War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0067 Chapter XV. ENGAGEMENT AT PORT ROYAL FERRY.

Search Civil War Official Records

About 9.30 a.m. on that day, hearing heavy and rapid firing, I moved with as much dispatch as possible from my headquarters near Pocotaligo Station towards the direction whence it appeared to proceed. On reaching the camp of the Twelfth South Carolina Regiment, located where the Sheldon road and that from Page's Point and Cunningham's Bluff intersect the Port Royal road, I found that no positive information had been received as to the precise points whence the cannonading proceeded.

Towards 12 m. I received the first dispatch from Colonel James Jones, commanding Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers, stating that the enemy was landing in strong force at Chisolm's Landing, and shortly after another informing me that there was an evident intention of landing a large force from Chisolm's to Port Royal Ferry. I immediately directed Colonel Jones to have the siege howitzer and the long 12-pounder iron gun on siege carriage (the only two guns of greater caliber than 6-pounder field pieces which I had been able to place in position on the Coosaw River) in readiness to be removed from the entrenchments at the ferry should their safety be threatened by the enemy's advance on our left. I will here remark that the 12-pounder referred to, being very heavy and not equipped for transportation, was unfortunately, but accidentally, overturned in a ditch in the act of removal. The heavy fire from the enemy's gunboats rendered it impracticable to extricate it without the risk of too great a loss of life. It was therefore spiked and left. I also directed Colonel Jones to move towards the enemy at once, and to attack him the moment an opportunity should offer, and, if compelled to fall back, to do so fighting. In addition to his own regiment, Colonel Jones had under his command a section of Captain Leake's Virginia battery, which on several occasions during the day was effectively employed against the enemy's columns, under Captain Leake in person. Forty cavalry, under Major Oswald and Captain Evans, and four companies of the Twelfth South Carolina Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes commanding) Colonel Dunovant being in attendance at the session of the State Convention in Columbia), were moved forward with as much dispatch as possible. Colonel Barnes arrived in time to assist in opening the first fire on the enemy's forces.

To the reports of these officers (Colonel Jones and Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes) I respectfully refer for details of the operations of their respective corps, though during the engagement Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes acted under the immediate orders of his superior.

A large portion of the Tennessee brigade, under Brigadier-General Donelson, and Thornton's Virginia field battery were also ordered forward to the support of Colonel Jones. They did not, however, reach the field in time to take part in the action; though moved with the utmost promptitude, the brigade was disappointed in its desire to meet the enemy. I respectfully refer to General Donelson's report, herewith.

During the day and succeeding night I was in frequent communication with Major C. Jones, commanding a detachment of three companies of his regiment (Twelfth South Carolina Volunteers) and a section of Leake's battery, near Page's Point, and in observation of Cunningham's Bluff. The enemy, though expending a large number of shot and shell, did not further damage than to burn the wood work of a battery which I was about completing, but for which I had not been able to obtain guns. Major Jones' report is respectfully forwarded herewith.

Although the enemy did not land in force at Page's Point or Cunningham's Bluff, it was entirely practicable for him to have done so under cover of his gunboats at any time. This compelled me to hold in reserve