of the detachment of about 50 men to follow me, under the command of Major Oswald, of my regiment. It was my intention to enter the town and meet Major Oswald 2 miles this side and commence the burning back towards the ferry. I had provided and additional mode of egress from the island in case of pursuit by crossing with flats ot Page's Point on the main-land. In this I was aided by Captain Maffit, Colonel Jones, and Major Sams. I will mention for your information, in passing, that 11 men can be crossed at the regular ferry with their horses in fifteen minutes with the flat in use.
I preceded until within three-quarters of a mile from Beaufort. When at the distance of about thirty yards we received the fire of about thirty muskets, as I suppose, of the enemy. The order to halt from the enemy, with oaths and curses, was followed up instantly by their discharge. I am obliged, with much pain, to say that the whole detachment and the guides retreated instantly, with the exception of one man. I saw but one discharge from our retreating party, and that seemed to be in the air. The exception to which I refer was a private [of] Captain Bostick's company, the Allendale Mounted Guard. At the discharge his horse dashed forward and he checked him about ten paces in advance of me. He then fired one barrel of his gun and snapped the other three times. I then heard him complaining of the retreat of our detachment, adding, "Their guns (the pickets') are all discharged, and we could have captured then all if the men had not run away." As he is one of my soldiers I must do him the justice of mentioning his name, although he is my son-Private Vincent F. Martin. The retreat of the detachment was so nearly simultaneous with the flashing of the guns, that the men informed me that they did not hear my orders to them to halt, which I gave, intending to form and advance. I recalled Private Martin after one or two minutes, and we rode down the way or men had retreated to the distance of seventy-five yards, or thereabouts, and, one of us on either side of the road, we listened for half and hour for sounds in both directions. We heard no sounds except the discharge of sixty or seventy guns in the town or outskirts about half an hour after the firing on us.
I then rode on with the soldier above mentioned in a walk all the way to the ferry in momentary expectation of meeting first the advance guard and then the main body, but was disappointed, and when I reached the ferry the whole detachment was on the opposite side.
Major Oswald, in his report, informs me of the following:
About 5 miles from the ferry we met one of the advance detachment at full speed crying out, "The colonel is killed," and he rushed on past the men. The major ordered his column to advance to revenge their colonel, but they did not move. Others came at the same speed from the direction of Beaufort, also stating the death of the colonel and that the direction of Beaufort, also stating the death of the colonel and that there was a wounded man behind. Major Oswald then again ordered his men to advance to succor this wounded man. This man came up immediately, but did not halt from his speed, although ordered to do so by Major Oswald. He turned out to be Captain O. Barnwell, who was wounded in the arm-a flesh wound-badly. With him all Major Oswald' detachment, except about 20, retreated. The officers collected around Major Oswald, and he inquired if they were willing to go on, but met with no encouragement. He then called for volunteers, but received but one, Private Edward Bostick, of the Allendale Mounted Guard, who replied he would follow him to the death to revenge the colonel. Major Oswald then, finding he could accomplish nothing, ordered a retreat, which he conducted in good order, crossing the ferry, where I ascertained they were.