Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte. This article was reproduced in a regimental history of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, History of the First Connecticut Artillery: And of the Siege Trains of the Armies Operating Against Richmond, 1862-1865, page 117, which is how it came to be reproduced here. As a result, there is not yet an article image for this one.
The Boulware House, it will be remembered by our readers, is about a mile and three-quarters lower down the river, on the north side of the James, than Chaffin’s Bluff and about half a mile due north of the “Grave yard.” It is built upon a hill which is a part of the ridge, which, running parallel to the river, culminates in Signal Hill. Since the occupation of Battery Harrison the Yankees have made this a prominent picket station, and on Wednesday [October 19, 1864], not to the surprise of those who have been watching their movements, unmasked a battery displaying five embrasures. Whether they have other similar works extending easterly has not been yet ascertained, as far as our information goes. One of their guns is a hundred-pound Parrott. On Saturday morning [October 22, 1864], at about twenty minutes to even, while a portion of our fleet was lying in the reach above and below the “Grave-yard”—the Richmond, Capt. Maury, being lower down—this battery opened upon them. The gunboat Hampton, Capt. Murdaugh, being nearest to Chaffins, was soon under way, and out of reach of its range before any damage was done. Several shells, however, passed over her. Her engineer presented a novel appearance on a raw frosty morning attired only in such garments as are unmentionable in the presence of ladies. The gunboat Drewry, Lieut. Alexander commanding, was lying about five hundred yards further down stream, and was not, consequently, as fortunate, as one of the shells struck one of her gun carriages and exploded, wounding two of her men severely and giving three others slight “scratches.” The gun was not dismounted, and the injury to the carriage was much slighter than under the circumstances might have been expected. The Drewry, we are gratified to learn, sustained no other injury.
The ironclad Fredericksburg, Capt. Rootes, had her smokestack considerably perforated and five men wounded. The Richmond had no one hurt, though under heavy fire. The Virginia, Commodore Mitchell’s flagship, was equally fortunate.
Simultaneously with the opening of the Boulware House Battery, that at Signal Hill commenced firing, and the two combined hurled shot, shell, and bolts in the most rapid succession for the space of two hours at the vessels above-named. Our Battery Brooke [where located the Yankees can ascertain from Butler’s observatory, without aid from us] became engaged, and gave them a specimen of Confederate projectiles and the accuracy of Confederate gunners. Our ironclads also gave them an impromptu proof of what manner of guns Brooke contrives and our naval foundry turns out.
On Friday evening [October 21, 1864] three Yankee officers, radiantly attired in blue and gilt, supposed to be Grant, Butler, and Quartermaster-General Meigs, accompanied by a full staff and any number of couriers and orderlies, rode along the river in front of the Boulware House, and in full view of several of the fleet, on a tour of observation. One of their suite came near the river, and waved a paper for some minutes, thereby signifying a wish to exchange newspapers with us; but as no notice was taken of it by us he retired, and the whole party immediately galloped off at a gay pace. We are decidedly inclined to the opinion that the firing from the two batteries, as already described, was to give these august military dignitaries a specimen of the artillery practice of the Armies of the Potomac and James.
We reached the Hampton before the bombardment ceased, but had no desire to go nearer, as we perfectly agree with those who entertain the opinion that shelling is never half so grand, effective, or attractive as when the observer is stationed about half a mile beyond its range. This is particularly the case when the shells are fifteen inches in diameter, and the sound consequent upon their explosion correspondingly heavy.1
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- (Unknown Title). Richmond Whig. October 24, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩
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