War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0151 Chapter XXVI. SKIRMISH AT COOSAWHATCHIE, S.C., ETC.

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swamp in front, passable only by a narrow causeway, on which the bridge had been destroyed, while, on our side of the swamp and along the entire front and flanks of the enemy (extending to the swamps), was an impervious thicket, intersected by a deep water-ditch, and passable only by a narrow road. Into this wood the rebels threw a most terrific fire of grape, shot, shell, canister, and musket balls, killing and wounding great numbers of my command. Here the ammunition for the field pieces fell short, and, though, the infantry acted with great courage and determination, they were twice driven out of the woods with great slaughter by the overwhelming fire of the enemy, whose missiles tore through the woods like hail. I had warmly responded to this fire with the sections of First and Third U. S. Artillery and the boat howitzers until, finding my ammunition about to fail, and seeing that any flank movement was impossible, I pressed the First Brigade forward through the thicket to the verge of the swamp, and sent the section of First U. S. Artillery, well supported, to the causeway of the wood on the farther side, leaving the Second Brigade, with Colonel Brown's command, the section of Third U. S. Artillery, and the boat howitzers as a line of defense in my rear. The effect of this bold movement was immediately evident in the precipitate retreat of the rebels, who disappeared in the woods with amazing rapidity. The infantry of the First Brigade immediately plunged through the swamp (parts of which were nearly up to their arm-pits) and started in pursuit. Some delay was caused by the bridge having been destroyed, impeding the passage of the artillery. This difficulty was overcome, and with my full force I pressed forward on the retreating rebels. At this point (apprehending, from the facility which the rebels possessed of heading Pocataligo Creek, that they would attempt to turn my left flank) I sent an infantry regiment, with a boat howitzer, to my left, to strike the Coosawhatchie road.

The position which I had found proved, as I had supposed, to be one of great natural advantage to the rebels, the ground being higher on that side of the swamp, and having a firm, open field for the working of their artillery, which latter they formed in a half circle, throwing a concentrated fire on the entrance to the wood we had first passed.

The rebels left in their retreat a caisson full of ammunition, which latter, fortunately, fitting the boat howitzers, enabled us, at a later period of the day, to keep up our fire when all other ammunition had failed.

Still pursuing the flying rebels, I arrived at that point where the Coosawhatchie road (joining that from Mackay's Landing) runs through a swamp to Pocotaligo Bridge. Here the rebels opened a murderous fire upon us from batteries of siege guns and field pieces on the farther side of the creek. Our skirmishers, however, advanced boldly to the edge of the swamp, and from what cover they could obtain, did considerable execution among the enemy. The rebels, as I had anticipated, attempted a flank movement on our left, but for some reason abandoned it. The ammunition of the artillery here entirely failed, owing to the caissons not having been brought on, for the want of transportation from Port Royal, and the pieces had to be sent back to Mackay's Point, a distance of 10 miles, to renew it.

The bridge across the Pocotaligo was destroyed, and the rebels from behind their earthworks continued on the only approach to it, through the swamp. Night was now closing fast, and seeing the utter hopelessness of attempting anything further against the force which the enemy had concentrated at this point from Savannah and Charleston, with an army of much inferior force, unprovided with ammunition, and