CHARLESTON, S. C.,
September 7, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to make the following report of the duties assigned to me when evacuating Morris Island last night:
As soon as orders were received for the evacuation, I was intrusted by Colonel Keitt to command the rear guard, with the following instructions: To hold Battery Wagner, with a forlorn hope of 35 men, until he had embarked the remainder of the garrison at Cumming's Point, when he would send me word to that effect, and I would then withdrawn my men with as little delay and noise as possible, after destroying the guns and laying a slow-match to the magazine. The orders detailing the manner of evacuation and destruction of property did not arrive until some time after dark. Immediately upon the receipt of the orders, I commenced preparations. The inclosed paper, marked A, was presented to Colonel Keitt and approved.
About 8 p.m. the 10-inch mortar was fired, and firing kept up until a short time before the final evacuation. I then relieved Captain [J. D.] Johnson's a portion of Captain [W. M.] Hunter's and a portion of Captain [C. E.] Kanapaux's companies, who immediately commenced the retreat. I then visited the batteries that were not manned, and commenced the destruction of such implements as my limited time would permit.
At 11 p.m. my support, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [J. G.] Pressley, withdrew, together with the guard. I then posted my artillery who were now firing at long intervals, as sharpshooters along the whole fort, with orders to keep up as continuous a fire of small-arms as is usual at Battery Wagner during the night, the enemy all this time keeping up a furious bombardment from mortars and rifled guns.
At 11.30 p.m. I ordered the relief of Lieutenant Millar's and Captain Kanapaux's detachments. The whole garrison of the fort then consisted of 25 men of Company A, First South Carolina Infantry (regulars), and 10 men from the Twenty-fifth South Carolina Volunteers. The firing of our sharpshooters was increased, in order to deceive the enemy as to our movements.
At 12.30, or near about that time, I commenced relieving the rear guard, commencing on the right, and, with Captain Pinckney, carefully spiking every gun except the 10-inch columbiad, which was double-charged and prepared for bursting. By the time this was done and the rear guard was ready to move, a courier arrived from Cumming's Point, with orders from Colonel Keitt to complete the evacuation, as the troops had all left and transportation for the rear guard ready. I immediately withdrew my sharpshooters from the parapet, and started the rear guard to Cumming's Point. Captain Pinckney, ordnance officer, First Military District; Lieutenant Mazyck, ordnance officer, Battery Wagner; Lieutenant [James A.] Ross, Twenty-fifth South Carolina Volunteers, and Ordnance Sergeant Leathe and myself, alone remained to lay the slow-match, which had been prepared in the early part of the night. In about five minutes the train was fixed, and the 10-inch columbiad was attempted to be fired. Four friction-tubes failed, and powder was gotten from the magazine and the went primed as well as possible. The implements having been destroyed, according to instructions from district headquarters, again it was attempted and failed.