War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 1013 Chapter XXVI. ENGAGEMENT AT SECESSSIONVILLE, S. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

ally written at his request. The first sentence of it shows that General Benham had presented this plan more than two weeks before, upon receipt of accurate intelligence of the small number of troops then in and about Charleston. At that time six or eight large steamers were at command in the department, and the troops could have been transported in a single day to the scene of action. General Hunter, however, hesitated to act, and the opportunity was lost. The Quartermaster-General at Washington, not informed of the possible necessity of these steamers, withdrew them from the department; and when, after repeated intelligence confirming the originally known facts, General Hunter at length authorized the movement, but one or two small steamers remained. This lack of transportation involved an additional loss of many days. The attack, which should have been made early in May, was delayed for a full month. The enemy gathered re-enforcements, and the happiest plan of the war accuses the zealous subordinate, who constantly urged a more active and early attack.

It this is a true statement, it abundantly shows the animus of General Hunter's censure to be an attempt to cover his own delinquency. It can be decisively proved in every particular, as I personally know from conversation with the Assistant Secretary of War, Mr. Wolcott.

Pardon, sir, the zeal for a friend and for justice which prompts this long statement of the case, and believe me, with many thanks for your kindness on a previous occasions, and with the highest confidence in your impartiality,

Most sincerely and respectfully, yours,


P. S.-I am concerned to remember that several of the papers to which I here refer are only copies. The circumstance arose thus: I called on the President, in order to explain the case, and to secure, if possible, a formal hearing for General Benham, in which his original documents could be presented. The President was suddenly called away, and hastily took my papers, disregarding my momentary remonstrance that they were only my own copies, as I supposed, for his own examination. He afterward concluded to refer them to yourself, and sent me with the order and the papers, which, of course, I felt bound to deliver to you untouched. General Benham most earnestly desires the opportunity of presenting original documents, should there be any question about the validity of those I have left with the President. I earnestly hope that his case may not be prejudiced for want of an opportunity of duly authenticating his statements. Full papers in Washington are in the hands of Senator Hale.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel Ellison Capers, Twenty-fourth South Carolina.


COLONEL: By your direction I herewith submit the following report.

On the morning of the 16th instant, our regiment being on picket duty on the roads leading, respectively, to the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches and to Rivers' place, about daylight the enemy was reported advancing from Rivers', immediately on Secessionville. I accompanied you down the road toward the causeway, near the Rivers place, where Gooding's company (D), Tompkins' company (K), Wever's company (I), and Pearson's company (G) were stationed. While we were deploy-