Today in History:

703 Series I Volume IV- Serial 4 - Operations in the South and West

Page 703(Official Records Volume 4)  


others; but the great, if not insurmountable, embarrassments produced by the loss the engineers at this moment and of the services of the Navy officers I am obliged to make known to the War Department.

Mr. St. John, of the engineer, under Colonel Talcott, is acting chief engineer in this department, employed as engineer by Colonel Talcott, and appointed by me to act as chief. His services are beyond price. His energy and talent exceed any that I have ever witnessed. No provision, I am told, is made for him, but he remains steadfast to his post, and I hope the President will have it in his power to bestow upon him the commission of captain in one of the corps. He is recommended in the strongest terms, I understand, both by Colonels Leadbetter and Talcott, and mine, in his favor, cannot be made as strong as his own merit. His loss will be irreparable.

I have just returned from below, having secured a supply of about 20,000 bushels of corn and other forage. A regiment of the enemy was routed within 3 miles of Hampton by a display of a few cavalry, under Captain Adams, Third Virginia Cavalry, and three shells from a section of Sands's battery, commanded by Lieutenant Walter H. Robertson, Virginia Artillery. One man of Captain Adams' company was wounded in three places on our side, and 3 or 4 of the enemy killed and wounded.

The enemy made an unsuccessful attempt at ambuscade a few days after, within a mile of Hampton. Another party was flushed by a discharge of one of the rifle pieces of Maurin's Louisiana Battery.

On the 22nd instant, at 12 o'clock at night, two of enemy's steamers fired forty-six shots on our picket guard on James River, just below Warwick, injuring no one. They must have been 3 miles from the shore, yet their shells reached at least half a mile inland. The shell appears to be percussion. I sent one to Colonel Gorgas on account of the excellence of the range and for examination.

There are but twenty-four guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point, both bearing on the water point, There are not more than an average of fifty rounds of ammunition per gun. I have exhausted all the means of representation in my power to obtain more guns and ammunition, and can do nothing more than to keep the fact before the Department, by stating it from time to time.

The engineers (Colonels Leadbetter and Talcott), before the fall of Port Royal, represented that fifty was the smallest number of guns by means of which a successful defense of this place could be expected.

I hope, in view of the great public interests involved and of the excellence of the officers themselves, that the President will have it in his power to commission all of the engineers who have been and are employed on this Peninsula.

The following are the names of the officers who have served and are serving with me: Mr. A. L. Rives, captain, Virginia Engineers; I. M. St. John,chief of engineer department; E. T. D. Myers, captain, Virginia Engineers; Boswell, first lieutenant, Virginia Engineers; Mr. Derrick, engineer, now at Mulberry Island Point; J. R. Crump, first lieutenant, Virginia Engineer; R. L. Poor, second lieutenant, Virginia volunteers; Mr. Morton, engineer, assisting Mr. St. John; Mr. Dade, engineer, assisting Mr. St. John, and W. Belleyens, second lieutenant Virginia volunteers.

All the above names, I presume, are handed in the office of the Chief Engineer, Colonel Leadbetter.

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

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.