Parrotts, three 20-pounder Parrotts, three 12-pounder James, and eight 24-pounder field howitzers, accompanied by three gunboats. The troops were to rendezvous at Daufuskie Island, where we already had three companies of the Seventh Connecticut, under Major Gardiner, guarding Wall's Cut. They were posted there on January 13. The land force was in readiness at Hilton Head soon after the middle of January. Various causes delayed the expected naval co-operation, so that no gunboats passed Wall's Cut until the 28th of January.
Another mixed force presented itself on the south of the Savannah River in Wilmington Narrows (a Freeborn cut), about the same time, the land forces being commanded by General H. G. Wright and the gunboats by Fleet-Captain Davis.
I accomplished the examination on the north side as General Sherman's chief engineer, receiving my orders directly from and making my reports directly to him. General Viele commanded the land forces and Commander John Rodgers the gunboats. From Commander Rodgers' flag-ship, the Unadilla (in Wright River), I witnessed the cannonading between our gunboats in Wright River and Wilmington Narrows and Tatnall's fleet in the Savannah on the 28th of January. The distances were about equal (2 1/4 miles); but little effect was produced. On the afternoon of the same day I made a reconnaissance of Mud River and the Savannah shore of Jones Island, selected Venus Point as the position for one battery, and located the line for a road or causeway between Venus Point and Mud River. Jones Island is nothing but a mud marsh, covered with reeds and tall grass. The general surface is about at the level of ordinary high tide. There are a few spots of militate area, Venus Point being one of them, that are submerged only by spring tides or by ordinary tides favored by the wind, but the character of the soil is the same over the whole island. It is a soft, unction mud, free of grit or sand, and incapable of supporting a heavy weight. In the most elevated places the dry crust is but 3 or 4 inches in depth, the substratum being a semi-fluid mud, which is agitated like jedly by the falling of even small bodies upon it, like the jumping of men or the ramming of earth. Men walking over it are partially sustained by the roots of the reeds and grass and sink in only 4 or 5 inches. When this top support gives way or is broken through they go down 2 to 2 1/2 fleet and in some places much farther. A road or causeway of some kind across the island from Mud River to Venus Point I thought necessary, and recommended it at the outset (even if the guns should not have to be carried over it) as the means of getting speedy succor to the Venus Point battery in case of attack. Daufuskie Island, 4 miles distant, being the nearest point where troops could be kept for that purpose, General Sherman was kind enough to leave all matters having a bearing upon the location and plan of the battery, the devising of ways and means for heavy transportation, &c., to me. My orders were to consult freely with General Viele and the chief of artillery in everything necessary to be done not strictly within the range of my duties as an engineer officer.
On the 29th January I dispatches Lieutenant O'Rorke, of the Engineers, in a small boat, to examine Long and Elba Islands, in the Savannah. Major Beard, Forty-eighth New York, accompanied him. They entered the Savannah via Cunningham Point, pulled up the Savannah, stopping several times on Long and Elba Islands; went around the west end of the latter to within about 2 miles of Fort Jackson.
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