Thursday, February 13, 2014
Battle of Smithfield-- Part 2
"Information was then received from prisoners and darkies" of a strong enemy force being in the vicinity and the Union troops retreated back to Smithfield and took up defensive positions along the main street.
That Confederate force attacked at 7:30 AM and after 3 1/2 hours, Captain Lee's surrender was demanded. Lee refused, saying that if they "wanted him he [they] would have to come and take him." About 12:30 PM, Lee was forced to retreat.
The gunboat Smith Briggs arrived and the Union forces had to swim out to it. The Briggs' commander Rowe was severely wounded in the throat, the engineer was seriously wounded and all of the crew but six disabled. Lee took command of the greatly disabled ship.
The pilot house was entirely demolsihed (making me wonder how the gilded eagle on it survived) and the wheel couldn't be turned but through huge efforts, they were able to get the Briggs away from shore.
At 3 PM, a shot from a Confederate cannon ashore hit the boiler and it exploded, forcing the Briggs to surrender. Only Captain Lee, a Pamucky Indian pilot and Geo. Smith (a volunteer pilot) and two other men of the 150 aboard were able to escape.
The Smith Briggs was a total wreck and in possession of the Confederates.