left my headquarters in Beaufort and repaired by steamer to Bay Point, which I reached at 6 p. m., passing on the way the ever-watchful little fleet of Flag-Officer [Josiah] Tatnall, C. S. Navy.
After remaining in consultation until 1.30 a. m. with Colonel R. G. M. Dunovant, commandant of the post, I took my departure, leaving him such general instruction as the uncertain mode and direction from which an attack might the expected would permit. I then visited Commodore Tatnall, and after an interchange of views took leave, crossed over to Hilton Head Island, landed there at daylight on the 5th, and immediately dispatched a courier to Braddock's Point, scout end of the island, ordering Captain Sturat's company, of Ninth Regiment, to march on Fork Walker, and embark thence to strengthen Captain Elliott's gunners in Fort Beauregard. This company did not leave on the 6th, as proposed, as Captain Sapard, of the steamer Edith, failed to comply with his orders to carry it across early in the morning. They were dispatched, however, by the first steamer at my disposal on the 7th, and before they had reached half way across the bay they were cut off from Bay Point by the advancing fleet of the enemy, and obliged to seek shelter in Skull Creek, where Captain Stuart disembarked his whole command in safety.
On inspecting Fort Walker shortly after my arrival I found twenty guns, of various caliber, mounted upon the ramparts, thirteen of which were on the channel battery, viz, one 1-inch columbiad in the center, flanked to the right by five 32-pounders and one 9-inch Dahlgren rifled cannon, and to the left by six other cannon in the following order: One 32-pounder, one 8-inch columbiad, three 42-pounders, and one rifled 24-pounder; north bastion, one 32-pounder; south bastion, one 32-pounder, one 8-inch howitzer. Of these eight guns one in the north bastion and two in the south flank could occasionally be used against the ships of war. The rest were for the land defense.
To man the guns within the fort and for an infantry reserve outside we had, until re-enforcements came from Savannah on the afternoon of the 6th, two companies of Colonel Wagner's First Regiment Artillery, South Carolina Militia, numbering 152 men; three companies of Colonel Heyward's Ninth [Eleventh] Regiment south Carolina Volunteers, 210 men; four companies of Colonel R. G. M. Dunovant's Twelfth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, under Major Jones, 260 men. Total, 622 men.
There were stationed on the beach at Camp Lookout, 6 miles off, Captain I. H. Screven's Mounted Guerrillas, numbering 65, who acted as scouts and couriers.
About 9 o'clock a. m. of the 5th, Commodore Tatnall, who had boldly attacked the enemy's gunboats on the previous day, again gallantly steamed out to exchange shots with them, but he was met by too large a force, and therefore retired slowly behind our fort. The enemy followed, and engaged both batteries for about forty-five minutes, with no other injury than 3 men slightly burned in Fort Beauregard form the explosion of a caisson struck by a rifle shell.
On the 6th instant the fleet and transports, which had increased to about forty-five sail, would probably have attacked us had not the watcher been very boisterous. In the afternoon about 4 o'clock we received our first re-enforcements from Georgia, 450 infantry, under command of Captain Berry, C. S. Army, and Captain Read's battery of two 12-pounder howitzers and 50 men.