previous next

Doc. 84.-a rebel soldier's Diary of the “enemy's approach to and withdrawal from before Charleston, S. C., May, June and July, 1862.”

May 17.--Enemy sounding Stono Channel in barges. One fired on from Goat Island by riflemen, and driven off.

May 19.--Several of the enemy's gunboats attempted to enter Stono Inlet; one ran aground and all put back.

May 20.--Three gunboats crossed the Bar and entered the Stono River about three o'clock A. M. One ran up and anchored a little below Battery Island, commanding the old (river) route from Coles's Island — the enemy thinking, probably, to cut off our troops on Coles's Island. Lieut.-Col. Ellison Capers, Twenty-fourth regiment South-Carolina volunteers, commanding on Coles's Island, withdrew his force, (two companies,) under standing orders, to James Island, by the new (back) and scarcely completed route over Dixon's Island. Capt. L. Buist, Palmetto Guard, commanding on Battery Island, withdrew his force, [279] (two companies,) under similar orders, also to James Island. By like orders, the buildings on Coles's and on Battery Islands were fired by our men before retiring. Volumes of smoke from the burning buildings. Our men on the qui vive. On appearance of a gunboat off mouth of Folly River, carronade on marsh battery, near Folly River, thrown overboard by those in charge. Coles's and Battery Islands shelled by the enemy.

May 21.--Six of our pickets, of Capt. Jones's company, Twenty-fourth regiment South Carolina volunteers, made prisoners on Battery Island. Expecting, apparently, the enemy to pass by, without discovering them, they, instead of withdrawing, hid themselves in the magazine on the approach of a gunboat up the Stono. Enemy saw them and landed. Legare's, on James Island, shelled this day by a gunboat slowly going up the Stono.

May 25.--Gunboats to this time had been running up the Stono for several miles every day, shelling both sides of the river, and returning in the evening to Battery Island. Effort to-day of Brig.-Gen. Ripley to draw them within effective reach of guns of Fort Pemberton, failed. Gallantry of Capt. Frank Bonneau, and the men of our little floating battery, stationed for the day in the creek near Dixon's Island, remarked. A gunboat which engaged the battery, was driven off in a few minutes. The battery was moored to the land. Three gunboats had been drawn up the river a short distance, by Gen. Ripley's movements. On their return, they had passed by all together, when one came back, apparently to learn what was the little dark object across the marshes and the small islands. Capt. B., who was aboard, had just received orders not to fire unless attacked. He had his men ashore, under cover. The gunboat opened on him. Capt. B. promptly fired his battery (two or three guns) himself. His men, at the first sound of the enemy's gun, came bounding to their little float, and soon manning their guns, drove the gunboat away.

May 31.--Gunboats, to this time, running up the Stono every morning, as before, shelling every one who came in sight, whether on foot, on horse, or in a vehicle. Some peaceful citizens crossing Newtown Cut Bridge in a buggy, during this period, were very much startled by a shell, and took to flight on foot across the fields. Today a few shell thrown from the Stono, toward Secessionville, fell near the camp of Twenty-fourth regiment South-Carolina volunteers, and toward Brig.-General Gist, Capt. James Gist and Capt. Joseph Glover, of his staff, who were riding out.

June 1--(Sunday.)--A gunboat came some distance up Folly River, but soon retired. Reconnoitring apparently.

June 2.--A gunboat came up Folly River this morning, on the flood, about nine A. M., shelled the battery of Capt. Chichester at Legare's Point, that of Capt. Warley, close to Secessionville, and Secessionville itself. This place being then occupied by the Eutaw battalion, Lieut.-Col. Charles H. Simonton commanding; the Charleston battalion, Lieut.-Col. P. C. Gaillard commanding; the cavalry companies of Capt. W. L. Disher and of Capt.----McKewn, and being the headquarters of Brig.-Gen. S. R. Gist, commanding on the island. Our batteries responded rigorously. No damage done by the enemy, except to a horse, which had his leg broken by a shell that passed through an out-house just behind the General's headquarters, and exploded. After firing for about an hour, the enemy withdrew. No damage, up to this time, done by the enemy's firing, except to horses.

Evening.--More than twenty vessels in sight off Charleston Bar and Stono Inlet, and in Stono River. Enemy reported as being on James Island, at the point nearest Battery Island, and as having driven in our pickets. Capt. Carlos Tracy, volunteer aid to Gen. Gist, and Lieut. Winter, Wassamassaw cavalry, fired on while reconnoitring their position. Gen. Gist and Capt. Tracy repeatedly fired on, same evening, by enemy's advance-guard. This firing, the first news in camp of enemy's landing.

