top of page

​THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION; The Attack upon Roanoke Island Commenced. REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE REBELS. The National Forces Said to Have Been Twice Repulsed. THE REBELS CONTRADICTING THEMSELVES Late Advices from Our Special Correspondent. The Fleet at Anchor in Pamlico Sound--Sabbath Observances--Drills--Music--Chaplains--Loss of the Steamer E.H. Herbert.

FORTRESS MONROE, Saturday, Feb. 8. A flag of truce from Craney Island, to-day, brought over several ladies, to go North. A lady passenger by the flag of truce reports that Gen. HUGER to-day informed her that he had received a dispatch from Roanoke Island, to the effect that the National forces had advanced to Roanoke Island and had been twice repulsed. The attack commenced at 7 o'clock, yesterday morning, and the fight was still going on when the latest news was received. NORFOLK, Saturday, Feb. 8. A messenger, arrived to-day from Roanoke Island, reports that four Federal steamers were off the Island last night, and a large number of vessels were twelve miles below the Island. An attack was expected at this point. Gen. WISE is in better health. MONDAY, Feb. 3 -- 4 o'clock A.M. The days of our tribulation are not yet accomplished; the spell is still upon us -- the spell of weather, I mean; and the great invading fleet of Uncle Sam still rides majestically at anchor in the breezy Sound of Pamlico, where, to all appearances, it might ride until July, if it is to wait for "settled weather." The wind has been blowing "stiff" from the Northeast for twenty-four hours, and yesterday no boats, except they were strongly manned, dared to venture away from the ship's side. Consequently there was no visiting, no orders -- except a call on the regiments of the first brigade for a morning report -- and no mail. The troops, pent up on board of their ships, improved the last Sabbath before the attack according to their individual tastes. It was rumored that the day would be observed with more than the usual solemnity, the chaplains being requested to return thanks to the Almighty for our progress thus far, and invoking His benediction upon our arms. But no such order came from "Headquarters." We have outgrown those old-fashioned notions. The prevalent idea in the management of this windy campaign seems to be fully embodied in that terse remark attributed to CROMWELL," Pray to God, but keep your powder dry," with particular emphasis on the powder. I trust it will not all end in smoke. The New-England troops excel in the musical faculty, and in every regiment from Massachusetts, Connecticut or New-Hampshire music-teachers or good singers abound, and many an otherwise tedious evening has thus been beguiled by the elevating influence of music. In this respect no regiment, perhaps, is more favored than the Massachusetts Twenty-third composed chiefly of Salem, Marblehead, Danvers and Boston men. Many of the officers were members of the best musical societies, and leaders or pillars in their church choirs at home. Could their friends have looked in upon us on board of the Highlander, during many of the boisterous nights we have been anchored in this Sound, while the storm howled without, they might have heard: -" Perhaps Dundee's wild, wra[???]bling measures rise. Or plaintive martyrs, worthy of the name, Or noble Elgin beat the heavenward flame." On board of the Huzzar, which carries the left wing of the Twenty-third, they have their full share of sweet singers, and a very excellent band of music, under the lead of HENRY C. BROWN, of Boston. In the centre of the fleet, which covers an area of some two miles of the bay, is anchored the S.R. Spaulding, the present flag-ship of Gen. BURNSIDE. From her high decks he can easily survey the entire fleet, and observe all that is going on. On the deck of one or two vessels near us are gathered quiet groups of soldiers and the sublime strains of "Old Hundred" which float across the waters, human voices mingling with the bands, testify that they are engaged in religious worship. To many of these brave and earnest men it will be, perhaps, their last Sabbath on earth. On the hurricane deck of the Admiral the officers of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, with a portion of their troops, whose bright bayonets gleam like polished silver in the morning sunlight, are practising their skirmish calls. Their movements are watched from neighboring vessels with much interest, and with something of amusement, while the officers and men wheel right and left by turns, fall down, rise up, practice the double-quick, deploy by fours, & c., all at the sound of the bugle. The following are the skirmish calls for the First Brigade: Quick time...........Ellen Bayne. Double quick..........Yankee Doodle. Display as skirmishers..........Girl I Left Behind Me. Retreat..........Pop Gees the Weasel. Halt..........Same as in U.S. Tactics. March by the right flank........Rail Columbia. March by the left flank..........Red, White and Blue. Commence firing..........Half Officers' Call. Cease firing..........Same at in U.S. Tactics. Lie down..........Same as in U.S. Tactics. Rise up..........Same as in U.S. Tactics Rally by fours..........Same as in U.S. Tactics. Rally by platoons..........Same as in U.S. Tactics. Rally on the reserve..........Old Dan Tucker. Rally on the battalion..........Wait for the Wagon. Copies of the above have been furnished to the troops, and the regimental bands are practicing the calls. The strong northeaster which prevails renders these efforts at drill on the contracted space of the steamer's deck somewhat difficult, and not a little unpleasant. The thermometer status at 43°, a temperature which keeps many of the men below decks, and makes fire comfortable. It is understood that orders will be issued to start in the morning. We are undoubtedly to make our first landing at Roanoke Island, carrying with us three days' provisions. As this will not reach you until long alter this event has passed, there is no longer any necessity of