Stone to take the McDonough, (Lieutenant-Commander Phythian,) and the Hale, Acting Master C. F. Mitchell, and render whatever aid might be needed. The Dai-Ching, Lieutenant-Commander Chaplin, was to assist as far as circumstances permitted. Two boat howitzers and a detachment of marines were added. The expedition left this place on Wednesday, and early on Friday the army transports returned. I was telegraphed that the affair was a failure, with the loss on the part of the army of a fine transport steamer,, the Boston, which grounded under fire, and was destroyed to prevent falling into the hands of the rebels; some lives were lost, and about sixty horses were burned. The Hale and McDonough did not return until the afternoon, not having been informed of the retreat of the troops. The reports of the commanding naval officers show that the gunboats did the part assigned them satisfactorily, and without loss. Lieutenant-Commander Stone was senior officer in command; Lieutenant-Commander Chaplin commanded the Dai-Ching; Lieutenant-Commander Phythian commanded the McDonough; and Acting Master Mitchell the E. B. Hale. I enclose the reports of these officers. Captain Boutelle, of the United States Coast Survey, with his usual zeal, accompanied the gunboats in the Vixen, and skilfully piloted them along the windings of the narrow channel. I take this opportunity of making my acknowledgments to the eminent head of the Coast Survey, Professor Bache, for the many advantages which I have derived, while in command here, from the accurate surveys executed by his orders. Their scientific and practical excellence have never been surpassed in any country, and have rendered them invaluable in conducting operations in this quarter. I have the honor to be, Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Instructions from Lieut.-Com. E. E. Stone.
General Birney up the Ashapoo River. Captain Boutelle, U. S. Coast Survey, informs me that you will have no trouble until you arrive at Bennett's Point, at the mouth of the Mosquito Creek, (marked A in the accompanying tracing,) at which point you may find some difficulty in turning, after which you will find the channel on the port hand. The object of your going is to act as a cover and feint. General Birney will land to-night at the mouth of Mosquito Creek, and take up his line of march on the road towards the Savannah and Charleston Railroad, which it is his intention to cut if possible. You will please communicate with the General, and render every assistance in your power, having due regard to the safety of your ship. When the expedition returns you will resume your station. I shall proceed up the South Edisto with the Vixen, McDonough, and Hale, and to-morrow morning open on Willstown if I can get near enough; therefore you will understand any heavy firing in that direction. I send you a tracing of the proposed route and points: A. Bennett's Point. B. As far as I think it prudent for you to go. C. The point at which I propose to land two howitzers and a few marines, in case I cannot get up to Willstown with the vessels. Proposed route of General Birney. You will find General Birney on board of the Plato, a small side-wheel steamer. Hoping you will have a merry time, I remain respectfully, your obedient servant,
Report of Lieut.-Com. E. E. Stone.
McDonough, Hale, and Vixen, to and up the South Edisto River, as far as Governor Aiken's plantation, on Jehossee Island, at which point I landed the marines and two howitzers on field carriages, who were ordered to cross the plantation to a point as near Willstown as they could get. I sent a boat to the point agreed upon with General Birney, with the expectation of communicating with him, but was disappointed, no vidette having been found. On the morning of the twenty-sixth, at thirty-five minutes past seven, I opened with the howitzers on Willstown, and in the supposed direction of the battery, which we afterwards discovered from the window of one of the mills, but entirely out of range. As soon as the fog lifted, the vessels were ordered up as far as it was deemed prudent to go, and fire opened at half past 11 in the direction of the battery and houses at Willstown, by the rifle guns of the McDonough and Hale. After firing for a couple of hours orders were given for the vessels to return to the previous anchorage, and for the marines and howitzers to fall back to the place of debarkation. I despatched an armed boat through Mosquito Creek to communicate with the Dai-Ching, being anxious to learn the cause of a large fire observed to the westward, and the whereabouts of General Birney. On her return, at three o'clock in the morning of the twenty-seventh, I received the melancholy news of the disaster to the steamer Boston, and that the General had returned to Port Royal; whereupon the marines and howitzers were ordered on board, and at daylight we proceeded down the river, en route for this place, where we arrived this evening. For the details of the loss of the Boston, and the part taken by the Dai-Ching, in compliance with my orders, are fully