War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0049 Chapter XXVI. ENGAGEMENT OF SECESSIONVILLE, S. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

garrison, and endeavor to weaken its defenses by a continuous fire of the battery and of the gunboats; that in the mean time we should carefully survey the ground and prepare our troops, and make the attack when the battery and the boats had had the desired effect. I closed by saying that under such circumstances I could do move with 2,000 men than I could with 3,000 men in the way he proposed. General Wright, moreover, warned General Benham that his orders were in fact orders to fight a battle. In this General Williams and myself in express terms concurred. General Benham, however, overruled all our objections, and peremptorily ordered the attack to be made. I assured him, as did the other gentlemen, that he should rely upon my promptitude and activity in obeying his orders, but I considered myself as obeying orders to which I had expressed the strongest possible objections, and I therefore determined there should not be the least want of energy or promptitude on my part.

2. It has been charged that I was behind time. This is not true. I was exceedingly prompt and up to time. The orders were to move at 4 o'clock. My division was formed at 2 o'clock, and was at the outer picket before 3.30 o'clock. It was a very dark an cloudy morning. I moved at 4 o'clock. It was so dark that one man could not follow another except at every short intervals. It was much darker than on usual straight nights. My men were at the enemy's works about 4.30 o'clock, and the conflict of twenty-five minutes, so dreadful in it casualties, was over, and the men returned at 5 o'clock. Porter's section of Rockwell's battery advanced to the hedge within 500 yards of the enemy's works with the troops of Fenton's brigade; fired above 100 shots from his two guns; was joined in the midst of his fire by one piece of Seward's section (a rifled gun), which fired 26 shots, and the three guns were withdrawn to the second hedge and actually there reopened fire at 5 o'clock. The watch was actually consulted by one of Rockwell's sergeant at the very moment, and it was exactly 5 o'clock.

In my official report I have stated that the sharp conflict was from 5 to 5.30. I am perfectly satisfied that it occurred between 4.30 and 5. The men moved very rapidly from the picket to the work-much of the time at the double-quick, and they moved that distance in about half an hour.

3. It has been stated that my regiments were not within supporting distance of each other. This is a great mistake. They followed each other closely. There was not a pause in the movement. They entered successively under fire without hesitation. They entered necessarily in the following order: Eighth Michigan, Seventh Connecticut, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, Seventy-ninth (Highlanders), One hundredth Pennsylvania, and Forty-sixth New York. They moved at first by the flank on the road to avoid detaches and hedges and the rough cotton furrows, and they necessarily marched one behind the other. As they came into the field before the work they pushed forward by regiments into line of battle and entered the close fire.

I have mentioned how Rockwell's battery pushed up. Quite a number of the Eighth Michigan and Seventy-ninth (Highlanders) gained the ditch and parapet of the work. All the regiments pushed close up to the work, and more or less men of each made lodgments at the marsh and abatis on either side. The Seventy-ninth Highlanders went into fire the fourth regiment. They passed by the Seventh Connecticut and

4 R R-VOL XIV