found the town entirely deserted, however, although there was every evidence that a portion of the inhabitants and the enemy's cavalry had just left. I remained here only long enough for the infantry to come up, but pushed on up the river to Crowell's plantation and Godsden's Bluff, where I had learned there were extensive salt-works. Immediately after leaving the wharf we discovered some 200 cavalry and a body of infantry rapidly retreating down the Hardeeville road, which was skirted toward us. We opened fire upon them from all our guns, and I am convinced most effectively; our shell exploded very frequently directly among them, and there was soon a perfect stampede. I feel certain that their loss in killed and wounded must have been very considerable. We continued firing until they were entirely out of sight and range, by which time we had reached Crowell's plantation, which had been left by its owner half an hour before.
The salt-works here we completely demolished, tearing down the furnaces and vats and destroying the kettles. Some contrabands made their appearance, who pointed out the location of other salt-works just above, which we also destroyed. These last were very extensive, the vats extending for more than a quarter of a mile. The yield of salt must have been very great. Meanwhile the enemy again made his appearance on high bluff a mile distant with a piece of artillery drawn by fur horses, but upon the first discharge of our guns they beat a most precipitate retreat. As we had fully accomplished the object of our expedition, and nothing more remained to be done, we returned to Fort Pulaski.
On our way down we stopped again at Bluffton, and carried off a considerable quantity of furniture from the deserted houses, which is now at this post, subject to the disposal of the general commanding.
In behalf of my officers and myself I would respectfully request that we be permitted to retain those articles for our use while at this post. The reconnaissance made of the roads to and beyond Bluffton was most complete and perfect, and I trust at some future time may prove useful in future operations toward Savannah. All the roads before evidence of the confused retreat of the enemy. I learned among other things that the force at hardeeville does not consist of over three regiments, and that there are two not very formidable batteries between Bluffton and that place, both on the main road.
It afford me pleasure to add that the officers and men of my command conducted themselves during the day in the most commendable manner, embarking and disembarking in perfect order and with great promptness. They were only disappointed that they did not get a nearer view of the enemy.
I would mention as especially deserving of commendation Captain Strickland, who commanded the land forces, and Captain Coan, in charge of skirmishers, both of Forty-eighth New York State Volunteers; also Captain Gould and Lieutenant Fry, Third Rhoda Island Artillery, for their excellent gunnery. Adjt. A. W. Goodell, of my regiment, also rendered me efficient aid.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. B. BARTON,
Colonel Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, Commanding Post.
Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of Staff.