From the “Irish American”
THE “CORCORAN LEGION” IN THEIR FIRST FIGHT
Our zealous and esteemed correspondents with the Corcoran Legion furnish this week copious details of the late battle, in which General Corcoran and his command encountered and defeated the Confederates under Roger A. Pryor.
Corcoran’s Irish Legion,
Suffolk, Feb. 4, 1863.
To the Editors of the Irish–American:
The first battle in which the Corcoran Legion participated came off on the morning of the 30th January at a place called Deserted House, about nine miles from Suffolk. At about 9 p.m. on the preceding evening, a sudden order was issued for the 155th and 69th of the Corcoran Legion to march at midnight, as the enemy under General Pryor, was reported to be in full force. The cavalry scouts brought in the latter news, and General Corcoran, having got command, this time was resolved to play them one of their own tricks and attack them early in the morning. He had also placed under his command the 13th Indiana, 130th New York, 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 6th Massachussetts, 167th Pennsylvania (drafted militia,) and the General to be along with us? It being answered in the affirmative everyone rushed readily to his company, and all were on the move at the hour appointed and marched out by the signal station road, the 69th and 155th singing loudly and merrily. They were ordered to keep silence and move briskly; but with such roads as they had to encounter that night, no man could keep silence: at every other step, you plunged into a hole, four feet deep with slush, and the exclamations of the poor wights, many of whom were stuck fast in the mud, were pardonable, fortunately, it was clear moonlight, else many would have to give up the ghost. At first, some would try and pick their steps, but they finally came to the conclusion that they might as well wade right through it, and in some parts of the road, half mud, half river, the water was up to the poor fellows waist; even those on horseback suffered, and several horses got stuck so badly as to require assistance to get them out. I am rather surprised that the General did not bring one of those gunboats with legal draft, for I am sure they could get along. Several of the soldiers lost their boots, and trudged along the remainder of the journey barefoot. Such are the glories of war – to march, that is to say, to run, nine miles on a cold winter night, through oceans of mud, and then to lie down in it until the guns of the enemy shot over you.
To resume – about 4 o’clock a.m. we came to the Nansemond Co. poorhouse, and in half an hour afterwards we heard the loud cheer of the Pennsylvania cavalry, under Coonel Spears, charging on the rebel pickets. This opened the ball. Several of the rebels were killed in the charge, amoung them a lieutenant, whom they left on the ground. Of course we, green ones, were all expectation and excitement, but we pushed along quickly. I rode behind the 69th, and could not but admire the carelesness of the men, and their raillery, especially a young fellow named Burns, of Co. K, who kept all laughing who heard him. Soon after, it being still quite dark, the moon having set, the whole command was well up to the seat of action, which was on an even plateau at the top of a narrow gorge of a road made though the woods, which were quite thick on either side. The cavalry drove the rebels from this, and they were immediately followed up by our batteries, supported by the 13th Indiana and the 130th New York, who were placed in the open space at the top of the gully. The artillery immediately opened fire on the rebel encampment, which was about a mile and a half off. They, in return, sent a galling fire at us, and knowing that we could not advance by any other road but the one of which they had a perfect range, their shot and shell rained hot and heavy over us.
At this time the 69th, 155th, and 167th Pennsylvania were in the gully, and received orders to lie down in order to escape the murderous storm. The roaring and belching of the artillery was dreadful. At the first discharge of the rebels, our artillerists found out that their guns were far superior to ours, and in a very short time from the commencement of the action, one of our guns was disabled and several men and horses killed. This artillery duel lasted till daybreak, illuminating the skies and tearing down trees and houses. The 69th suffered most, for at this time they were exactly in the road at which the rebel guns were pointed, and they could not advance to get out of it in consequence of the 167th Pennsylvania (drafted militia) having (not to put too fine a point on it,) refused to advance, and finally had to fall back a little, as well as the other regiments, to get themselves into line of battle. The 167th officers did very well. Their Colonel, Knoderer, is severely wounded; others had their horses shot under them; but the men would not budge an inch in advance, and at one time the 69th were about receiving orders to fire on them, but for the solicitations of their officers to wait. During this temporary confusion, several were wounded – Capt. Kelly, of the 69th, had his elbow shot away, and but for his canteen, which hung on his side, might have been killed. The Captain was one of the first of the 69th who was brought to the surgeons. The other poor fellows, whose names I append, were maimed dreadfully by the shells.
