Today in History:

40 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


much importance, yet in its results quite so. After the departure of the Charleston expedition our force within the entrenchments of all arms did not exceed 600 effective men. Colonel Brown, in command of the post, felt quite anxious for the safety of the garrison and the immense amount of stores here, and I, as commander of the Third here and all the entrenchments, felt no less so; therefore I have been required by the colonel commanding to visit all the outposts on his island once in two or three days. Last week on one of these reconnaissances I learned the enemy had been quite active on the main land at the White House, so called. The captain commanding the outpost furnished me a boat and 8 oarsmen for the purpose of visiting Pinckney Island, the nearest point to said house, where we had a small picket distant from the house about half a mile. On landing I discovered the enemy had increased their force there; had also collected a large number of boats, sufficient to cross 600 or 700 at once time; also established new pickets, all within two days; that they were constantly firing on our men and boats from the upper window of the hourse, which, being three-story, gave them a decided advantage.

On my return to camp I recommended the destruction of the boats and house by placing two 12-pounder howitzers on board of a steamer and shelling the place. But no steamer could be had, as the Charleston expedition had taken everything. I then proposed to the colonel to take a siege gun to the nearest point (which is Buckingham Ferry, distant 1 1/2 miles) and shell them from there, under cover of which fire Lieutenant-Colonel Beaver, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, who commands the outposts, could cross and destroy the boats. Colonel Beaver very heartily entered into the arrangement. So the next morning I took a 30-pounder Parrott gun, drawn by 14 horses, 2 wagons for ammunition, forage, and plank to cross poor bridges, and a detachment, consisting of 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, and 22 privates, and marched from camp.

I arrived at the scene of operations too early to commence, on account of the tide. I therefore masked my gun and wagons from the enemy until 5.30 p. m., when Colonel Beaver told me he was ready. I then opened fire. The third shell I put through the house (distant, as I said, about 2,500 yards), and the fourth and the fifth, having got the range east, I shelled the woods and the road to Bluffton, and as the sun was about half an hour high Lieutenant-Colonel Beaver embarked in six boats from two different points with about 125 men. I continued shelling until they had nearly reached the opposite shore, when I ceased firing and awaited the result. The sun went down; there was no moon, and it shortly became very dark, as there is no twilight here. For one hour and a half I looked anxiously to the opposite shore, at the expiration of which time a glimmer of light was seen, then another, and another, and in a few minutes the White House and out-buildings were in brilliant blaze. The sight was a beautiful one. The heavens were lit up with a lurid glare which could be seen far inland, and the enemy were admonished how they commenced their operations under our very nose. In a few moments boats were seen, and a blue light told me they were our friends, as I had told Colonel Beaver I should fire upon any boats approaching without that signal. Reverses were provided for, but none occurred. I told Colonel Beaver I should bring that gun back and did so. I waited until the buildings were consumed, then limbered up and marched back to camp, which I reached a little after midnight.