men to fall in as quick as possible (having first removed and hid his baggage), and then marched them out to the public road and fell back on it about 1 mile to Sandy Bridge, leaving two men to watch the movements of the enemy and sending two men in the direction of Hunting Island to ascertain any movement of the enemy from that direction.
After remaining at Sandy Bridge about half an hour, having his men deployed as skirmishers on both sides of the road, Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, with his force, came up and he reported to him.
(From this point I state the facts as collected by me from the statements of various parties examined.)
It seems that about 7 a. m. on the morning of the 4th of June, 1863, the courier from Hunting Island reported in camp first to Captain Campbell, Company B, and was by him quarters by him immediate sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson at his quarters near by. The bugle was immediately sounded and the companies ordered to form for a prompt march. Ammunition was issued, arms inspected, and dispatched sent off to various points - those to Captain Smart and adjacent companies ordering their commanders toward Bluffton, unless a demonstration was being made by the enemy in the direction of Red Bluff.
About 7.30 the command moved off by companies as each was ready and without being told off or formed into squadron. (It should be mentioned here that Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, in the absence of Colonel Gantt, has been and was the acting commandant of the post.)
About 8 or 8.30 a. m. (there is very little accuracy as to mine) Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, who had waited to see his command off and had overtaken taken wit his command, reached a point 1 mile distant from Bluffton, and there found the company of Captain Mickler, under the command of Lieutenant Smith, which had retired from the village. On the way he had been met by a courier from Captain Lowry with information that they had been compelled to leave Bluffton by the presence of the boats. Up to this point no firing had been heard from the boats or from the pickets, and Captain Lowry, with Lieutenant McAvoy, a courier, and 6 men from Mickler's company, had remained at the head of one of the streets of the collage in full view of one of the steamers until compelled to fall back to cover of the woods or bushes. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson continued to advance, ordering Mickler's company (50 or 60 strong) to follow after until he came up with Captain Lowry, and from him ascertained the position of the enemy as far as he knew it, his report being that two gunboats were at the wharf at Bluffton.
Two reliable scouts were sent forward to reconnoiter and ascertain position and movements of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, with his adjutant, Colcock, Captain Lowry, and a few others followed immediately behind the scouts, the command being halted meantime.
From the bend of the road near the mill, opposite the center of the town, the scouts saw the enemy in the road at the mill - at first only 1 man, but very soon some 25 or 30 in number, whom they fired on, which fire was promptly returned by the enemy, and at this point the gunboats commenced shelling. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson immediately returned and ordered Lieutenant Smith with his company forward as skirmishers to engage the enemy, and promising to come to his support as soon as he could dismount his cavalry, and ordering him "not to fall back unless compelled to do so." (Here there is an important discrepancy of statement between Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson and Lieutenant Smith, the later insisting that his orders were, "To push forward, engaged the enemy, and fall back until he was supported," &c.)
Lieutenant Smith moved forward and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson