A CORRESPONDENT of the Troy Times in describing the recent skirmish near Newmarket Bridge Dec 22 says:
The most singular thing connected with this skirmish was the appearance of a woman mounted upon a beautiful horse riding fearlessly in the thickest part of the fight and report says that she rode far in advance of the rebel cavalry and dashing up to the captain of Company G Twentieth regiment discharged a pistol at him when he turned around she smiled and rode off. The captain says he could easily have ended her life had he felt disposed but he was too much of a gentleman to shoot a woman. But the most provoking of all was the appearance of a company of niggers among the rebel infantry and three of those wounded from the Twentieth regiment were shot by these black rascals. We can fight men and even niggers, but we can't fight women though I think if this rebel horsewoman or any more female cavalry make their appearance in another fight they had better keep out of range of our rifles.
The following description of the affair at Newmarket Bridge on the 22nd of December 1861 is taken verbatim from "A Regimental History of the Twentieth Regiment, New York State Volunteer Infantry (The United Turner Rifles) Turnschützenregiment":
Full Account of the Newmarket Bridge Affair Gallantry of our German troops.
Fortress Monroe, Va. , Dec. 23, 1861.
The monotony of camp life here at Camp Hamilton was broken yesterday by the intelligence that an action of some magnitude had taken place between a detachment of 150 men of the Twentieth Regiment New York Volunteers, in command of Major Engelbert Schneff, and about seven hundred rebel soldiers. The particulars of the affair are as follows: - Major Schneff having lost a man from his command the day before, left Newport News on Sunday morning at eleven o'clock at the head of one hundred and fifty men, and wended his way towards Newmarket Bridge in search of him. Arriving near the bridge, the Major detailed some of his men to cross the creek, and charged them to search closely in the woods, as the man might have hidden himself from the enemy, who was seen about the place for several days previous. The reserve was placed behind the Newmarket Bridge (that is, where the crossing formerly was), and another detachment at Sinclair's Farm. The position of our men had scarcely been taken up, when the skirmishers of the Twentieth regiment discovered the enemy, consisting of three companies of infantry, among them one company of negroes, who appeared in the front, and made an attack. The left flank was attacked at the same time by two squadrens of cavalry, who came dashing along at a terrible gait and deafening yells. Our men stood their ground manfully, and, as soon as the proper moment came to fire, that cavalry being near enough (about 150 yards), the order to fire was given, and obeyed with alacrity. The reserve drove the cavalry back, killing several of them while retreating.
The skirmishers on the other side of the bridge were recalled by the Major, and owing to the bridge having been destroyed, they were compelled to swim across, hotly pursued by the enemy.
The pursuit of the rebels was so determined that a hand to hand engagement occurred. The pursuing party was joined by the negro soldiers, and Captain Stumpf, of the Twentieth regiment, was struck upon the back with the butt end of a musket, but not severely hurt.
Major Schneff hereupon took a position, deploying his entire force along the river banks as skirmishers, and a terrible fight ensued. The enemy fired by companies, whereas the fire of our men on the pursuers was by files and so rapid that one rebel officer and a private that stood on the other side were killed and tumbled into the river on their faces. The enemy hereupon withdrew as fast as possible, firing as they ran, leaving their dead and wounded behind. Six men of the Twentieth regiment were slightly wounded. The enemy's loss, as far as ascertained, was ten killed (three were picked up yesterday and seven today) and probably twenty or more wounded. One of the latter was brought off the field and treated by Assistant Surgeon Heiland of the Twentieth regiment. Several horses of the cavalry were also killed. The corpses of the two men who fell into the creek floated off with the tide, and acting Brigadier General Weber sent a detachment off to pick them up, if possible, to have them decently interred.
