my regiment, under command of Captains Liles and Knight, with two pieces of artillery, one 24-pounder navy howitzer, and one 18-pounder field gun, the whole force, including the artillery, under Captain Liles, he being the senior officer present. Under an order from you to proceed to Ashby's Landing I arrived there at 12 m. on the 6th, and discovered by aid of a glass a large number of the enemy's fleet, consisting of steam and sail vessels, then apparently lying at anchor at a point 10 miles below the southern point of the island. I left Ashby's at 2 p.m.. and met you, in company with Captain Taylor,of the Navy, and reported the information I had received.
Upon your return to the camp I received an order from you to prepare one day's rations for all the available forces under my command, with the exception of one company, which was to be left in charge of the camp, and that portion of Captain Godwin's company which was then in quarters and which your ordered to be sent to the western side of the sound, at a point called Fort Forrest, then in charge of Captain Whitty, with instructions to Captain Godwin to support Captain Whitty in protecting that point. The remaining portion of my available forces, with one day's provisions, was ordered to take up the line of march to Ashby's Landing or that vicinity. On arriving at Suple's Hill, about a mile and a half above this landing, the forces were ordered to bivouac for the night.
At a very early hour on the morning of the 7th myself, in company with Major Yeates, proceeded to the landing, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel Fowle in charge of the forces at Suple's Hill,with a view of making further preparation to meet the enemy should a landing be attempted at that point.
About 10 a.m.. I perceived that the enemy's fleet was in motion, advancing up the sound, and at about 11.45 o'clock the leading steamer opened fire upon Fort Bartow. About 3 p.m.. the engagement became general upon the part of the enemy's vessels against Fort Bartow. At about 4 p.m.. a small boat, containing about 15 men, left one of the transports of the enemy, apparently with a view of taking soundings at Hammond's Landing, about half a mile above Ashby's. As the boat approached the land I detailed a force of 25, under command of Captain Liles, to intercept it. The party in the boat had effected a landing, when Captain Liles ordered the men under his command to fire upon them, by which fire it has since been ascertained that 3 of the enemy were killed and 1 wounded. The remainder immediately retreated to the vessel in the sound. About 5 o'clock a large steamer and a number of smaller boats, carrying a force estimated at 8,000 or 10,000 men, with several pieces of artillery,and under cover of the gunboats in the sound, was seen approaching Hammond's Landing, between which and the point occupied by my forces lay a large marsh impassable by artillery. Having no horses for our artillery, fearing that we might be cut off, or at least that the shells from the enemy's guns in the sound might confuse and disconcert the men under my command and cause the eventual loss of the field pieces, which you enjoined upon me at all hazards to save, I considered it judicious to order a retreat. The infantry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Fowle, was placed in rear of the artillery to protect it, and all the forces retired in good order to a redoubt thrown across the main road one mile and a quarter above Ashby's, where the guns were placed in battery, the 18-pounder on the left and the howitzer on the right, under command of Captain Schermerhorn and Lieutenant Kinney, and a 6-pounder occupying the center, under command of Lieutenant Selden. The gun detach-