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APRIL 9, 1863.—Destruction of Steamer George Washington, near Beau

fort, S. C.

Report of Capt. Thomas B. Briggs, Third Rhode Island Artillery.

BEAUFORT, S. C., April 9, 1863. CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report:

On the morning of the Sth of April, in accordance with previous instructions from the general commanding, I embarked on board and took command of the steamer George Washington, then lying at the wharf at this place, and proceeded to Hilton Head in quest of the U.S. steamer Hale, with orders for her to accompany the Washington on a tour of Port Royal Island and to station her at Whale Branch. We had proceeded to or near Brick Yard Point, so called, when the Hale ran on a shoal, grounded, and remained fast. After trying to pull her off, being unsuccessful, I weut on board and told Lieutenant Brodhead, commanding, that I would cruise up to and a little beyond Port Royal Ferry and return before night and lay by him to render assistance if he should be attacked before his vessel could float, as I saw that his guns did not bear so as to afford sufficient protection. I accordingly proceeded to the ferry and some hundred yards beyond and then came back leisurely and anchored near the Hale, intending to start again at daylight on the 9th. About 4.15 a. m., while dark, the Hale weighed anchor and started for her station, without reporting to me, and as she was lying some distance from me her absence was not discovered until daylight, when I immediately ordered the Washington under way to follow, to see if she carried out my instructions. I had proceeded some hundred yards when word was brought me that a company of cavalry were at the point near which we had anchored, which was situated, as we were running, in our rear. I immediately got my glass and was soon satisfied that instead of a cavalry, it was a light artillery company, and simultaneously I saw a flash and heard a report, followed by several others. The first shell struck on the stern and another entered and blew up the magazine, which was situated near the stern, making the boat a complete wreck, destroying the ammunition in the magazine, and dismounting one gun. I stood twenty feet from the magazine and was somewhat stunned by the explosion. As soon as I came to my senses and saw our disabled condition, I went forward and seeing her drifting on the hostile shore, and as I then thought of no possible way of getting her away from that situation, I ordered a wbite flag to be raised as a signal of surrender, as I wished to save the remaining lives. When the flag had been raised I again went aft and found that the captain of the boat had ordered her to be backed toward the shore of Port Royal Island, and upon examination found that she was on fire. I immediately counseled the men that I saw near me to get ashore, if possible, and after seeing all the men that were able to walk strike out for the shore I started myself to send the boat, which had been preserved and bad carried one load, to rescue the wounded, which was accordingly done by Lieutenant Blanding, who got the men into the boat and set them adrift. They were, as I afterward found, picked up by the rebels and, under a flag of truce, returned to the Hale, which came down after the Washington had burned and sunk. I intended to have surrendered the boat, and the men that remained, because I saw no possible chance of getting away, as the boat was disabled, the ammunition exploded, and the rebels had complete control of her, but didn't think of leaving her until I found her on fire,


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and knew it would be some time before any one could get to us to rescue us from the flames, the steam, and some unexploded ammunition of the disabled guns, under the rubbish of the broken down cabin, and other lumber, splinters, &c.

After getting ashore, which was at the edge of a bog or marsh nearly a mile in breadth, the men struggled on toward solid ground under a hot fire of shot and shell from the enemy. The officers and men lost all their clothing except what they stood in, and several in the fatigue of the passage through the swamp were compelled to throw some of that away, as the mud was very deep and heavy, and two or three had their clothing blown entirely off them before leaving the boat. The boat contained, belonging to the army, myself, Lieuts. J.B. Blanding and George L. Smith, of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, and Lieutenant Williams, of the quartermaster's department, and thirty-four enlisted wen belonging to Company A, Third Rhode Island Artillery, of whom Lieutenants Blanding and Smith escaped without a scratch. Lieutenant Williams was lightly cut and bruised by pieces of shell or splinters of wood, and myself received some slight bruises and cuts. Of the men, 22 were uninjured excepting some slight bruises, 10 were badly wounded, 1 killed instantly, 1 died on the boat after being put in by Lieutenant Blanding, and 2 are missing. If not inconsistent with a report of this kind I would speak in terms of the highest praise of the officers and men of the First South Carolina Volunteers, who rendered valuable aid to the wounded, half-drowned, and thoroughly exhausted officers and men, giving us dry clothing and much needed .refreshments. The officers and crew of the boat, I believe, were saved unharmed except a few slight bruises. The officers and men, as well as those of the boat, bebaved admirably under as bot a fire of shot and shell as ever fell to my lot to witness. It is my opinion, as well as that of the officers under my command, that if the Hale had communicated with me before leaving on the morning of the 9th the catastrophe might have been prevented or we might have made a more successful defense. In fact, I doubt very much if they would have fired on us at all. List of killed, wounded, and missing* I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. B. BRIGGS, Captain, Third Rhode Island Artillery, Comdg. Expedition. Capt. STUART M. TAYLOR,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Beaufort, s. 0.


