action of the 7th instant between the enemy's fleet of iron-clad war vessels and the fort and batteries on this island:
At about 2 o'clock p. m. on that day it was reported to me that the movements of the fleet which had been for some anchored within the bar were suspicious, and that some of the vessels appeared to be advancing. So stealthily did they approach, however, that not until 2.30 o'clock did I become convinced that the long-threatened attack was about to begin. I immediately repaired to Fort Moultrie, where I had previously determined to make my headquarters during the action. Slowly, but Channel in single file, the Passaic (it is believed) in the van, followed by the rest (eight in number) at equal distances, the flag-ship, New Ironside, occupying the center. At 3 o'clock Colonel William Butler, commanding in the fort, reported to me that the leading ship was in range. I ordered him immediately to open his batteries upon her, which was done promptly, and the action began. Fearing that the range was rather long for effective work, the firing after a few rounds was suspended for a short time; but finding that the enemy refused closer quarters, there was no alternative but to engage him at long range or not at all. We decided upon the former, and Fort Moultire again opened her batteries. Batteries Bee and Beauregard had also by this time opened fire, and the action had become general. It soon became orders were given to "train" on vessels nearest in and to fire by battery. Volley after volley was delivered in this way, but although it was plain that our shot repeatedly took effect-their impact against the iron casing of the enemy being distinctly heard and seen-yet we could not discover but that the foe was indeed invulnerable.
At about 5.30 o'clock p. m., or after the action had lasted about two hours and a half, the enemy slowly, as he had advanced, withdrew from the contest, apparently unharmed, so far at least as his powers of locomotion went. Subsequent events have happily revealed the fact that one at least of our enemy's "invulnerable" has given proof that brick walls and earthen parapets still hold the mastery.
The nearest that the enemy ventured at any time to Fort Moultrie was estimated at 1,000 yards; to Battery Bee, 1,600 yards; to Battery Beauregard, 1,400 yards.
Fort Moultrie was garrisoned by detachment from the First Regiment South Carolina Regular Infantry, Colonel William Butler commanding, assisted by Major T. M. Baker, and consisted of the following companies; Company A, Captain T. A. Huguenin; Company E, Captain R. Press. Smith, jr.; Company F, Captain B. S. Burnet; Company G, First Lieutenant E. A. Erwin commanding; Company K, Captain C. H. Rivers.
Battery Bee was garrisoned by Colonel J. C. Simkins, and consisted the same regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Simkins, and consisted of the following companies; Company C, Captain Robert De Treville; Company H, Captain Warren Adams; Company I, Captain W. T. Taton. Colonel L. M. Keitt, Twentieth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, by my consent, took post at Battery Bee and remained there during the action.
Battery Beauregard was under the command of Captain J. A. Sitgreaves, First South Carolina Regular Artillery, and was garrisoned by the following companies: Company K, First South Carolina Regular Artillery, First Lieutenant W. E. Erwin commanding; Company B, First South Carolina Regular Infantry, Captain J. H. Warley commanding.
It gives me pleasure to have it in my power to report that not a single