Archival Research
Col. William Lyons Brown Transcript – 4 November 1861 Letter – Chicamacomico Affair
Col. William Lyons Brown Transcript – 4 November 1861 Letter – Chicamacomico Affair

As previously promised, below is the only known report or account of the Fanny Capture/Chicamacomico Affair on Hatteras known to have been written by the Colonel of the 20th Indiana Volunteer Regiment.  It was written to the artist George Winter (1810-1876) of Lafayette, Indiana, whom Brown was to have briefly visited just prior to the regiment heading East.

I located it only by chance since it was attributed to an “M. Miller.”  Since the original scan was with the transcript, I was able to take a closer look at the signature and compare it with known signatures of Wm. Lyons Brown.  What a find!  I enjoy reading of how Brown “set to work to save my little command.” Luckily, Brown saved all but 73 men and boys in the two incidents – my second-great grandfather, Elias Oxford, was one of the unfortunate captives aboard the Gunboat Fanny.

Read on…

Fort Clark Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina Nov 4th /61

My old and valued friend,

The steamer arriving yesterday brings the package of possessions bearing your name, it tells me I got here a place in your memory. I beg you my dear Sir believe me when I tell you that my acts do not truthfully tell the recollection and affection I have for acquaintances and Friends. I have not forgotten the evidence of good will and friendship extended to me by yourself and Mrs Winter when in Lafayette, often have I thought of you since leaving Indiana, have feared you would believe me unfriendly & ungrateful, I intend and wanted to call at your house. I was kept pretty busy in camp, when most un-expected and suddenly came the telegram to leave Lafayette. [over] I wish you were with us to take sketches of items. You have heard of our run, we passed over the sand in good time. we had been placed in false position, a well laid plan was put in operation to nab us (7 companies) about 500 effective men. fortunately I guessed their plans and without mere adu [adieu] set to work to save my little command. we were assailed by some 3000 with artillery, we 500 armed with old atter muskets. Nigh 50 miles from help and that from experience doubtful, our rebel friends in possession of the sound. the race
commenced. their Fleet 7 steam and 3 sail on the water. Us with army knap sacks & [] over and in deep loose burning sand, Captain Reed Company K Monticello my rear guard nobly gallantly performed his perilous task and at 12 at night brought his entire command into camp. we left with heavy hearts. the will of the officers and men was Battle. they wanted to take pay for their over Coats lost on the Fanny, to remain would find us in the net laid for us. we could cut our way through. not around as they and our men, over the sand plain would cause the life of many, too precious to be thrown away in such folly.
most fortunately the day previous I sent off our sick and nigh all the baggage. most fortunate it was. our loss was in all 25, of these 6 were sick (since the day previous) and
[ ] , the remainder one career and an other, the Battalion marched in good order, in line of Battle ready to meet our rebel friends at 10 PM we reached Hatteras Light House, a brief reconnaissance even in the dark told me I could with my wearie [weary] friends defend our selves against any harm that could be brought against us. Then, miles off our industrious friends  were hard at work endeavoring to land their forces. They were not on time, the night passed in quiet. (Captain Herron & company was not with us Adjutant Stiles nobly [seconded?] my wishes. We are here where neither us or any other land crabb have any business. I think we will soon be taken away, we have just passed through a most terrific storm, sadly damaging and destroying our camp, the atlantic rolled through camp at rate of 50 knots an hour waist deep, rain fell in torrents, wind howled terribly and really matters looked sad enough. will you be so good as to remember me to my friend
W. Hatcher, and for self, wife and Family accept my assurance of Friendship and remembrance with best wishes for you welfare.
I am most truly
Yours truly,
W. L. Brown

George Winter, Lafayette

Purdue ID NumberGWb1f16i16

TitleLetter, 1861 Nov. 4, Hatteras Inlet, N.C., to George Winter

CreatorMiller, M.
ContributorsWinter, George, 1810-1876
DescriptionHandwritten letter

From: [M. Miller?], Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, Nov. 4, 1861

To: George Winter, Lafayette ALS, 4 p. (1 sheet, folded)

RepositoryTippecanoe County Historical Association/Winter, George Collection

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