of the Patroon, the gunboat nearest me, and about a mile and a half astern, to cover the road in my rear as I advanced. I should state here that both of the gunboats were unfortunately aground, and were thus prevented from taking a position nearer to the Planter. My advance reported squads of cavalry in sight as the main body entered the road, which it did at right angles to the point of disembarkation. The road proved to be an excellent one, hard and firm, and evidently repaired but an hour or two before, the dirt being still fresh, and the tracks upon it showed plainly that artillery, infantry, and cavalry had just passed over it. I continued my advance toward the town, driving in the enemy's pickets and skirmishing the country as thoroughly as possible. When about one mile from the village the whistle of a locomotive was heard. I was informed by the contraband, who had been furnished as a guide, that it was the dirt-train which always passed at that hour, and which he said was well on its way to Savannah. A few moments, however, proved that he had misinformed me, for when the main body arrived at a point within a few hundred yards of the town, and when the skirmishers had already reached the railroad track and telegraph line, the train was heard and seen rapidly coming down the road. I quickly placed my battalion in position, and as the train approached I directed a heavy and rapid fire upon it, with grape, and canister, and musketry. This fire was very destructive. The train consisted of eight cars, six of which were platforms crowded with men, the two boxcars filled with officers. There were also two light field-pieces on board. Many were seen to fall at the first fire, (among them the engineer,) and twenty-five or thirty jumped from the train, most of whom were maimed or killed; the rest, with one exception, betaking themselves to the woods and swamps on the other side of the track. We carried away or destroyed here about thirty stands of arms, mostly rifles, and secured one officer's sword and cap, and a stand of silk colors belonging to the “Whippy swamp guards.” We left a number of the enemy's dead and wounded on the track. We have since learned from the Savannah papers of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth, that among the killed at this point was Major Harrison, of the Eleventh Georgia regiment, which regiment, with the Guards named above, were on the train. Immediately after the train had passed, Capt. Eaton, by my directions, set vigorously at work tearing up the railroad track, and continued thus until the retreat was sounded. After this occurrence I concluded, if possible, to push rapidly into the town and attack the troops while in the confusion of disembarking. I had proceeded but a short distance, however, before I came in full view of the enemy's forces, advantageously posted on the other side of the public road bridge, between that and the railroad bridge. They were flanked on their left by the river, and on their right by a thick swamp, with three pieces of artillery commanding the bridge. They immediately opened fire upon us with their artillery and infantry, fortunately for us, however, firing too high. I fired a few rounds in return, when, as it was now nearly night and the enemy's reinforcements above were double my entire force, I marched slowly back to my boats. During my retreat the skirmishers frequently observed and encountered small bodies of the enemy's cavalry, who were, however, easily driven off. I directed Capt. Eaton, of the engineers, to destroy the bridge on the road in my rear, which he did thoroughly, thus in a measure hindering the pursuit. The enemy, however, made his appearance and attacked us with infantry and artillery several times during my embarkation, but in each instance we drove them off with serious loss, as they were directly under the guns of the Planter and Patroon. As soon as the steamer again floated we returned to Mackay's Point by order of Gen. Brannan, and thence by way of Hilton Head to this port. I regret to report that during the last attack of the enemy Lieutenant J. M. Blanding, Third Rhode Island artillery, at that time in charge of the Planter, was dangerously wounded in the left arm and side. He is now, however, doing well. This was the only casualty on our side during the day. It affords me great pleasure to state that every officer and man of my command behaved during the day in the most commendable manner, evincing only a desire to meet the enemy, and regret at the necessity of a retreat. Major Green, Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Fortyeighth New-York volunteers, and Acting Major Captain Strickland, New-York volunteers, were especially useful. Capt. Gould, of the Third Rhode Island artillery, also rendered me most efficient service, as did also Captain Eaton, Serrell's Volunteer Engineers, all of whom displayed the utmost zeal, energy, and ability in all they were called upon to perform. I have the honor to be, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A National account.
Port Royal, Friday, October 24, 1862.Encouraged by the perfect success of the recent enterprise at St. John's River and the Bluffton salt-works, and true to the promise that he made his troops, of giving them active employment on assuming command of the Department of the South, Gen. Mitchel has just prosecuted a third expedition, of greater magnitude and of more important aim, which, while yielding fresh lustre to our arms, I grieve to say, has only partially achieved its object, and adds another long list to the names of martyrs in the Union cause.