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[207] that the enemy were not in our immediate neighborhood, the negroes assuring me that the had left the island and returned to Fort Chap man. I then gathered the following particulars The rebels, during the night, landed on the Island from Fort Chapman, with a force of un known numbers, and guided by a negro, who for a long time had been on the Island in the employ of the army, surrounded the house and chapel in which a large proportion of the negroes were housed, posting a strong guard to oppose our landing.

At early dawn they fired a volley through the house, and as the alarmed people sprang nearly naked from their beds and rushed forth frantic with fear, they were shot, arrested, or knocked down. The first inquiry of the rebels was for the d — d Yankees, and at what time they were in the habit of visiting the islands, mingled with exclamations of “Be quick, boys, the people from the ship will be up,” “Let's burn the houses,” “Not yet; they will see the fire from the ship and come up.”

Having collected most of the chickens and despoiled many of the poor people of their very wretched clothing, and told them that as they belonged to the State, or others nearly adjoining, they would not molest them, they fired the building and fled.

As the people were clamorous to be removed, I filled the boats with them and pulled down to the tender, on board of which they were placed.

On our return for the remainder they were observed, as we approached the landing, to be in the utmost confusion, dashing wildly into the marshes, and screaming: “The secesh are coming back.” On investigation, however, it proved that the enemy, in full sight, about two miles off, crossing an open space of ground, were in hasty retreat instead of advancing. On our first visit they must have been concealed in a patch of woods not more than half a mile from our pickets.

Having succeeded in removing or in providing with boats all who wished to remain to collect their little property, I returned to the ship, bringing with me about seventy, among them one man literally riddled with balls and buckshot, (since dead;) another shot through the lungs, and struck over the forehead with a clubbed musket, which laid the bone perfectly bare; one woman shot in the leg, shoulder, and thigh; one far gone in pregnancy, suffering from a dislocation of the hip-joint and injury to the womb, caused by leaping from a second-story window; and another suffering from the displacement of the cap of the knee and injury of the leg from the same cause.

It appears that the negro who had guided the party had returned to them after the evacuation of the place, told them all the troops had been withdrawn, and that the islands were entirely unprotected except by this ship. I am therefore at a loss to account for their extreme barbarity to negroes, most of whom were living on the plantation where they had been born, peacefully tilling the ground for their support which their masters, by deserting, had denied them, and who were not even remotely connected with the hated Government army.

I trust you will approve my sending the contrabands to Hilton Head. Had I not been unable to provide for such a large number, and so much embarrassed by the frequent demands made upon me for provisions by new arrivals, I should have waited for your advice in the matter.

Last Tuesday we had an arrival of thirty from the main land, and scarcely a day passed without one or more of them, always in a half-starved condition, whose appeals for food I have not yet been able to resist, though they trespass rather largely on the ship's stores.

All those newly arrived give the same account of the want and scarcity of provisions among the white population, and of their own dangers and sufferings in effecting their escape. Though exercising no control over the negroes on the neighboring islands, I have, ever since the withdrawal of the troops, urged them to remove to Edisto or St. Helena, and warned them that some night they would be visited by the rebels.

But the majority insisted on remaining, because there was their home, while all seemed to have most perfect faith in the protection of the ship, though perhaps, as was the case last night, ten or twelve miles distant from her.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. T. Truxton, Lieut. Commanding. Flag-Officer S. F. Du Pont, Commanding Southern Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Port Royal, S. C.

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