SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 3, 1862,-Reconnaissances on May and Savannah Rivers, Ga.
Numbers 1.-Major General Ormsby M. Mitchel, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the South.
Numbers 2.-Colonel William B. Barton, Forty-eight New York Infantry.
Numbers 1. Report of Major General Ormsby M. Mitchel, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the South.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., October 5, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the result of several minor expeditions which have been ordered our in this department since my last communication:
On the morning of the 30th ultimo Colonel W. B. Barton, Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, left Fort Pulaski with two transports, the Planter and Starlight, which have been temporarily armed, and with a force of about 500 infantry from his own regiment. The object was to surprise the enemy at Bluffton, on May River, and to destroy extensive salt-works in the vicinity of the town. The troops were successfully landed, but the enemy's pickets, giving intelligence of our approach, the enemy hastily evacuated the place, but did not succeed in escaping the shot and shell which were thrown which the Planter was armed. Very extensive salt-works, the range of vats reaching more than a quartet of a mile, with all their kettles and furnaces, were completely demolished, while a most valuable reconnaissance was made of the region in the direction of Hardeeville, on the Savannah and Charleston Railroad.
On the morning of the 1st [3rd] instant Colonel Barton, in command of the same steamers, moved from Fort Pulaski up the Savannah River to a point a short distance beyond the second Coast Survey station on Elba Island. The object intended to be gained was to make a reconnaissance up the river in the direction of Fort Jackson, and to destroy, if possible, some of the rebel steamers in use upon the obstructions now being placed in the river. On reaching the point above indicated fire was opened upon the steamers of the enemy, which got up steam and retreated as rapidly as possible under cover of Fort Jackson. After a short time three of the steamers again came out and attempted to make fast to the iron-clad battery, which is anchored about 500 yards below the fort. The rapidity and accuracy of our fire drove the boats from tea floating battery back to the fort, while some of our shells reached and exploded in or over the fort itself. While our boats were engaged in firing upon the steamers of the enemy a rebel battery, upon D's Bluff, opened fire upon them, but a few shots from our long guns silenced them, and, it is supposed, inflicted some damage upon a regiment of infantry encamped near and in the earthwork. This reconnaissance seems to have produced great commotion in the city of Savannah, as the house-tops were soon covered with a multitude of spectators. From the facts developed by Colonel Barton I am inclined to believe that a join attack upon Savannah by the Army and Navy would be crowned with success.