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[240] neither of them referred to this movement as disobedience of those orders; in fact, on the day after the action, General Stevens expressly stated to General Benham that it was a movement to which he was perfectly competent, and in his power to direct. It may be mentioned here, that some twenty or thirty steel spikes had been prepared and handed to Generals Wright and Stevens, by General Benham's orders, expressly to disable the cannon if taken and we were temporarily repulsed. On the morning of the sixteenth, in clouded moonlight, the supporting column was in its position before four o'clock, as directed, at our outer pickets, but it waited there over one hour, till broad daylight and sunrise, or fully five o'clock, to the often expressed astonsihment of Generals Benham and Wright, before the opening fire was heard from Stevens's command, which was to start from a point scarcely half a mile distant. When this fire was heard the rear column moved rapidly forward to Stevens's support. But, as all the after accounts showed, by the time this column could get into position, the main slaughter and repulse had occurred, as stated by General Stevens to have happened within the first fifteen or twenty minutes. And all because General, Stevnes delayed until nearly daylight before he started. Captain Doyle, of the Eighth Michigan, his leading captain, stated that “it was good light to aim” when the first picket of the enemy was met; because, contrary to orders, the muskets of a part of his regiment at least were not loaded, and they were halted to load them under this terrible fire; but principally because the regiments were not pushed forward by any officer to the support of the companies who had already gained and held the parapet of the fort. Only the First and a part of the Fourth regiments reached the Fort in order. The Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth appear by the reports to have wavered, or not to have gone beyond the point at which the severest fire of grape was felt. The first despatch of General Stevens to General Wright written on the field, states: “You must push to my assistance. I am close to the work, but can't get men up.” General Wright was pushed forward. The second despatch to General Benham stated: “The advance company mounted the parapet, but the support did not follow close enough.” The third says: “My troops cannot stand up to the terrible fire of the enemy; an entire brigade can alone secure the day.” General Benham at once ordered Colonel Williams with his brigade to report to General Stevens; afterward one or two regiments of Wright's command were sent; or fully two thirds of the supporting column which still had to guard our left in front and rear. Colonel Williams did not take the route to the right direct to General Stevens, as was expected, and when this was discovered his men were too far advanced to recall. And as General Stevens afterward professed himself fully satisfied with the support thus rendered him by Colonel Williams, the matter was not followed up by General Benham. After the engagement had continued at field, cannon, and rifle-range for an hour or more, General Stevens sent to say that he was forming his men for a charge if he could be supported. General Benham replied that if General Stevens ceuld take his men up under cover or without being cut to pieces, he should be supported by the whole force except one or two regiments and two guns needed to guard our left, and General Stevens was directed to reply whether or not he could make the charge safely.

It is certain that such a charge might have been attempted at that time with our whole force; although, considering the number lost or demoralized by the first repulse, it would scarcely have been stronger than the original column of attack. It is possible that it might have succeeded, but it could only have been successful by immense additional loss in the more advanced daylight, and with the reinforcements the enemy must be supposed to have had. Further, such an advance against a fort in open daylight would have been in violation of General Benham's own principles, and orders to General Stevens, already disregarded once that morning. And at this time it happened that our gunboats firing, by the direction given and the request of General Wright, were not reaching the Fort, but throwing their shells very thickly into our own regiments and artillery. Upon this, the first retiring was ordered by General Benham to avoid our own shells, when afterward, hearing no word from General Stevens as to his proposed attack, and without a suspicion that our loss was one tenth of what it proved to be, he at length directed the withdrawal of all the troops, with the intention of another and different attack upon the Fort. After this return General Benham at once made his preliminary report of this reconnaissance, the other commanders neglecting or avoiding to make their written reports until after General Benham left the Stono, at noon on the nineteenth of June.

This report, though correct and satisfactory to General Wright and Colonel Williams, appeared not to be so to General Stevens, to whom it was also shown for further information. And when General Benham stated to General Stevens how inexplicable his report and want of success with his large force had been, General Stevens made certain explanations and statements verbally, but opposed the mention of his name as authority for them. On which General Benham in his report gave him the praise for good conduct which he had so much desired to do. One of these statements was, that the men had loaded muskets, as General Benham ordered. Another, that his regiments were all well closed up; and another, as to the time and darkness at starting. Of all of which General Benham since had sufficient evidence from General Stevens himself, and from other officers to believe them wholly incorrect. He even has Captain Doyle's testimony that General Stevens neglected to give him the spikes, which, if they had been used, as the evidence shows there was opportunity, would have made the second attack quite safe. And every thing tends to the irresistible conclusion that the neglect of duty of General Stevens, (which was not

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