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Battle of Secessionville.


Report of Colonel Johnson Haygood.

[We are under many obligations to the gallant soldier and distinguished citizen, Governor Johnson Haygood, of South Carolina, for the use of a number of original papers, which should have been copied and published ere this, but for the pressure upon our time. We give now the first instalment, to be followed by others.]

Headquarters advanced forces, James Island, June 18th, 1862.
Captain,—I am required to report the operations of the troops under my command on the 16th instant.

Some days previously I had had the honor to be placed in command of a corps composed of the First and Twenty-fourth South [64] Carolina, the entire battalion, and McEnery's Louisiana battalion, to which were assigned the duties of the advanced guard.

The force at Secessionville, however, continued to keep out in front of that position its own outposts, which were not under my command, and made no direct report to me. This has since been changed. On the nights of the 15th and 16th the troops on the outposts of duty under my command consisted of seven (7) companies of Stevens's Twenty-fourth South Carolina Regiment, six (6) companies of Hagood's First South Carolina, and one company of the Forty-seventh Georgia, all under the immediate charge of Colonel Stevens. They covered the whole front of our lines from the Secessionville road to New Town cut. The picket from Secessionville covered the space from the Secessionville road to the marsh on the left of our lines. At 4:30 A. M., on the 16th instant, I received a dispatch from Colonel Stevens, that the Secessionville pickets had been driven in, and that the enemy were advancing in force upon that position. I immediately ordered under arms that portion of the First Regiment not on picket, and Colonel Simonton's Eutaw battalion, directing them to proceed down the Battery Island road, in front of our intrenchments, to the flank of the enemy's advance: and ordered Colonel McEnery's Louisiana battalion to proceed in rear by the bridge to Secessionville—delivering these orders in person.

Proceeding in advance down the Battery Island road, I ordered forward one of the two six pounders of Boyce's battery, stationed at the crossing of the Fort Johnson road, and arriving at the scene of action, found the enemey making their second advance upon the post at Secessionville. A thicket of felled trees ran parallel with their line of advance and about four hundred yards west of it, on the edge of which next to the enemy, Colonel Stevens had deployed about one hundred men, who had been on picket duty near that point. These men were from the companies of Captains Tompkins, Pearson, Lieutenant Hammoter, commanding, and Gooding, Lieutenant Beckham, commanding, of the 24th Regiment, S. C. The Battery Island road was so obstructed, as to be impassible by troops or vehicles, ran between this felled thicket and a dense wood stretching towards Grimball's on the Stono Simonton's battalion coming up was placed behind the felled thicket in line of battle, its right resting near the Battery Island road, and the detachment of the First regiment was placed in reserve in the Battery Island road, throwing out a strong line of skimishers towards the Stono (which runs nearly parellel with this road), to guard against an advance from that point. Boyce's piece under Lieutenant Jeter was [65] placed on Simonton's left, at the extremity of the felled thicket.

The object of this disposition was chiefly defensive, as a general advance upon our lines seemed imminent. Three regiments of infantry advanced in front of us, but beyond musket-range, to attack the west flank of the work at Secessionville, being supported by a battery of field artillery, near the Battery Island road, in front of and beyond Simonton's right. Lieutenant Jeter was directed to open upon these regiments, which he did with effect. I immediately sent to the General Commanding, asking to be supported in making an attack upon the rear and flank of these regiments. When the permission to attack and the assurance of support arrived the enemy had retreated. In the meanwhile the fire of Jeter's piece drew upon us a heavy fire from the enemy's field battery, which, from the sheltered position of our troops, did but little damage, and four companies of the Third Rhode Island Regiment were sent in as skirmishers to seize the felled woods and capture the piece. Stevens's skirmishers gallantly repulsed them. A portion of the enemy, however, penetrated to Simonton's line of battle, and one of his companies was for a few moments engaged in driving them back. A few casualties in other portions of his line occurred from the random fire of the enemy engaged with our skirmishers, and one man in the detachment from the First Regiment was wounded in the same way.

The enemy in retiring were seen carrying off their wounded. Six men were left dead in front of our skirmishers, twelve were left dead farther on towards Secessionville, where the three regiments spoken of were fired upon by Lieutenant Jeter, making their loss in this part of the field eighteen killed. Eleven prisoners were captured, of whom eight were wounded. Sixty-eight small arms, mostly Enfield rifles were abandoned by them and recovered by this command. Our loss was eight killed, twenty-two wounded, two missing.

Appended is a detailed list of casualties

I have the honor to be

Very respectfully,

Johnson Hagood, Colonel 1st S. C. V., Commanding Advanced Forces. Capt. Mallory P. King, A. A. G., James Island.

[66]

headquarters James Island, June 22, 1862.
Colonel Hagood, Commanding Advanced Line, East Division, James Island:
Colonel,—In the absence of General Evans, first in command on the 16th instant, allow me to thank you for your distinguished ser-vices on that day, and through you to thank Colonel Stevens, Colonel Simonton and the other gallant officers and men under your command, for their noble and gallant service at that time. Please make known my views to your command.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

Wm. Duncan Smith, Brigadier-General Commanding.

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