Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 24.djvu/222

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214 Southern Historical <S'oc/V/y

boats a large batteau and a skiff could be secured, and these were duly provided with oars and concealed in a marshy creek, a mile or two above Leedstown, in readiness for use.

These preliminaries having been arranged, the necessary permit from General Lee was awaited impatiently. It came on the ist of December, but forbade that more than one hundred men should be al- lowed on the expedition, or an officer holding rank above that of major. In consequence, the purpose of attacking the entire Federal regiment, was abandoned, and a plan arranged for capturing the squadron at Leedstown.


The execution of this plan was entrusted to Major Thomas Waller, as cool and intrepid an officer as ever wore stars on his collar. To the call for volunteers, more than a hundred responded from the regi- ment. As the point of attack was in Westmoreland, from which county, Company C hailed, the men of this company offered to go almost in a body.

On reaching the shore of the little creek in which the boats were concealed, about dark, December i, 1862, it was found that their capacity was much less than had been supposed. Thirty-six men seemed as many as the larger boat would carry, and only fourteen could be accomodated in the skiff. Major Waller commanded the batteau, and Lieutenant G. W. Beale, the skiff. The night was cold and dark, and it was necessary to maintain the strictest silence. The boats were rowed noislessly out into the river, the officers in charge having a preconcerted plan to rendezvous at a given point on the other shore, in the event of becoming separated in the dark. This proved a wise precaution, for the boats became quickly lost to each other. The skiff being light and easily managed, shot straight across and quickly reached the other shore. The larger boat drifted down with the tide, and grounded on a sand-bar far out in the river. It was necessary for a number of the men to get out into the icy-water, waist deep, and push the craft over the bar by main force. A land- ing was made by Major Waller's party half a mile lower down the river than had been contemplated. Leaving two men as guards to the batteau, he joined the party under Lieutenant Beale at a straw stack, the place of rendezvous that had been agreed upon.

Here a number of details of scouts were made to proceed as quietly and stealthily as possible for the purpose of capturing the