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Battle of Roanoke Island
New York Times Rebel Accounts


Correspondence of the Richmond Examiner. NORFOLK, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1862. Short-hand narrations of our recent disaster in North Carolina, were received during yesterday, and brief summaries of such as were reliable telegraphed you. Up to this writing (11 o'clock) nothing additional has been elicited in an accurate form. After fully possessing themselves of Roanoke Island, the enemy (10,000 strong) advanced upon Elizabeth City, and when within ten miles of the place, the citizens, deeming it indefensible, applied torches to their dwellings as well as places of business. The representations of the last courier from this locality induce the belief that the Carolinians did their work successfully. Great confidence is expressed that the town has been reduced to one vast ruin, without even leaving shelter for the invaders. The only force at hand for its defence appears to have been Col. HENNINGSON's artillery -- altogether inadequate for such purpose. When my informant left there, little doubt was entertained of the advance of the Yankees against Plymouth and Edenton, lying on opposite banks of Albemarle Sound, and not more than fifty miles distant by water. If such course was adopted, it will doubtless be known here during the day, and promptly sent you. Estimates of our losses, as well as those of the enemy, still come to hand. The most accurate is, perhaps, that sent you previously. Those on our side may be summed: Killed, 300; escaped, 150; wounded or taken prisoners, 1,600. In killed, the Federal (estimated) loss is 1,200 -- what the proportion of wounded, is unknown. Upon simply a question of humanity, your correspondent refused to add to his last dispatch the numerous rumors rite in this city with respect to the fate of Capt. O.J. WISE and his gallant command, the Richmond Blues. The courier who last reached Norfolk gave out as report, but not fixed fact, that Capt. WISE was severely wounded in the leg -- whether dead or alive was not ascertained. His representations with respect to the corps under that gentleman's command were equally mythical. They had charge of Pork Point battery, and behaved most heroically, but, encountering a whole regiment of New-York Zouaves, found it impossible to maintain their position. In this emergency an honorable surrender would have been made to an honorable foe, but finding no quarter, and every principle of honorable warfare ignored, a hand to hand encounter ensued, it is said, in which they were overpowered by numbers, and all but seventeen butchered. Let me advise, however, that your people restrain their lamentations until this sad news has official confirmation. Like much else, it may prove to be a picture of the imagination as to details. The loss of the Confederate gunboats is assigned to the exhaustion of their coal and ammunition. Commodere LYNCH, Commander-in-Chief of our naval forces, retired to Elizabeth City with the purpose of replenishing these supplies, but failed to obtain them. This happening rendered the boats perfectly useless, and LYNCH was unable to participate in the engagement or even to give our troops retreating assistance. Another error, which is reported to have greatly embarrassed Confederate operations -- some assert that it caused the defeat -- was a mistake of Col. HENNINGSEN. Orders are reported to have been issued to him to report on Roanoke Island, and that he mistook Elizabeth for that point. This is a most improbable solution, and will doubless be evaporated by official survey of this last misfortune. Indeed, the popular disposition to criticise and condemn the management of this whole affair, in the absence of well attested details, is exceedingly unjust as well as hurtful. Gen. HUGER, especially, has been the subject of much invective, which is all wrong at this juncture. The public should be slow to condemn in these peculiar times, unless the proof of incompetency or willful neglect of official duty is palpable. Such is not true in this instance, and data for such judgment cannot at present be had. Among the groundless rumors in circulation last evening, was one to the effect that the Federals were advancing through the canal and by foot, ten thousand strong, upon Norfolk and Portsmouth. Yet, without anticipating military arrangements on that score, it may be prudent to concentrate in this section from five to ten thousand additional troops. The importance of the country taken by the Yankees, as our supply region for man and beast, unquestionably requires their early expulsion. But my confidence in our military authorities has not, so far, been shaken. It may be that the Yankees are running into a noose they least expect, but most fear. It is on dit that a flag of truce was sent down to Old Point yesterday, when Gen. WOOL declined communication. If true, there is no solution of the enigma, unless we conclude it was done to prevent Confederate discernment of operations there. It certainly is not difficult to conclude that reinforcements will soon be forwarded from that depot to BURNSIDE. A call for the mustering of militiamen in Portsmouth was issued yesterday, but the response exhibited very empty ranks. This finds explanation in the fact that nine-tenths of the male population there are now in active service, either in the Navy-yard, workshops or the field. Besides, the militia movement is exceedingly humbuggish as well as distasteful. Enough fighting material, on a proper call, can be had there as elsewhere South, and this will be manifest if authority is vested for raising companies in proper hands. No tidings