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 to be beaten in detail as they came up.1 During the retreat, the 1st Mass. Cavalry (Independent Battalion) assisted in covering the rear, but without losses, and the 55th was not in action. The 40th Mass. also lost some men in the engagement, in which it served as a mounted infantry, ‘on animals raked and scraped up within the department,’ according to Gen. G. H. Gordon. The loss of the 54th was fourteen killed, sixty-three wounded and eight missing. In the expedition to James Island, July 2-9, 1864, the 54th sustained no injury, but the 55th and the 4th Cavalry (2d Battalion) had casualties.2 The 55th on taking possession of the island attacked and drove back a portion of the Confederate battery, capturing two guns. The troops were in the field a whole day with the thermometer at 110 degrees, many men falling from sunstroke. The whole movement was ineffectual and rather aimless, as were almost all attempts to advance our lines among the islands, and the 55th lost eleven men while the 4th Cavalry lost slightly.3 The defeat at Honey Hill (November 30) was less humiliating than that at Olustee, because there was more object in the battle. It formed a part of an attempt to carry out an order given by General Halleck, by report of General Sherman, that General Foster should break the Charleston and Savannah Railroad about Pocotaligo about the first of December.4 This particular fight was sufficiently well timed for Lieut.-Col. C. C. Jones, Jr., in his Siege of Savannah to say of it, ‘The engagement [November 30] at Honey Hill released the city of Savannah from an impending danger, which, had it not been thus averted, would have necessitated its immediate evacuation.’ General Potter wrote of the troops engaged, ‘Nothing but the formidable character of the obstacles they encountered prevented them from achieving success;’ and Capt. Charles C. Soule, of the 55th Mass., wrote to the Philadelphia Weekly Times, ‘The generalship displayed was ’
1 ‘We were whipped in detail. . . . Five brigadier-generals had remained idly awaiting results on those islands [Folly and Morris] while as many brigades, commanded by colonels, were being whipped at Olustee.’ (War Diary by George H. Gordon, one of the brigadier-generals, pp. 282, 283) Compare Walker's 2d Army Corps, p 405, ‘The Confederates knew better. They had always brigadier-generals to command their brigades and usually major-generals to command their division.’
3 ‘To continue the Department of the South as an aggressive one was a folly, nay, almost a crime.’ (War Diary of General G. H. Gordon, p. 289) General Gordon had little patience with General Gillmore, whose military qualities, apart from engineering, were not highly esteemed by those under him. With admirable scouts at his command he rarely took the pains to ascertain in advance the conditions of proposed operations, and was quite apt to throw the blame on his subordinates if they failed to perform impossibilities.
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