New York world narrative.
The forts and surroundings after the battle.On landing, the forts were found to be utterly deserted, and every thing gave proof of the head-long and utter confusion and haste with which the rebels had vacated their hard-fought positions. As specimens of military skill, both Forts Walker and Beauregard are considered by old army officers as the most skilful and formidable earthworks that they have ever seen. Fort Walker, on Hilton Head, is much the heaviest, being a gigantic mass of earthworks thrown up in angular walls, the corners being protected by strong redoubts. In front of the walls was a deep trench, about ten or twelve feet in width, likewise protected by an admirable chevaux de frise of thick posts, six or eight feet high, firmly set in the ground, about four inches apart, pointing outward from the fort, and sharpened at the end. With this encircling wall of sharp stakes guarding a deep trench, which in turn was covered by the twenty-six monster guns and columbiads of the fort, it was doubtless impregnable to the assaults of any land force of infantry. Both forts had probably been erected for at least nine or ten months, as the soil, where not rent by our terrific fire, was firm and well settled, and clothed in a luxuriant mantle of grass. The country around is one of much beauty and fertility — rising from the sea gently, the coast sloping off far into the ocean, making a long shallow spread of water. A beautiful cotton-field was near by, the bolls already burst and the long white cotton hanging from them in the greatest profusion. A Northerner, unaccustomed to the sight of a field of ripe cotton, the scene presented me was one of unrivalled magnificence and novelty. It seemed as if a living mantle of snow rested upon a square of beautiful country, and undulated like the yellow grain in the gentle winds. I passed also over a fine patch of sweet potatoes, which bore good evidence of having grown thrifty and well by the fertile sweat of slaves. The ground in every direction was ploughed into furrows and ridges by our shells and balls. The earthworks were honey-combed and torn into unsightly heaps, trees shattered in every direction, and long lanes cut through the pure white field of cotton. The forts, now deserted except by the ghastly bodies of the dead, bore witness to the terrific effect of our fire, the long and unavailing defence maintained by the rebels, and the rapidity with which they had quitted the works and fled when we came, fresh and determined as ever, to the third, and, as it proved, the final engagement. At Fort Walker only three guns were found dismounted. The rest remained in their places well aimed, and had been well served. They were of immense size, carrying from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and eighty pound balls, and rifled. Some of them were or old English manufacture, and others were probably cast at Richmond. These were of rough exterior, but proved to be equal in utility to the others. They were already loaded when we found them, and not one spiked — a fact which evidenced the terror created by our final broadside. The rebel Tatnall, who had landed from his musquito fleet, and who had assured his subordinates that their position could not be taken, was among the garrison of one thousand three hundred when they precipitately fled from their forts and ran helter-skelter over the South Carolina soil back to the woods in the rear. He doubtless thought that, whether or not “blood is thicker than water,” it is a bad thing to lose. The exodean flight from Hilton Head has not been equalled by any thing in the history of the war; and although in truth the rebels fought well and desperately until the last moment, yet their running bears off the palm. And as the terrified horde fled, the balls and shells from the fleet continually screamed around and above and among them like very devils on the wing, and made many a panic-stricken fugitive to bite the dust. The whole of the ground passed over was scattered with fragments of shell, and torn and mangled corpses. Some with the head half torn off, some with entrails spreading for yards around them, some with mangled legs and arms, and with faces distorted with pain and horror. Some lay prone on the ground, with backs toward the enemy, and others struck dead while in peculiar postures, as if calling and motioning to others. For two miles back in the woods dead bodies were found of those killed by our shells. All the rebel wounded were taken off, but the dead remained. In a massive bomb-proof in Fort Walker was found the dead body of a Surgeon Borst, formerly of  the United States army. He had doubtless retired to this place for safety, and it indeed seemed secure, formed as it was of massive walls and strengthened by great beams of wood. A large shell had whizzed into the small room through the small diagonal aperture, and struck a heavy piece of timber, tearing away the supports and tumbling down the walls about his head. A splinter from the fractured beam struck him upon the lead, killing him instantly, just as he had thrown up his bands to shelter himself from the falling walls. His watch was still keeping correct time in his pocket, when a Federal soldier pointed out the fearful tableaux of death. Fort Beauregard, on Bay Point, had been silenced previously, and with less severe fighting. It had sixteen guns of large calibre, garrisoned by five hundred men, who were soon convinced that the “damned Yankees,” as the negroes reported them to call us, were more than their match. They ran in confusion, but one bold fellow returned to the largest gun in the fort and discharged it at us. The enormous rifle ball flew with a tremendous scream over the deck of the Bienville and struck the after-port of the Augusta, without, however, killing any one. That shot was its last, for as it left the piece the gun burst, killing the man who fired it, and scattering missiles all around. It was a magnificent cannon, and could not have weighed less than one thousand six hundred pounds. In the forts and in plantation residences around, were found a mass of documents, letters of all descriptions, and officials papers. A telegram was found, sent by Jeff. Davis to General Drayton, stating that from reliable information he had received, a fleet was about leaving New York, destined for Port Royal. This was dated about the first of the month. The officers of Fort Walker had established their Headquarters at a rich old plantation mansion, not far from the fort, on an estate belonging to a family by the name of Pope. Here was a splendid library, a mass of papers and documents, and a file of the Charleston Mercury, for the last thirty or forty years. One was seen dated as far back as 1812. The order of battle for the day was found, giving directions for the mode of repelling a Federal attack. It appeared that they had been in constant expectation of our attack ever since the Bienville