JUNE 4, 1863.- Expedition from Fort Pulaski, Ga., to Bluffton, S. C.
Numbers 1.- Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Johnson, Third South Carolina Cavalry, commanding post.
Numbers 2.- Captain John F. Lay, Assistant Adjutant-General, C. S. Army, Inspector of Cavalry.
Numbers 1. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Johnson, Third South Carolina Cavalry, commanding post.
HDQRS. DETACHMENT THIRD SOUTH CAROLINA CAVALRY,
Camp Lay, June 5, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I would respectfully report that on the morning of the 4th at 7 o'clock a. m., our pickets from Hunting Island, which is a part of the main, from 1 1/2 to 2 miles below Bluffton by land and several miles by water, in the direction of Buckingham Ferry, reported the enemy landing at that place from three gunboats in considerable force and approaching toward Bluffton. I immediately ordered my force here consisting of Companies A, B, and G, Third South Carolina Cavalry, and Company B, Fourth South Carolina Cavalry, 182 men and 6 officers present) to get in readiness, and after sending dispatches to Captains Earle, Smart, and Leadbetter (stationed at different places from 6 to 8 miles from here) for their commands to proceed immediately toward Bluffton (unless there was a similar demonstration about Red Bluff), I proceeded as rapidly as possible and arrived near Bluffton at about 8.30 o'clock, where I found a company of the Eleventh regiment, about 50 strong. Bluffton is situated on May River, and is sid to be 8 miles from my camp. The situation and localities of it will be seen by referring to the map of South Carolina. Hearing that two gunboats were at the bluff and the enemy in the town I ordered this company (of the Eleventh Regiment), under Lieutenant Smith, forward as skirmishers, and sent two cavalrymen, dismounted, in advance as scouts.
On the outskirts of the town, in the road, they came in contact with a body of the enemy advancing, which they fired upon and received their men in return. The company of the Eleventh Regiment advancing (while the cavalry were dismounting to support them), exchanged several shots, after which, contrary to my instructions, fell back, until the cavalry could arrive in supporting distance. All men pressed forward; the company of the Eleventh Regiment in advance, under command of Captain Mickler (who had arrived). The smoke arising in different parts of the town showed that it had been fired. He pushed on by the flames under a continuous fir from their gunboats; arrived at the bank of the river as the last of them were passing the bend of the river below.
Captain Mickler, with 25 or 30 men, hurried down to cut them off, and as they would pass quite fire them, but he arrived too late; they had passed beyond reach.
We stopped as far as possible the further progress of the flames. I suppose one-half or two-thirds of the town has been destroyed, including some of the best buildings, which appear to have been selected.
A large portion of the force, which as far s we could judge was about a regiment, disembarked at Hunting Island, and marched across