Doc. 215. movements near Port Royal, S. C. December 4-6, 1861.
Reports of Commodore Dupont.
flagship Wabash, Port Royal harbor, S. C., December 4, 1861.sir: The apprehension of losing possession of the Bay of St. Helena, so exceedingly valuable for a harbor, for its proximity to Charleston, and for the command it secures of large rivers supplying interior communication with the State of South Carolina, has induced me to despatch a second expedition there, under Commander Drayton, with orders to hold the island until Gen. Sherman is prepared to assume military occupation of it, when he will transfer the fort to his troops. I have also despatched Commander C. R. P. Rogers to make a reconnoissance of Warsaw Inlet, in order to ascertain the position and force of the enemy's battery there — information which the Commanding-General has expressed to me is his desire to obtain before landing troops on Tybee Island. The department will have the goodness to observe that, in the necessary occupation of St. Helena Sound and of Tybee Roads, and in the examination of Warsaw Inlet, a large number of the vessels of my squadron is engaged, which will be released and employed on blockading duty as soon as Otter and Tybee Islands are held by the army. Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer Commanding.
United States flagship Wabash, Port Royal harbor, S. C. December 6, 1861.sir: I have the honor to inform the department that the fortifications at Warsaw Island have been abandoned by the rebels, after moving the guns, cutting up the platforms, and breaching one face of the fort. For the circumstances attending this important discovery, and the temporary occupation of the waters of Warsaw Sound, as well as for a knowledge of the inner and ultimate line of defences selected by the enemy, I have the pleasure to refer to the accompanying report of Commander C. R. P. Rogers, upon whose judgment and skill I relied for the execution of this undertaking. Warsaw Inlet and Sound constitute a second entrance into Savannah River; and, as twenty-one feet can be carried over the bar at high water, this passage is but little inferior to Tybee entrance. The highest point reached by Commander Rogers was about eight miles from Warsaw bar, about ten from Savannah, and between four and five from Thunderbolt on one side and Montgomery on the other. These two last places are described in the coast survey memoirs and reports. I attach the highest value to this possession. I have the honor to be sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer Commanding.
Report of Commander C. R. P, Rogers.
United States flagship Wabash, Port Royal harbor, December 6, 1861.sir: On yesterday morning I left Tybee Roads before daylight, with the steamers Ottawa, Seneca, and Pembina, and crossed the bar of Warsaw Sound, at half tide, not having less than eighteen feet of water upon it. We approached the fort on Warsaw Island within a mile, and, seeing neither guns nor men, we did not fire, but I sent Lieutenant Barnes to it with a white flag. He found it an enclosed octagonal work, with platforms for eight guns on the water faces. The land faces were protected by abatis. The work was well constructed. The guns had been removed, the platforms cut, and the magazine blown up. From the freshness of the footprints and other signs, it appeared to have been abandoned very recently. Adjoining the fort are huts or sheds for a large garrison. Some lumber and bricks remain. Everything else had been carried away. We immediately pushed on to Cabbage Island, where we had been led to look out for another battery; but there was nothing of the kind there. We went to the mouth of the creek, through the Romilly Marsh, and to the mouth of Wilmington River. From the mouth of Wilmington River we observed a battery bearing from us about northwest by west, one-half west, and distant about three miles. It is on the river, and just above a house with a red cupola, which is one of the coast survey points of triangulation, and is about ten miles from Savannah. Between the house and the fort was a large encampment; but we could not count the tents. We counted five guns, apparently of large calibre, on the face of the battery toward us. We could only see one gun upon the other face; but there may have been more. We were near enough to see the men on the ramparts, and the glittering of their bayonets. We saw several small vessels. Some of them in Romilly Marsh were in tow of a small steamtug; but they were beyond our reach. Upon Little Tybee Island we could see no earth-works, but could not get nearer to it than two miles, because of the shoals. In coming out of Warsaw Sound, at high tide, we had not less than twenty-one feet of water on the bar. Returning to Tybee Roads at one o'clock, I landed and made a reconnaissance on foot, with the marines of the Savannah and detachments of small-arm men from that ship and the Ottawa. Upon reaching the mouth of Lazarus Creek, having no boats in which to cross, our progress was stopped. We waited until low tide; but the creek was unfordable. I was able, however, with the assistance of Lieut. Luce, to obtain from the top of a tree the position in which a battery has been supposed to exist, and I am satisfied that there is no battery there. The spar which was mistaken for a derrick is simply a place of lookout, and there was no appearance of any earthwork or position for guns. A battery at such a place would be of no use whatever. There may, however, have been a signal gun placed there, as the point upon which the spar is raised is the southeastern point of observation. I have to thank Lieutenant Commanding Stevens for the most earnest, cordial, and efficient co-operation, and also Lieutenant Commanding Ammen and Bankhead, whose vessels were always in the right place, and always well handled. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,