previous next

Doc. 28.-expedition up the South-Edisto, S. C.


Official report of Colonel Higginson.

on board steamer John Adams, July 11, 1863.
Briyadier-General Saxton:
General: I have the honor to submit a report of an expedition <*> the South-Edisto River, undertaken with your consent and that of General Gillmore, commanding department.

I left Beaufort on the afternoon of the ninth, with the armed steamer John Adams, the transport Enoch Dean, and the small tug Governor Milton. I had with me two hundred and fifty officers and men of my regiment, and a section of the First Connecticut battery, under command of Lieutenant Clinton.

By four o'clock the next morning we anchored before Wiltown, twenty-one miles up the river, and engaged a three-gun field-battery there stationed. After three shots they ceased firing, and, landing with Lieutenant West and thirty men, I took possession of the bluff, where the clothing, equipments, and breakfast-fires left behind betrayed a very hasty departure This bluff affords the key to the river, and we held it all day until sunset, though with constant skirmishing between my pickets and those of the enemy.

We found, as we expected, a row of spiles across the river at Wiltown, and a prisoner whom we had taken affected great terror of torpedoes. None, however, appeared, and the able engineering of Captain Trowbridge, in three hours effected a passage for the two small vessels. This was too late for the tide, and we were obliged to wait till noon before ascending farther.

At the first attempt to ascend with the flood-tide the Governor Milton went aground, and the Dean going about a mile further, had another engagement with the same battery, and again drove it back. She also running aground, we were compelled to wait an hour longer for the tide, when the two small vessels ascended together. We met with no further interruption (the rice-fields on each side being indefensible) till within two miles of the railroad bridge, Here the Dean unluckily grounded again, and all efforts to get her off being fruitless, I signalled Major Strong, on board the tug, to proceed upward to the bridge. He soon found himself under the fire, at two hundred and fifty yards, of a six-gun field-battery planted that morning on the shore, and, after a severe engagement, in which my vessel could render but little aid, our little consort was compelled to withdraw; and when at last the Dean was got off, the tide rendered it necessary to abandon the attempt. We were at this time more than thirty miles from the mouth of the river, and about twenty miles from Charleston.

Descending the river, the Dean had another fight with her old enemies, apparently reenforced, who shelled us very severely from a point near Wiltown. We passed the spiles successfully, but regretted to find the Milton aground upon them. The John Adams tried in vain to pull her off, and the officers on board were reluctantly compelled to abandon her, as the tide was rapidly falling. I was drawing in the pickets and taking them on board the Dean when this decision was made and acted upon, and it was then too late for me to do any thing but order the little vessel to be set on fire, which was accordingly done, the few men on board having been safely removed.

After this we met with no further incident, except one more artillery fight on the way down the river, making five in all. I am happy to say that in all these engagements the artillerists, both white and black, did themselves much credit, as indeed did all my command. I must especially mention companies K (Captain Whitney) and G (Lieutenant Sampson) upon whom very exposed duty devolved, in the way of skirmishing.

We brought away about two hundred contra. bands, six bales of cotton of the best quality, and two prisoners, F. Hall (Sixth cavalry) and G. [177] Henry Barnwell, of the Rebel Troop, one of the well-known family of that name. Both were captured by my skirmishers, with their horses and full equipments. For want of transportation, we left behind a number of fine horses. We destroyed large quantities of rice, by burning the rice-houses, and cut the dams of the rice-fields. No private property not amenable to military rules was burned or pillaged, though there was abundant opportunity for so doing.

My command reports two killed, private July Green, company A, and Wm. S. Verdier, company C, and one wounded, myself not severely, in the side, from the concussion of a shell. Beside these the engineer of the Milton was killed, (Mr. Mills,) and one contraband, name unknown. One sailor was slightly wounded in the foot, and one contraband lost a leg. Considering the number of shells that exploded in and near the vessels-fifteen having passed through the Enoch Dean alone — I am surprised that the list is no larger.

The loss of the enemy is unknown, but the prisoners stated that one of our first shots dismounted a gun and killed three men.

I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully your obedient servant,

T. W. Higginson, Colonel Commanding.


A National account.

camp First regiment S. C. Volunteers, Beaufort, S. C., July 16, 1863.
Thinking perhaps that you would like to hear of an expedition made by a detachment of the First S. C. volunteers, I will proceed to give you a few items.