of the result of the chase of BURNSIDE's fleet after the Confederate gunboat Forrest, the only boat which escaped the Federal grasp. The only mortifying story, so far developed, with respect to the defence of Roanoke Island, is the charge that the Thirty-first North Carolina Regiment broke ranks and fled. This has been so constantly affirmed by parties arriving in this city that it ought to be stated. If untrue, this paragraph will offer its officers an opportunity to refute the expression. It certainly wears the appearance of untruth, when we remember how well the North Carolinians fought at Bethel. We add to the letter of our correspondent an account furnished the Petersburgh Express by a member of WISE's company, who participated in the fight: About 7 o'clock, on Friday, a heavy cannonade was opened by the shipping on the island, which continued until about 7 in the evening, doing, however, little or no damage. The next day, (Saturday,) about 9 o'clock, the booming of heavy cannon announced the approach of the enemy. Our brave troops, who had allowed them to land, surmising their number to be about 5,000, prepared to meet them. Rapidly advancing, in a very short time the fearful struggle commenced. By this time the enemy's force was found to be about 15,000. With Spartan fortitude our brave troops met the fierce encounter, and not until the thinness of their ranks warned them of retreat, did they leave their stand. For five hours our brave Southrons stood the fire of an overwhelming force. Finding retreat inevitable, they retired, but halted at times to return their fire. They managed to reach their intrenchments; a charge was made, and complete possession of the island had. About 600 of our men are supposed to be dead, and a large number wounded and taken prisoners. The enemy's loss is set down at 1,500. Four of their ships were sunk by the well-directed fire from our battery. Commodore LYNCH and his fleet succeeded in doing good service -- his ship being among the first to open fire on the shipping. In the midst of the conflict, O. JENNINGS WISE, of Richmond, fell pierced by a ball. When asked if he was hurt much, he replied, "Not much, but give it to them." He was borne away in a blanket. It is much to be regretted that Gen. WISE, from serious indisposition, was detained at Nag's Head. Both he and his son are reported on their way to our city. Sad to say, but very few escaped from that fine command, the "Richmond Blues." Special Dispatch to the Richmond Examiner. NORFOLK, Tuesday, Feb. 11. Another courier arrived here this evening from Elizabeth City, bringing additional and seemingly more accurate particulars of affairs in North Carolina. He reports that three of the gunboats had escaped from that point, and made their way to South Mills, which opens hope of their final refuge through the canal. A Federal iceboat made a charge on Commodore LYNCH's vessel, ran into and cut her in three parts, capturing the Commodore, the rest of the officers and all the crew. The Federals brought fifty vessels into the action, but had as many more approaching. Roanoke Island was well defended, and there our defeat is assigned to the decision of our authorities to permit a portion of the Federal troops to land. Fifteen Richmond Blues certainly escaped. Among the killed are Midshipmen GARDNER and JACKSON, in the defence of Elizabeth City. Midshipman CAMP lost an arm, but is not dead. Second Dispatch. NORFOLK, Tuesday, Feb. 11 -- 11 o'clock at Night. Countless rumors still come in from Roanoke Island. Gen. WISE is certainly at Currituck Bridge, where he will make a stand. He has been reinforced by Col. HENNINGSEN's Artillery. Many houses in Elizabeth City are left standing, the fire having been extinguished. Federal pickets have advanced six miles in the direction of Norfolk. Few of the people of Elizabeth City remained at home to welcome the Federals. Edenton and Plymouth had not been attacked up to this morning. The number of our killed is now estimated at 600; but of course this must be mere conjecture. O.J. WISE and one private of his company are said to have been killed, and ten wounded. All the Blues were taken prisoners except six, who are now here, and will leave for Richmond to-morrow. Gen. WISE's health is improving. NORFOLK, Feb. 11. -- (Received at 10 o'clock P.M.) -- Intelligence has been received to-night of a fight on yesterday, between the Confederate fleet and the Federal gunboats. The conflict was short and active. Com. LYNCH was dangerously wounded and taken prisoner. Three of our gunboats were saved, but the loss of life is not reported. Large Confederate forces are at exposed points, and the enemy will meet with the most determined resistance. It is stated that our loss in killed, wounded and prisoners was 1,700. About 400 escaped from the island. Elizabeth City was shelled without notice. Heavy firing was heard last night, and it is supposed to have proceeded from the locality of Edenton. Federal pickets are reported to be 15 miles North of Elizabeth City. Gen. WISE has arrived at Currituck bridge. Three hundred and ninety-five prisoners, mostly taken at Hatteras, arrived this afternoon from Fort Warren, via Fortress Monroe and a flag of truce. The Examiner adds: "Nothing official has yet been received at the War Department of the Roanoke Island fight. It was understood, however, from such communications as had reached there, that Elizabeth City had only been partially destroyed by our forces. Commodore LYNCH is said to have been taken prisoner by the enemy. HENNINGSEN had not been captured, and was at Edenton. Gen. WISE was expected to arrive in Norfolk last night."

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