end of Pinckney Island, with 35 men of the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, under command of Lieutenant Miller, and a detachment of Company G, Third Rhode Island Volunteer Artillery, in charge of Lieutenant Fry, on board steamer Planter, I proceeded through Calibogue Sound to Skull Creek, opposite the point referred to. when the steamer was yet some 4 miles distant the greater portion of the party retired, leaving only a picket of some 3 or 4 men, who fled in the greatest haste at the first discharge from our guns. I continued shelling them until they were out of range, when, by my direction, Lieutenant Miller, with his party, landed, securing saddles, bridles, holsters, pistols, rifles, coasts, blankets, ammunition, rations, &c., belonging to the picket and bringing them on board the steamer. The picket at this point were formerly very annoying to the troops on outpost duty on Hilton Head, and were once or twice shelled out by direction of General Hunter and the buildings burned, since which they have appeared only at intervals. I have reason to believe that if the tug Starlight was placed at my disposal for a few days I could greatly injure, and perhaps destroy, two of the enemy's steamers which are daily anchored in the Savannah River just inside Four Mile Point. These boats come down from Savannah every morning at about 7 o'clock to convey laborers, who are employed upon the obstructions in the river, come to anchor, and lie without steam until 7 p. m. This I know from personal observation and the statements of deserters, contrabands, &c., who have recently come within our lines. With the Planter and Starlight I could take a position our of range of the enemy's batteries and, I think, inflict serious damage upon the boats referred to.
May I respectfully request that the Starlight be sent to report to me temporarily, and that the permission of the major-general commanding be given me to make the attempt as above? With the same boats and five companies of my own reigment (which would leave five companies in the fort) I could greatly annoy the enemy by proceeding up the Bluffton River to the village of that name, and shelling a considerable rebel force now encamped there and destroying extensive salt-works 2 miles above. Neither of these little expeditions would involve much, if any, risk, and would necessitate the weakening of the garrison at Pulaski for only a few hours, and that in the day-time. I would like very much to undertake them. I send herewith several taken here, as well as the deserters themselves. The report of the latter as to the number of men in and around Savannah I deem entirely unreliable, as on being closely questioned they fail to show more than from 3,000 to 5,000 troops there.
I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. B. BARTON,
Colonel Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, Commanding Post.
Major W. P. PRENTICE,