The artillery principally keeping up the fire, the infantry had little to do but wait their opportunity. Daybreak at last arrived, and then the General formed the regiments in line for the advance and charge. The enemy discovering this, immediately retreated under cover of the woods and their artillery; but ours being, by some mischance, out of ammunition, they had it all their own way. At length the 69th and 13th Indiana pushing out, as also the 130th New York, the enemies infantry made two charges on these, yelling and shouting, but were repulsed with great loss, taking off their wounded and escaping through the back road and woods, protected by a battery of their’s placed under cover, and which it would not be worth the sacrifice of human life to capture. The troops being hungry, a halt was ordered for breakfast. At noon we advanced again about five miles to a place called Pocosin Creek, where we overtook the enemies rear guard, who were put to flight. We being now within two miles of Carsville, and no enemy to be seen, it was considered useless to pursue them any further; so after detailing men to bury the rebel dead, as well as to bring our folk to Suffolk, a liesurely march back was ordered about 4 p.m., which took about eight hours to accomplish. We were absent twenty–four hours, marched thirty–three miles, and drove the enemy back twelve miles. On the roads and in the woods adjoining, were large pools of blood, dead men and dead horses. The rebels had impressed all the wagons of the farmers into their service to carry off their wounded. General Corcoran having gone into a house occupied by a Mrs. Mulholland, a secesh lady, saw the floors covere with blood. She said it had been used as one of the rebel hospitals, and that fourty had been brought there, and four had died: the sight was sickening. Large trees were felle by the shells, and one farmhouse was completely riddled. Hospital steward McMurray, of the 69th, went into a house, where he found the breakfast table set, eatables ready, but no one to eat them, proving the unexpected haste with which the previous occupants had left it; and his assistants, Tom McLoughlin and Pat Ward, partook freely of the luncheon which was just so acceptable. The camp fires of the rebels were still burning, and altogether I think that Pryor got more than his match this time, and owed his escape entirely to the superior power of his artilley. From the official report of Captain Follett, chief of artillery, our guns fired eleven hundred and fourty rounds of shot and shell, so you will at once perceive what a severe engagement it was.
The official reports up to today give the following as the result – our total loss is as follows:–
Of the wounded, most are severely. the missiles being nearly all shell.
The following is the Report of the Killed and Wounded of Corcoran’s Brigade in the action at Deserted House, January 30, 1863:–
SIXTY–NINTH REGT. N.Y.N.G.
Company B. — Sergeant Thomas Woods, shell wound of stomach.
Co. C. — Privates Thomas Stone, shell wound of intestines and groin; Wm. Campbell, shell wound of leg and abdomen.
Co. D. — Private Patrick Coleman, Shell wound of Ilium and abdomen.
Co. ?. — Privates Eli Pitts, amputation of thigh; John Kerns, amputation of arm.
Co. ?. — Corporals James Mechan, shell wound of arm, severe, J. D. Cassidy, shell wound of hand. Private Patrick Ryan, bullet wound of thigh.
Co. ?. — Private Phillip Griffin, slight wound of foot.
Co. F. — Captain M. Kely, shell wound of right elbow.
Co. ?. — Corporal John Carroll, slight wound of scalp.
164TH REGIMENT N.Y.
Co ?. — Private Andrew Grimes, shell wound of hand and side.
Co. F. — Private Henry Schneidler, compound fracture of leg.
155TH REGIMENT N.Y.
Co. B. — Sergeants Patrick Walsh, slight wound and contusion of left knee; Richard Wallace, slight contusion of both knees.
