aground, we were compelled to wait an hour longer for the tide, when the two small vessels ascended together. We met with no further interruption (the rice-fields on each side being indefensible) till within 2 miles of the railroad bridge; here the Dean unluckily grounded again, and all efforts to get her off being fruitless, I signaled to the tug to proceed upward to the bridge.
She soon found herself under the fire at 200 yards of a six-gun field battery, planted that morning on the shore, and after a severe engagement, in which my vessel could render but little aid, our little consort was compelled to withdraw; and when, at last, the Dean was gotten the tide rendered it necessary to abandon the attempt. We were at this time more than 30 miles from the mouth of the river and about 20 miles from Charleston.
Descending the river, the Dean had another fight with her old enemies, apparently re-enforced, who shelled us very severely from a point near Willstown. We passed the spiels successfully, but regretted to find the Milton aground upon them. The John Adams tried in vain to pull her off, and the officers on board were reluctantly compelled to abandon her, as the tide was rapidly falling. I was drawing in the pickets and taking them on board the Dean when this decision was made, and when informed of it it was too late for me to do anything but order the little vessel to be set on fire, which was accordingly done, the few men-small force-on board having been safely removed.
After this we met with no further incident except one more artillery fight on the way down the river, making five in all. I am happy to say that in all these engagements our artillerists, both white and black, did themselves much credit, as, indeed, did all my command. I must especially mention Companies K (Captain Whitney) and G (Lieutenant Sampson) upon whom the most exposed duty devolved. We brought away about 200 contrabands, 6 bales of cotton of the best quality, and 2 prisoners-F. Hall, Sixth Cavalry, and G. Henry Barnwell (of the rebel troops), one of the well-known family of that name. Both were captured by my skirmishers, with their horses and full equipments.
For want of transportation, we left behind a number of fine horses; we destroyed large quantities of rice by burning the houses, and cut the dams of the rice-fields. No private property, not amenable to military rules, was burned or pillaged, though there was abundant opportunity for so doing.
My command reports 2 killed (Privates July Green, Company A, and William S. Verdier, Company C), and 1 wounded (myself), not severely; struck by a splinter in the side. Besides these, the assistant engineer of the Milton (Mr. Mills) was killed, and 1 contraband, name unknown; 1 sailor was slightly wounded in the foot, and 1 contraband lost a leg.
Considering the number of shells that exploded in and near the vessels, I am surprised that the list is no larger.
The loss of the enemy is unknown, but the prisoners stated that one of our first shots dismounted a gun and killed 3 men.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. HIGGINSON,