MAY 18-21, 1863.-Torpedo operations in Skull Creek and skirmish at Pope's Island, S. C.
Report of Captain J. H. Mickler, Eleventh South Carolina Infantry.
BLUFFTON, S. C., May 25, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: I avail myself of the earliest opportunity to report the services of my command, which has been engaged from time to time for several weeks in arranging for the sinking of torpedoes in Skull Creek, with the view of destroying the enemy's vessels, which are constantly passing through this thoroughfare. The labor was very great, and the work of locating them after they were got ready proved to be both difficult and dangerous. I am happy to report, however, that in conjunction with Captain Gray, who was in charge of the work, the torpedoes were placed in position on Tuesday night last, 18th instant, without any casualty whatever. On Wednesday night, with three boats and 28 men, I attempted a landing on Pope's Island, opposite Buckingham, draw a gunboat through from Broad River to test our experiment than otherwise. When within 50 yards of the shore the foremost boat was hailed by a picket, to which I replied with a few rounds of buckshot, which caused them to retire precipitately. I was fired upon in turn from the next post to the left, with whom I had a sharp skirmish for fifteen or twenty minutes from my boats as I withdrew. I could distinctly hear the commotion on the island. I then reconnoitered the shore line nearly as far down as Braddock's Point, frequently exchanging shots with the enemy. We kept up our feint for several hours and returned, without, however, bringing about the desired result.
On Thursday night I secreted myself and 4 men in a hammock, known as Buck Island, where I remained all day Friday. I had ample opportunity of noticing the movements of the enemy. On Thursday night and Friday could hear the grand rounds halted apparently every hundred yards; heard the officer enjoining the utmost vigilance on the part of the sentinels, and from observations on Friday I should say that they have largely increased their outposts. The shore line of Hilton Head seems to be closely guarded; the sentinels walking post from one to the other as regularly as a camp guard. They also have re-enforcements near at hand, as we could see their tents in some places. On Friday, about 3 o'clock p. m., a large barge with a pleasure party came in near and stood directly for our place of concealment (which is a part of the Spanish Wells tract, between Broad Creek and Calibogue River). I fully expected to get the fine boat and crew; but unfortunately the regular dispatch steamer Island City was approaching from Skull Creek, both boats passing about the same time, and I was compelled to remain quiet. A more favorable opportunity I hope may offer very soon. I venture to suggest that a rifled cannon of sufficient range be placed at Buckingham, with the view of firing upon and sinking, if possible, the enemy's light-draught steamers that carry dispatches from post to post. This would certainly bring a gunboat through Skull Creek of sufficient draught to explode our torpedoes, and might produce some advantageous results to us.
The men of my command were always prompt and energetic in the discharge of the most exposed duties, and I am happy that I have not