O'Rorke reported the upper end of Long Island favorable for batteries, the surface being fully as high as that at Venus Point.
The following extracts from my journal furnish a portion of the history of the operations on Jones Island and the Savannah River for the investment of Fort Pulaski, and may be properly introduced into this report:
Extracts from journal of Brigadier-General Gillmore, chief engineer Expeditionary Corps.
February 1, 2, 3, and 4. - The two engineer companies on Daufuskie Island, commanded by Captain Sears, were employed in cutting poles for a causeway on Jones Island from Mud River to Venus Point, and for the engineer wharf on Daufuskie Island, New River.
On the 4th, the wharf with 8 feet of water at low tide, was completed. Ten thousand poles, 5 to 6 inches in diameter and 9 feet long, had been cut on Daufuskie Island, and 1,900 of them deposited at the wharf. The men of the Forty-eighth New York and Seventh Connecticut Volunteers transported the poles on their shoulders, the average distance carried being 1 mile. At the suggestion of Captain Sears I had a swath cut and cleared of reeds and grass across the upper end of Jones Island, to prevent the enemy burning the island over.
Navy officers were engaged in sounding Mud and Wright Rivers. No certainty as yet that the gunboats will enter the Savannah River. Mud River has about one and one-half feet of water in it at the extreme low tide, with a very soft (almost semi-fluid) bottom. Sounding in Wright River are not completed yet.
February 5 and 6. - Nothing specially new. Engineer force engaged in cutting poles, filling sand bags on Daufuskie Island, building a temporary wharf of poles and sand bags on Mud River, and constructing a wheelbarrow track of planks laid end to end from Venus Point to Mud River Wharf. The Forty-eighth New York, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, and a portion of the engineer forces engaged in transporting poles and planks and carrying filled sand bags from Daufuskie Island to Jones Island (a distance of about 4 miles) in row-boats.
February 7 and 8. - Finished temporary wharf on Mud River. Carried several hundred filled sand bags across to Venus Point; also a quantity of planks and other battery materials. Had the balance of the engineer materials required for the Venus Point battery put into lighters, so as to be ready whenever the gunboats should move. There appears to be no immediate prospect of their moving.
February 9. - I visited Commander Rodgers to consult in regard to his moving into the Savannah. He said he intended to attempt the Mud River passage that night on the high tide. The signal for his starting would be one note from his steam-whistle. Returned to Daufuskie and consulted with General Viele and Captain Hamilton, the chief of artillery. It was arranged that the flats, with the guns and ammunition on them, should be towed by the steamer Mayflower through Wall's Cut and up Mud River into the Savannah, just behind the gunboats. They were accordingly taken in tow in the evening after dark from the engineer wharf. The night was windy, rainy, and very dark. The Mayflower, after several attempts, failed to reach Wall's Cut, and cast anchor near the spot she started from. The gunboats did not move on account of the weather.
February 10. - The gunboats Pembina and Unadilla are at anchor in Wright River, near Wall's Cut. The gunboat Hale has taken up position in Mud River about 200 yards to the eastward of the temporary wharf, in order to protect the landing and cover us if driven back. Captain Hamilton quite ill from last night's exposure in the Mayflower. I consulted with General Viele in the afternoon, and it was determined to establish the Venus Point battery at once, and wait no longer for the gunboats to go ahead of us. Orders from General Sherman to that effect were subsequently received that same evening, also to effect this by landing the guns on Jones Island from Mud River and hauling them over the marsh instead of towing them into the Savannah in flats, as first contemplated. Major Beard, Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, and Lieutenant J. H. Wilson, Topographical Engineers, volunteered to assist Lieutenant Horace Porter, the ordnance officer, in getting the flats into Mud River and the guns on shore and into position. Accordingly the flats with the guns were towed by our row-boats up the river against the tide and landed without accident. Two of them were taken about 300 yards into the marsh by Lieutenant Wilson. The Forty-eighth New York Volunteers furnished the fatigue parties, which had already been twenty-four hours at work on Jones Island and were very much exhausted. Deeming it impossible to get the guns over that night, I directed them to be covered with reeds and grass, to prevent their discovery by the enemy, and left there until the following night.
During the night of the 10th, Lieutenant O'Rorke, of the Engineers, with a party of volunteer engineers, commenced the magazine and gun platforms at Venus Point.