June 3.--Last night the enemy and a small party of our men lay near each other all night, at Legare's. Capt. Chichester's guns, in being withdrawn from Legare's Point during the night, stuck in the mud. Men engaged in endeavoring to extricate them, driven off by the enemy near morning. Lieut.--Col. Ellison Capers, Twenty-fourth regiment South-Carolina volunteers, with several companies, sent just after daylight to bring off the guns, and to ascertain enemy's position. Sharp skirmish with the enemy at Legare's, in which Lieut.-Col. Capers drove back, for a half-mile and more, the enemy's troops in his front, though very much outnumbering him. Took twenty-three prisoners, and retired only on the appearance of the enemy in heavy force on the field, supported by a cross-fire from gunboats in the Stono and in Folly River. Enemy engaged said to have been Twenty-eighth Massachusetts and One Hundredth Pennsylvania volunteers. Our loss, several wounded and one taken prisoner. Lieut. Walker, Adjutant Charleston battalion, wounded in the leg, in an endeavor to bring off whom, it was said, Private Bresnan, Irish volunteers, was mortally wounded. Gallantry and discretion of Lieut.-Col. Capers marked. Capt. Ryan, Irish volunteers, Charleston battalion, distinguished himself by his gallant courage. Lieut. J. Ward Hopkins, Sumter Guard, Charleston battalion, wounded in shoulder. Our companies first engaged, were reenforced during the action by several others. All fell back across the causeway to River's merely, and joined the main body of our troops. Enemy ascertained from prisoners to be in strong force at Legare's, under command of Brig.-Gen. Stevens. Heavy bombardment all day by gunboats, of our troops in line of battle, to resist enemy's advance from Legare's; our troops necessarily much exposed. A section of Capt. William C. Preston's battery light artillery, under Capt. Preston and Lieut. Julius Rhett, was carried with great promptness [280] and dash into position, and worked with fierce energy under a heavy cross-fire from the gunboats in the two rivers, and under a direct fire from a piece of the enemy's, at the woods on Legare's, in front. The fire from these guns, and from the stationary and more distant batteries of Col. T. G. Lamar and of Capt.----Warley, in the direction of Secessionville, rendered the enemy's advance across the causeway, though repeatedly threatened, too perilous for him to attempt. Brig.-Gen. H. W. Mercer arrived from Charleston in the afternoon. Col. Johnson Hagood, First regiment South-Carolina volunteers, previously detained in the city by his duties as Provost-Marshal, joined his regiment during the day. Casualties light. Brig.-Gen. Gist and aids, covered with sand from explosion of shells: The screeching of the rifle-shells, and the heavy explosions of the eleven and thirteen-inch, subsided a little after dark into a discharge of a shell from a gunboat, at a regular interval of half an hour, during the night. Our men, wet, weary and hungry, slept on their arms. The night tempestuous.

June 4.--Main body of our troops driven within the lines. Gunboats from creek in front shelled Secessionville. Design of enemy to occupy apparent. Enemy said to be advancing this evening. Untrue.

June 5.--Enemy said to be advancing this evening. Our troops marched to the front. Every thing quiet by sundown. No fight.

June 6.--Brig.-Gen. W. D. Smith arrived on the Island and assumed command, Gen. Mercer having been ordered to take command at Savannah. Picket-guard this evening, under Col. C. H. Stevens, Twenty-fourth regiment South-Carolina volunteers, skirmished with the enemy at the Presbyterian church. Enemy left one dead on the ground. Indications that he suffered further. A section of Preston's battery did some firing. No loss on our side. A prisoner brought into camp.

June 7.--Alarm in evening. Troops to the front. Every thing soon quiet. Enemy moving about Grimball's, on the Stono.

June 8.--Enemy evidently in force at Grimball's. A prisoner brought in this evening.

June 10.--During a reconnaissance in some force this afternoon, under Gen. Smith, a part of the troops — the Forty-seventh Georgia volunteers, Col. Williams commanding — were repulsed in the woods, at Grimball's, after a gallant onset upon the enemy, advantageously posted, supported by artillery and aided by his gunboats in the Stono. Our loss serious. Capt. Williams killed. The woods through which the Forty-seventh advanced so dense that order, it is said, could not be preserved, nor could commands be properly extended. Great regret for the loss of the brave Georgians. Heavy firing nearly all night from gunboats in the Stono.

June 14.--Brig.-Gen. N. G. Evans arrived on the Island to assume command. Heavy firing of shot and shell upon Secessionville, from enemy's gunboats, and from a battery erected at Legare's Point. Vigorous replies of Col. Lamar's guns. Firing nearly all day. One man killed in his tent, at Secessionville, by a shell.