J. DWYER, Surgeon 69th Regt.
In the 69th Regt., Sergeant Woods and Private Campbell were klled almost immediately. The poor fellows were great favorites. Campbell was found with his prayer–book clasped in his hand. Private Stone lived about four hours, and as well as the others of our wounded had the benefit of the religeous kindness of the chaplain, the Rev. Father Gillen, who was all the time with the Surgeon faithfully and fearlessly administering to the spiritual wants of the suffering, wounded and dying. Patrick Colman, a fine able fellow, of Company D, met his death bravely and, during a long agony of four days lingering, never complained. His side and hip were crushed fearfully by a shell. He died on the morning of the 3d inst. Funerals are going all the time in Suffolk since the action. All our poor fellows are buried in the same field, and the whole regiment, with the officers, attended them. I am glad to be able to state, for the satisfaction of the families of the remaining wounded, that they are all doing well. Kerns and Pitts, of Company B, who have suffered amputation, the first of the arm, the latter of the thigh, are in a fair way of recovery. Captain Kelly will be able to start for New York this week, where the comforts of home, I trust, will soon recuperate and heal him.
I must say a word of the strange and ghastly spot under the trees on the road side where the surgeons were compelled to do their sad duty, the cold ground their operating table, and a solitary candle for their light. Surgeons Nolan, Fawcett, Ewen and Spencer were indefatigable in their labors and careless of their own danger. Dr. Spencer had only just joined the regiment, and was a great aquisition. His sterling professional abilities were fully tested on that morning, as also Dr. Ewen, who, in his enthusiasm, could scarcely be restrained from going to the front. The 69th having met with most casualties, Surgeon Dwyer was ably assisted by his confreres, and wishes to acknowledge his indeptedness to them. Dr. Nolan, was the only one who had been under fire before, having distinguished himself at Bull Run, where his greatest ambition was to amputate a rebel General’s head and charge a rebel battery. How the Doctor, who is not six feet high, got through the mud of the roads to Suffolk, coming back, puzzles me, and I believe but for the energetic efforts of his muscular assistant – Dr. Fawcett, the Maurice Quill of the medical staff, whose powers of amputation are only equalled by his surgical skill – he might be still be firmly lodged in the clayey soil of Virginia.
There were many opportunities that day of judging of the merits and bravery of our companions, many of whom were on trial for the first time. The 13th Indiana and the 130th New York nobly distinguished themselves. Of General Corcoran nothing need be said, if not to blame him for exposing himself too much. He was everywhere, and had one narrow escape. He and Colonel Spears and Lieutenant Hughes had ridden out in advance, when a piece of artillery fired on them, and dashed the mud in their faces, killing Colonel Spears’ horse. The General speaks in the highest terms of his staff. Lieuts. Hughes and Winterbottom carried his orders fearlessly in the midst of danger, while Lieutenant Tracy was the impersonation of bravery, riding anywhere and everywhere in advance. Assistant Adjutant General Blodgett received a slight abrasion of the knee from a piece of shell, which also injured his holster and saddle. The 155th, Colonel McEvily, behaved excellently. the men were cheering enthusiastically even on the battle–ground for their Major Flood. Captain O’Dwyer also became a greater favorite than ever, and the men and officers of the 69th New York National Guard maintained, to the fullest extent, under the most galling fire, their old reputation. How could they act otherwise than nobly with such men to lead them as Colonel Matthew Murphy (who was complimented on the field by the General), Colonel Reed, Major Butler and Adjutant Canton. All these were mounted, and remained so even at the time when the men were all ordered to lie down close to the ground while the leaden hail was pouring over them. Company D, Captain Maguire, was the color company for the day, and Corporals Cassidy and Mahon, Color–bearers, were both wounded. The coolness of Capts. Sullivan and Coonan during the whole affair was remarkable, but not more so than that of every other officer in the regiment, all alike distinguished themselves.
Private James Collins, of the 11th Pennsynania Cavalry, being detailed as General Corcoran’s orderly, was with him all through, and is deserving of great praise for his fearless bearing.
