Another Engagement at Mathias Point

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Another Engagement at Mathias Point


The death of Captain Ward of the Freeborn, Commander of the U.S. Potomac Flotilla


An account of the death of Captain Ward



Evening Star


Evening Star


June 28, 1861


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Capt. Ward of the Freeborn, Commander of the U.S. Potomac Flotilla, killed!

The Pawnee arrived up to the Navy Yard at 9am. today bringing the dead body of Capt. Ward of the Freeborn, who was killed yesterday in an engagement with the Confederate troops at Mathias Point. It appears that tbe Freeborn was off tbe Point reconnoitering, and discovered indications of a movement for the erection of a battery at that Point by the rebel soldiers encamped near there, and on the night before last Capt. Ward sent up to the Pawnee at Aquia Creek for Capt. Owens to tend him a reinforcement of two boat's crews to assist in effecting a landing. Two small cutter's crews were sent down to the Freeborn, under Lieut. Chaplain, and with them and a boat's crew from the Freeborn, numbering from thirty to forty men In all, Lieut. Chaplain yesterday morning effected a landing, and succeeded in driving in the rebel pickets. Finding preparations for tbe erection of a rebel battery there, it was determined to throw up breast works and mount guns thereon to give the enemy a warm reception should they attack the crews Accordingly the men were set to work under cover of tbe Freeborn's guns at throwing up a and bag breastwork, and succeeded In working four hours and a half, and got their works completed in about five In the evening They then went to the boats to go on board for guns to mount on the work, when just as they were embarking they were surprised by the rebels, estimated at from one thousand to fifteen hundred strong, who poured in a heavy and continuous fire of musketry upon them from the bushes near by. Under cover of the guns of the Freeborn, the crews precipitately made for the steamer, leaving a few of the men on shore, the guns of the Free born meanwhile opening with activity and precision apparently upon the enemy, who were bv tbe underbrush. Some ten shell were thrown among them, with what effect could not be seen, owing to the position of the enemy, is above explained. Captain Ward behaved with great coolness, standing by tbe guns and directing tbe fire When his gunner received a wound In the thlgb, which disabled him, Capt. Ward Immediately took bis place, and was sighting the gun when he received a Minnie musket ball full in the brea?t, which killed him almost Instantly. The men le t on the shore bv the boats in their retreat, swam out to the Freeborn?one of the men carrying on hit back a wounded comrade, named Hess. who bad four musket balls shot into him, and li thought to he mortally wounded. Jack Williams, coxswain of the third cutter, received a flesh wound la tbe leg while waving the stars and stripes, which he carried in his hand the wbole time, behaving most gallantly under the bo test kind of a lire. The American ensign. which he never caused to wave, was piered with nineteen musket balls. Only three men of the boats were wounded, and the only life lost was that of tbe gallant Ward, who, the moment the enemy was discovered, blew the signal for tbe crews to come aboard, and Instantly opened on the foe with his heavy guns. While the crews were engaged on the a slave, belonging to Dr. Hooe, approached the shore with a white shirt on a pole, and got aboard the Freeborn, and informed Capt. Ward that the enemy were In the underbrush nearby one thousand strong. Still the work was and made ready, as the event has turned, for the rebels to occupy with guns which they have probably mounted there at this time. The body of Capt. Ward was placed on board the " Reliance," and conveyed up to Aquia Creek and transferred to the Pawnee. On the arrival of me inner ai me navy Yard, several companies of the Seventy First Regiment were ordered out to receive the remains, and escorted them to the yard engine house, (which was draped with the of mourning,) where they were laid out In state, wrapped In the American ensign. The body was followed to the engine house by the officers of the Pawnee, the officers of the Yard, and the boats crew which had participated In the tUe band of the Seventy-First playing a solemn dirge. The remains will be conveyed to New York this evening.


Citation, “Another Engagement at Mathias Point,” Mapping the Civil War in Arlington, accessed June 15, 2024,

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