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[236] and back of these, surrounded by a large belt of marshes, James Island, covered with villages and cultivated fields. The Federals hoped that, by taking possession of this island and the canals which enclose it, they would be able to penetrate into the bay, which serves as a harbor to the cradle of secession, without having to pass under the fire of Sumter, Moultrie and the forts that General Ripley had built a year before in front of the principal entrance of this bay.

On the 29th of May, the large gun-boat Pawnee entered Stono River, notwithstanding the difficulties of the bar, against which she struck more than twenty times, and everything was ready at the southern extremity of James Island for the reception of the troops with which General Hunter expected to commence the siege of those forts. They soon began to arrive in small detachments, some from the group of the St. Helena Islands, where the main body of Hunter's forces was still cantoned, others from Tybee, the garrison of which, since the capture of Pulaski, had become useless, and others still from many small Southern stations. This concentration was not without inconvenience, for it stripped many of the points which it would have been judicious to hold; the Confederates recovered possession of many plantations they had abandoned, and practiced the most cruel reprisals against the fugitives negroes who had sought refuge under the aegis of the Federal flag. But everything was made subservient to the necessities of the expedition, from which so great a result was anticipated as the capture of Charleston. The Confederates, who had evacuated the neighborhood of the deep waters of Stono River for fear of the large gun-boats of the enemy, had removed their lines of defences a little farther back, so as to shut the Federals within the flat and damp lands forming the southern extremity of James Island. The right of this line rested on the upper part of Stono River, and its left upon the Secession Creek canal, near the village of Secessionville; it consisted of several batteries strongly armed. General Evans established himself there with three or four thousand men, pushing his pickets to within a few paces of the encampments of the Federal army. The latter, which had landed few men at a time, found its numbers complete about the 10th of June; it was from seven to eight thousand

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