Doc. 108.-capture of Skidaway Island, Ga.
Flag-officer Du Pont's report.
Flag-ship Wabash, off Port Royal, S. C., March 27, 1862.sir: On being boarded this afternoon, while entering Port Royal harbor, by Corn. Gillis, of the Seminole, I had the satisfaction to hear that formidable batteries on Skidaway and Green Islands had been abandoned by the rebels, the guns having been withdrawn in order to be placed nearer Savannah. The abandonment of these batteries gives us complete control of Warsaw and Ossibaw Sounds, and the mouths of Vernon and Wilmington Rivers, which form important approaches to that city. I enclose the report of Com. Gillis, and also memoranda of information given by a contraband, which may be of some interest to the Department. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commander Gillis's reports.
Cumberland Sound to Warsaw Sound, Ga., to blockade, as directed. Having waited some days for weather to settle and wind to lull, we this afternoon felt our way with the lead up the narrow channel of Wilmington River, to the battery on Skidaway Island, accompanied by the Norwich, Lieutenant Commanding J. M. Duncan, and Wyandotte, Lieut. Commanding W. D. Whiting. I sent our launch, with howitzer and crew, under charge of Master McNair and Acting Master Steel, alongside the Norwich, and went on board of her; she being the shortest vessel, and of lightest draught, was sent ahead. After firing a shell or two at some horsemen near the house on the left, and a picket-guard at the fort, as we approached, I proceeded in the gig, with Paymaster Sands, to the shore, followed by the launch, and found the battery a strong bastioned work for ten guns, with bomb-proofs, trenches, etc. The enemy had abandoned it, leaving imitation guns, covered with canvas, in position. Other boats from the vessels coming on shore, we destroyed the works, boats, lighters, etc., of the enemy; and, having hoisted the Union flag over the fort and house with red cupola, we returned on board our respective vessels. I learn that the confederate battery on Green Island is abandoned. Several houses in sight are burning this morning, the red cupola house included. I send to Port Royal a prisoner taken in the marshes by the Release. His statement accompanies this. I am, sir, respectfully, etc.,
U. S. Steamer Seminole, Nassau Sound, Ga., March 26, 1862.The following statement is derived from London Middleton, a contraband, picked up this P. M. by the Norwich and sent on board this ship, namely:. His master was Wm. P. Fulton, of Savannah; he left that city on the twenty-second instant, (Saturday,) coming by way of White Bluff and Green Island to Raccoon Keys, from whence he expected to reach a saw-mill which, it was said, we had on Wassaw Island, with three thousand troops. All provisions are scarce at Savannah, and very dear, particularly bacon, rum, liquors, and “such like.” Fresh beef is more plenty, but costs twenty-five to thirty cents for what used to sell at six-eight, and ten cents per pound; eggs were at fifty cents per dozen; chickens one dollar and fifty cents a pair; tea scarce; coffee selling at one dollar and fifty cents to one dollar and seventy-five cents per pound. They are “very bad off” for rum and liquors, “almost have to give them up,” and these, with bacon, they had expected “from the West” --somewhere where the Federals now hold possession. Folks are “going and coming” --some who had left are returning, and they are sending “the negroes and cotton” inland, and are moving “all the cash money” to Macon. They threaten to burn the city if they should be unable to hold it, and are in daily expectation of our attack. They had given up the idea of defending the Savannah River by “torpedoes,” because one of the principal men who was sinking them got  drowned while down in a diving-bell, and now talk of piling the river across. He knows of a raft near Fort Jackson, near which Tatnall is, on board the Savannah, (late Everglade.) When he was last near Thunderbolt (some time since) they had eight guns mounted. There is a battery (number of guns unknown) at “Costan's bluff,” and they said that they were mounting guns at “the old fort” above Fort Jackson, below the “gas-house,” and near the first ferry wharf; but he knows little of this part of the river, having been a fisherman around about “White bluff” and “Green Island,” but more recently “waiting on the soldiers.” All the approaches to the city — not only main, also the by-roads — are being “fortified,” and “they told” that they had one hundred thousand men. Green and Skidaway Islands are abandoned, except by a few cavalry. The guns from Green Island were taken to fortify “Benley,” and those from Skidaway to “Montgomery,” (a part of Benley, but about three quarters of a mile separate,) both on the “Wyningberg” river, which runs from Race Keys up, making Green Island the first land to the north-east going up, and thence running up to Benley, Montgomery, and White Bluff. They expect us .to cross Skidaway Island, and have guns and pickets at the two bridges to cut them away, and fight our forces on their arrival. The first bridge is reckoned to be five miles across, from the “Cupola House,” (last night burnt by the rebels,) near Skidaway (abandoned) battery. Respectfully, etc.,