June 15.--Similar firing upon Secessionville. Colonel Lamar replies more deliberately. Firing very slow towards night. Two men wounded on our side.

June 16.--Attack of the enemy at daylight on the earthwork at Secessionville. Brig.-Gen. Stevens in command of assaulting column of six regiments--Eighth Michigan, Seventh Connecticut, Twenty--eighth Massachusetts, Seventy — ninth Highlanders, Forty--sixth New-York, and One Hundredth Pennsylvania. Brig.-Gen. Williams in command of brigade operating to flank the work on its right, by an advance on Hill's place. Brig.-Gen. Benham in command of whole. Our work a simple priest-cap covering a neck of land about fifty (50) yards wide, flanked right and left by a creek, and defended by four guns and about six hundred men. Enemy repulsed with fearful loss. Col. T. G. Lamar in immediate command of our batteries, assisted by the no less brave Lieut.-Col. Thomas M. Wagner, Captain Reid, Lieut. Humbert, and others, and supported by the brave Col. Gaillard and the infantry. Col. C. H. Stevens and Col. Simonton showed promptitude and skill, repulsing the flank movement on our right. Enemy's fire from gunboats in Stono and Folly Rivers, from his stationary battery at Legare's Point, from his light artillery and from his small-arms, terribly severe, particularly so his fire on our right flank from across the creek at Hills's. Our battery at one time almost silenced by this latter fire. A gun, worked by Lieut.-Col. Ellison Capers,, in a little battery-across the creek, at Clarke's, somewhat flanking the enemy's advance, did effective service. By order of Col. Johnson Hagood, in command of advanced troops, the Louisiana battalion, Lieut.-Col. McEnery, reenforced the garrison at Secessionville during the fight, and rushing gallantly into the fire with the cry of “Remember Butler,” soon drove the enemy from his flanking position at Hill's. The Eutaw battalion on the right engaged the enemy for a short time in the woods, to the rear of Hill's house, when he fell back, together with the troops engaged by the Louisiana battalion and our other troops from across the creek. Then the entire force of the enemy, between five and six thousand strong, slowly and sullenly retired from the attack to their positions on the Stono and within their late line of pickets, burning Rivers's house on their retreat. Enemy's loss probably eight hundred men; ours under one hundred. The brave Capts. Reid, of Colonel Lamar's regiment of artillery, and King, of Sumter Guard, Charleston battalion, Lieut. Edwards, and many other gallant men of ours, killed. Colonel Hagood, while leading his horse by the reins, had them severed by a piece of shell. Several of the enemy bravely mounted our ramparts. Several got to the rear of it by flanking it on the left.

June 17.--General S. Cooper, Senior General C. S.A., visited the Island to-day.

June 18.--Flag of truce from the enemy, to inquire [281] after wounded and prisoners, and asking leave to send comforts to them, and offering similar privilege to us as to our men.

June 20.--A few shells thrown by a gunboat to-day at men at work on our west line.

July 1.--Total inactivity of the enemy, offensively, since repulse of sixteenth ult., except the firing of the few shells on twentieth. Grand salute to-day, at sunrise, along our entire line, and at Forts Johnson, Sumter and Moultrie, in honor of our successes before Richmond. Enemy reported to be advancing. Troops under arms and to the front. False alarm. Enemy suspected to be about to retire from the Island.

July 5.--Enemy's land-force, known to have been retiring for several days from Grimball's, now ascertained to be all withdrawn from that place. Transports, for several days past, seen going out of Stono. Gunboats in the river off Grimball's.

July 7.--Major William Duncan, First regiment South--Carolina volunteers, narrowly escaped being made prisoner by a party of the enemy, at the large work thrown up between Rivers's burnt house and the Stono. Party probably from gunboats. Enemy withdrawn from Legare's.

July 8.--Enemy known to have altogether abandoned James Island, and our city to be safe for the present.--Charleston Mercury, September 22.

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 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, 1862 AD (1)
June, 1862 AD (1)
September 22nd (1)
July 8th (1)
July 7th (1)
July 5th (1)
July 1st (1)
June 20th (1)
June 18th (1)
June 17th (1)
June 16th (1)
June 15th (1)
June 14th (1)
June 10th (1)
June 8th (1)
June 7th (1)
June 6th (1)
June 5th (1)
June 4th (1)
June 3rd (1)
June 2nd (1)
June 1st (1)
May 31st (1)
May 25th (1)
May 21st (1)
May 20th (1)
May 19th (1)
May 17th (1)
16th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: