|The Philbates Creek/ Terrapin Point area from the Gilmer Civil War map at the Library of Congress website.|
Expedition from Yorktown to West Point, Va.
Report of Capt. William B. Hedges, Sixteenth New York Heavy Artillery, commanding expedition.
HEADQUARTERS EXTERIOR LINE OF DEFENSES,
Fort Magruder, March 1, 1865.
Chief of Staff:
Sir: The expedition, of which the inclosed is a report from the officer commanding, was ordered by the verbal command of Major-General Ord during his visit to Yorktown. I therefore transmit the report for his information. I have disposed of the prisoners in the manner I considered best for the interest of the Government.
Very respectfully,B. C. LUDLOW,
Brevet Brigadier- General, Commanding Post.
FORT MAGRUDER, VA., February 28, 1865. Sin: I have the honor to make the following report of the expedition which left Yorktown, Va., on board U.S. gun-boat Mystic, Thursday, February 23, in obedience to orders from Lieut. Col. Thomas Mulcahy, who placed me in command of the same:
My force consisted of forty-five men from Company M, Sixteenth New York Volunteer Artillery, and thirty marines, commanded by Acting Ensign Leonard, of the gun-boat Crusader. The Mystic proceeded up the river immediately after dark, grounding opposite Green Point, distant only ten miles from Yorktown. Captain Wright, her commander, made every effort in his power to get her afloat, but did not succeed until 9 a.m. Friday, the 24th instant (which circumstance so delayed the expedition as to render it impossible for me to fully carry out my instructions as was intended). As soon as she was afloat I proceeded up the river, landing the force just above West Point. Skirmished the woods in the vicinity, and, meeting with no resistance, extended the skirmish line across the neck of land between the rivers, and in this manner entered the town. Prior to my advance, and while preparing to land, I discovered three mounted men escaping through the woods, one of whom I afterward learned to be Colonel Richardson, of General Lees staff, at home on sixty days leave of absence. I found but three men in my advance upon and search through the town, two of whom I have every reason to believe are spies, from the fact of their leaving Yorktown the same night of the expedition, running the blockade in a small boat, and undoubtedly informed the enemy of our approach. (The fact of the gun-boat getting aground afforded them ample time to warn Captain Richardson and others of our supposed intentions.)
Before leaving West Point I received information in regard to important movement of the enemy, which I have heretofore communicated. Having accomplished all that could be done here the force crossed the river and burned a store-house and barn, containing at least 15,000 bushels of grain and 1,000 pounds of bacon, the property of Beverly Anderson, a contractor for the so-called Confederate Government. We then embarked. and proceeded down the river to Queens Creek, hoping thus to deceive the enemy in regard to our intended movements for that night. Soon as darkness would hide our movements the vessel moved up the river until nearly opposite the residence of Andrew Richardson, where the wedding was to take place and where I expected to find Capt. Theodore Richardson, the murderer of the oysterman.* After considerable difficulty we succeeded in landing (it being dark and rainy), and proceeded five miles to Andrew Richardsons house (skirmishing the woods and arresting two citizens on the way), which I immediately ordered to be surrounded. As soon as this was accomplished I demanded admittance; upon being refused forced my way into the house, making a complete surprise. . Shots were, however, fired by the occupants, in returning which I wounded Richardson. Searched thoroughly the premises, and finding nothing more I retraced my way to the landing, arriving there about daybreak; crossed the river and burned the buildings from which the decoy signal was shown and from which the oystermen were fired into; also a barn containing about 8,000 bushels of grain. The force went on board the gun-boat; landed on the opposite shore and eight miles below the last point of embarkation. I here burned the residence of Captain Richardson, consisting of two dwellings, barn, and a store, all his household furniture, and 2,000 bushels of grain, his family having made their escape while the gun-boat was aground.
Having executed my orders as far as possible, I again embarked and returned to Yorktown. Reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Mulcahy, who ordered me to report to brigadier.general commanding post. The persons arrested are Andrew Richardson (whom I left wounded in charge of surgeon, gun-boat Mystic), Thomas Davis, B. W. Powells, and James Gwin (whom I had at first suspected but I found nothing against), Richard Pippin (who has promised to assist me in apprehending Richardson and other guerrillas), J. W. and Harley Cole (the suspected spies found at West Point). The wedding spoken of is to take place Thursday, March 2, at Tabernacle Church†. It is reported that there will be a party of guerrillas attending.
Hoping I may have the opportunity of again attempting the arrest of this noted band of guerrillas, I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,WM. R. HEDGES,
Captain Company M Sixteenth New York Volunteer Artillery.
Brigadier-General LUDLOW,Commanding Post.
-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.; Series 1- Volume 46
* I know nothing of the story of the killing of any oysterman, however I believe the Capt. Theodore Richardson referred to is, in fact, Captain T.W.T. "Tom" Richards so recently active in the area. I believe the Union authorities have confused him with one of the numerous Richards living on the New Kent/ James City border.
† . . . See map