The expedition left Beaufort on the ninth of July, at four P. M., and arrived at Wiltown Bluff next morning about three A. M. The expedition was composed of four companies of the First regiment S. C. volunteers--companies A, B, G, and K--with a detachment of twenty men from company C, who nobly and fearlessly worked the guns on board the gunboat Enoch Dean. The little steamer Governor Milton, commanded by Major Strong, First S. C. V., was armed with two brass twelve-pounder Armstrongs from the Connecticut battery, commanded by Lieutenant Clinton, First Connecticut battery. The John Adams had on board two twenty-four pounder rifles and two twenty-four pounder howitzers, commanded by Mr. Edward Herron and Lieutenant Walker, First S. C. V. The Enoch Dean had two guns, one ten-pounder Parrott and one six-pounder howitzer, commanded by Captain George Dally, First S. C. V. On arriving near the bluff a contraband was seen on shore and a boat sent for him. He reported a battery of three guns on the bluff. The John Adams fired one gun and was answered by one gun from the bluff, when the rebels retired. Companies K, Captain Whitney, and G, Lieutenant Simpson, landed at the bluff and deployed their companies as skirmishers. After marching about one mile they encountered about one company of cavalry and a company of sharpshooters, when they had a brisk skirmish and succeeded in driving the rebel cavalry and infantry, capturing one lieutenant and one private belonging to the Sixth S. C. While the skirmishing was going on, the John Adams was employed in removing some spiling that extended across the river. The work was done under the supervision and engineering of Captain Trowbridge, First S. C. V., and was done with despatch, opening a breach wide enough for the boats to pass up the river. The little Milton and the Dean passed through the breach and proceeded up the river for about a mile and a half, and encountered a battery of two guns. The Dean exchanged a few shots with the battery, when the battery retired. The Milton meanwhile got aground, when the rebels posted a battery of two guns on the opposite bank and commenced a brisk fire on the Milton. A few well-directed shots from Lieutenant Clinton's guns on board the Milton caused them to retire. The Dean went on about a mile further and encountered two more rebel guns, one on each side of the river. A few shots drove them back. Owing to the draft of the Dean she was obliged to return to the spiling. I almost forgot to mention a detachment of Captain Rogers's company, (F,) who accompanied the expedition and were landed below the bluff, and proceeded about a mile to some extensive rice-mills containing about fifteen thousand bushels of rice, and burned them all. We were detained about two hours for the tide to rise, so that we could fulfil the object of our mission. We then weigh ed anchor, and the Milton and the Dean proceed. ed up the river to burn the bridge about fifteen. miles from the spiling. When about six miles from the spiling the Dean got aground, and Colonel Higginson ordered the Milton to proceed up the river, but when about twenty rods from the Dean the Milton was fired at from the shore by a three-gun battery. One shell hit the Milton about midships, and exploded, injuring her machinery and killing her engineer. The Milton was obliged to turn back, leaving the Dean aground and exposed to two batteries-one on each side of the river. The Dean was hit with eleven shots from the rebels while aground. One shell burst quite near Colonel Higginson, injuring him severely by the concussion. Another shell passed through the bows of the Dean, killing one gunner and injuring three deck-hands severely. Captain Dolly expended all his ammunition for his ten-pounder rifle, and had only his six-pounder howitzer to fight with. The Dean managed to get afloat by using tar to get up steam, and proceeded down the river and encountered a battery of five guns about four miles from the piles, which riddled the Dean completely with shot and canister. The Milton had meanwhile run down the river, and, by mistake, run headlong on the spiles. Being unable to get her off, she was abandoned and burned. The machinery of the Dean was now disabled, and she was taken in tow by the John Adams.

We then proceeded down the river; but it would be well to mention another brisk skirmish which occurred before embarking, between the rebels [178] and company K, Captain Whiting, and company G, Lieutenant Lampson, with a detachment of company B, under Lieutenant Parker, and a detachment of company A, under Lieutenant Trowbridge. As they were about to embark, the rebels dashed down upon them with a force five hundred strong, consisting of cavalry and infantry. A brisk skirmish ensued, and braver men never used a musket than our boys proved themselves to be on that occasion. They fought with admirable bravery, and the rebels fled before them. The extent of the damage to the rebel side is not yet known. Our troops then embarked, and we proceeded down the river about a mile and a half, and then encountered another battery of four guns, which opened a brisk fire upon us. Two balls struck the John Adams, one of which killed two men. The Enoch Dean was struck seventeen times with shot and shell, beside the grape and canister. The boats then proceeded back to Beaufort. The rebel lieutenant who was captured was taken by a negro, who, after firing his gun without effect, seized the horse by the bridle, and with his other hand grasped firmly the rebel, who was armed with sabre and carbine, and pulled him off his horse.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Beaufort, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (4)
Edisto (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (1)
Charleston (South Carolina, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 16th, 1863 AD (1)
July 11th, 1863 AD (1)
July 9th (1)
July (1)
9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: