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[237] strong, and comprised the two divisions of Generals Wright and Stevens, with the independent brigade of Colonel Williams, the whole being under the command of General Benham. Hunter came to spend a few days among his troops, but he soon arrived at the conclusion that to isolate the forts situated on Morris Island, by reaching the Bay of Charleston, would not be such an easy matter as the investment of Pulaski. Prudence required that the Federals should remain in their positions until, with the aid of the fleet, they could extend their lines upon the islands which bordered the sea, and commence regular siege operations against the forts.

But no sooner had Hunter returned to Port Royal than Benham, deceived by false reports, and carried away by unreflecting ardor, determined to carry the entrenchments in front of him by a coup de main in order to gain possession of the dry and cultivated land extending beyond. He selected the works of Secessionville as the point of attack, in consequence, no doubt, of the support he expected to receive from the gun-boats. This was taking the bull by the horns.

The country residences constituting the hamlet of Secessionville are situated near the Secession Creek canal, which connects the Bay of Charleston with that of Stono, and stand upon the extremity of a strip of land which extends into the midst of vast swamps. Enveloped at the east by Secession Creek, this peninsula is bounded on the west by a stream called St. John's Creek, which, running in a north-westerly direction, loses itself in these same swamps. It connects with the firm land of James Island, in a ridge which rises to an elevation of several yards above the surrounding low lands, extending in a straight line for a distance of about a mile and a quarter in the direction of Stono River. The Confederates had stationed themselves on this isthmus a little in front of Secessionville, at a point where it does not exceed two hundred yards in breadth. A large redoubt, called Battery Lamar, with a profile of nine feet and a ditch two yards wide, rose above the ridge, which it commanded for a long distance; it was armed with a gun of heavy calibre, and had besides platforms for several field-pieces; two breastworks, forming a curtain, descended to the right and left, resting upon thickets, by which the swamps

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