keep himself in communication with the post near Church Flats, and be ready, if necessary, to support it by any means in his power.
* * * *
By order of Brigadier-General Ripley:
F. H. HARLESTON,
Numbers 2. Report of Colonel John L. Branch, Rifle Regiment.
HEADQUARTERS REGIMENT OF RIFLES, Camp Evans, December 22, 1861.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following statement of facts and reasons which governed me in the removal of this command from its late encampment near Rockville:
On Tuesday, the 17th instant, about 4.30 p. m., it was reported to me that four of the enemy's vessels had crossed the bar or were in sight, and firing shells. I at once prepared to make observations for myself, and saw the vessels, one considerably in advance of the others, coming up the Edisto River. I ordered the regimental line to be formed without knapsacks and marched out of camp, supposing that a fire of shells would at once be opened upon it. This was not done, however, and the advanced steamer continued up the river, while the others stopped near the entrance of the Bohicket Creek (about one and a half miles from Rockville) into the Edisto.
On this river and the several bold creek connected therewith are many places where troop could be landed, and by a forced march to connecting Wadmalaw with John's Island, and thereby cut off my entire command, 292 rifles. Having no means of ascertaining whether or not such would be the action of the enemy-five of my mounted officers being absent-I ordered the regiment to fall back to this point as a better position for defense. It is needless to say that had no demonstration been made to cut us off from John's Island, no retreat, save less a very heavy force had been landed at Rockville.
The commissary's report will show the losses sustained in his department, and the duties of his office deserve the highest commendation, will set forth the condition of the transportation and account in some measure for those losses.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
JOHN L. BRANCH,
Colonel Regiment of Rifles.
LEO. D. WALKER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of South Carolina.
Numbers 3. Report of Captain T. G. Budd, Quartermaster Rifle Regiment.
HEADQUARTERS RIFLE REGIMENT, Camp Evans, S. C., December 23, 1861.
DEAR SIR: I beg leave to report in as concise form as possible the