"Report of Cot. John W. Phelps, First Vermont Infantry.
Newport News, Va., August 11, 1861.
SIR: Scouts from this post represent the enemy as having retired. They came to New Market Bridge on Wednesday, and left the next day. They- the enemy- talked of having 9,000 men. They were recalled by dispatches from Richmond. They had twenty pieces of artillery, among which was the Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes. Their wagons numbered sixty. Such is the information which our scouts gained from the people living on the ground where the enemy encamped. Their numbers are probably overrated but with regard to their artillery, and its being manned in part by negroes, I think the report is probably correct. If they did have 9,000 men, and have thus withdrawn, without effecting any other object than the burning of Hampton, their retiring may be looked upon as nearly allied to a defeat for the barbarous fierceness of spirit which they have exhibited in the destruction of Hampton, one of the oldest towns of Virginia, and which connects her history with a glorious past, cannot fail to injure their cause. It is an act which must inevitably meet with disapproval in all parts of the country, unless, indeed, the sentiments of liberality and generosity which are naturally inculcated by our free institutions have become wholly extinguished.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. PHELPS,
The above report is included in a section of the O.R. titled "The Burning of Hampton".
After the Union reports are the Confederate reports. The first Confederate reports of the section states.
"...I have had the whole country scoured to Hampton, and to within half a mile of the enemys camp at Newport News, and some 150 negroes brought up, the males to work on the fortifications and the rest delivered to their masters."
The second and last report (by the same officer) states.
"...I have called out a large force of negroes, at considerable expense to the Government, to complete the fortifications upon which our troops have been so laboriously working. The troops can no longer do this work, and I respectfully request that the Quartermaster-General be directed to furnish to the assistant quartermaster-general of this department, Captain Bloomfield, the funds necessary for the payment of the laborers without delay, as a great many of them are free negroes, who have families, who must starve if they are not paid, and to all I promised prompt payment. There are, perhaps, 1,000 now at work on the Peninsula...
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
J. BANKIIEAD MAGRUDER,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.
Col. GEORGE DEAS, Adjutant-General C. S. Army."
Considering the Union report of the type of guns the Confederates had..."eight guns; one rifled gun, two 32-pounder howitzers, tow long 24s, and three smaller guns." It is very plausible that the "Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes" was supplemented by the negroes gathered in the immediate area to help emplace, move or construct temporary earthworks usually done with such large weapons, normally used as siege guns.