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[460] the entire force; and, as if this were not enough, several buildings were fired by our departing soldiers — of the 8th Maine, it was said, though that regiment laid it to the 6th Connecticut--while hundreds of inhabitants, who desired to leave with our forces, were put ashore after they had embarked, and left to meet the vengeance of the Rebels as they might. The beautiful old town was substantially destroyed; though our higher officers did their best to save it — a high wind fanning the flames, which swept all within their reach. The deserted inhabitants — many of them hearty Unionists — were left to famish among their ashes and ruins; though the few families who were brought away to Hilton Head were treated with considerate humanity. Pensacola was likewise abandoned1 and burned — burned by the Rebels, it was asserted — but that would neither be reported nor believed within the lines of the Confederates--so that it may be fairly concluded that by this time whatever Unionism there had been in Florida--that is, among the Whites — was pretty thoroughly eradicated by those who were sent thither as upholders of the National cause.

On returning from his Florida expedition to Port Royal,2 Com. Dupont found that the enemy had, during his absence, abandoned their formidable batteries on Skiddaway and Green islands, conceding to us full possession of Warsaw and Ossibaw sounds; while Gen. Sherman had long since3 taken quiet possession of Edisto island on our right, carrying our flag more than half way from Beaufort to Charleston. No inhabitants were left on Edisto but negroes; and the cotton which the departing Whites could not remove they had, for the most part, burned. The fall of Pulaski, soon afterward, gave us extension and security on the other flank; and now Gen. Hunter and Com. Dupont proposed to extend our possession still farther toward the city by the reclamation of Wadmilaw and Johns islands, bringing us within cannon-shot of Charleston. To this end, various and careful reconnoissances were made, and soundings taken; ending with making by buoys the channel of Stono river, separating Johns from Janes island; whereupon, our gunboats Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, crossed4 the bar at its mouth and proceeded up that river: the Rebel earthworks along its banks being abandoned at their approach. Thus the gunboats made their way slowly, carefully, up to a point within range of the Rebel batteries guarding the junction of Stono with Wappoo creek, barely three miles from Charleston, whose spires and cupolas were plainly visible, over the intervening trees, from the mast-heads of our vessels.

But this bold advance of our gunboats, unsupported by infantry, was a blunder. These were too weak to effect any tiling but give the enemy warning of what they must be prepared to meet. Nearly two weeks had thus been spent ere Gens. Hunter and Benham, with their soldier,, landed5 on James island; and three more days elapsed ere Gen. Wright came up from Edisto with the residue of their forces. Such disjointed

1 March 3, 1862.

2 March 27.

3 Feb. 11.

4 May 20.

5 June 2.

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