Today in History:

26 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


the country intricate, and intersected by ditches, by roads, and woods, and I was fearful of risking the chances of a night attack, in which it would be impossible to distinguish friend from foe. In my judgment there was too great risk of that most melancholy of disasters when friends shoot each other by mistake in a blind melee.

The country wa so broken that cavalry could not operate. My infantry was inferior in number to that of the enemy. It was reported tome that the infantry could not, after the fatigue of the day, sustain the march of 12 miles, which would have enabled them to get in the rear of the enemy by another route. Had they attempted it the enemy, if disposed to retire, could cross before they reached it, as they had only 3 miles to march. The probability of a gunboat being stationed at port Royal Ferry to protect their retreat was an element to be duly considered. I was forced unwillingly to the conclusion to halt and make the attack early in the morning. With this view I ordered Colonel Phillips' Georgia Legion, which I was notified had arrived at pocotaligo, to join me at daylight. The entire command was ordered to be ready to march at daylight.

Early in the morning I advanced as far as Port Royal Ferry, where I found the enemy had crossed during the night. Captain Stephen Elliott, jr., brought up his artillery and battered the ferry-house, which sheltered their pickets, and their flat-boats, with which they had effected a crossing, at the range of 250 yards. As stated by a corporal of the enemy taken prisoner, their force consisted of twelve companies of infantry, viz: Fiftieth Pennsylvania Regiment, one company of Eighth Michigan, one company of New York, one of cavalry, and two pieces of artillery. The whole force I had actually engaged was 76 men rank and file. One hundred and ten were in reserve and holding horses, a considerable number only armed with sabers. The remainder of my force was on picket duty and watching other roads by which the enemy might approach. The smallness of the list of killed and wounded presented after such protracted firing is accounted for by the thorough protection afforded the skirmishers by the banks of the canal, of the shelter of which they availed themselves in retreating by a line parallel to that of the enemy, rejoining their horses by a circuit to the left.

I would specially commend the soldierly bearing of Captain W. L. Trenholm and Lieutenant L. J. Walker, of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen; Lieutenant R. M. Skinner, of Company A, and Sergeant Lesesne, of same company; Corpl. W. H. Jeffers and Privates Joseph D. Taylor and W. K. Steadman, of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen.

I was much indebted to Captain W. W. Elliott, acting ordnance officer, for his information of the topography of the country.

Lieutenant Ed. H. Barnwell, acting assistant adjutant-general, showed great zeal and gallantry, and was exposed to a sharp and close fire while aiding me in the engagement.

I cannot too highly commend the pertinacity and spirit shown by the small command of the First Battalion Cavalry, under Lieutenant R. M. Skinner, of Company A, while exposed to a close and rapid fire of a greatly superior force.

The Rutledge Mounted Riflemen, armed with a long-range rifle, were placed at a greater distance from the enemy. Throughout the contest they behaved with great steadiness and courage, and illustrated the excellent discipline and drill for which the corps is conspicuous.

Lieutenant L. J. Walker, with 6 of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen, formed the advance guard while following the enemy. Lieutenant L. J. Walker per formed the responsible duty assigned him with skill and courage.