FIFTY-FIRST REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
New Berne, N. C., April 22, 1862.
SIR: For the information of the colonel commanding the Second Brigade I submit the following report:
After the landing of the regiment below Elizabeth City, on the 19th instant, I immediately formed it, and by your orders detailed Company A as an advance guard. When we got some distance into the enemy's country Company F was sent forward to the support of Company A. While moving forward along the main road the enemy suddenly opened fire upon us, their position being masked by the dense smoke arising from burning buildings. I immediately filed to the right with the regiment and formed in an open field. In compliance with your orders I conducted the regiment into the woods and moved forward to get on the left of the enemy. While advancing through the woods I received orders from you to send forward a body of skirmishers. I at once ordered Company D forward, which after some delay returned and reported to me the position of the enemy and his battery. I then ordered the regiment forward with the intention of coming on his left and rear; but the thicket being so dense and orders having just been received from you to make no delay in getting into position, I ordered a halt, and determined to move forward, left in front. Going to the left, I ordered Company B to reconnoiter immediately to our front and right.
Having definitely learned the position of the enemy by reports and personal observations I ordered Company B to advance to the right along the edge of the woods, taking position behind the fence. The remaining companies of the regiment followed and got into position. After being exposed to a heavy fire for some time you in person ordered a charge, the men with cheers responding as they advanced across the field in face of a hot fire, driving the enemy before them and obtaining full possession of the ground occupied by them. After this successful charge and termination of the battle I formed the regiment in the open field, and by your orders marched the regiment to the woods occupied by us during the engagement, and threw out as pickets Company B. A detail also was made to bury the killed during the battle.
Early in the evening I received orders from you to hold the regiment in readiness to retire from the field. Shortly after 9 o'clock I had the soldiers noiselessly awakened and formed the regiment as quietly as it was possible to do. The pickets were called in, and the Pioneer Corps, under command of Lieut. Abraham L. Ortlip, sent to the rear to destroy the bridge as we retired.
We moved off between 10 and 11 o'clock, and reached the place of disembarkation the day previous at 6 o'clock on the morning of the 20th instant. The march was long and the rain and mud were well calculated to exhaust the men. Few, however, were left behind, as the stronger very generously assisted the weaker comrades. After some delay the men were re-embarked on steamer Guide.
It is with pain I announce that Lieut. Lewis Hallman, in command of Company E, fell wounded on the field while gallantly leading on his men and is now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, it being impossible, in consequence of his weakness, to bring him with us. With him are 5 more of our men, who by reason of their wounds and the lack of transportation we were compelled to leave behind. As already stated, the number killed is 3; 19 are wounded and 3 are missing. Of the wounded 4 are supposed to be mortally, while the remainder have received but slight injuries. The missing, it is believed, will yet make their appearance.
It gives me pleasure to mention the excellent services rendered me by Actg. Adjt. Lieut. George Shorkley on the 19th and 20th instant. For his activity and courage during the engagement he deserves and has my warmest thanks. I also feel indebted to the quartermaster, Lieut. John J. Freedley, for conveying orders, and he deserves well for the prompt and faithful manner in which he had the wounded cared for. Surgeon Hosack was untiring in his attendance upon the wounded, whose wounds he carefully dressed and administered to their every want up to the hour of our departure. Nor can I forget to mention Sergeant-Major Iredell, who was constantly by my side during the engagement, carrying orders and giving me valuable information by his gallant reconnoitering.
The officers and men all, I may say, behaved well and acquitted themselves in a creditable manner. Too much praise cannot be awarded them for the manner in which they bore up under the fatigue of the long and dusty march. It was well calculated to weary them, yet all behaved most gallantly.
In conclusion, I can only say I endeavored, as far as possible, to carry out all your orders on the 19th and 20th instant.
I am, very truly, yours,
Major, Commanding Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers.
THOMAS S. BELL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade.