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[113] our position, while several barges with howitzers in Light-house inlet flanked our right.

For two hours the enemy kept up the fire from these three different points, our batteries replying vigorously.

The barges of the enemy, filled with troops, having been seen in Lighthouse Inlet in the direction of Black Island, and Oyster Point being the nearest and most accessible spot for debarkation from them, it was justly considered the one most necessary to protect, and therefore the infantry, consisting of the 21st South Carolina Volunteers, about 350 effective men, were stationed by Colonel R. F. Graham, the immediate commander of the island, on the peninsula leading to that point.

In this position the infantry were unavoidably exposed to the fire of the boat howitzers, but sheltered by the nature of the ground from that of the guns on Little Folly Island.

About seven o'clock the enemy advanced on Oyster Point in a flotilla of boats containing between two and three thousand men, a considerable portion of whom endeavored to effect and hold a landing, in which they were opposed by the infantry until about eight o'clock, when another force of two or three regiments made good a landing in front of our batteries on the south end of Morris Island proper. These formed in line of battle on the beach, and advanced directly upon our works, throwing out on each flank numerous skirmishers, who very soon succeeded in flanking and taking the batteries in reverse. After an obstinate resistance our artillery had to abandon their pieces—three 8-inch navy shell guns, two 8-inch sea-coast howitzers, one rifled 24-pounder, one 30-pounder Parrott, one 12-pounder Whitworth, three 10-inch sea-coast mortars—eleven in all—and fall back.

Two companies of the 7th South Carolina Battalion, which arrived about this time, were ordered to the support of the batteries; but they could not make head against the overwhelming numbers of the enemy.

This success of the enemy threatened to cut off our infantry engaged at Oyster Point from their line of retreat; and consequently, about nine o'clock, Colonel Graham gave the order to fall back to Battery Wagner, which was accomplished under a severe flanking fire from the monitors.

The enemy thus gained possession of the south end of Morris Island, by rapidly throwing a large number of troops across the inlet, which it was impossible for the available infantry on the spot, about 400 effective men, to resist.

It was not the erection of works on Little Folly Island that caused the abandonment of our position; it was clearly the want on our side of infantry support, and the enemy's superior weight and number of guns, and the heavy supporting brigade of infantry, that swept away our feeble, stinted means of resistance.

The woods that remained unfelled on Little Folly Island were of no material advantage to the enemy; for even had there been labor to remove them (which I never had), the formation of the island, covered with ridges of sandhills, formed a screen which hid the enemy's movements completely from us, and afforded all the concealment he could desire.


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