Today in History:

25 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


advancing to attack the railroad. When arriving upon the field I found that Major J. H. Morgan, assisted by Captain W. L. Trenholm, had made a judicious disposition of a small dismounted force which consisted of Captain W. L. Trenholm's company (Rutledge Mounted Riflemen), stationed in the woods at Old Pocotaligo, 38 men, and two companies (A and D, First Battalion Cavalry), 38 men, lining he left bank of Screven's Canal as skirmishers. A bridge crossing the canal had been previously torn up. Generals Pemberton, Drayton, and Evans had been telegraphed of the enemy's advance. The remaining two companies of cavalry, with Captain D. B. Heyward's company, were held in reserve, with the dismounted horses, half a mile in rear, all under command of Major J. H. Morgan, with orders to be in readiness to charge the enemy when required. A number of these men were without long arms.

Upon the approach of the enemy's advance guard the dismounted cavalry companies opened fire with their shot-guns at the distance of 40 yards. They returned the fire, and commenced deploying to the right and left near the banks of the canal. The Rutledge Mounted Riflemen fired deliberately one shot at a time at intervals as the enemy would expose themselves. Five companies crossed the road and displayed to the right. I should judge two companies deploy to the left. Both kept up a scattered and continuous fire with long-range guns. The small force of 76 men held their position with great spirit and tenacity for nearly three hours, from 10.30 to near 1.30.

At this time the enemy crossed the detach to the right of Lieutenant R. M. Skinner's command, thus flanking him, and enabling them to cut the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen from the causeway in the rear. Lieutenant R. M. Skinner was shot down, and his men retired by the left under shelter of the ditch. I ordered the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen to retire, which they did in good order. Lieutenant R. M. Skinner and Private Robert Stuart, of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen, were brought off seriously wounded.

On reaching the dismounted horses the whole command retired in good order to a position three-quarters of a mile in rear of the former. Here we met the ammunition which had been sent for, and the whole force was resupplied. The enemy had been held in check so long and the ground was so difficult for cavalry that I deployed two-thirds of my command upon the banks of a ditch crossing the road. As we retired I detailed a small party of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen to remain in observation. I sent out 6 of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen to the left under Lieutenant L. J. Walker, and 15 of the cavalry battalion under Major J. H. Morgan. I stationed 2 of the latter within 400 yards of a sentinel of the enemy who were occupying Old Pocotaligo.

At 4 o'clock I received a re-enforcement of three pieces of a light battery, under Captain Stephen Elliott, jr., and two companies infantry, Companies I and F, of the Eleventh South Carolina Infantry, Capts. Allen C. Izard and B. F. Wyman. I placed the battery in position to command the road, and formed the infantry as skirmishes along the banks of a long canal running nearly at right angles to the road. Learning from my vedettes that the enemy were retiring I advanced in pursuit with my entire force. As the enemy were retiring in good order I had to feel my way carefully with skirmishers deploy to avoid ambuscade. Colonel Means' regiment of 400 men joined me in the night.

We continued the pursuit till 10 o'clock at night, when my advance guard was fired on by their rear guard. I rode up to the advance and was informed by Lieutenant L. J. Walker, who was in command of the advance guard, that he felt assured they had halted at Garden's Corners and that the firing was by their outpost. The night was intensely dark,