HEADQUARTERS JAMES ISLAND,
August 20, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded. Have called attention before the condition of the mortar beds, and respectfully ask that evil be remedied.
WM. B. TALIAFERRO,
August 23.-At 3 a. m. heavy firing was heard in the direction of Fort Sumter. As there was a very heavy fog, nothing could be seen, but, from the peculiar sound of the shells, we concluded that two or more monitors were firing, at short range, on Fort Sumter. The fire appeared to be returned from the fort. The fire continued heavily for half an hour, when it slackened off. The monitors appeared to have gone off before the fog lifted. The Ironsides was seen to ge off after it cleared off, about 8 o'clock.
After the fog lifted, commenced firing 8-inch columbiad, first at the Marsh Battery and afterward at the heavy rifle battery to the south of Graham's headquarters. Later in the day, fired upon one of the advanced batteries of the enemy. Did not fire the other guns, as they were kept in reserve for the battery in the marsh.
Sent Captain S. P. Smith to the city about 12 m., on special ordnance duty.
Lieutenant [Feix] Lake, of Company K, Second Regiment South Carolina Artillery, who has been in command of the detachment working the columbiad and mortars, was relieved at 4 p. m. by Lieutenant [T. A.] Pitts, of the same regiment. This change was made by special request and arrangement of Lieutenant-Colonel Brown.
At 5 p. m. commenced firing 8-inch sea-coast howitzers and 4-inch Blakely gun on the Marsh Battery, in order to ascertain the direction and range for night firing. A considerable number of men seen at the Marsh Battery a little before sunset.
August 25.-During the night the enemy has thrown up another battery in the marsh, about 400 yards to the east of the eastern extremity of Black Island. This battery is about the same distance from Battery Haskell as Black Island is, viz, about 1 1/4 miles. (The conclusion which I draw from the erection of this battery is that the enemy is about the attack this point, and it would be folly to suppose that he will confine himself to building batteries in the marsh when the firm ground of Black Island, not more distant, offers so many superior advantages. I have no doubt, therefore, but that there either are or soon will be strong batteries on Black Island.) Only the base of the battery is as yet thrown up (probably to a height of 4 feet). It is likely that the remaining height will be given by sandbags. It should be noted that there are only two platforms at Battery Haskell from which guns can be brought to bear upon this battery in the marsh (Numbers 2.)
In consequence of the heavy showers of last night, five of the platforms at Battery Haskell were under water this morning, and the planks in some of them were floating. One or two of these platforms were were unable to drain, as the level of the platforms was below the surface of the water in the borrow pits. The engineers have been called on by me (in pursuance of oral instructions to me from General Beauregard) to take measures to drain the borrow pits, but nothing has been done; on the contrary, a road has been made which backs up an additional quantity of water.