Doc. 150.-occupation of Coles's Island, S. C.
A National account.
Charleston, South-Carolina, has been commenced. The pioneer corps of the grand expedition — the One Hundredth New-York volunteers, Col. G. B. Dandy, (Brevet Major, United States army)--took undisputed possession of Coles's Island, nine miles from Charleston, this morning. I write this letter from their camp. There is no secrecy attached to this movement, and the facts I shall record cannot operate prejudicially to any subsequent movements. I presume the main facts of the movement will be chronicled in the rebel newspapers, and thoroughly discussed at rebel breakfast-tables several days ere this letter reaches New-York. The discovery of America by Columbus; the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, are prominent facts of American history; the initiatory movement of movements, and the grand movement of the great expedition which is to reduce the hotbed of secession, will be prominent facts of the contemporaneous history of the present rebellion, and will hereafter occupy a prominent part in the future standard history of the United States. The defeat or success of this expedition will have a preponderating influence, one way or the other, in the closing of the present war. The One Hundredth regiment, which came from North-Carolina in February last, is a portion of the Eighteenth army corps. From their arrival in the department of the South, until they embarked for the expedition to this place, they have been encamped at St. Helena Island, Port Royal harbor. Pursuant to orders from General Hunter, they embarked from that place on Monday, the twenty-fourth instant, on board the steamer Expounder, Captain Deering. As they marched from the camp to the vessel, they were the recipients of the cheers of their comrades in arms. The good-byes and God-speeds were hearty. The regiment, after its embarkation, was conveyed to Hilton Head, six smiles distant, where they disembarked, and exchanged their fire-arms for the new Austrian rifle. This work occupied nearly the entire day, and it was nearly dark before the regiment reembarked. The Expounder transport then returned to her anchorage off St. Helena Island, where she remained for the night. On Tuesday, the twenty-fifth instant, a southeast gale, accompanied by rain and fog, prevailed, so that it was injudicious to move on that day. At daylight on the morning of Wednesday, the twenty-sixth instant, the Expounder weighed anchor and started for her destination. The sky was clear, with a fresh north-east wind blowing. Leaving the anchorage off St. Helena, we steamed down Port Royal harbor seaward, passing en route the old line-of-battle ship Vemont, the frigate and flag-ship Wabash, the iron-clad fleet of gunboats, a half-a-dozen wooden ones, and hundreds of ammunition, store, and transport steam and sailing vessels. The scene, relieved by the rising sun crimsoning the sky, was one of peculiar interest and grandeur. At half-past 7 o'clock A. M. the Expounder passed the outer buoy of Port Royal harbor, was headed on a north-eastern course, (Charlestonward.) The distance from Port Royal to Coles's Island is estimated at forty-five miles. The steamer Belvidere, with stores and artillery for the expedition, followed in the rear of the Expounder. As the tide in Stono Inlet bar would not serve until noon, no attempt was made to put the Expounder at her full speed. She was therefore kept under easy steam. The course pursued was along the coast line of South-Carolina, in full sight of land, and six miles distant therefrom. A monotonous line of tall pines and palmetto trees was all that repaid the spectator. After getting well on our journey, the Expounder was the subject of a sea-swell, not violent, but it imparted such a motion to the vessel as would produce a nausea to those persons not accustomed to the sea. This number among the One Hundredth New-York was pretty large, and as a consequence there were not a few cases of “casting up Jonah” on tile Expounder. En route down the coast the steamships Ericsson and S. R. Spaulding, proceeding in opposite directions to us, were successively passed, the former from New-York bound for Port Royal towing a nondescript looking raft. The Spaulding had troops on board. At half-past 11 o'clock the Expounder and Belvidere arrived off Stono Inlet. From this point, looking landward, the gunboats Pawnee and Commodore McDonough, doing blockade duty there, were plainly seen. From the deck of the Expounder the spires of the churches in Charleston, and the Union blockading fleet off Charleston were distinctly seen. The magnetic bearing of Charleston from Stono Inlet is northeast by cast, twelve miles distant. By the time our mosquito expedition reached Stono, the wind had freshened and there was a brisk sea lowing. The breakers were dashing over the shoals at the mouth of the inlet. The Expounder had a government pilot on board who pretended to know the channel into Stono Inlet, but when his capacity was put to the test, as we approached the outer buoy, he displayed so much hesitation and nervousness that Captain Deering thought the risk too great, both to his vessel and those on board, to run the risk of intrusting his vessel in the hands of such a man. He therefore ordered the union-jack to be hoisted to the masthead, the usual signal for a pilot. This met a prompt response from the gunboat Pawnee in Stono River, and shortly afterward the gunboat Commodore McDonough was steaming down the harbor, coming to our assistance. She approached one point about half-way down the channel, within three miles of the Expounder, when she stopped. A small boat, manned by sailors and under a naval officer was sent from her to our assistance. They at first attempted to run their boat,