The special design of this enterprise was to destroy the trestle-work bridges of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, crossing the Pocotaligo, Tullifiny, and Coosahatchie. These streams are all tributaries of the Broad River; and to approach them it was determined, after a careful study of the map of this peculiarly impracticable and most difficult country for military operations, to make a landing at Mackay's Point, at the junction of the Broad and Pocotaligo Rivers, a distance of twenty-five miles from Hilton Head, where our troops could be debarked under cover of gunboats, and a march of eleven miles would take them to the village of Pocotaligo, at which place it was supposed the enemy would make a stand. The attack was intended as a surprise; and while our main force was to advance, as stated, a smaller body of troops, commanded by Col. Barton, of the Forty-eighth New-York volunteers, was to create a diversion by penetrating to the Coosahatchie bridge in the steamer Planter, convoyed by the gunboat Patroon; but with imperative orders to retire should they encounter a superior force. By cutting the railroad in the manner proposed, communication between the cities of Savannah and Charleston would be destroyed, and the way opened for a sudden blow upon one or both of these places, at the discretion of the Commanding General. The plan of this expedition was skilfully conceived, and every precaution adopted to render it successful. Few can imagine the perplexities attendant upon the movement of troops and artillery by water. It was necessary to construct flat-boats for the transportation of field-batteries; to concentrate all the light-draught boats; to gain such knowledge as might be gained imperfectly through scouts, of the character of the country to be traversed; to decide upon the possibility of debarking at the point selected; arriving at proper tides; providing for the subsistence of the troops, and a hundred other details regarding prudence anti sagacious foresight, and which after all were susceptible of disarrangement. Considering all these circumstances, and the fact that so many persons are employed in the organization of an expedition of this kind, it is not to be wondered that information of the projected attack passed our lines, and the enemy consequently was ready to receive us. The army transports of light draught were not sufficient for the transportation of the number of men required for this service, and in the emergency Commodore Godon, of the navy, was applied to by Gen. Mitchel for assistance. Commodore Godon promptly agreed to take troops on the gunboats, and the soldiers were assigned as follows: Gunboat Paul Jones, Captain Charles Steedman, commanding naval forces, towing Wabash launches. Transport Ben Deford, with six hundred of the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteers, and four hundred of the Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania volunteers. Gunboat Connemaugh, with three hundred and fifty of the Fourth New-Hampshire volunteers. Gunboat Wissahickon, with two hundred and fifty of the Fourth New-Hampshire volunteers. Transport Boston, with five hundred of the Seventh Connecticut volunteers, and three hundred and eighty of the Third New-Hampshire volunteers. Gunboat Patroon, with fifty of the Third New-Hampshire volunteers. Gunboat Uncas, with fifty of the Third New-Hampshire volunteers. Transport Darlington, with three hundred of the Sixth Connecticut volunteers. The Relief and schooner, with two hundred of the Sixth Connecticut volunteers. Gunboat Marblehead, with two hundred and thirty of the Third Rhode Island volunteers. Gunboat Vixen, with seventy of the Third Rhode Island volunteers. Steamer Florida, with three hundred of the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania volunteers. Gunboat Water Witch, with one hundred and thirty of the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania volunteers. Army gunboat George Washington, with two hundred and fifty of the New-York Volunteer Engineers. Steamer Planter, with three hundred of the Forty-eighth New-York volunteers. The Ben Deford, towed a flat-boat having on board a section of Lieut. Henry's battery First United States artillery, and the Boston another flat boat carrying a section of company E, Third United States artillery. The entire land forces were composed of portions of the first and second brigades of the Tenth army corps, respectively commanded by Brig.-Generals J. M. Brannan and A. H. Terry, the former being senior officer, and therefore commanding the expedition. At nightfall, of Tuesday, the twenty-first, the expedition was ready for departure, but did not leave until midnight, as nothing could be accomplished by reaching its destination before daybreak. The vessels left in the order above designated, but the night was misty, and one or two of them ran aground, delaying their arrival at the rendezvous for some hours beyond the time which had been fixed. Meanwhile the tug Starlight was despatched with some boats of the Paul Jones and a small company of soldiers of the Seventh Connecticut, under Capt. Gray, to capture the rebel pickets at Mackay's Point and at a plantation on the Pocotaligo River, a few miles distant. This project was only partially successful. At the plantation, Lieut. Banks, of the enemy's picket, and three men, were made prisoners, but through the incompetency of a negro guide, the guard at the point escaped, giving warning of our approach. From the rebel officer who was taken, Gen. Brannan learned that our attack had been apprehended by the enemy, and for several days they had been preparing for the encounter. The tedious process of putting the men ashore in small boats was commenced soon after six o'clock A. M., on Wednesday, and by ten o'clock, men, horses, and guns were landed, excepting the detachment of the Third Rhode Island volunteers, who were on the gunboat Marblehead, which was aground all day some miles down the river. The line of march was taken up soon after ten, the section of Lieutenant Henry's battery being at the head of the column, with skirmishers of the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania regiment. Advancing
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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