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Doc. 1.-expedition up the Combahee.


Colonel Montgomery's official report.

by telegraph from Beaufort, S. C., Dated June 3, 1863.
To Major-General D. Hunter, Commanding Tenth Army Corps., Department of the South:
General: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, I proceeded up the Combahee River, on the steamers John Adams and Harriet A. Weed, with a detachment of three hundred (300) men of the Second South-Carolina volunteer regiment, and a section of the Third Rhode Island battery, commanded by Captain Brayton. We ascended the river some twenty-five (25) miles, destroyed a ponton bridge, together with a vast amount of cotton, rice, and other property, and brought away seven hundred and twenty-seven slaves, and some fine horses. We had some sharp skirmishes, in all of which, the men behaved splendidly. I hope to report more fully in a day or two.

I have the honor to be, General,

Your most obedient servant,

James Montgomery, Colonel Commanding S. C. V.


A National account.

Port Royal, S. C., June 6, 1863.
We have at last received accurate intelligence of Col. Montgomery's expedition, which was most brilliant in its success. It was composed of five companies of the Second South-Carolina volunteers, (colored troops,) and a section of battery C, Third Rhode Island artillery, captain Brayton, all under command of Colonel Montgomery, and left Beaufort on transports about nine o'clock last Monday evening, en route for Combahee River. It had proceeded as far as St. Helena Sound, when one of the transports having run aground, quite a delay was occasioned in transferring the troops from her to the other transports. This having been successfully accomplished, the expedition pushed rapidly on to its destination, and arrived at the mouth of the Combahee at half-past 2 o'clock A. M.

The enemy were entirely unconscious of the approaching danger, and Colonel Montgomery, without being discovered, ascended the river and landed a portion of his troops, under command of Captain Thompson, at Field's Point, which is twenty-five miles up the river. A rebel picket was stationed here, but they fled without firing a gun, and Captain Thompson's company occupied the deserted breastworks which were found at this point, while the rest of the expedition proceeded up the river to Tar Bluff, two miles above Field's Point. Here another company was landed, Captain Carver's, who occupied the deserted rifle-pits of the enemy. The remaining two steamers moved on, and having arrived at Nichols's plantation, two miles above, the Weed was left behind, and the John Adams pushed on to the Combahee Ferry.

Across this ferry was a very fine ponton bridge, which had been built for the benefit of the rebels, and as the Adams came in sight of it a rebel cavalry company was seen galloping over it with great haste. The temptation could not be resisted, and so the artillery on the Adams threw a few shells at them, by way of warning to hurry over. The cavalry succeeded, however, in crossing safely, and the Adams having reached the bridge, it was taken up and destroyed, and formed the first prize of the expedition. Want of transportation was the reason for its not being brought away. After this exploit, the Adams attempted to proceed further up the river, but was prevented by the obstructions which had been placed in the channel by the rebels.

Colonel Montgomery, while the ponton bridge was being destroyed, sent Captain Hoyt's company up the right bank of the river, for the purpose of destroying property and confiscating negroes. This little expedition covered itself with glory. Having reached Green Pond, they found the rebel Colonel Heyward's splendid plantation, with its large and elegantly furnished mansion house. Colonel Heyward avoided capture, making his escape, not, however, being able to carry any thing with him. Even his sabre and horses were confiscated, so great had been his haste to leave. Our troops then proceeded to destroy the growing crops, burn the rice-mills, storehouses, and cotton warehouses, which were all large and well filled. Many thousand dollars' worth of crops was thus given to the flames, and, to crown all, the mansion house, with all its out-buildings, was burned to the ground. Having accomplished thus much, our soldiers started back for the expedition.

As Captain Hoyt's company was returning, rebel cavalry and sharp-shooters appeared and pressed hard upon our men. Captain Hoyt, how [2] ever, nothing daunted, drew up his company across the road, and making a bold stand, defied the approaching force, which, though not large, was quite respectable in numbers. The enemy pressed forward, confident of making our colored troops run by such a display of chivalry; but they were disappointed, as the negroes behaved well and kept up a sharp and effective fire for over half an hour, until the John Adams came to the rescue; and dispersed the rebels with a few well-directed shells. During this skirmish one of Colonel Heyward's horses was shot, and our men left his carcass upon the field to solace the enemy. The other horse was brought away in safety. They were both valuable animals, as was seen from the bill of sale found by our troops in the Colonel's house. The horses had been imported, and cost one thousand dollars. Captain Hoyt's company all returned to the John Adams in safety.

At the same time that Captain Hoyt started up the right bank, Captain Brayton, with his battery section, proceeded up the left bank of the river, and was equally successful. The rebel pickets did not fall back upon a large force of the rebels stationed on the Ashapoo River, but hurried around in hot haste to the different plantations, notifying owners and overseers of the coming of negro troops. Captain Brayton destroyed every building within reach, and cotton and rice crops gathered and growing, mills, storehouses, and residences, were burned to the ground. He also captured a large number of horses, mules, and cattle, but owing to our lack of transportation, they were left behind. It is a matter of regret that this question of transportation had not received more attention before the expedition started, as by this means we should have brought away much valuable property.

The shores were lined with slaves of all sizes, ages, and descriptions, who rushed down to the banks, hailing our troops with delight, and praying to be taken on board. The transports, however, could only accommodate about seven handred of them, not near the number that sought deliverance, or stood upon the banks cheering the Stars and Stripes. This was the saddest sight of the whole expedition — so many souls within sight of freedom, and yet unable to attain it. But the transports were filled to their utmost capacity; they looked more like slavers than the harbingers of liberty; and as they turned away from the river-banks, and started homeward bound, moist eyes were on those decks, for they saw in the distance those whom a cruel fate had left behind. The song of liberty floated upon the river, but the wail of despair went up from the dismal shore.

During the absence of the main part of the expedition, under Colonel Montgomery, the rebels attacked both Captains Carver s and Thompson's companies, stationed at the above-named points. Our forces, however, held the enemy in check, though outnumbered and subjected, as Captain Carver was, to the fire of a rebel field-piece, when his own ammunition was nearly exhansted. Our men, however, boldly stood their ground, and awaited the arrival of the John Adams, which, coming up in the nick of time, dispersed the enemy with a brisk shelling. None of our men were injured.

The expedition returned to Beaufort, and received a grand reception. The captured slaves, as they marched through the streets, attracted much attention, and were overwhelmed with the congratulations of their brethren who have been enjoying liberty for some time. They were quartered in one of the Beaufort churches, but will soon be provided with quarters. The males will be put into the Second South-Carolina regiment, and are numerous enough to make two large companies.

This expedition reflects great credit upon Col. Montgomery and the men of his command. He has destroyed property of the enemy estimated at a million of dollars, proved himself a capable commander, and that the negro troops can be made efficient soldiers. He has also provided his regiment with two additional companies, deprived the rebels of seven hundred and twenty-seven negroes, and accomplished the most successful raid in this department.

--Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Combahee (South Carolina, United States) (3)
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James Montgomery (8)
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Heyward (3)
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D. B. Nichols (1)
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