In the meantime the troops of the command, in addition to their regular duties, were employed in erecting fortifications, the whole of the works inthe south end of Morris Island having been thrown up by its garrison. The engineer department used every exertion to hire labor, but its efforts were not crowed with any appreciable success.
In the middle of June the batteries on the south end of Morris Island were engaged with the enemy on Little Folly Island, and undoubtedly retarded considerably the progress of their operations, as the following extracts of the reports from Brigadier-General Ripley will show:
JUNE 12, 1863.
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The enemy having advanced light guns to Little Folly Island yesterday to shell the wreck of the steamer Ruby, now ashore at Light-House, in accordance with directions, Captain [John C.] Mitchell, commanding the batteries on the south of Morris Island, opened fire, silencing them at the second shot.
This morning I gave directions, for him to open fire in case he observed any indications for work on Little Folly on the part of the enemy, and this afternoon about 5 o'clock, seeing parties apparently at work, he commenced shelling. About 50 men left Little Folly for the main island. The enemy replied from his batteries on Big Folly and his light guns.
Again, on June 14, the same officer reports:
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The enemy having appeared to be at work on Little Folly Island, Lieutenant-Colonel [Joseph A.] Yates opened fore upon them, shelling them for about three-quarters of an hour, putting a stop to their operations, which appeared to be erecting a shelter or batteries near the inlet. A close watch has been directed to be kept up, and their work to be stopped whenever attempted.
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At this time of the attack on Charleston in the beginning of April, the enemy occupied Big Folly and Seabrook's Islands in force, estimated at one or two brigades. This force was increased to about four brigades before July 11, a considerable number of troops landing on Cole's and James Islands.
During the latter part of June, and up to the first week in July, 1863, no extraordinary activity was manifested by the enemy. On Big Island they were occupied as usual in fortifying the neck, wrecking practice on the steamer Ruby.
On the morning of Jule 7, four monitors appeared off the bar, but no other increase of the fleet in that direction was discernible.
On the night of July 8, a scouting party, under the command of Captain Charles [T.] Haskell, [jr.,] visited Little Folly Island, and discovered the enemy's barges collected in the creeks approaching the island. Commencing on July 7, and for the three succeeding days, working parties of the enemy were seen engaged at labor on Little Folly Island, supposed to be light works for guns. The wood on the island (but more especially the peculiar configuration of the ground, which consists of sand-hills) gave the enemy every facility for the concealment of his designs.
On the night of July 8, considerable noise from chopping with axes wa heard, and in the morning some works were discernible, the wood and brush having been away from their front.
On the night of July 9, an immediate attack being anticipated the whole infantry force on the island was kept under arms at the south end.