JULY 10-SEPTEMBER 7, 1863.—Operations on Morris Island, S. C.

Report of Maj. Lewis Butler, Sixty-seventh Ohio Infantry, of second

assault on Battery Wagner, July 18.


Hilton Head, S. C., February 2, 1863 [4]. GENERAL: Agreeable to your request I have the honor to report that on the evening of July 18, (1863,] in the charge on Wagner, my regiment, the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, went into the

Shows 2 men killed, 10 men wounded, and 2 men missing.


charge third in line of Putnam's brigade in the following order, in deployed column: First, Seventh New Hampshire; second, One hundredth New York; third, Sixty-seventh Obio; fourth, Sixty-secoud Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel 'Steele; our brigade preceded by Strong's brigade. For some reason unknown to me our brigade was halted near the beacon-house, and Strong's brigade allowed to proceed on toward the fort. After remaining some twenty minutes we were ordered forward under a most galling fire. When about the fifth parallel our columns were very much disturbed by stragglers from Strong's brigade and the breaking of the One hundredth New York. It was here that we met the Third New Hampshire and Ninth Maine moving back by the flank. Upon arriving near the glacis the balance of Strong's brigade were lying down. Upon our brigade coming up they arose and the final assault was made. Of the number which gained the fort from each regiment I am not able to say, but this I will state, that the only regiments that showed anything approaching an organization at this timo were the Forty-eighth New York, Sixth Connecticut, Seventh New Hampshire, Sixty-seventh and Sixty-second Ohio. A few men of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored) and a few of the One hundredth New York were in the fort, but upon calling for the officers none reported to me from either of those regiments. I believe that in all there were not more than between 400 and 500 men in the fort from both brigades. Upon my reaching the parapet of the fort, seeing the confusion, I. ordered the firing to cease. Called for Colonel Putnam. Getting no response, I called for Colonel Dandy. No response from him. I immediately reconnoitered our position. Finding that we had driven them from the south bastion and a portion of the sea front, and finding the force so disorganized that it was impossible to make a farther advance into the fort, I immediately distributed the force at my command so as to hold what we had already gained. After making this disposition of the men I again renewed my calls for other field officers, and at this time Colonel Putnam came upon the parapet.. I learned from him that he had been outside the ditch, endeavoring to keep the men from going to the rear. I asked the colonel what he was going to do.

He replied that he did not know what to do. Question: "Is Stevenson's brigade coming to our support?” He replied that he did not know. Question by him: “What do you think best?” My reply

We cannot advance any farther with what force we have in its present disorganized state, and that I deemed it insufficient under any circumstances. That the best we could do was to hold our position until we got re-enforcements, and that with the help of another brigade we could take the fort or at least hold it until we got our dead and wounded off, and that we had better send for re enforcements.” Question by him: “Have you got a trusty lieutenant that you can send to the rear?" I replied that I had, and called Lieutenant Hathaway. No reply. I then called Lieut. John C. Cochrane, who commanded Company K of the Sixty-seventh Ohio. Told him to go to the rear and say to the general that we held a portion of the fort, and if he would send Stevenson's brigade that we could take the fort, or at least hold it until our dead and wounded were taken from the field. This con. versation took place between us on top of the parapet, both standing erect.

As Lieutenant Cochrane went out of the fort I was watching to see him cross the ditch, which was enfiladed by the guns on the sea bastion, and while he was in the ditch Colonel Putuam turned to me and remarked, “Major, we had better get out of this," and fell dead with


