War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0084 COASTS OF S.C., GA., AND MIDDLE AND EAST FLA. Chapter XV.

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one of the others. The remaining three proceeded on to Fort Pulaski. All were represented to have had barges in tow. In the afternoon, while Captain Rodgers and myself were on shore at the plantation of Scriven and Gibson, the three rebel boats last referred to returned up the river, and the firing recommenced, but the boats got past apparently without serious damage, and reached Savannah. This firing, though no part of the plan, was very instructive in connection with any project for cutting off Fort Pulaski by batteries on Wilmington Island or by gunboats lying at or below the obstructions. It showed conclusively to my mind that steamers risk, even under so heavy and well-directed a fire as that delivered by our gunboats. The position from which to cut off communication between the fort and Savannah by way of the river must therefore be sought higher up.

The plat of the courses of the stream would indicate that it empties directly into the Savannah River, and not into Saint Augustine Creek, as had been supposed, and other circumstances would seem to confirm this conclusion, though contrary to some of the evidence obtained. However this may be, there is no doubt that the stream we followed gradually approaches the river, from which it can be separated only by a narrow strip of the marsh at the point reached by us in the boat. A position might, therefore, be taken up by the gunboats, after removing the obstructions, from which the river might be commanded, and it is quite possible that the headland alluded to as just above the point reached by us would permit the establishment of a battery which would command both the Saint Augustine Creek and the Savannah River.

Wilmington Island, as a simple military position, is, in my judgment, of no importance whatever, and any troops landed there could be of no real service. But should it be decided to cut off all communication by the Savannah River, either by gunboats stationed above or by the establishment of the battery alluded to, or by both, then the occupation of the island becomes a matter of high importance, as in this way only can the line of communication with our base be kept open. Should it therefore be decided to intercept the river communication in this way, or to use the passage in any ulterior movements on Savannah, I would recommend the occupation of the island in force; otherwise not. The portion of the island above Gibson's is marshy for one and a half to two miles back from the bank of the creek, and therefore no battery could, I think, be established by the enemy at any point above Gibson's which could seriously annoy our gunboats. The portion of the island below the plantations is also marshy.

Having made the reconnaissance as above detailed, the gunboats returned to Warsaw Sound, and after consultation with Captain Davis, whose ordered required him to return and report, I thought it best to return with him and report in person. I accordingly arrived here in the Ottawa just before sunset this evening, leaving the transports and the three other gunboats at anchor in the sound. I should have stated our nearest approach to Fort Pulaski was within long range-say 2 miles-while the distance from the fort to our anchorage near the obstructions was much greater and entirely beyond range.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. G. WRIGHT,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain L. H. PELOUZE,

Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Exped'y Corps, Hilton Head, S. C.