Today in History:

23 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


Michigan Volunteers, Captain Doyle, and one company of the Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers, Captain Elliott, and proceed to Port Royal Ferry. We succeeded in getting on the main-land by daylight, and immediately took up my line of march for Pocotaligo via Garden's Corners. About 2 miles from the ferry we commenced driving inthe enemy's pickets, and did so three times before we reached Garden's Corners. At this point I left Company E, Lieutenant Lantz commanding, and at this point also Major Higginson, First Massachusetts Cavalry, reported to me with 80 men and horses. I again took up my line of march for Pocotaligo via the Sheldon road, and save the driving in of the enemy's pickets several times, which caused us considerable delay, we reached Pocotaligo without further interruption.

Here the enemy had chosen a most favorable position, and we suffered the casualties (which I will mention hereafter) in a successful effort to dislodge him. As you reach Pocotaligo, you do so over a causeway about a quarter of a mile in length, flanked partly on either side by a marsh, and through which passes a stream. About 80 yards from the end of the causeway over this stream was a bridge about 15 feet wide, which the enemy had do far destroyed as to make it impassable save by passing over the string pieces, about 6 inches wide. On the opposite side of the marsh from Pocotaligo there is a narrow strip of woods. Through this we skirmished, and then ascertained that the enemy was posted under cover of trees and ditches within good rifle-range on either side of the causeway. Some shall firing now ensued with very little effect on either side. It however became evident that in order to dislodge the enemy we must have a nearer range for our arms, and the lamented Captain Parke then volunteered to take his company across the stream on the string pieces and let them drop into a ditch on our right, where they would be partially under cover. This movement was successful.

After some considerable time I succeeded in passing over about 300 men, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Brenholtz, who gradually approached the opposite side of the marsh and succeeded in dislodging the enemy on our right, which was followed by a charge on the left, when the enemy commenced a rapid retreat to the woods. As soon as it could be done I had the bridge repaid,and immediately ordered the cavalry in pursuit, but the enemy having taken refuge in a wood where cavalry could not operate successfully I had to pursue him with infantry, but unfortunately the men were so jaded and worn-out with their long march of 24 miles that they could not pursue him as rapidly as he retreated.

At this time Lieutenant Cannon, with a section of the Connecticut battery, reported himself, having just arrived on the ground. In my judgment, if the artillery had been on the ground when the action commenced we could have dislodged the enemy in a very short time and proceeded to accomplish the object of the expedition; but the action itself lasted nearly two hours, and by the time I could recall the companies in pursuit of the enemy and again get ready to move more than three hours had elapsed; besides, the men had so much reduced their ammunition that I was not willing to risk another engagement, which I had every reason to expect awaited me at the railroad to where the enemy had retreated, and as I had been informed by the negroes, they were sure to meet re-enforcements from McPhersonville and Grahamville.

In view of the positive orders I received to return to Port Royal Island during the night, and to avoid, if possible, bringing on a general