We have taken thirty prisoners – three of them were boldly captured by Sergt. Philips of Co. C, Capt. Page’s, of the 155th. He alone made them lay down their arms, and brought them to his company. Privates Rice and Lenehan, of Co. A, 69th Regt., captured two. The prisoners were a very fair looking set of men, had new rifles and new butternut suits of clothing. They reported that our first fire killed a Colonel, who was talking at the time to Gen. Pryor and his Assist. Adjt. General – either Col. Pogue or the Col. McMahon whom the rebels some time ago pitted against Corcoran.
Ferris, our Regimental Postmaster, tried to catch a runaway rebel, but, having lost his own shoes in the swamp, the rebel outdistanced him. Ferris made a very forced march to Suffolk, with mud boots instead of leather ones; and I was glad to find that my lively young friend, Burns, of Cork, was alive with a whole skin, and as merry as ever. When we got back to Suffolk, our friends of the 170th and 164th, who were indignant that they had not an opportunity of participating, because they had to do garrison duty, besieged us with questions, and our worthy newsman, Mr Canty, had a disconsolate look, for he sold no newspapers that day, the news from the Deserted House having absorbed all the thoughts of his regular customers.
We were sorry that the 250 good and true men of the Albany Regt., who were with us since we left Camp Scott, were not with us that day. They were a few weeks ago sent away from us to New Orleans, to join the remainder of their regiment under Col Bryan. The regiment was recruited to serve under Gen. Corcoran, but, by some mismanagement of the New York authorities, has been transfered to Banks’ command, and our brigade has lost a good regiment by this, to say the least of it, unfair proceeding. The officers and men left us with very great regret, and protested strongly against the injustice of being taken away from their chosen commander.
And now that this battle of Deserted House is fought and won, what does it amount to? The Legion has gained honor and glory, but what is honor and glory? I believe, with Falstaff, that “honor will not set a broken leg.” What is to make up for the sufferings of the wounded? What for the distress of the deserted wives and children of the unhappy men who have fallen on both sides? Who will solace them? Who will feed them? Where the romance of a soldiers life lies, I have yet to find out. Anything but romance may be now seen in the funeral processions through the streets of Suffolk, and in the miseries of the cold, dreary hospitals, where the surgeons have to go through seas of red tape to get the smallest necessary. I know one who is trying in vain, for the past four months, to get a broom for his hospital. Oh, that the movers of this war had themselves to participate in the active duties of warfare, we would then soon have an end to it.
HEADQUARTERS (PHŒNIX REGIMENT,)
CORCORAN’S IRISH LEGION.
SUFFOLK, VA., Jan. 30, 1863.
2 P.M. – Indications of a severe skirmish are visible – the arrival of orderlies, aids, foaming horses, wounded and even killed.
It seems information was received yesterday that the enemy was in force some few miles from here, threatening a raid upon Suffolk. Dodge’s Mounted Rifles were ordered out to reconnoitre, and if need be intercept them. Other regiments were ordered in different directions, but I do not at resent know their number or names; however, they brought their wagons and ambulances along, looking quite prepared for action.
At about ten o’clock last night the General rode into camp of the 164th, and ordered two companies to prepare three days’ rations and report to Col. McEvily, at 11 p.m. Capt. Eugene O’Sullvan’s and Capt. Morony’s companies were selected, and they accordingly left. The 69th and 155th also left, and Gen. Corcoran has gone, too.
About two this morning we heard tremendous cannonading, carried on briskly and steadily, apparently not far away. At 4a.m. we were ordered under arms, and are so up to now. Courier arrives, reports fighting going on; they guess at the force of the contending parties, but as their accounts vary materially I forbear giving the estimates as I do not wish to go into probabilities.
The cannon is still booming at intervals, and reinforcements are still going out. A squad of artillery have just come in for ammunition and accoutrements and have brought five of the dead along with them.
Captain Kelly, of the 69th, is wounded in the arm. A splintered shell struck his canteen, thereby saving his life. It is said our General is exposing himself and is to be seen everywhere.
The Secessionists were in a high state of glee last night, and had their dwellings illuminated at the prospect, possibly of their friends entering Suffolk; – that will not be while the Irish Legion is about. We are expecting every moment the order to move. As soon as I get particulars, look out for an account. Attribute any mistake to haste.
4 P.M. – Mr. Temple has just arrived from the scene of strife. Reports the fight still progressing fiercely, and the General, though exposing himself, is unhurt. He is driving the rebels rapidly before him; but, like goaded bulls, they make a stand now and again. He reports many wounded and killed. Rumors are rife of this officer and that officer being killed or wounded; but they are only rumors. There is no foundation.
Col. Murphy is fighting bravely at the head of his men. The fight continued without intermission last night and today. The repesentatives of the Phœnix Regiment are doing nobly and winning laurels.
Jan. 31, 2 a.m. – The boys have returned. Today there is an unwonted stillness in the camp of the Legion. They have had their first fight under Corcoran as Brigadier–General, and their first fight proves a victory. Yet, though rejoiced at success a solemn stillness reigns, for it was brought at the price of blood. And though little even of that was shed, it was the first engagement; and men not inured to scenes the must of necessity occur, have a natural horror at the site of mangled forms and shudder at what a veteran would think but little about. One or two bodies lie in each camp; each body has its knot of awestruck visitors, religious and grave disonssors and thinkers on futurity. Some have left the world without revealing to their comrades the place of residence, or if families were depending on them. Imagination may have led them to believe that they would not be so soon hurried away; but how many have been taught by the few. What a reflective study is caused by a glance at those soulless features! What depth of expression in (what is styled) an expression–less face! You can perceive in the face of the dead the thoughts, the feelings, the impulse that quicken him, when life was cut short. One face made a particular impression upon me. It appeared as if the man had risen from a bent position, and was stealthily and cautiously creeping ahead, looking about and endeavoring to protect and secrete himself. The features had indellibly stamped upon them awe and caution combined, the shadow of the mind peering through the face.
I am able to gather the following in relation to the fight, from various sources. At about two a.m., of the 30th, about five thousand of our men, under Gen. Corcoran, met about eight thousand of the rebels under Gen. Pryor, at a place called the “Deserted House.” It was dark and our boys could not see the exact position of the enemy. The General ordered the infantry to lie down, and the artillery in position, to blaze away until daylight would disclose the secret. Shot and shell flew thick and fast, the artillery keeping up a continuous engagement. Our strength was composed of the following regiments:– 4th Artillery (Regulars). Howard’s Battery; the 13th Indiana, the 165th and the 167th Pennsylvania (conscripts), the 69th, 112th and 155th New York, and the detachment of the Phœnix Regiment. The enemy had a great advantage during the darkness, throwing his shells pretty accurately, wounding several of the men and killing some. It was here our men suffered most, as the rebels had the best of it by knowing their exact situation, while our side was somewhat confused, our gunners aiming only on supposition; besides, the rebels had twelve pieces, while we had but eight. But when morning dawned our boys rallied, drove the enemy from his position back, foot by foot, for three miles, he still contesting and desperately fighting for superiority. Our men say the enemy fought bravely and tenaciously disputed every inch of ground. He again made another stand when about the distance of three miles, and another desperate artillery duel was fought. It was of about three hours’ duration. It was described as being a grand sight, though not a very pleasant one. A charge was made upon the rebel battery but it proved vain, the guns alone were to route them. Two of the rebel guns were disabled and one of ours. The enemy retired completely crest–fallen. The prisoners were quite sure that their side would win the day, and made many vain boasts which amounted to naught.
Our men rested here, awaiting reinforcements and ammunition, and when they came the General pursued the enemy in hot haste, determining that he should be trapped entire or be made to recross the Blackwater. We came up to him at Carsville, where he had a most advantageous position and seemed resolute in retrieving the broken fortunes of the day and night. This was the shortest, fiercest and most decisive struggle. Both parties determined to be the victors; but the rebels little thought of the prowess and stamina contained in the two regiments of the Irish Legion then before them, and the little band of heroes dispatched from the Phœnix Regiment. The guns blazed and blazed away without any result. Pryor was bent on defeating Corcoran; but he selected the wrong man. Corcoran was conspicuous everywhere. Shot and shell flew about him in every direction; but, like Meagher, he bore a charmed life. Neither can be spared in a strange country, their services are required at home – in Ireland. He was the guide and director of all the movements. Seeing that his guns were not producing much effect, he ordered a charge to be made upon one of the principle batteries doing us most damage. The gallant 13th Indiana, and his own regiment, the 69th, 155th and detachment of the Phœnix he selected. With a yell and rousing cheers they rushed in and had a desperate conflict, but eventually suceeded, and Roger A. Pryor was forcd to retire to more comfortable quarters across the Blackwater. The General exultingly followed him a few miles outside Carrsville, and seeing no trace of him left, returned a victor – his first victory as Brigadier General.
The entire loss in killed and wounded is estimated at about 100, while the rebel loss must far exceed that.
The General went into a house along the road to take a cup of coffe, and counted forty bodies there, which Roger in his haste left after him. The loss of the 69th, in killed and wounded, is about ten; the 155th, about ten; the 164th, one killed, Grimes, of Co. I.
Captain Blodgett, the General’s Chief of Staff, and the brave young aids, Lieutenants Tracey, Winterbottom and Hughes, are highly talked about everywhere, acting like their chief in being cool and collected in the heat of the contest.
Lieut. Winterbottom’s horse was killed by a shell in the engagement, but he was unhurt, and was soon again mounted and ready for work. Captain Blodgett got a slight wound on the knee.
An incident is worth relating of Captain O’Sullivan, of the 164th (Phœnix) Regiment. The 167th Pennsylvania (conscripts), were ordered ahead when near the rebel cannon; a panic seized them and, shamefully, officers and men skedaddled. They knocked against our boys in their turn, who could ill brook it, and freely gave them the butts of their muskets. Captain O’Sullivan was also knocked against by an officer in his rage, and says, “You Pennsylvanian Dutch son of a gun if you don’t go back at a double quick, I’ll put this sword to the hilt in you.” They saw that the Captain was determined and would hold no parley with him. He turned on his heel, and as he did the Captain gave him a good prod with the sword, and says that the Dutchman gave such a step over the brook and took such a run that since he has not seen him.
Lieut. Beattie endeavored to perform a similar feat upon several of the gentry, but being so small it was without effect, Col. Murphy requested leave to fire upon them if they ran again. Captain Morony cannot be too highly praised for the coolness he displayed and the bravery with which he led his boble body of men to each attack. He stood as unconcernedly in the midst of the fire as if in a ball room. And at a peculiar ball he was. His lieutenants, also McGinn and Boyle, desere great credit; but where so many brave men are it is hard to individualise. However, the regiments of the Legion did their duty, winning laurels for themselves and leader.
I cannot yet get the list of the killed and wounded, but will send it as soon as prepared.
It is said Pryor is back again with a very large force. A reconnoitering party is out. Let him not brave us. Corcoran is alive and in the best of spirits.
SIXTY–NINTH REGT. N.Y.N.G.
The annexed letter from Captain Kirker, Brigade–Quartermaster of the Legion, we have been permitted to copy by the gentleman to whom it is addressed:–
SUFFOLK, VA., Jan. 31, 1863.
My dear Mr. Heavey:
You will have heard before this reaches you, that the General has at last met Pryor, and whipped him most completely, driving him before him with great slaughter. I have writen an account of it to Strong, and have not now time to say more than that the General and all the officers of the Legion are safe, with the exception of Captain Kelly, Co. F, 69th Regiment, whose arm was shattered by a shell. The General bears a charmed life, or he would have been killed long ago Shells burst all around him. A tree was cut in two by a round shot and fell alongside of him, knocking Col. Spears, who commanded the cavalry, off his horse, and just passing by the General. A correspondent of the Herald, a Mr. Wilson, who was here, was one of the most fearless fellows on the field, riding about and writing while the shells and balls flew all about him. Tel Felix O’Rourke that Dr. Dwyer distinguished himself; he made fiften or twenty amputations of all kinds, arms, legs, &c.; and after all was over he wanted to know if they called that a battle – he thought that it was only a small fight. This fight is acknowledge by all the regular officers here as the most severe artillery engagement that ever took place on this continent. Our batteries fired from four o’clock in the morning when the battle commenced, until about three o’clock the next day; 1,180 shell, canister and grape shot, and the rebels must have fired double as much, as they outnumbere us in guns and men; but the slaughter we committed on them was immense, Col. McMahon, whom the Richmond papers said they would like to see opposed to Gen. Corcoran, commanded one wing, and either he or Pryor is desperately wounded, as after driving them across the Blackwater and pursuing them with the cavalry until they escaped beyond our reach, the General, on his return, went to a house which had been used as a hospital and found that over eighty bodies had been brought in there, and the woman said that some very high officer was among the wounded, and had been removed.
