In the gray of early dawn of July 16, the troops in bivouac on James Island
were awakened by dropping shots, and then heavy firing on the picket line to the right.
Clambering to the top of a pile of cracker-boxes, an officer of the Fifty-fourth, looking in the direction of the firing, saw the flashes of musketry along the outposts.
In a few moments came the sharp metallic explosions from field-guns to the left by the river-bank.
, the adjutant, rode in post-haste along the line, with cheery voice but unusually excited manner, ordering company commanders to form.
resounded on all sides, while drums of the several regiments were beating the long-roll.
But a few moments sufficed for the Fifty-fourth to form, when Colonel Shaw
marched it to the right and some little distance to the rear, where it halted, faced to the front, and stood in line of battle at right angles to the Secessionville
Rapid work was going on at the outposts.
Before dawn the pickets of the Fifty-fourth had heard hoarse commands and the sound of marching men coming from the bank of darkness before them.
Soon a line of men in open order came sweeping toward them from the gloom into the nearer and clearer light.
, with six companies of the Eutaw Regiment
(Twenty-fifth South Carolina), skirmishing before his column, crossing Rivers
's causeway, was rapidly advancing on the black pickets.
's right was the first point of contact; and the men, thus suddenly attacked by a heavy force, discharged their pieces, and sullenly contested the way, firing as they went, over rough and difficult ground, which obstructed the enemy's advance as well as their own retirement.