withholding thus much from the public. This point taken and fortified, the army and naval force will move rapidly to another place. As circumstances must in a great measure govern our movements, it would be premature to say anything further. It is even doubtful whether it is yet determined which way the army will move. To-day the sky is still overcast, the wind blows with its accustomed strength, and, as yet, there are no signs of a movement. I have risen at an early hour to scratch a few last notes, expecting that the steamer Suwanse will leave with dispatches this morning. Appearances indicate, however, that she will [???] until the fleet moves northward. LOSS OF STEAM-TUG E.H. HERBERT -- CREW SAVED. In my account of the narrow escape from ship-wreck experienced in my last trip from Fort Monroe reference was made to a steamer which sailed in company with us, but turned back after getting as far as Hatteras Shoals. This was the E.H. Herbert, of Baltimore, Capt. WM. MATHE. She was abandoned in a sinking condition the following day, Friday last, her captain and crew being rescued by Capt. SETH C. AVERY, of the schooner Wm. H. Mailler. When she reached the entrance of the slue, off Hatteras, her engine became disabled, so that the little steamer could not make half her usual speed, compelling her to put back, which she did, with the hope of reaching Cape Henry. They reached the vicinity of New-Inlet late on Friday afternoon, when just as night was about closing around them, and the vessel was going down, Capt. ARREY discovered the vessel heading toward him with her colors set Union down. It was a most providential deliverance. There was only time for the Captain of the tug to clear away his boat, and with his hitherto despairing crew, to step out of his sinking craft. A heavy squall from the northeast struck the vessels at this moment, which rendered abortive all efforts to save anything on board, and in which she soon disappeared from view and went down. The Captain and crew were brought to Hatteras Inlet, arriving safely on Saturday evening. The Captain's name is WILLIAM MATHE; Engineer, H.C. HANOOR; Pilot, GABRIEL MACOMBER, The other names I have not learned. NEGLECT TO PROVIDE PILOTS. The individual who has in charge the business of seeing to the piloting in of the strange vessels continually arriving here, is much complained of for neglecting to send out pilots when they are wanted by vessels in the offing. The Mailler lay off the bar over four hours with colors flying for a pilot, and no attention whatever was paid to the signal. As night was coming on, and as he had already experienced two gales of wind in the gulf, Capt. AREY determined to put her in. He was unacquainted, but succeeded in finding his way through the breakers and reached his anchorage in safety. The schooner R.C. Stannard. of Baltimore, was in company with the Mailler, and did not get in until Monday. He was off the bar with all his signals set for forty-eight hours. FINAL ARRANGEMENTS. Gen. BURNSIDE has been quite busy, during the last two days and nights, in completing final arrangements for his departure. These have embraced the necessary distribution of water and provisions to the fleet -- some six days' supply; the apportionment and command of the troops; programme of landing; the distribution of Lieut. FRICKER's signal corps, on which great reliance must be placed, for the transmission of information from one point to another, day and night; and the inspection of the fleet generally. The small fleet of steam-tugs, which arrived on Thursday from Fortress Monroe -- the terriers of the navy -- will be chiefly relied upon to tow the sailing transports to places of convenient landing. As I am writing this on the deck of the Spaulding, the scene presented is of the liveliest description. The wind has died to a calm, and glimmers of sunshine give hope of a bright afternoon and a pleasant morrow. On all sides, steamers, sailing transports, gunboats and naval vessels are grouped together, their decks alive with expectant troops, who are as jubilant as children just released from school at the prospect of moving away from this place, so long he theatre of their confinement, perplexity, and hopes deferred. The regimental Bands are sounding the strains of "Dixie," "Red, White and Blue," and other patriotic airs across the still waters of the sound. Among them, ringing out with clarion notes, is the shrid bugle of "JOE GREEN," of the Rhode Island fourth Regiment. All ears pause to listen, and breathless silence reigns while his magic fingers are on the keys of that silver bugle. The scene is well calculated to raise the long-depressed feelings of the poor fellows who have so heroically endured their protracted imprisonment on shipboard, in this most stormy and disagreeable part of the coast. They will fight hard for a footing upon any portions of terra firma whenever the opportunity may present itself. TIME FIXED FOR DEPARTURE. MONDAY, 3 P.M. General BURNSIDE has just announced to his officers his intention to start to-morrow, Tuesday morning. Each vessel has a ten-days' supply of water and provisions; and as everything is nearly ready as it can well be, there is no longer any known reason for delay. The sky is at present clouded over, and the wind is canting to the southeast, from which there is a light air prevailing. As the mail will be sent on board the Suwannce at once, and as I have nothing further to refer to, until we reach that long-looked-for island called Roanoke, I close my letter under the inspiring strains of "Sweet Home," from Gilmore's Band, of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, and hoping to send you cheering news from the old North State by the next mall. I ought not to omit mention of the valuable services which have been rendered to the entire command by Mr. WILLIAM D. HALE, of New-York, for his efforts in the distribution of the soldiers' large mall, which has arrived here during the week. Mr. HALE is a worthy son of Mr. JAMES W. HALE, late of the Journal of Commerce. E.S.

bottom of page