Today in History:

94 Series I Volume XIV- Serial 20 - Secessionville


On the morning of June 16 about 4 o'clock my pickets were driven in, and reported to me that the enemy were advancing in force and had already passed Rivers' house, distant from my batteries about three-fourths of a mile. I immediately dispatched a courier to Lieutenant-Colonels Gaillard and Smith, ordering them to move up their battalions at once and to General Evans to inform him of the advance of the foe and I then proceeded to my batteries, where I found a detachment at each gun (having ordered such to be the case day and night). When I arrived at the batteries I found that the enemy were within 700 yards, in line of battle, and advancing on me at the double-quick. I ordered the 8-inch columbiad to be loaded with grape, which order was promptly obeyed by Lieutenant J. W. Moseley, of Company I, whom I found at the battery on my arrival. I mounted the chassis and pointed the gun myself. In the mean time Sergt. James M. Baggott, of Captain Reed's company (B), fired upon the advancing line from the rifled 24-pounder gun to the left of the columbiad, and of which he was the gunner. My reason for pointing the columbiad myself was to fire at the center of the line and thereby break it, in order to cause confusion and delay, so that I might get my infantry into position previous to their reaching my lines. the shot had the desired effect; they immediately flanked to the right and left. I then ordered the columbiad to be loaded with canister, which was promptly done, and I again pointed it. I then left the battery to get my infantry into position. On leaving the battery I met Lieutenant J. B Humbert, of Company I (under whose command the columbiad was), within two or three paces of the battery, and directed him to give them canister freely, which he did. I then ordered Captain T. Y. Simons to go to Lieutenant-Colonels Gailard and Smith and tell them to hurry up their battalions.

Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, of the Pee Dee Battalion, first attracted my attention, whereupon I ordered him to take position on the left. Although the enemy had then reached the left flank and were pouring in a murderous fire on my men at the guns, Lieutenant-Colonel Smith obeyed with promptness and soon drove them from their position. I then ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Gaillard to take position on my right and center, which was promptly done.

It was not long after getting my infantry into position that the enemy were driven back in confusion. They were soon, however, re-enforced and made another desperate charge, when I again drove them back; a third time they came, but only to meet with a most determined repulse. They then made a flank movement on my right, on the west of Secessionville, and on the other side of the creek, where they were gallantly met by the Charleston Battalion, which was soon re-enforced by the Louisiana Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel McEnery, who also gallantly met them with a cheer.

At this time I was so much exhausted from loss of blood, from having been wounded in the head by a Minie ball on the second charge, that the command was turned over to Lieutenant-Colonel Gaillard, and afterward to Lieutenant-Colonel Wagner, although I never ceased to give orders to my batteries.

We achieved a great victory, yet it is at a considerable loss both in numbers and personal worth. Captain Samuel J. Reed, of Barnwell District, and commanding Company B, fell while gallantly fighting at his gun. I may safely say that his place cannot be filled. He was everything that could be desired in an officer, and as brave, true, and gallant a man as ever sacrificed his life on a field of battle. Peace to his ashes.