Doc. 54.-expedition to Bluffton, S. C.
Lieutenant Commanding George Bacon's report.
U. S. S. Commodore McDonough, Port Royal, S. C., June 4, 1863.sir: . . . On account of being detained by the Mayflower, it was long after daylight before we reached the point where the troops were to disembark, which was about three miles this side of Bluffton; meeting with no opposition at that point, the troops were landed in safety, and both them and ourselves advanced to the attack, the Mayflower having joined us in the mean time. I anchored from half to three quarters of a mile from the town, bringing our batteries to bear upon it. The land forces having without opposition occupied the town, I. moved up with this vessel and the transports for the purpose of being better able to cover their movements, as well as to be ready to reembark the troops in case of necessity,. as the enemy had mustered quite a large force in the rear of the town of infantry and cavalry. Soon after we had anchored abreast of the town, and but a few yards from it, sharp firing was heard in the rear between the rebels and our forces. The commanding officer of the land forces made signal that he wished us to shell the woods in their rear, as the rebels were mustering in quite  a strong force. T immediately opened with all my guns, firing both shell and shrapnel with five-second fuses, which compelled the enemy to fall back. In the mean time the town was fired in several places, by order of the commander of the land forces, the church being the only building spared. The enemy, under cover of the fire and smoke of the burning town, which raged so dense as to cause us to move our position a little, and almost obscured immediate objects, attempted another attack on our forces. They were met by steady volleys from our troops and the enfilading fire of our heavy guns, and were obliged to retire in disorder. As we had succeeded in carrying out the object of our expedition, . . . the troops were ordered to embark. . . . The enemy seeing that all the troops were leaving, collected all their troops for the third and last charge upon the rearguard, who were left on shore to cover the reembarkation of their comrades. The enemy advanced down the street leading to the wharf, through the town, expecting, no doubt, to sweep off in the general rush the few who were covering the reembarkation. As they were in considerable force by that time, they charged with cheers to within a short distance of the steamers, when, from their repeated volleys, we got their position, . . . when we opened with shrapnel and shell in the direction of the enemy, and the effect was instantaneous, as I have since been assured by the commander of the land forces that our shrapnel and shell passed directly over the heads of our own men, exploding in front of the ranks of the enemy, causing them to break and retreat in disorder. The guns of the Mayflower, which was at that time lying at the wharf and commanding the streets, were served with great effect. . . . . . . . .
Charleston Mercury account.
Charleston, June 6, 1863.The destruction of property on Bull's Island some days ago, and the recent raid on the Combahee, involving an immense loss of property, is followed by the burning of the beautiful town of Bluffton on May River. This last outrage took place on Thursday morning last, and resulted in the loss of about forty private residences and nearly one hundred outhouses, stores, etc. We have succeeded in obtaining a list of the property owners who have suffered by the burning of their beautiful houses and settlements: General J. F. Drayton, Colonel J. J. Stoney, Dr. J. W. Kirk, George Allen, Dr. Paul Pritchard, M. J. Kirk, J. McKenzie, A. Crosby, G. Allen, Dr. A. G. Verdier, Estate H. Guerard, Jos. Baynard, Jas. Seabrook, G. W. Lawton, W. Pope, Dr. Mellichamp, Dr. F. H. Pope, R. R. Pope, J. J. Pope, A. G. Verdier, Henry Verdier, “Squ<*>re Popes,” Mr. Strobhart, Mrs. Hardee, J. Chalmers, J. G. Bulichen, D. & J. Canter, D. Freeman,--Crosby,--Langballe,--Chalmers, W. Winn, J. Bulichen, Mrs. Pickney, Mrs. Winingham, B. Wiggins, Estate Norton, H. F. Train,--Martain, (f. p. c.) The enemy approached in transports, and landed about one thousand strong at what is known as Hunting Island. Five gunboats covered their landing, which was successfully accomplished about half-past 6 o'clock on the fourth instant. Three companies of the force that had landed took up ,the line of march, following the course of the river until they reached Bluffton, their gunboats steaming along up the river abreast of the troops. The pickets noticed the movement at sunrise, and reported the fact to Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, commanding the outposts, at about seven o'clock, and the cavalry force from the Third and Fourth regiments, South-Carolina cavalry, moved at once toward the threatened point. Strange to say, the couriers failed to report the advance of the enemy either to the picket headquarters in Bluffton or the garrison encamped near the town, consisting of the fine infantry force from the Eleventh South-Carolina regiment. The consequence was, the gunboats arrived in the river nearly opposite the camps before they could be seen by the camp-guard, who gave the alarm. The men were soon under arms, and deployed as skirmishers, going some distance to the front in the movement. The enemy soon came in sight, having obtained possession of the town unmolested, and exchanged shots with the line of skirmishers. Soon after the town was fired in the lower part, near Colonel Stoney's, and the blowing fresh soon sent the flames broadcast through the town. The heavy growth of trees between Mr. Pope's house and the Episcopal church saved the latter structure. They fired the Methodist church under the very altar; but it burnt so slowly that it was discovered, and put out. The cavalry had now arrived. Earle's light battery, after a drive of thirteen miles, had also reported for duty. The Abolitionists having effected their purpose now withdrew, embarked on their transports, and were conveyed out of sight. But one casualty occurred on our side. Sergeant Mew, of company E, Eleventh South-Carolina infantry, was struck by a fragment of a shell (which, by the way, the Yankee gunboats used very freely) in the right side; the wound is not dangerous, however. The invaders, who were principally a New-Hampshire regiment, are not known to have been punished in any way. As we said in reference to the affair on the Combahee, the success of a marauding expedition of this character is certainly a very mortifying circumstance.