New-York Commercial account
U. S. Steamer Seminole, Warsaw Sound, Ga., March 25.To-day at twelve M., signal was made by the senior captain, John P. Gillis, commanding the Warsaw squadron, for the vessels in the harbor, consisting of the Wyandotte, Norwich and Seminole, to get under way. The Norwich drawing the least water, Captain Gillis boarded her and led the way in line of battle, and stood up Wilmington River to attack the batteries at Skidaway Island, which have been building for some time. All hands in the squadron were delighted at the prospect, particularly after having arrived again at Warsaw from our bloodless victory at Cumberland Sound, and the hope of a little work before us animated both officers and crew of these noble ships. When we arrived within a mile of the batteries, the Norwich fired a shell from her Parrott gun into a body of cavalry that were seen near them. The horsemen curveted about in utter confusion and fled. Proceeding up a quarter of a mile further, the Norwich sent the rebels a couple more shells into their encampment, that was a little back in the woods, which routed them all out. As they did not seem inclined to return our fire, we drew up quietly in front of the battery and let them have a broadside, which cleared them all out, and keeping up a raking fire upon them on their retreat, our boats were manned and formal possession taken of the fort, the flag being planted on the highest rampart by Captain Gillis in person. Acting Master Steel, with a picket of eight or ten men, then went to the rebel headquarters, tore down the dirty secession dish-cloth flying there, and nailed the glorious old gridiron — the Stars and Stripes--to the staff in its place, never to be removed, amid salvos of musketry. The rebels left everything behind them in their haste to get away, even to their dinners, which were still cooking over a hot fire. Captain Gillis then ordered all the works of the enemy to be destroyed, as we had not troops with us to hold them, and accordingly they were fired. The sight was beautiful — the flames bursting forth in every part, utterly destroying everything. All the flatboats, scows and other means of transport, belonging to the enemy, were also destroyed; but the private property and buildings were humanely spared by order of Captain Gillis, although after we left, the rebels, fearing our occupation, themselves destroyed them. During the destruction of the works the enemy fired on us from behind the trees in a wood three quarters of a mile distant, but killed no one. One of our men was slightly wounded by a Minie ball passing between his legs and grazing the flesh on the inner side of his thigh. During the fire of the enemy our men displayed great coolness and bravery. Captain Duncan should be especially mentioned for his coolness, courage and energy in the destruction of the works amid the fire of the enemy. The works on Skidaway Island extend for about half a mile along the Wilmington River, and are built well and very powerful. Had the enemy remained and fought, our squadron would have had much trouble; but our gunboats seem to strike terror into them at every approach, and their only resource is ignominious flight. The success of this achievement was great more on account of its dash and daring, and shows what our noble sailors will do when led by a brave commander. The channel of Wilmington River, as well as Skidaway Island, is now thrown into our hands. Our glorious cause is still blessed under our arms victorious. After the complete destruction of all their works, that had taken three months for the rebels to put up, the squadron returned to its former anchorage. Yesterday we took a prisoner, who for some time was sullen and would not answer questions, but he finally came round and told us “Savannah was in a bad way, and was short of provisions.” By a Savannah paper that he gave us, we learned that they were trying to raise money to build a ram, for the destruction of Captain Gillis's squadron at Warsaw. This prisoner was taken in a small boat, trying to run the blockade to Fort Pulaski--it is supposed with a mail, but the letters were thrown overboard when he was taken. From this quarter there is no further military news.