It does not appear that he took any steps, by sending out details under commissioned officers, to familiarize the command with the localities.
On the morning of the 4th June, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson was at his camp with his command, having his picket at Hunting Island, just below Bluffton, and at Baynard's, nearly opposite, but none in Bluffton.
In Bluffton was stationed a company of infantry, under the command of Captain Mickler, but Captain Mickler had the evening preceding gone up to the Hardeeville, 16 miles distant, the headquarters of Colonel Gantt, commander of the post, to communicate with him and to seek quarters for his family, leaving Lieutenant Smith in command of his night, but none during the day. The quarters of this company were on the bank of the river, about 300 yards from the wharf.
Captain A. M. Lowry, Company A, Colcock's regiment, was also in Bluffton, near to quarters of Captain Mikler, having couriers with him, as the commander of outposts, and to him the different pickets were ordered to report.
Sergeant Jones, Company B, who was stationed at Baynard's, reports that on the morning of the 4th June, 1863, he first saw a steamer about 7 a. m., that it was a foggy morning; that he at once dispatched a courier to Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, and in few moments saw three other steamers. They stopped at the bluff and he thought made preparation for landing troops. He sent another courier. Then the boats moved up to shell the town. He kept out of reach; heard firing at Bluffton, and watched until the boats left, between the hours of 12 m. and 1 p. m. He states that he only had general instructions for picket duty, with no special instructions for this duty, and that he was ignorant of the country.
Private Savage, Company B, was stationed at Hunting Island with one companion. He states that between day-dawn and sunrise they were on post looking down the river; about 1 mile below could see three steamers coming up. He fell back about 150 yards and sent his comrade to report in Bluffton to the commander of outposts and give the notice to any party in the town. About one and a half hours thereafter saw the enemy landing. He again fell back, and soon the courier returned to him and reported that he could find no one in Bluffton at all. (Either this courier must have been totally ignorant of the locality or he failed to penetrate into the village, else he could not have failed to find the troops stationed immediately on the bank of the river near the wharf.) He asked the courier why he did not go on to camp; courier replied he did not know what to do. He then left this man to watch and himself went on and reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson that three steamers had come up the river, and that four companies had landed from them and were marching toward Bluffton at a double-quick. He then returned to his post; reached there about 2 p. m., and found the boats had all left. In his absence his comrade had left, gone to the command, and was sent back Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson.
Lieutenant Smith states that in the absence of Captain Mickler he was in command of the company stationed about 300 yards from the wharf at Bluffton, and that as he was sitting down to breakfast, about 7 a. m., on the morning of the 4th June, 1863, he heard one of the men call to him that a steamer was coming up the river. He looked out and saw two steamers lying off 1 1/2 miles distant from Bluffton, apparently at anchor, and one of his men reported that the enemy were already in the village. He had heard no firing, and supposing that the enemy had already landed and were endeavoring to surround him, he ordered his