the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, and actually supported at the parapet, as every one admits, the Eighth Michigan. They passed those regiments, too, within less than 200 yards of the enemy work.
The Highlanders have been in many battles and skirmishes, are very expert in drill, and are indeed old soldiers. If they were in supporting distance certainly the Seventh Connecticut and the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts were, but the terrible fire of grape, canister, and musketry from the front, and the rifle-fire of sharpshooters from the flanks, poured upon the several regiments as they were passing on in line to the very neck of land on which the enemy's work is situated,and which is stated by them to be only 30 yards wide. Large portions of each regiment were thus thrown on the marsh on either hand and were unable to go forward. The succeeding regiments in pushing forward became intermingled with them, and the only alternative was to retire the regiments to reform them.
The very thing happened which is to be feared in such an attempt. When it is recollected that in twenty-five minutes every one of my regiments passed the advanced hedge, pushed clear up or nearly clair up to the detach, made the best fight they could, and were withdrawn by my positive orders to the same advanced hedge again, losing over 500 men, every regiment suffering largely and two regiments terribly, there can be no doubt but they followed each other closely. The fault is not in my orders or arrangements, but in having a fight there at all under such circumstances.
4. So rapid and prompt were the operations of my division that I was hard at work reforming my troops before Williams' advance came in sight, and I was afterwards ready with all my battalions in line of battle to move to the assault of the works the second time whenever General Benham should give the order.
This I announced to General Benham by Captain Elwell, his aide, and by offices of my own staff. At this very juncture General Benham withdrew Williams, and as stated in my official report, at a subsequent period ordered me to withdrawn.
5. All the above facts I can establish by the most incontrovertible testimony. I have entered the service with the earnest purpose of doing my duty, and submit the above statements to show that I was prompt and faithful to my orders on the day of the 16th.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ISAAC I. STEVENS,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
Major General D. HUNTER,
Commanding Department of the South, Hilton Head, S. C.