From the Charleston Mercury
, of the 18th inst., we copy the following account of the fight at Secessionville
is a small village, the numbers retreat of a few of the James Island
It is on the oustern side of the island, on a high plat of land lying on a bold creek, which winds through the marshes between James
's and Morris
's (or Folly) Island and empties into the Stono river
near its mouth.
This creek runs immediately up to Secessionville
On the west of the village a short, shallow creek makes its way towards the maters of Charleston Bay.
Thus a tongue of land is formed between the two creeks.
It is connected with the body of the island by a narrow neck of thirty yards width, some four or five hundred yards south of Secessionville
's battery is located, across the high land, and flanked on each side by march and the creeks.
It is a simple earthwork, heavily constructed, having a plain face, with an obtuse angle at each side.
It faces south, in the direction of Battery Island, Legare's, Rivers's, and Grimball's plantations, on the Stono river
, which is about two miles off. From this point the cleared high land stretches out towards the Stono river
, like the top of a funnel, for the distance of near a mile, interrupted only by the division lines between fields, hedges, and ditches.
These fields are covered with weeds three feet high.
The edges of high land and marsh are skirted with brushwood and sea myrties.
In the background are patches of wood between these fields and the Stono
On the borders of these woods three batteries of the enemy are located; and, besides these land batteries, the gunboats, approaching by way of the Secessionville creek
, can open fire as they please.
For the last fortnight a fight at long taw has been going on at intervals between the Secessionville
battery and the guns of the enemy, and our artillerymen have been much fagged by their watching and exertions.
They have done much to keep the foe in check.
On Sunday night, two companies consisting of the Charleston
Light Infantry, from the Charleston Battalion, under Captain T. Y. Simons
, and Company A. Captain Smart
, from Smith
's Battalion, were thrown out a half mile in front of the work.--The rest of the men of these two battalions of infantry, stationed at Secessionville
to support the battery, were laboriously occupied during the night.
The two companies of Lamar
's South Carolina Volunteer Artillery--Reid
's and Keitt
's — were also engaged in labor until a half hour of dawn when they were ordered by Col. Lamar
to take a nap. At break of day the pickets came running in just before the advancing foe. When Col. Lamar
was notified, and looked out from the work he was to defend, the enemy had approached to within four hundred yards. But twenty-five of the garrison were awake.
It was a complete surprise, and nothing but the nerve, promptitude and energy of the officers, especially the commanding officer
, saved the battery from easy capture.
The first round was fired when the column was within thirty paces of the guns.
It was well directed by Col. Lamar
The shot burst through the closed ranks with great havoc, and the foe soon retired.
The wearied men, startled by the sound, or aroused by shakes and bayonet punches from their officers, sprung to their guns.
The two infantry battalions rushed to their quarters for their weapons, formed under their officers, and came to the assistance of the gunners.
Three land batteries, two sections of field artillery, and three gunboats, began to open upon the work.
The second charge of the enemy was made and repulsed with slaughter.
And again the third.
The accurate fire of our riflemen, co-operating with the deadly discharges of grape and canister, swept the field in front and cut down the skirmishers, who, deploying on the left flank under cover of some bushes, had come up to the very work at that angle.
In these successful efforts, which occurred by five o'clock in the morning, Col. Lamar
fell from the effect of a Minnie ball striking him through the lower part of the ear, and running round his neck under the skin.
To his cool courage and energy, in the early part of the action is due the preservation of the position, under circumstances of great peril, from the surprise.
His brave example and personal efforts greatly inspired his command.--After Col. Lamar
was wounded he was unable to stand, from his great loss of blood, and was carried off as soon as practicable.
His place in the battery was filled by that able, accomplished, and indefatigable officer of the regular artillery, Lieut, Col. T. M. Wagner
--being the next officer in rank present.
As Col. Gaillard
had been stationed at the post with his battalion for some time, and had done good service, Col. Wagner
, who was only temporarily there, requested him to assume command, adding that he would aid him and take charge of the battery.
This he did until the conclusion of the fight, between 8 and 9 o'clock, sustaining a terrible flank fire, and directing the gunnery with great coolness and precision.
Upon failing to storm the work or to flank it on the left or eastward side, the enemy drew off and came up on the right flank, on the other side of the small creek and north to the marsh.
Here at the short distance of about one hundred and fifty yards, three regiments, deploying in line of battle and partially covered by a small growth of underbrush, poured upon the gunners of the work, and upon the two batteries of infantry, drawn up facing them across the marsh, a continuous and deadly fire.
The gun-carriages were perforated and torn by many balls.
Many of our men fell at the guns and along the line formed to the rearward of the battery on its right flank.
The contest was very unequal and trying.
It raged for some time; but, at this critical juncture, the Louisiana Battalion came up gallantly at the double quick, under its skillful officer, Lieutenant Colonel McHenry
By the guidance of Major Hudson
, of Smith
's Battalion, it formed on the right of that corps, facing the marsh.
This reinforcement and its galling fire disheartened the foe Captain Boyce
, with one gun of light artillery, began to play on his rear.
He began to fall back fairly beaten off.
While the struggle was progressing immediately on the rear right flank of the battery against these three regiments, a formidable force of the foe attempted, by passing further out to the west, to gain the rear of our position.
But in skirting a wood they came upon the advancing lines of the Eutaw
, who had come two miles. Declaring they were friends — not to shoot — they got close up and fired into our men — killing many.
But the response they got was cutting.
The wood edge was strewn with the dying and the dead.
Thirty or forty bodies were picked up here.
The movement was fooled.
Nothing was left but retreat from every portion of the field.
It was a bloody fight, fought against odds, by exhausted men, without preparation.
It was a signal victory of Southern patriots over the murderous invaders of their soil.
The five regiments attacking are said to be the 79th N. Y. Highlanders, the 8th Michigan, one from Massachusetts
, a New Hampshire
But for the distance of our other troops and the brief time occupied in the action, together with obstructions in the road, preventing the passage of light artillery to the enemy's rear, their whole force may, perhaps, have been taken or cut up. From the account of prisoners, who assert that there were nine United States regiments out that morning it is probable that four regiments were held in reserve to support the five engaged, and to protect their retreat.
The following is the congratulatory order of Gen. Pemberton
The Major General
commanding the Department tenders his heartfelt thanks to every officer and soldier of this command whose happy fortune it was to participate in the glorious work of Monday, the 16th June, inst.
To the gallant and indefatigable Col. T. G. Lamar
, and to the brave men who so steadfastly supported him, especial thanks are due. And to the noble dead a debt of deep and lasting gratitude.