundred and fifty yards of the fort; earnestly demanding to be led into the place. Meanwhile Pegram's battery dashed forward at a run, supported by the infantry, and unlimbering delivered a furious fire upon the devoted place. Three times we advanced, each time nearer, until within good charging distance; but the artillery had it all to themselves. The movement was merely a demonstration to call off the enemy's attention from Hoke's attack upon Fort Wessels, which, after a short but sharp resistance, fell before the superior powers of Hoke's brigade; and that night's work was done.
THE GUNBOAT APPEARS ON THE SCENE
Leaving a line of pickets on the field, the main body of the troops withdrew to prepare, by a few hours' rest, for the attack, which we all felt would be made on the morrow, and as we lay down by our fires every one wondered at the Albemarle's delay, and prayed for her speedy arrival. At three in the morning we were all awakened by the thunder of her Blakely guns, as she defiantly saluted Warren Neck, en passans, and sailed safely by over the obstructions which the enemy had placed in the river. She went to work at once among the enemy's gunboats, sinking one and driving the rest to Hatteras, and then turning her attention to the fortifications she kept up a speedy fire during the morning, silencing the enemy's guns and driving him into his bomb proof's. But still the "stars and stripes" floated over his works, and as he refused when summoned to strike his colors, it became necessary for us to do it ourselves, and the evening and night of the 19th were devoted to preparing for the assault on the morning of the 20th. Kemper's brigade had fought gallantly at Warren Neck. Hoke's men had taken Fort Wessell with three guns and sixty prisoners. It was now Ransom's turn.
The Columbia road, which enters the town at its Eastern extremity, running parallel with the river and near it, crosses Canaby creek about a mile from town. To this point Ransom's brigade, the 8th North Carolina, and Pegram's battery, marched late in the evening of the 19th behind a screen of woods, which hid the movements from the enemy, and reached the creek about sunset. The bridge was destroyed, and the creek too deep to be forded, a strong picket of the enemy on the opposite bank behind entrenchments, and about three quarters of a mile off two 32-pounders and five 12-pounders bearing on the spot. The pontoons must be laid for the infantry and artillery to cross, and that quickly, or the movement would be a failure. The moon was shining brightly, turning night almost into day, and not a breath of air was stirring, so that every movement we made could be distinctly seen or heard. Lieutenant Marshall Lee, with twenty men of Company E, 24th regiment, was advanced to the water's edge, supported by the rest of the company, and Company A, of the 35th regiment, the whole under the command of Captain Barca Lane. The pontoon train, under Lieutenant Pool, 10th N.C.T., dashed down at a gallop, slid one boat into the creek and quickly and rapidly the two companies crossed and were immediately engaged with the enemy. The 24th followed at once, the men coming into line as fast as they got over, and the enemy fell back, closely pursued by Captain Lane's detachment, deployed as skirmishers. The pontoon bridge was now laid, and by 8 o'clock the infantry passed over and formed in line of battle, the left resting on the road and the right on the river, in the following order: First on the right the 55th, second the 25th, third the 8th, fourth the 36th, fifth the 24th, with two companies on the South of the road. In this position we lay during the night, sheltering ourselves as well as we could from the enemy's two works on the road, which kept up a constant fire until nearly daybreak. Just before day a strong line of skirmishers was thrown out before the brigade, under command of Captain Durham, QM., 29th N.C.T., but acting temporarily on Gen. Ransom's staff.
At just 3 1/2 in the morning of the 20th our line began to move forward, slowly at first, dressing on the centre, and halting occasionally for that purpose. From the start the fire from the enemy's batteries was rapid and severe, striking down many a brave fellow; but, closing up the gaps, the long line moved silently on, the left still resting on the road, till Pegram's battery, dashing forward at a run, unlimbered in front and opened fire on the enemy's works. Then for the first time that morning our boys gave a loud yell of defiance, and quickening their pace to a double quick, pressed with a determination not to be resisted right upon the enemy's two works, which were taken with scarcely a moment's delay, the one on the South of the road by the left of the 24th, led by Col. Clarke, and the one on the right by the right of the 24th, assisted by the 25th. The enemy fled in terror to the houses, Fort William, and any other place which offered them protection from the fierce fire of pursuing ranks.
We were now in the town, and the head of every street running East and West was held by one or more of our regiments; but their position in line was somewhat changed. The 24th was still on the Columbia road, now street, with the 56th and 25th to the right, and the 35th and 8th to the left. Halting a moment to breathe the men and dress the lines, we pushed slowly and carefully forward, clearing the enemy from every street, yard and house, from the windows of which and behind the fences they poured an incessant fire. But nothing could check our progress, and in an hour the enemy were all driven into Fort Williams or the entrenched camp. The fort was on our left and the camp in front. Leaving the 35th, the 8th, and a portion of the 24th to contend with the fort, the rest pushed on to the camp, which the 24th, being on the direct road, soon reached, and opened fire, exposed still to a severe musketry fire from the fort on the flank and the camp in front. In a few minutes the 56th came up on the right by another street and by their arrival decided the contest, for immediately upon the appearance of this additional force the enemy threw down his arms and raised the white flag. Captain Lockheart, of the 56th, ran in to receive the surrender, and instantly both regiments poured into the camp, and throwing down their own foul guns and empty cartridge boxes, took the clean, well filled ones which were lying about, and pressed on through the tents to the western side of the camp, where they could see the United States flag floating over Fort William, evidence that the fighting was not yet done. Here we were shortly joined by the 43d North Carolina, of Hoke's brigade, who came in from the west, having been delayed by a morass, which they had great difficulty in crossing.
THE TOWN IN OUR HANDS.
The town was ours. Every house and street in it swept of the enemy, who, shut up in his stronghold, still refused to surrender. This was a case for the artillerist, and the guns of the captured forts were soon turned upon their stronger brother, fighting, as the result shows, better for us than they had against us. Capt. Cooke, too, of the Albemarle, dropped some of his 90 pound shell among them. Still they resisted stoutly, showing a disposition to die rather than yield. At last, however, some of our boys, creeping forward through the entrenchments, got an enfilading fire upon them, which soon brought them to terms, and hundreds of them rushed out of the fort without arms and surrendered. Just at this time a shell burst directly on the magazine, and when the smoke cleared away the hated flag was fluttering rapidly down to the ground. Without waiting for orders, the brigade swarmed into the fort - company B, of the 24th, leading - and the color of everything was quickly changed from blue to grey.