At 3 p. m. 7th instant the attack upon Fort Sumter by the iron-clads was made, our fleet remaining in action about two and a half hours under the most terrific fire. Immediately after the conclusion of the attack the admiral reported by signals to General Hunter the result of the engagement as follows:
To General HUNTER:
Delayed in getting under way be accident, orders not reaching the leading ship.
We attempted to pass into the inner channel, but were obliged to anchor to prevent going ashore. Engaged the forts, but found it too late to continue. Casualties few. One iron-clad disabled; two partially so. Ironsides very slightly; struck very often. Please inform senior naval officers.
The succeeding day General Hunter was informed by signals that the attack would be renewed as soon as the disabled iron-clads were in order. We awaited such movements until the afternoon, when I receive from Lieutenant Town a confidential dispatch to the effect that no further engagement would take place for the present. This information I gave unofficially to General Hunter, being, I suppose, the first notice he has received of such determination on the part of the admiral. In the afternoon General Hunter left the Ben De Ford, and in a small boat went to Stono.
Morning of the 9th the Ben De Ford also sailed for Stono with dispatches for the general. From this date to the 11th we remained outside Stono Bar, communication by signals being constructly kept up with the troops upon Folly Island and with the troops outside the Stono.
On the 11th the general again came on board the Ben De Ford and sailed for Port Royal, followed by all the land forces with the exception of one brigade left in possession of Folly Island and one brigade at Edisto. Signal officers remained with these forces. A line is established from one end of Folly Island to the other at Edisto between the gunboats and land forces.
Officers and men without exception performed their duty during this expedition to my entire satisfaction.
Lieutenant Town, upon the Ironsides, was at all times diligent, and rendered much valuable service to the naval forces. The accompanying copy of a letter from the admiral sufficiently vouches for his efficiency.
Lieutenant Stroop, upon the Canindaigua, was also energetic and faithful in the performance of his duties. Copy of letter from Admiral DuPont to him also inclosed.
Lieutenant Snyder upon the Ben De Ford, Dana with General Seymour, appreciation of the responsibility of their positions. Other officers perhaps were equally diligent, but their positions not such as to bring their energies into requisition.
No brilliant service was performed by either officers or men. Lieutenant Town showed much bravery under fire, and his men, Cornelius Colter and John McLaughlin, Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, are deserving of credit for the faithful performance of duty.
Accompanying this I forward sketch of the position of our iron-clads and the batteries of the enemy.*
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY S. TAFET,
Captain and Chief Signal Officer, Department of the South.
Major A. J. MYER,
Signal Officer, U. S. Army.