the last word on his lips. I called his adjutant and Lieutenant Cate, : his aide, who were in the fort, to carry him off. As they were approach ing him Lieutenant Cate also fell, and the adjutant, after examining him, left the fort. The fight was now raging severe. There was yet a hand to hand contest at the entrance to the bastion from the main body of the fort. I then called a council of the officers in the fort, not wishing to bazard anything further without their co-operation. All agreed to hold out until we could hear from the rear. After waiting twice the length of time which I knew it would require to move Steven. son's brigade to our support, at about 10.30 o'clock, observing that the rebels were being re-enforced and were making preparations for a sally upon both flanks, I gave the order to retire. Ordering Captain Coan, of the Forty-eighth New York, to go down into the bastion and get all of the men that were able to get out without disturbing those who were engaged with the enemy, he soon reported to me that all had left that would leave or could leave. I then went around the fort, relieved the men engaged, a few at a time, so that the rebels did not know when we did leave. To this course I attribute our getting away at all. Now for personalities. Among the most prominent officers in the fort that night who did their duty in a cool, deliberate manner, were Captain Coan, now major of the Forty-eighth New York; Captain Klein, now major of Sixth Connecticut; Captain Taylor and Captain Kahler, of the Sixty-second Ohio. Of those prominent in the fort of my own officers every one that was not wounded went into the fort, and as readily obeyed commands as on parade. Tbese were Capt. Lewis C. Hunt, Capt. Alfred P. Girty, Lieutenants Cochrane, Hathaway, Kief, Bell, Ward, and Briggs. There might have been other officers in the fort, but those whom I have mentioned were officers who came under my personal notice. The report that the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored) did more than any other regiment upon that occasion is, in my opinion, a base fabrication. That they were in the fort as an organization I positively deny. I found but few of them in the fort and none that appeared to be under the control of any officer of the regiment. There were in that regi. ment, as every other, individual instances of personal courage that deserve credit, but as a regiment I claim that a great deal more is awarded it than was its just due. The officers whom I have specified, the men of the organizations to which they belong, were the men who were in the fort and did all that was possible for men to do under the circumstances. The Third New Hampshire and Ninth Maine Regiments had no men in the fort that I know of; the One hundredth New York had but very few. About the time that we were entering the fort Capt. John B. Chapman, of our regiment, who was wounded and going to the rear, saw Colonel Dandy just above the battery inquiring for his regiment, and was informed by him that he would find it in the rear. My firm belief is that there were more men in the fort from the two Ohio regiments than from any others. I do not say this through any par. tiality for the Ohio boys, but perhaps from the fact that I was known to the officers and men of those regiments and they more readily obeyed my commands. Great credit is due Captain Coan, of the Forty-eighth New York, and Captain Klein, of the Sixth Connecticut. They appeared to be the only officers of their regiments in the fort who were laboring to rally their men, standing firm themselves at exposed points.

In conclusion let me say that the repulse wo suffered was entirely owing to our not being promptly sustained, and the consequence the numerous loss of life and expenditure of money which had to be incurred to regain the position which we had gained at so fearful a loss, of life,

and might have been beld at a light expense to what it eventually cost. In this report I have not attempted to give anything a coloring which did not belong to it, but as nearly as possible give you a plain statement of facts which came under my notice. Of the scenes of carnage, of the determined valor of the troops, I need not speak, but the fact that they gained the fort amid the darkness of the night and under as withering a fire as any troops were ever exposed, and held it near three hours against fearful odds, speaks a volume for the personal courage of the men which cannot be written. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

LEWIS BUTLER, Major Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Brigadier-General SEYMOUR,

Commanding U. S. Forces, Hilton Head. [28.]

Report of Lieut. Col. Redfield Duryce, Sirth Connecticut Infantry, of

second assault on Battery Wagner, July 18.


Hilton Head, S. C., November 4, 1863. GENERAL: In reply to your request of October 19, 1863, regarding the part taken by this regiment at the assault on Fort Wagner July 18, 1863, I have the honor to submit the following report:

As I was not present at the assault, being on detached service in Connecticut at that time, I have condensed the following from the reports received from the commanders of companies. This regiment, under command of Col. John L. Chatfield, was relieved from duty as advance guard in front of the batteries on Morris Island, S. C., on the morning of July 18, 1863, about 10 o'clock, and returned to its camp, where it remained until about 1 p. m. the same day, when it was again ordered under arms, and advanced a short distance in front of Craig Hill Signal Station as a support to the batteries which had opened fire on the enemy about 11 a. m. At 5.30 p. m. the regiment was ordered into line, and advanced toward the enemy's lines, moving along the beach by the right flank until in front of the line of stockades, when the line was formed facing the fort. About 6.30 p. m. the regiment forined in column of companies closed in mass, advanced upon the enemy's work in good order, crossed the moat, and entered the fort at the southeastern angle. It remained in the fort about three hours, when, as it was found impossible to obtain any re-enforcements, orders were given to retreat as quietly as possible. The conduct of both officers and men in the assault was meritorious in the extreme. Too much cannot be said in their praise for the cool courage and bravery they evinced while marching on to the assault through a most murderous fire, and for their determined resistance while in the fort.

Special acts of meritorious conduct were not noticed, except in a few cases, owing to the fact that in consequence of the darkness only those in the immediate vicinity of the officers making the reports could be seen by them. Col. John L. Chatfield, after gallantly leading his men into the fort, received a severe wound, which ultimately caused his death. First Lieut. John Stottlar, Company D, with thirty sharpshooters of Companies O and D, occupied the advanced rifle-pits from the

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