afterwards Colonels Dunovant entered the fort and said to me, "Captain Elliott, what is the condition of things over the river?" I replied, "Fort Walker has been silenced, sir." "By what do you judge?" "By the facts that the fort has been subjected to a heavy enfilade and direct fire, to which it has ceased to reply; that, the vessels having terminated their fire, the flag-ship has steamed up the delivered a single shot, which was unanswered, and that thereupon cheering was heard from the fleet." "Then,sir, it having they were designed-that of protecting the harbor-you will prepare to retire from a position from which our small force will not enable us to hold against a land attack." I then prepared my command for a retreat, destroyed the greater part of the powder, spiked the guns, and an hour later took up the line of march of Endings' Island.
Our fire was remitted during those intervals when passing down on the farther side of the river, as the ships were too distant. This cessation afforded a respite to the cannoneers, already fatigued by labors property belonging to the Engineer and Ordnance Departments. At all other times it was kept up with shot and shell. One of the columbiads was fired 57 times; the other not quite so often. The position of the hot-shot guns in the main battery was such that, when unmasked, the ships were too far distant to be reached by any elevation the guns were susceptible of. They were therefore used but sparingly, but hot shot were fired from two 42-pounders on the front face. The flag-ship was supposed to be on fire more than once.
Our fire was directed almost exclusively at the larger vessels. They were seen to be struck repeatedly, but the great distance-never less than 2,500 yards-prevented our ascertaining the extent of injury. The wooden fuses for the 8-inch shell were very defective, generally igniting the charge a few seconds too soon. The paper fuses were more reliable. It had been found during the engagement on Tuesday that the rifled shell could not without much difficulty be forced down after one or two discharges. They had therefore in the interim been refitted. The gun, however, exploded at the thirty-second discharge, slightly wounding every man of the detachment. No other cause can be assigned except that the gun, after being fired several times in rapid succession, was loaded and allowed to remain. As it became cool it may have contracted upon the shell, and hence the explosion.
The hot-shot battery, manned by Captain Harrison's company, fired a few rounds, but the great severity of the cannonade in an exposed position drove the men form the guns. Some of his men afterward assisted me in the main work, among whom Sergeant Edenfield deserves to be mentioned with praise. The Beaufort Artillery behaved with coolness under a heavy fire, as is attested by the fact that no accident attributable to carelessness occurred at tier gush. Instances of conspicuous bravery might be mentioned, but it would be unfair to eulogize a few when the majority did their duty.
Previous to the engagement the members of this corps contributed each according to his talent to the efficiency of the whole, but especially zealous and untiring were Privates S. E. Scanaln and I. E. Falbin in preparing ammunition and placing the battery in order. In this connection I must mention with honor Captain Harrison's company, who for months before cheerfully gave me their assistance. I must also thank the companies of Colonel Dunovan't command, who labored to make my position more secure. Honor is due to Midshipmen Maffit and Read, who with coolness and courage gave me valuable aid whenever it was required.