A Trip to Plymouth, N. C.
On the 15th of this month, the 25th, Major Pickett in command, with the 17th Massachusetts and the 10th Connecticut regiments, the whole under command of Col. Upton, embarked on steamers bound for Plymouth, on the Roanoke river which empties into the Albemarle sound at its extreme western end. On the morning of the 16th we passed Roanoke island, and our attention was attracted towards it as being the scene of our first conflict and success. We soon afterward entered the Albemarle sound, a beautiful sheet of water running east and weft, about 70 miles long with an average width of some 20 miles. It was a beautiful day, and the sail, as we slowly steamed along, was delightful, affording us a fine view of the shores. The shores were in striking contrast; the south shore is low and swampy, rising scarcely out of the water, while the north is bold, with a gently rising slope and shows many handsome farms. The scenery here is the first that has reminded us of home, and looks as though it was inhabited by a better class of people than we have yet seen.
About dusk we reach the upper end of the sound, and turning sharply to the left, enter the woods, where the overhanging branches of the tall trees seem almost to embrace each other. We are now in the Roanoke river, which is here quite narrow. In the dusk of the evening, as we grope our way along the narrow channel through the trees, the scenery is grandly wild. Some five or six miles through the woods brought us to the little town of Plymouth, situated on the left or south bank of the river. Here we drop anchor for the night, and wait until morning to learn more of our excursion.
The next morning we learned the expedition had been given up, and we steamed back down the river on our return trip, without scarcely getting a glimpse of Plymouth. On coming out into the sound we could see the little town of Edenton on the north shore, hid away in a little nook of the sound, and almost buried in trees. From our standpoint it looked like a charming little town. It is occasionally occupied by our troops and the gunboats make frequent calls there. The only setback to the pleasure of the trip down the sound was the annoyance caused the officers by the hilarity of the boys who entered into the spirit of fun and seemed to be bent on having a general good time. The officers occupied the saloon and were greatly disturbed by the noise and racket on deck over their heads. They would often send up and order the boys to keep more quiet as the noise disturbed them. The boys of course would respect their wishes, and for a time all would be quiet, but soon another party would come on deck, from some other part of the boat, and bedlam would again break loose. The officers had my commiseration; I exercised all my authority to preserve order and would willingly have done anything that lay in my power to have alleviated their sufferings, for it is not surprising that men brought up in machine shops, rolling mills, foundries and like places should be possessed of rather sensitive nerves.
We arrived back at Newbern, the morning of the 18th, having had a pleasant excursion of about 400 miles, and if we could have had our band with us the thing would have been complete. It seems the object of our visit to Plymouth was for the officers of the expedition to consult with the military and naval officers at that station in regard to the expediency of dislodging the enemy’s forces at Rainbow bluff, a point some 30 miles up the river, which prevents our boats from ascending higher up, and which they cannot shell out. At the council of officers it was decided that if we should succeed in capturing it, it would be without results, as it is of no military consequence to us, and that it would be unwise to risk men in an enterprise that would be barren in results. Hence our return to Newbern.