« PreviousContinue »
others, as all performed their duty well, and, am happy to say, to the satisfaction of the brave general who led us, as he openly declared.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN S. LITTELL, Captain, Commanding Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Brig. Gen. T. SEYMOUR,
Commanding U. 8. Forces, Morris Island, s. C. [28.]
Report of Lieut. Col. Richard H. Jackson, Assistant Inspector-General,
U.S. Army, commanding artillery, of second assault on Battery Wagner, July 18. *
MORRIS ISLAND, S. C., July 20, 1863. GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the services of the artillery under my direction on the 18th instant:
The batteries were constituted as follows: Battery Hays, comprising seven 30-pounders and four 20-pounder Parrott rifled guns, served by Captains Shaw's and Strahan's companies of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, and two detachments from Captain Gray's company, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers; Battery O'Rorke, comprising_five 10-inch siege mortars, served by Captain Greene's company, Third Rhode Island Artillery. At 10 a.m. I received the order to open fire upon Fort Wag
I ner, each gun to be fired once in fifteen minutes and each mortar once in five minutes. The fire was kept up continuously until 5 p. m., when I was directed “to fire as rapidly as possible, as an assault would be mado on Fort Wagner about sunset.” The firing from the first was accurate, so much so that at about 11. a. m. the enemy's fire from the work slackened considerably, and from 12 m. until the advance of the assaulting column took place his fire from_Fort Wagner was very slow indeed, while from Cummings Point and Fort Sumter it increased in rapidity throughout the day. The fire from the batteries under my command, from 5 p. m. until the head of the assaulting column could no longer be distinguished on account of the darkness, was very rapid and as long as I could see the effect produced by the shells accurate. I deemed it prudent when I could no longer see our troops as they moved upon the fort, and when I knew that the head of the column must be close to it, to change the direction of the fire so as to sweep the sand ridge connecting Fort Wagner with Fort Gregg at Cummings Point, and thus prevent, if possible, a re-enforcement
by the enemy of the fort during our fight for its possession. In order to do this during the darkness I had in the afternoon marked on the platforms the distance that each piece trail) should be traversed, as well as determined the ranges and taken the necessary measures to insure accuracy of fire during the night. After the repulse of our infantry the firing was kept up until about 11 p. m., when it ceased by direction of Brigadier-General Gill.
As worthy of commendation I have the honor to bring to your notice the following officers: Capt. O. G. Strahan, Third Rhode Island Artillery; Capt. R. G. Shaw, Third Rhode Island Artillery, and Lieut.
See also Vol. XXVIII, Part I, p. 349.
J. P. Sanger, First U.S. Artillery, for their gallantry, zeal, and cool-
R. A. JAOKSON,
Tenth Army Corps and Department of the South. Brig. Gen. T. SEYMOUR,
Commanding U. 8. Forces, Morris Island, s. C. [28.]
Report of Maj. Josiah I. Plimpton, Third New Hampshire Infantry,
Acting Assistant Inspector-General, of second assault on Battery Wagner, July 18.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Morris Island, S. C., October 20, 1863. GENERAL: In accordance with your request I have the honor to make the following statement regarding the assault on Battery Wagner on the 18th of July, 1863:
The troops were formed on the beach in the following order: The First Brigade, commanded by General Strong, in the advance; next the Second Brigade, Colonel Putnam, and Third Brigade, General Stevenson, in the rear, all in column by companies. The order being given to move forward the First Brigade advanced above our line of works and deployed and charged upon the enemy's works, from which a terrific fire of grape, canister, and musketry was opened. You, with your staff, went forward with the First Brigade, and seeing they were checked by the fire of the enemy, turned and asked, “Where is the Second Brigade?" and not seeing them, ordered me to go back and find them and order them to move forward immediately. I rode back and found them about 200 yards in the rear of our batteries, deployed in column of regiments. I gave Colonel Putnam your order to move forward, and he replied, “I am ordered by General Gillmore to remain here."
