previous next

[35] killing and wounding great numbers of my command. Here the ammunition for the field-pieces fell short, and though the infantry acted with great courage and determination, they were twice driven out of the woods with great slaughter by the overwhelming force of the enemy, whose missiles tore through the woods like hail.

I had warmly responded to this fire with the sections of First and Third United States artillery and the boat-howitzers, until finding my ammunition about to fail, and seeing any flank movement was impossible, I pressed the First brigade forward, through the thicket to the verge of the swamp, and sent a section of the First United States artillery, well supported, to the causeway on the further side of the wood, leaving the Second brigade with Colonel Brown's command, the section Third United States artillery and the boathowitzers, as a line of defence on my rear.

The effect of this bold movement was immediately evident in the precipitate retreat of the rebels, who disappeared in the woods with amazing rapidity. The infantry of the First brigade immediately plunged through the swamp (parts of which were nearly up to their arm-pits) and started in pursuit. Some delay was caused by the bridge having been destroyed, impeding the passage of the artillery. This difficulty was overcome, and with my full force I pressed forward on the retreating rebels. At this point, (apprehending from the facility with which the rebels progressed heading “Pocotaligo Creek” that they would attempt to turn my left flank,) I sent an infantry regiment with a boat-howitzer to my left to strike the “Coosahatchie road.”

The position which I had found proved, as I had supposed, to be one of great natural advantages to the rebels, the ground being higher on that side of the swamp, and having a firm open field for the working of their artillery, which latter they formed in a half-circle, throwing a concentrated fire on the entrance to the woods we had just passed.

The rebels left in their retreat a caisson full of ammunition, which latter fortunately fitting the boat-howitzers, enabled us at a later period of the day to keep up our fire when all other ammunition had failed.

Still pursuing the flying rebels, I arrived at that point where the Coosahatchie road, joining that from McKay's Landing, runs through a swamp to Pocotaligo bridge. Here the rebels opened a murderous fire upon us from batteries of siege-guns and field-pieces, on the further side of the creek.

Our skirmishers, however, advanced boldly to the edge of the swamp, and from what cover they could obtain did considerable execution among the enemy. The rebels, as I anticipated, attempted a flank movement on our left, but for some reason abandoned it.

The ammunition of the artillery here entirely failed, owing to the caissons not having been brought on, for want of transportation from Port Royal, and pieces had to be sent back to Mackay's Point, a distance of ten miles, to renew it.

The bridge across the Pocotaligo was destroyed, and the rebels from behind their earthworks continued firing on the only approach to it through the swamps. Night was now closing fast, and seeing the utter hopelessness of attempting any thing further against the force which the enemy had concentrated at this point from Savannah and Charleston, with an army of much inferior force, unprovided with ammunition, and not having sufficient transportation to remove the wounded, who were lying writhing along the entire route, I deemed it expedient to move on Mackay's Point, which I did in successive lines of defence, burying my dead and carrying our wounded with us on such stretchers as we could manufacture from branches of trees, blankets, etc., and received no molestation from the rebels; embarked and returned to Hilton Head on the twenty-third instant.

Facts tend to show that the rebels were perfectly acquainted with all our plans, as they had evidently studied our purpose with care, and had two lines of defence, “Easton and Frampton,” before falling back on Pocotaligo, where, aided by their field-works and favored by the nature of the ground and the facility of concentrating troops, they evidently purposed making a determined stand; and, indeed, the accounts gathered from prisoners leave no doubt but that the rebels had very accurate information of our movements.

I greatly felt the want of cavalry, who, in consequence of the transports having grounded in Broad River, did not arrive till nearly four P. M., and who, in the early part of the day, would, perhaps, have captured some field-pieces in the open country we were then in, and would, at all events, have prevented time destruction of the bridge in the rear of the rebels.

Great praise is due to the brigade and regimental commanders for their calm and determined courage during the entire day, and for the able manner in which they handled their several commands.

Col. Barton, Forty-eighth regiment New-York State volunteers, as will be seen from the accompanying copy of his report, partially effected the object of this movement on the Coosahatchie, but meeting with too strong a force of the rebels, was forced to embark.

I desire to call the attention of the Major-General commanding the department to the gallant and distinguished conduct of First Lieutenant Guy T. Henry, First United States artillery, commanding a section of light artillery. His pieces were served admirably throughout. He had two horses shot. The section of Third United States artillery, commanded by First Lieut. E. Giddings, Third United States artillery, was well served. He being wounded in the latter part of the day, his section was commanded by Lieut. Henry.

The three boat-howitzers furnished by Captain Steedman, United States Navy, commanding the naval forces, were served well; and the officers commanding them, with the crews, as also the detachment of the Third Rhode Island volunteers, deserve great credit for their coolness, skill, and gallantry. The officers commanding these guns


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Guy T. Henry (2)
Charles S. Steedman (1)
McKay (1)
E. Giddings (1)
Frampton (1)
Easton (1)
E. B. Brown (1)
William Barton (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: