arrival at headquarters in Beaufort, on the night of the 17th October, the number of troops at Camp Walker was but 362, afterward increased on the 24th to 622 by the accession of four companies under Major Jones, of Twelfth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers. To this may be added the engineer force of some 60 men, who, with the soldiers, worked incessantly day and night. As for evidence of what they accomplished: The 8-inch columbiad on the water front was only mounted on the 1st November, one 8-inch howitzer in the salient of the south bastion, mounted on the 4th; one 32-pounder on the right flank of bastion, mounted on the 5th; one 8-inch howitzer mounted on a ship carriage; embrasure cut through parapet of demi-lune on the night of the 5th; covered way and hot-shot furnace for 42-pounders, constructed of earth and dry masonry, on the morning of the 6th, together with wads of moss and bay for same; splinter-proof, occupying only one-half terre plain behind the principal traverse, was finished on the morning of the engagement (7th instant), the material no having arrived before the 4th instant.
The retreat was commenced about 3 p. m. toward Ferry Point, about 6 miles off, Colonel De Saussure's regiment and Captain I. Read's company of artillery bringing up the rear. At 1.30 a. m., by the aid of Commodore Tatnall's fleet, the steamers St. Johns and Edisto, and three large flats, cable of holding 150 men each, the troops were all safely embarked without provisions, no ammunition but what was contained in the cartridge-boxes (the 100,000 cartridges I had made requisition for, and been anxiously expecting, not having reached us until after the battle), and fearing that our retreat would be cut off by the enemy's gunboats at Skull Creek, no other alternative was left but to leave the island and concentrate upon the main-land, where we would be enabled to fight the enemy on more equal terms should he venture beyond the protection of his fleet and attack us there.
The muskets captured by the enemy, with the exception of some ten or fifteen, were those left in the fort, shattered by shot and shell, others left in camp belonging to men on sick leave, or to those engaged in heating hot-shot furnaces two days before the fight, and some boxes of arms which had been left on the wharf the night before the battle, belonging to the sick men of Colonel De Saussure's regiment, who had been left behind at Lightwood Knot, and which could have been saved, with a box of swords, if the captains of the steamers Edisto and St. Johns had not refused to take them on board when directed to do so.
To Captain Tatnall, flag-officer C. S. Navy, and the officers and men of his little fleet, I cannot too highly express my admiration of their intrepidity and hardihood in attacking the enemy's gunboats on the 4th and 5th instants. These encounters, by interrupting their sounding and the location of their buoys, no doubt prevented our being attacked on Tuesday, the 5th instant, before our re-enforcements reached us. I must also acknowledge the assistance extended to us by the gallant commandeer with his boasts on the night of our retreat from the island.
The attack upon the fort, though not so concentrated and heavy as chat upon Valker, was nevertheless very severe. Its armament was nineteen guns, of which the following, viz, one 8-inch Rodman, bored to 24-pounders, reamed to eight inches, and one 32-pounder in hot-shot battery, were the only guns capable of being used against the fleet.
The force on Bay Point was 640 men, commanded by Colonel R. G. M.