6 General Seymour needs your brigade and orders you to move forward to sup. port the First Brigade.” He replied again, "General Gillmore (ordered] me to remain here, and I cannot move without his order." I then returned to the front and reported to you. Soon after this the First Brigade began to fall back, when you sent me back to the mortar batteries with an order to open fire, after which I again returned to the front. In about half an hour after I gave Colonel Putnam the order he marched his brigade up and advanced on Wagner. In a few minutes came word that Colonel Putnam was in the work and wanted support, and you again ordered me back to bring up the Third Bri. gade. After giving the order to General Stevenson I returned to the front and found you wounded and asked you what to do, and you replied, “Hurry forward the Third Brigade, which I did, and went to General Gillmore and told him that you and General Strong were wounded, and he sent Colonel Turner to the front to take command. I am, &c.,
J. I. PLIMPTON,
Acting Assistant Inspector-General, Seymour's Staff. General TRUMAN SEYMOUR.
DECEMBER 25, 1863.-Attack on the U. S. S. Marblehead, in Stono
River, S. C.
Reports of Col. Powhatan R. Page, Twenty-sixth Virginia Infantry.
CHURCH FLATS, S. C., December 26, 1863. CAPTAIN: Having already informed you hurriedly of the result of the expedition to John's Island,* I now respectfully submit the following official report:
The infantry, five companies of the Twenty-sixth and five companies of the Fifty-seventh Regiments Virginia Volunteers, aggregate strength, 480, moved on the island on Monday, the 21st instant. The necessary details for work were furnished the engineer officer, Lieut. P. C. Johnson, and all the work that could be done without discovery was completed on the night of the 23d instant. Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper arrived with his artillery on Wednesday evening, the 230 instant. On Thursday night the whole force moved down on the peninsula of Legareville, Major Jenkius' cavalry guarding the approaches to that point. The lower battery, on Lady's Island (which could not be concealed from the enemy during the day), as well as the necessary leveling for Charles' battery under the hedge, was successfully completed, and the guns and troops all put in position before daybreak on the 25th, in accordance with Special Orders, No. 276, department headquarters. The Marblehead was the only vessel lying in the river, her position being below the village, between it and the middle battery. As soon as it was fully light the two lower batteries opened on her; the upper battery and Charles’ light battery at the same time opened on the village. The Marblehead got under way and moved slowly down the river, but seeing the Pawnee and another gunboat coming to her assistance, returned. The Pawnee was soon in range and took position in Kiawab River, enfilading the lower and middle batteries and the hedge behind which the light artillery and infantry were posted, compelling the withdrawal of the guns from the middle and lower batteries with the loss of two 8-inch howitzers. The circumstances attending the loss of these pieces are stated in the accompanying report of Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper, commanding artillery. Supposing that the Marblehead would be immediately rendered incapable of assisting the troops in the village, and knowing that the enemy's force there consisted of about 150 men, stationed on an island, the only approach to which was over a narrow causeway of about 150 yards in length, and were protected from infantry fire by houses, my intention was, as soon as the gun-boat was disabled, to advance the two howitzer pieces of Charles' battery with the infantry, and in that way compel their surrender.
For these reasons the infantry was not immediately advanced, and seeing that the Marblehead was not injured, and as far as I could judge not struck, and the Pawnee in a short time entilading us and in position to concentrate her force with that of the Marblehead, either on the village or on any point between it and the hedge, I abandoned the attack on Legareville as certainly involving the loss of the greater portion of my infantry and as attended with but a bare possibility of success. At this juncture I was in the act of dispatching an order to Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper to withdraw the heavy artillery, when I received the announcement through a courier from him that he was retiring. I immediately ordered off the light battery, and following with the infantry, halted at Roper's, near Aberpoolie bridge. Here I was informed by Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper that he had been compelled to leave at the batteries two 8-inch howitzers. I ordered Lieut. Col. J.C. Councill, Twenty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, to remain at Roper's and at night to make an effort to recover them. For this purpose 200 infantry, two field pieces, and Major Jenkins' cavalry was the force assigned. The rest of the infantry and artillery was moved up to Walpole's, where they were encamped for the night. During the afternoon I received intelligence through Major Jenkins that the enemy had landed a force at Legareville and were advancing up the peninsula. They continued to advance until they covered the approach from Roper's to the batteries. Having no approximate knowledge of their strength, and knowing that several vessels had come up the Stono, the evident danger of an ambuscade induced me to countermand the order to Lieutenant-Colonel Councill and to order him to join the main body early this morning. This having been effected, I returned with the infantry and artillery to the main, and pursuant to the provisions of Special Orders, No. 276, department headquarters, ordered the several corps composing the detachment back to the positions from which they marched to the island. In the action on the 25th instant we lost, besides the 2 8-inch howitzers, 1 man killed, 11 wounded, 2 mortally; 13 lorses killed and disabled, belonging to the artillery, and 1 ambulance mule killed. The enemy, so far as I can ascertain, sustained no loss or injury whatever. The artillery, except Charles' battery, fired badly; this there is reason to believe was, in a measure at least, owing to the very inferior quality of the ammunition and want of practice in firing. I take pleasure in acknowledging the energy and skill exhibited by Lieut. P. C. Johnson, of the engineers, in the construction and concealment of the batteries. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
* Seo Vol. XXVIII, Part I, p. 750.
