ities, for such an operation, and the propriety of confining ourselves with our present means to establishing a firm and secure base on the coast, and thus be prepared for any ulterior movements inland that the service may demand.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. SHERMAN,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Expedition.
OFFICE CHIEF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEER E. C.,
Hilton Head, S. C., November 25, 1861.
Captain LOUIS H. PELOUZE,
Fifteenth Infantry, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
SIR: In accordance with instructions from General Sherman, I have examined the ferries from this island to the main-land, situated at Ferry Point and Spanish Wells, and have to report as follows:
The distance from Ferry Point to the large white house opposite is 2,714 yards, or 1.54 miles. The landing on this side is tolerably good, the slope of the beach being sufficiently abrupt to allow small boats to land, and vessels of 15 feet draught to come within 50 yards of the shore; but from the intermixture of sand and mud it is hardly firm enough for anything but infantry to march upon. The shape of the point and the approaches to it are such that a small body of men could easily prevent the landing of a hostile force. A flat or marsh 600 yards wide, at the large white house, extends entirely around the south point of the main-land between May River and the small creek on the east side of the ferry, thus rendering the debarkation of troops in numbers on the main impracticable. At high tide small boats can be run over the flat in front of the house and infantry landed, but at low tide the only means of approaching the shore is by a small slough running nearly east through the flat. In this way one or two boats at a time can be pushed to within 200 yards of the house, but the men can only reach the solid ground by bogging through the mud. The negroes living on the adjacent plantations inform me that this ferry is only used at high tide, and at such times men, horses, and carriages can be crossed in light-draught scows.
Spanish Wells is situated opposite the mouth of May River. It has a good landing, on a tolerably firm sand beach, and deep water at 50 yards from shore. The first landing on the main is up May River, distant about 5 miles, at a point in front of the farm-houses of Mrs. Calk. At this place boats of considerable draught can lie alongside the shore, and land men by putting out the ordinary stage-planks. The channel all the way is deep enough for boats drawing 15 feet. This place is in every way suitable for a steam ferry. Its communications with Hilton Head are by the usual roads of the island.
The rebel picket of six or eight horsemen did not attempt to resist our landing at Buckingham Ferry, but fled upon our approach. Shortly afterwards the cotton-house on an adjoining plantation, said to belong to a Mr. Baynard, was observed to be on fire, and later in the evening one owned by Mrs. Calk was also set on fire and burned. The pickets on the main-land, stationed at the places of exit, seemed to be intended to keep the negroes from running off rather than to prevent our approach.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. WILSON,
First Lieutenant, Top. Eng., Chief Top. Eng. Exp'y Corps.