THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE
August 1, 1889
Its Gallant Defense by a Small Force.
Editor National Tribune: For some time I have been a constant reader of your valuable paper, and have been very much interested in the column of “Fighting Them Over”, but have never seen a description of the capture of Plymouth, N.C., so I will give a short sketch of that little fight.
On the 14th [17th] of April, 1864, about 10 o’clock a.m., the rebels drove in our pickets and planted a battery of rifled guns about a mile from town, and sent us their compliments in the shape of shot and shell, which compliment was returned from our side. The garrison at Plymouth consisted of Gen. Wessels’ Brigade, 85th N.Y., 101st and 103d Pa., and a Connecticut regiment - number forgotten -- [16th Conn. - Ed. National Tribune] and one company of the 12th N.Y. Cav. One company of each regiment was on Roanoke Island, and were not captured.
I will confine myself to personal observation. The company to which I belonged was stationed in a little fort three quarters of a mile out of town, to the right, called Fort Wessels, and was the first fort captured. We had two cannon in the fort - one 32-pounder and one six-pounder smooth bore guns.
There was an instance of bravery equal to any performed during the war, enacted by Orderly-Serg’t [Jason L.] Scott; who went outside of the fort and crossed the open field to within 30 or 40 rods of the rebel line, loading and firing as he went. There was only one rebel that returned his fire. Scott would wave his cap at him every time he fired. He got back to the fort without a scratch.
We would climb up on the breastworks and watch the enemy, and when we saw the smoke of their guns would jump down, and as the shell would pass over someone would sing out “dead beat.” Just at dusk they made a charge on us, and came up to the sharpened treetops at the outside of the ditch. We threw hand-grenades among them, and made it so hot that they could not stand it and broke and ran. They rallied and charged three times before they gave it up for a bad job. They then planted four pieces of artillery about 15 rods from the fort, and commenced throwing percussion shell into the fort. The officers had a building for their quarters inside of the fort, and it made a good target for them to explode shells against. It was now dark, and they had men placed all around the fort, lying down, so that a man dare not show his head over the works; if he did he was as good as dead. We had not been firing for some time, and we thought at the time our own gunboats had commenced shelling us. The Captain of my company was wounded by a piece of shell, and there was a council held, and it was decided to surrender; so the white flag was raised, firing stopped, the draw-bridge was lowered, and we marched out. The first thing they said when they saw our little band of about 50 men was, “Where in ---- is all the rest of you-uns?” Someone told them they were all there, except five wounded and killed. The next remark was, “What did you-uns fight so like devils for?” We told them that was what we were there for. We were then marched back out of harm’s way. The next morning they captured the town.
What became of those rebel deserters that enlisted in our army and were captured with us? Where are all the old 85th? Are they all mustered out, that I see or hear from none of them?
Abner Flint, Co. K, 85th N.Y., Spring Lake, Dak.