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26 Series I Volume XXXIII- Serial 60 - New Berne

Page 26 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.

JANUARY 24-25, 1864. - Expedition up the James River, Va.

Reports of Brigadier General Charles K. Graham, U. S. Army, commanding Naval Brigade.

Norfolk, Va., January 25, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following as the result of an expedition organized under my command, consisting of the gun-boats General Jessup, with two launches, each mounting a 12-pounder Dahlgren howitzer; Smith Briggs, with three launches; Flora Temple, and the transport George Washington.

The troops which accompanied the expedition besides the crews of the vessels above named, were the crew of the gun-boat Samuel L. Brewster, Ensign Harris commanding; a detachment of 15 men of the harbor police of Norfolk, and 20 cavalrymen under command of Captain Lee, of the harbor police; 80 men from the crew of the steamer Foster, Captain McLaughlin commanding, and a detachment of 150 men and 6 officers of the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers under the command of Captain Brown.

The expedition left Norfolk at 5 p. m. on the 24th instant, sailed to Newport News, arriving about 7 p. m., when the detachment of the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers was embarked on board the steamer George Washington. The expedition again sailed about 9 p. m. for Brandon, about 7 miles from Fort Powhatan, arriving at that place about 5 a. m. on the 25 instant.

The advance guard under Captain Lee, of the harbor police, was immediately landed, followed by the two launches armed with howitzers. No opposition was made to their landing, and in the course of an hour the whole force was disembarked. The wharf on the plantation was found to be completely destroyed, and it being impossible to land the cavalry that detachment was not used. Captain Lee, pursuant to instructions, advanced a line of skirmishers, surrounding the house of Dr. Ritchie, upon whose plantation the expedition landed. The doctor and overseers were taken and brought back as prisoners, it being ascertained that the doctor was a large contractor with the Confederate Government, from papers found upon his premises.

The information being positive that there was a signal station at Mount Pleasant, on the James River, Captain Lee's detachment, having been increased by the crew of the gun-boat Brewster, 31 men, was ordered to advance to that place, which was about 3 miles from the landing. Coming upon the station, they found the non-commissioned officers in command and men asleep. Six of the party were captured, 1 effected his escape. All the signal apparatus, consisting of one large and one small telescope with their stands, one signal flag, and three night signals, with the arms and accouterments of the men, were taken.

Another detachment was sent out on the left of the landing of the expedition which, though it did not encounter any enemy, rendered valuable service by destroying immense quantities of wheat, corn, and hay, besides sending in a number of horses and mules. Upon the plantation of Dr. Ritchie were found about 5,000 bushels of corn, large quantities of hay and grain, and 24,000 pounds pork, all of which was destroyed.

Page 26 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.