the slaves that had been driven off had returned, and among them were spies sent by their masters to keep the enemy informed as to the number and disposition of the National
troops, and there were yet others who visited the main stealthily, and watched the movements of the enemy with anxiety and were informed, too, by slaves who were probably in the Confederate
Apprised of this intended movement on the part of the enemy, General Sherman
sent to Flag-Officer Dupont
a confidential letter, stating that the time had come for action, and requested a naval quota to second the army movement.
A conference was had and Commander C. R. P. Rodgers
detailed to command the naval forces, consisting of the Ottawa
gunboats, the armed tug Hale
and four boats of the Wabash
armed with howitzers, under charge of Lieutenants Upshur
, and Acting Master Kempff
, which force was to enter the Coosaw
by the Beaufort River
, and the Seneca
and other gunboats to move as a co-operative force up Broad River
, and entering Whale Branch
attack a battery supposed to be placed opposite Seabrook's Point
, and from thence go on to attack, as an auxiliary force, the enemy's batteries at Port Royal Ferry.
The part assigned to the force first named was to protect the troops landing first at Heyward
's plantation, to cover the march of the advancing column to the second point of debarkation of troops, and then to attack the batteries.
The attack was fixed for the 1st of January; the vessels first named, under the immediate command of Commander Rodgers
, remained at Beaufort
until dark and then ascended the river until within two miles of the Coosaw
, where they anchored until daylight.
At 4 A. M. Commander Rodgers
moved on with the launches, and at daylight joined General Stevens
, commanding the army forces, in Mulligan's Creek,