CONFERERATE CAPTAIN FITZHUGH
THE CHERRYSTONE EXPEDITION
The account following was abstracted from the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper issue of Sunday, December 1 1912, and appears to have been first printed in the Norfolk Ledger Dispatch at an unknown date. It evidently is a printing of a letter from Captain T. Fitzhugh, Co. F. Fifth Virginia Cavalry, Kansas City, Kansas, on February 10, 1910, to Mr. W. H. Frenger, Cape Charles, Virginia. Capt. Fitzhugh tells that time has allowed him to forget the actual dates but civil War Records of his activities are published by Congress for 1864.
It was after the Seven Days fight around richmond. Fitzhugh was on the staff of Major General Ripley who had been ordered the send a select detail of men, a reliable officer, to a headquarters at Matthews courthouse, on Chesepeake Bay. Their duty was to report to the Confederate War Department the daily movement of McCellans transports on the Chesapeake Bay. McCellans headquarters were then at Harrison Landing on the James River.
While at Matthews Headquarters Fithugh received reports from persons from the Eastern Shore, of the military situation at Cherrystone and Eastville, Northampton County, Virginia's eastern shore. A report that the Gunboat G. B. McClellen lay off Cherrystone with a small cavalry guard and that General Lockwood had headquarters in the Kerr house at Eastville with a infantry detachment camped at Fishers Farm on the sea side. This at once caught the Captains attention and he made a plan where the Confererates would cross the bay at night, capture the gunboat and its guards, use the cavalry horses to hasten to Eastville, capture the Union General Lockwood and imprison them on the gunboat and lay it up the bay, opposite Eastville. This expedition was reported to General Stuart for the needed permission and refused with his statement that he would need to arrange another expeditoion to release the men and Capt. Fitzhugh from the Union prison at Point Lookout.
1864 REMOUNT AND RECRUIT
Remount and recruit time was given the Fitfh Virginia Cavalry in 1864 and while at home Capt Fitzhugh asked of General Lomax for permission to go on a raid but did not mention 'the plan' with him or anyone else. Permission was granted so off to Matthews Courthouse the captain and his troops went. There were hand picked were ten men, a Lieutenant Howlett and a Sergeant Merchant. The detachment left out oe evening about dusk, arriving the Eastern Shore before dawn, landing at 'Devils Hole' a small creek below Cherrystone. Finding no assistance of the locals who were too much alarmed at the situation, a good scout was sent to gather information of Cherrystone and Eastville. The scout foundthere were fourteen cavalrymen, with a sergeant in command at Cherrystone. At Eastville was Major White and a company of cavalery on guard of a large lot of commissary supplies. The first plan of attack was to go up Cherrystone Creek , land at the wharf and hit the guards from land side. However, the pilot who brought the troop across the bay, a northampton native, deserted, foiled this plan with fear he would alert the enemy. Plans were changed, Capt. Fitzhugh took the raiders across field and woods to Cape Charles road, up this road to Cherrystone road, and during the march capturing a sentry asleep, who assisted us to the soldiers quarters and the telegraph office of the Federal forces which were then easily taken prisoners. The telegraphic communication with Fortress Monroe were destroyed. Out in the creek was found a large sidewheel steamer, the captain of which was spending the night on shore in the Eastville Hotel and so he was easily taken prisoner and agreed to submit to orders so as to save his boat from destruction.
Capt Fitzhugh, with the ship captain, and three men, wearing the top coats of the captured Federals so as to receive a cordial reception, , went on board, took the crew prisoner, escorted all below deck and put under guard. All of these actions were done so quietly a qroup of oystermen working within ear shot did not observe the Confederate's.
It was learned that the Federal ship, Titan, was due to arrive at 9 o'clock, and arrangement were made for her capture, which was easily done. All of the Federal prisoners were then placed on board the Titan, under guard, and the confederate 's proceeded to destroy all Federal property in sight. The commissary stores were burned, the telegraph cable destroyed, and there were 49 prisoners in excess of the confederate force, which some were , upon oath, liberated.
Now aboard the Titan, the Cherrystone expedition succesfully completed, moving out and away the wharf, shots were heard, and it was found they were from Captain Duval's men who were making a bold attack from ambush about a mile away. This bold attack was silenced when the confederats returned fire and Duvals men fell back double time, with two wounded and one fataily.
The Confederates took the Titan across the Chesapeake Bay to the Plankatank River, going as far as possible, grounded her, removed all of value, prisoners sent to Richmond, and set afire. Next morning the Federals sent seven gunboats up the river, shelling both shores as they proceeded.