One of the bodies only was found, and in the center of the forehead was a hole from a bullet, which evidently was the cause of the death of this poor man. In his pockets were found a number of letters, and by that we ascertained that his name was John Hawkins, Adjutant of the Alabama Minute-Men. On his coat the buttons bore the letters A.M.M. About thirty dollars in shinplasters was also found on his body, and a small bag, slung about his neck, contained nineteen dollars in gold. The bills were on the banks of North Carolina and Virginia, and as low as ten cents in value. The enemy had retreated about three hundred paces, and having again taken up a position, commenced to pour a terrible fire upon Major Schneff''s command, without, however, doing any execution. The shower of bullets was so terrible that the houses, trees, and fences in the vicinity were completely riddled. The Turners, however, being greatly inferior in strength, kept a safe distance and did not reply to this fire.
Immediately after the fight commenced, Major Schneff, seeing that he had to cope with a force of three to one, sent off an orderly to Newport News, and also a messenger to acting Brigadier General Max Weber for reinforcements. General Weber instantly dispatched the six companies of the Twentieth regiment, in command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Weiss, stationed at Camp Hamilton, and in company with Captain H. M. Burleigh, Provost Marshal of the camp, proceeded to the scene of action. Brigadier General Joseph B. T. Mansfield also hastened to the battlefield, heading the remainder of the Twentieth regiment battalion at Newport News, and the Second regiment, New York volunteers.
The Union Coast Guard, in command of Colonel D. W. Wardrop, being anxious to participate in the affair, were in marching order in the shortest possible time, and marched to Hampton bridge where they were kept in reserve. Such was the anxiety of the Coast Guard to be in the fight that a number of them smuggled themselves into the ranks of the Twentieth regiment, and were only discovered after having crossed the bridge. The other regiments of General Weber's brigade were very much disappointed in not being able to march forward and mingle in the impending battle, as they thought.
When General Weber arrived at the scene of action the fight was over, and the enemy was still visible in the distance, on the retreat. General Weber, however, received information that several of the men belonging to Major Schneff's battalion were missing. He thereupon sent Lieutenant Colonel Weiss in command of one company across Newmarket Bridge to follow the enemy in quest of the missing Turners. Colonel Weiss found three men who had been sent ahead as skirmishers before the action, and had the enemy during the entire action between them and the Twentieth regiment, but had remained undiscovered by the rebels, lying in the woods. Shortly after the arrival of the reinforcement, headed by General Weber from Camp Hamilton, Brigadier General Mansfield and staff, accompanied by the Second regiment, NYSV, Colonel J. B. Carr, came to the scene of action.
The enemy, however, had by this time probably reached a distance of five miles, and the bridges being taken up our men could not march in pursuit. Numerous trophies were captured by the gallant Twentieth. One beautiful saddle, belonging evidently to the horse of an officer that had been shot, was brought back to Newport News, as also numerous muskets, sabres, and pistols.
The engagement commenced about one o'clock and lasted until after three. Acting Brigadier General Weber and General Mansfield complimented Major Schneff highly on his bravery and the steadiness of his men. The Twentieth regiment acted with the precision of regulars, and not the first man was found to waver or fall back. Dr. Heiland, Assistant Surgeon of the Twentieth regiment, accompanied the battalion and proved himself not only a very proficient surgeon, but also a brave and courageous soldier. His ambulances and instruments were in readiness as soon as the first volley was fired, and to his care and skill it is owing that the few men wounded are in such good condition. None of our men who were hit by the enemy's shots are fatally wounded. Julius ******le of Company G was shot in the arm; Christian Tuebner, Company K shot in the elbow and above the wrist; Orderly Sergeant Roehhr of Company I of Williamsburg was wounded in the neck, but not fatally. The names of the other three I could not ascertain, they being at Newport News.
The rebels, although retreating before the steady fire of our men, behaved bravely; but their smoothbore muskets, notwithstanding well handled, were no match against the sharp and deadly rifle, handled with murderous aim by the gallant Twentieth regiment. The main fight began at Sinclair's farm; but the enemy's line extending to Newmarket Bridge, and the Twentieth regiment men being in a body there, the rebels concentrated their entire force at that point.
Via OneWayRawk, SWR
Yankees Fighting Rebel Women And Negroes
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