Numbers 2. Report of Colonel H. K. Aiken, Sixth South Carolina Cavalry, commanding Second Military District.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND MILITARY DISTRICT,
Adams Run, S. C., July 12, 1863.
GENERAL: About 6 o'clock on Friday morning, the 10th instant, I was informed that three steamers were in Pon Pon River, at Colonel Morris' mill, where they had arrived before early dawn, under cover of a dense fog. I immediately ordered Lieutenant-Colonel [L. P.] Miller, with about 50 men of the Sixth South Carolina Cavalry, to support our forces at Willstown, and the remainder of the same command to follow under Major [Thomas B.] Ferguson. I arrived on the ground about 7 a.m., but found Lieutenant White, commanding the section of the Chesnut Artillery at Willstown, had, unfortunately, abandoned his position. I would respectfully refer you to his report. (Appended and marked A.)* I at once ordered all the remaining negroes driven back from the river, and deployed our entire force as skirmishers, the right, north of Willstown, resting on and perpendicular to the river, and the remainder parallel, with instructions to advance upon Willstown. The almost impenetrable undergrowth prevented rapid movements, yet the left and front had advanced fully half way to the river, most of the time under a brisk fire, when Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, by courier, and afterward in person, reported his right flanked and the enemy in his rear. I ordered him to fall back. The report, however, proved upon investigation to proceed from undue caution, and placed us at great disadvantage.
At this juncture, two gunboats passed up the river toward Jacksonborough Bridge, when they were intercepted by a section of the Washington Artillery, under Lieutenant [S. G.] Horsey, and by them driven back. (I inclose Captain Walter's report, marked B.)# Before their return, a section of the Marion Artillery, Lieutenant [Robert] Murdoch commanding, had arrived, and was ordered to join the Chesnut Artillery at Gibbes' farm. These men deserve special mention for their conduct, and to their guns is attributable the destruction of one of the enemy's gunboats. It was set on fire by a shell and burned to the water's edge.
I again ordered an advance upon Willstown, but found it abandoned, and the enemy hurriedly moving down the river out of the reach of our guns. A section of the Chesnut Artillery and a company of the Sixth Cavalry were ordered below Morris' Mill, and fired into the retreating vessels with marked effect. One of their gunboats was towed out by the other through South Edisto.
The enemy burned the mill of Colonel Morris, and in their despoliation upon the residence as Willstown left unmistakable evidences of their despicable character as a set of thieves and marauders. The took off about 120 to 130 negroes, all of whom evidently had been informed of this intended raid, as the sound of the first gun seemed a signal for them to assemble on board of the transport, where they were taken soon after daylight, and moved down South Edisto.
*See Numbers 3,p.197.
#See Numbers 4, p. 199.