first appeared off the harbor, on Monday, and had been busily preparing for us. A large quantity of love letters were discovered, from the Flora McFierys and Amazons of Georgia and South Carolina, to various officers and men stationed at the fort. One was from a Georgia lady to her husband, telling him to remember that they had been married but six months, that he promised her not to go as a soldier, and that somehow or other he must get away as soon as possible. There was something ambiguously added about longing for his embraces, and if he has continued running at the rate with which the Georgians and South Carolinians started, he doubtless enjoys them by this time. It was evident that the garrisoned rebels had large reinforcements close at hand, awaiting an opportunity to come to their aid should their services be required. Those reinforcements were kept in the background, to keep our forces ignorant of their strength, and draw us, as was believed, to destruction. The result showed that they calculated without their host. Our cannons produced a most. devastating effect upon their crowded columns, who were hid among the trees, killing them right and left, and putting them to rapid flight. All about the woods for two miles the bodies of the killed soldiers were to be found, and manifold indications of a hasty retreat. These reinforcements were stated at ten thousand men. I should have stated, in a former part of this letter, the attempt of the rebels to destroy their forts and the capturing party by blowing up their magazines. At Fort Walker a fuze was lighted and attached to the magazine, but it was discovered in time and extinguished. At Fort Beauregard a pistol was arranged to be fired by the opening of a door, and when the Federal party landed it exploded the magazine — killing, however, only two men, and blowing up the rickety old house in which it had been deposited. Their intention was thwarted as much by their own haste to get away as by the carefulness of our men, as the thing was very bunglingly arranged. As soon as the negro slaves observed us coming on shore they flocked along the banks in great numbers, some bearing parcels and bundles as if expecting us to take them at once to a home of freedom. Every variety of negro and slave was represented. I say negro and slave, for it is a melancholy fact that some slaves are apparently as white as their masters, and as intelligent. Darkies of genuine Congo physiques, and darkies of the genuine Uncle Tom pattern, darkies young and jubilant, darkies middle-aged, and eager, and gray-haired, solemn-looking fellows. Some appeared mystified, and some intelligent. The quadroon and the octoroon, possessing an undistinguishable tint of negro blood mingled, one drop with seven of Southern nativity and ancient family, formed, to speak mildly, an interesting scene. As fast as the contraband article came within reach, it was placed in the guard-house, an old frame building behind Fort Walker. Here quite a collection was made. They were huddling together, half in fear and half in hope, when a naval officer of the Bienville looked in upon them asking, “Well, well, what are you all about?” “ Dat's jest what we'd like to find out, mas'r,” was the response. The officer assured them that they would be kindly taken care of and perhaps found something to do, and need not be alarmed. “Thank God for dat, mas'r,” was the reply. On drawing them into conversation, they said  that they caught a great deal of fish in Port Royal harbor, fishing at night, after the plantation work was over. Two slaves were found reconnoitring about on their own account, and on being brought into camp, explained that they belonged to Mrs. Pinckney, of Charleston, and came down to “see what de white people were all about.” They said that the white people all ran away when the ships came up, crying, “Great God! Great God! Great God! the Yankees are coming; fire the boats.” Other slaves reported that “when the white folks see the little boats coming up, dey laffed at dern, but when dey see de big checker-sided vessels comin‘, they laffed on de oder side der moufs.” The number of slaves will probably increase each day, and the importance of their aid must be great. Soon after landing, a detachment of men proceeded up to Beaufort, and found it tenantless except by one dilapidated person, who presented some traces of cultivation, and of having been an original South Carolina gentleman, but he appeared to be either paralyzed by drunkenness or fear, and it probably was not the latter. He met the Federal troops on the outskirts of the city, and with hat in hand, and gently swaying from side to side, hiccupped out a few undistinguishable words as they passed in. The remnant of secesh chivalry excited only the risibles of our men as they raised, with many cheers, the Stars and Stripes over Beaufort. As I close my long and hasty letter, troops are being landed from the transports to occupy and repair the forts and positions gained by their bravery and valor. They are encamping in a sweet-potato field, the edibles of which they will soon, doubtless, exhibit a fondness for. General Sherman's Headquarters are at the mansion-house lately occupied by the officers of Fort Walker as theirs. Over its roof the Stars and Stripes of the Union now wave, and our victorious troops gaze on it with full, gushing hearts, and songs of exultant triumph.
Journal of the Vanderbilt.
New York times narrative.
National Intelligencer account.
 Cost of the battle of Port Royal.--The Wabash fired, during the entire action, nine hundred shots, being all eight, nine, ten, and eleven-inch shells, with the exception of a few rifled cannon projectiles of a new pattern, and which were used simply as a matter of experiment. The Susquehanna fired three hundred shots, the Bienville one hundred and eighty-five, and the average of the gunboats and the other smaller ships may probably be set down at one hundred and fifty each. There were, in all, sixteen vessels engaged on our side, and probably from all of them were fired not far from three thousand five hundred shots and shell at the two forts, Walker and Beauregard, the four-gun battery, and the three steamers. The battle of Port Royal may be set down as having cost the country not less than twenty-eight thousand dollars. Reckoning, then, a few items of this battle, beginning with the immense cost of this fleet, which has been preparing since August last, the pay of the soldiers, the value of their food, and the expense of the two lost vessels on a very moderate scale, it will be seen that battles are an expensive amusement, even for a “great country.” A few, a very few, items of the expense of the show would foot up something like this:
|Rent of vessels,||$3,600,000|
|Pay of soldiers, etc.,||630,000|
|Value of rations consumed,||320,000|
|Value of clothing worn out,||165,000|
|Value of powder burned,||28,000|
|Value of the Governor and Peerless,||160,000|