War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0314 COAST OF S. C., GA, AND MID. AND EAST FLA. Chapter XXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

came up. He states that when within 1 mile of the village he found the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson in line on foot and halted. That he pressed on, and about 100 yards beyond came up with his own company, under Lieutenant Smith, deployed as skirmishers, but not advancing. He ordered its advance at once, and was informed that Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson was in advance. He went on to him and found him seated writing a dispatch; he reported to him, and informed him that he had ordered his men to advance, and asked if he had any objection, to which the reply was, "No, it is just what I desire; advance and engage the enemy, I will support you, and we will drive them into the fire." He took command of his company, extended his flanks, and advanced.

The whole force then moved on rapidly in and thought the burning woods and town to the bank of the river. The firing has ceased from the boast, and the last one was in sight passing the bend of the river going rapidly off. At the suggestion of Captain Mickler he was furnished with a party of sharpshooters, and he proceeded rapidly to get below the bend to fire on the boats as they passed, but they were too late. The whole command then returned, and as far as they wee able put a stop to the fire then raging, but the work of desolation was then nearly completed.

The enemy, it appears, came up with five wooden steamers, landed a force at Hunting Island, and then came up and took position with three of them at Bluffton and two at Baynard's, nearly opposite. The sole object of the raid seems to have been a wilful and wanton destruction of private property. The village of Bluffton had long been deserted and uninhabited, and no negro property was within its limits or adjacent. No negroes were seen by any one with the forces of the enemy; indeed the few men encountered at the mill in the early beginning seem to have been the only troops seen by our men. The enemy were not enterprising or daring, and yet accomplished their wicked work but too well.

The ashes of Bluffton, with its withered and scorched remains of noble trees and beautiful shrubbery, present a sad scene of desolation and fiendish vandalism unparalleled in the history of civilized nations.

There are points of criticism upon the conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson and Lieutenant Smith obvious even to the casual reader of this fair statement of facts, as gathered from the most reliable scourges of information. The loss of time hat the critical moment by the movement of Lieutenant-Colonel to the rear to form and dismount his command, instead of dismounting on the spot and sending his horses to the rear, is much to be regretted. The falling back of Lieutenant Smith with his command at the same time that the enemy was doing the same thing is equally so, whatever the motive from which it proceeded. These have asked for a court of inquiry.

I respectfully suggest that a full investigation will be for the benefit of the service, and recommend tat it be granted them, or such other course of investigation as from an examination of the facts may seem in the judgment of the commanding general more expedient to be taken.

The conduct of the picket from Hunting Island sent to report to the commander of outposts in Bluffton appears to have been deserving of censure. I directed his arrest and that charges be preferred against him.

Respectfully submitted.

JNO. F. LAY,

Assistant Adjutant-General and Inspector of Cavalry.

Brigadier General THOMAS JORDAN, Chief of Staff, &c.