section of country. The few men composing the picket at Combahee Ferry, taking position at the breastwork at the head of the causeway and firing down it, would have kept at bay a larger force then came to Colonel Heyward';s, or at least would have delayed it until aid should reach them to drive them back to their boats, and would, from their position, have been in little actual danger from the shell of the enemy (1 1/4 miles distant); indeed this work was almost a complete protection to them and to the party of Lieutenant Bredeen, who, according to his report, retired from it when the boats commenced shelling. No commissioned officer seems to have been within reach of them to aid and advise them, and Lieutenant Hewitt, who, upon receiving notice from the courier, should have promptly repaired to them for that purpose, appears from his own report to have lost that valuable time in awaiting the return of his courier from Major Emanuel. It is difficult to get at any accurate history of the detailed movements of the separate commands, except Lieutenant Breeden's; the reports of the commanders are very brief. The only successful effort made seems to have been the driving of a party of the enemy into Mr. Middleton's mill, and they were allowed to escape for want of support to an artillery piece, which eventually came near losing that piece, and would doubtless have so resulted had the enemy been enterprising; and Captain Godbold reports having driven the enemy to the cover of their boats, and yet that enemy is found in ambush, to fire upon a small party in advance of the position to which Captain Godbold had retired, too remote to be in sound of the fire, or at least to tender assistance to the small party of Major Emanuel in the engagement from which he retired, and which it also seems started the enemy back to their boats.
The statements of witnesses, of to be credited, reflect most severely upon the conduct of Lieutenant Bredeen and his command. From an accurate and searching investigation of the facts from every available source and from an accurate examination of the localities and positions it is my duty to report the results of this raid as mortifying and humiliating to our arms, and while I do not believe that from the time the reports reached the camp the property of Messrs. Nickols and Kirkland and other gentleman low down on the river could have been saved, nor could the forces of Major Emanuel have averted the destruction at Mr. William Middleton's, yet that of Colonel Heyward and Mr. Charles Lowndes, with intelligent and bold activity on the part of these forces, I think would have been saved or a great portion of it. The artillery at Tar Bluff, supported by one company of cavalry and the other company active in squads against the various small and scattered raiding parties, would have resulted, I am forced to think, in the preservation of much valuable private property and in the severe punishment of the enemy.
From reports which I could not very clearly follow up it is by no means certain that the Field's Point picket were not aware of the presence of the boats the night preceding at or about 11 p. m., and failed to give the notice, alleging that they had been cautioned against false alarms, and thought they might be our own boats.
The Combahee Ferry picket should unquestionably have seen these boats and given the notice from one to two hours sooner than reported had they been alert and vigilant and properly instructed as to the course of the river and the proper point of lookout.
Major Emanuel seems to have taken no fixed position, nor to have commanded any portion of his troops, but to have moved unattended
20 R R - VOL XIV