Take it all in all, “the Battle of the Deserted House” was a first class engagement, and our loss in men is heavy. The 69th acted splendidly. You will see more in the papers than I could write in a week.
JAMES B. KIRKER.
HEADQUARTERS 170TH REGT., N.Y.S.V.,
CORCORAN’S IRISH LEGION,
CAMP MC–IVOR, SUFFOLK, VA., Feb. 5, 1863.
To the Editors of the Irish–American:
A few words concerning the 2d Regt. of the Legion, this week, may not be uninteresting to the readers of the IRISH–AMERICAN. The Legion has been favored with long wished–for “brush” with the enemy: a nice little fight of sufficient length and severity to make them have a taste for fighting. The redoubtable Pryor has seen the green flags of the Legion, and the glimpse he caught of them has been sufficient, I hope, to make him more cautious when he crosses the Blackwater again. He expected to steal a march upon us, and find us napping, but the tables were turned upon him, and he met with the surprise he had calculated upon favoring us with. The General is too good and cautious a soldier to be taken by surprise, and Roger A. Pryor will find that he is always ready when that redoubtable hero thinks proper to pay Suffolk a visit, to give him a “warm” reception.
The loss of the Brigade in the late battle has been slight. The 69th, with the gallant Col. Murphy leading, displayed the valor for which it has beome distinguished. Gen. Corcoran, whose coolness under fire was remarkable, has added new laurels to his name, by the manner in which he commanded in this short but severe engagement.
The 170th, who were ordered by Gen. Peck to protect and guard an important position, so as to prevent a flank movement on Suffolk, were twice sent for by Gen. Corcoran on the field, but could not be spared by Major Gen. Peck, the position they were holding being deemed too important to admit of their being sent away. Our brave Colonel J. P. McIvor, while the engagement was in progress, requested repeatedly to be sent to the scene of combat, but his request could not be granted.
The boys of the 170th were as eager as their Colonel to take part in the fight, and were held in readiness, expecting to march at every moment.
In the next brush with the cavalry we hope to take an important part.
The health of the regiment still continues good, notwithstanding the very bad weather we have had, and, from appearances, seems likely to continue. Snow fell here yesterday to the depth of six inches, and it has been intensely cold since.
Captain M. C. Murphy, of Company C, has been elected Lieutenant Coonel of the 170th, that position being made vacant by the promotion of Lieutenant Colonel McIvor to the Colonelcy of the regiment.
We have been expecting daily the arrival of the Paymaster in camp, but as yet his welcome face has not made up it’s appearance. An early visit, even though it should be a brief one, would be very acceptable to the Legion. The families of the soldiers need money very much, and some are in a very destitute condition in consequence of the delay of the government in paying off the soldiers. There are very few soldiers in the Legion who have not large families depending on them for support, and hence the government should not delay in attending to their wants in this respect.
The officers of the 170th are in good health and spirits. Lieutenant T. D. Norris, whom we expect soon to call Captain Norris, and his neighbor, Lieutenant Jim Smith, with Captains Duff, Donnery and Donnelly are eager for the fray, not forgetting Captains Lynch and De Barry, and their efficient Lieutenants, P. R. Dunne and Donnelly.
Hoping soon to have something of interest to relate concerning the 170th Regiment, I remain yours, &c.,