Today in History:

45 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


versation with General Hunter that it would be on the ground that I had disobey his orders against making an advance toward Fort Johnson or Charleston, I desire to lay before him one or two consideration sin relation to this matter which I think have an important bearing on the case, but which were not, I believe, brought to his notice in the conversation I had with him on the subject last evening; and while disclaiming, as it is true and my duty to myself to do, most fully and completely any other intention than that of carrying out his orders to the strictest letter, as it has always been my wish and my pleasure to do, I cannot avoid stating that it is as strongly impressed on my mind as possible that after the receipt of the written orders as to the disposition of the troops and the non-advance upon charleston, upon the evening prior to his leaving I showed him the map (as I have it here now with a line upon it) drawn from the church (where Colonel Morrow's skirmish was) "to the north of the isthmus, where the Secessionville tower and fort are," stating that as that fort shelled our upper camp I considered it indispensable that we should have and hold those points for the security of our camps and even for the occupation of the Stono, and that I understood him distinctly as assenting to and approving of my representation. But, more than this, and what I would respectfully ask his consideration of, in addition to the explanation I offered last, evening, is the fact that the battery just in front of General Stevens' advanced position was projected and being built to attack the fort at Secessionville before General Hunter left, and this was known to and as I understood approved of by him, and I could not but suppose that if I was authorized to construct such a work to disable or destroy a fort whose fire covered our camps and failed in so destroying it (a work which I feared would be a good foundation for driving us from the Stono entirely) I should be fully authorized in taking it if possible by a direct attack; or, another words, while only holding our present camps and without an advance toward Charleston I was authorized and expected, if it were possible, to kept the front of our camps clear of the works of the enemy far beyond cannon range, and beyond that range even on the day of the action I would not allow our troops to pass as was proposed by going farther to our left, because my object was simply to make secure the present position of our camps, which I considered it my duty to protect against the fire of the enemy. The orders of General Hunter I may say were made known to General Stevens and General Wright, and neither of them ever intimated or appeared to think that the reconnaissance upon the fort upon the 16th would be contrary to those orders-orders which I most heartily approved and was most anxious to carry out.

I may say in addition that the demonstration was made only after the fullest reasons for being assured of success and with the greaters apparent necessity for it.

The deserters who arrived from Secessionville gave information separately, confirmed by prisoners taken on the day of the action and in part by our own officers who mounted the parapet, that the fort was only a common earthwork, without a stockade, and with abatis only in part; that it mounted only four to six guns, and that six or seven more, with their carriages, were at hand ready for mounting, and that the garrison was not more than two battalions there and in Secessionville. Add to this the active operations which we could see and hear going on for strengthening and perfecting the work during the two days of our ineffective artillery fire upon it, with the fear that bomb-proofs would be erected, the additional guns mounted, and probably a stockade and