P. R. PAGE,
Colonel, Commanding Expedition. Capt. JAMES H. PEARCE,
Assistant Adjutant General. [28.]
ADAMS RUN, S. C., December 27, 1863. CAPTAIN: Not concurring with Colonel Kemper entirely in his report* in regard to time, distances, and other inferences that might be drawn from it, I deem it my duty to make the following remarks thereon:
First. I differ with him as to the distance he supposed the Marblehead to be from the battery. I supposed her to be about 800 or 1,000 yards.
Second. I differ with him as to the time it took the Marblehead to get under way. He states five minutes; I think she was ten or fifteen minutes getting under way.
Third. It might be inferred from his report that Charles' battery was ordered to withdraw before he moved, which is not the case, as Charles' battery was not ordered to retire until I received his message that he, Colonel Kemper, was retiring, although without orders to do so, Charles battery being the last to cease firing. I think Colonel Kemper was perfectly right in retiring when he did.
* See next, post.
2 R R-VOL LIII
Fourth. I think Colonel Kemper in error in attributing the ill success of the expedition to what he calls the loss of the diversion in favor of the two lower batteries expected from the upper battery and that of Captain Charles—the upper battery being the only one embarrassed by the expected movements of the infantry, which, under existing circumstances, would not at any time have drawn the fire of either boat. Charles' battery and the infantry did draw the fire of the Marblehead from the time the Pawnee came into the Kiawah River, as well as an. occasional shot from her, and, as before stated, was the last to cease firing
Colonel Kemper seems to think that a diversion in favor of the siege pieces was to have been made by the field artillery and the upper battery, and that this was prevented by the infantry, whereas the real design and expectation was that the siege batteries would so cripple and disable, if not destroy, the gun-boats as to enable the infantry to make an attack on the enemy on the island near the village. The lower batteries, instead of crippling or driving off the Marblehead, made no impression or but little upon her at all. She was lying at first in posi. tion to cover the causeway from the island to the village-about from 300 to 500 yards; in ten or fifteen minutes got under way and moved down the river in front of the middle battery and paused there ten or fifteen minutes; moved a short distance down the river and returned, and was all the time thereafter under way to take any position so as to rake the village, the causeway from the island to the village, or the field from the hedge to the village. The siege guns of the lower batteries were so inefficient in their fire as to make an attack on the village, island, and causeway wholly unjustifiable, and therefore I ordered a retreat after Colonel Kemper had informed me that he was retiring. To the inefficiency of his siege pieces the failure of the expedition is to be attributed. I was instructed that Colonel Kemper was to “command the artillery engaged and thus be able to give his special attention to that arm of the service, upon the handling and service of which the success of the affair would depend." Neither my report or Colonel Kemper's states the fact that the body of Private William J. Johnson, of siege train, was left on the field at or near his battery. This was not reported to me until I reached Roper's. There Colonel Kemper proposed to leave a force of infantry to go down and recover the guns and the dead body. I at first declined, thinking it not prudent to do so, but immediately, on reflection, left the infantry and remained until the 26th with the view of recovering the guns and the body. Major Jenkins that night succeeded in getting the body and gave it honorable burial, as reported by him verbally to myself and in writing to General Wise. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. R. PAGE,
Colonel, Commanding Expedition. Capt. JAMES H. PEARCE,
Assistant Adjutant-General. [28.]
Reports of Licut. Col. Del. Kemper, C. S. Artillery.
ADAMS RUN, December 26, 1863. SIR: Daybreak on the morning of the 26th [25th) instant found the several batteries under my command disposed in exact accordance with Special Orders, No. 276, from department headquarters. At 6