communication was open between General Terry on shore and Commander Balch on the Pawnee.
On the afternoon of the 10th, the land force made a forward movement of about a mile and a half up the island, with the Pawnee under way and shelling the woods in advance. The fire of the vessel was directed from the shore, the nature of the country not admitting of accuracy of fire from the decks without signals. About dark, the outposts being established on shore, the Pawnee moved up to Wright's Landing and anchored.
At 4.35 a. m. of the 16th, the enemy opened fire on the ship from a battery of light artillery, which the had brought down during the night to the edge of the woods skirting Wright's Landing.
The position of the rebel battery was such that we could not bring our guns to bear on it, and before the cable could be slipped and a new position taken, the ship as struck thirty-nine times in her hull. I had, in the meantime, opened communication with the shore, and was working, when the rebel battery suddenly ceased firing on the vessel and turned toward our troops. The enemy advanced at 5 a. m. on General Terry, their force numbering 9,000 infantry, on eight battery, and about 200 cavalry. The fire of the naval vessels was directed by signals, and at 7.10 a. m. the enemy were in full retreat toward Secessionville, having bunt fated with considerable loss.
At the close of the action, Commander Balch and other offices of his vessel voluntarily acknowledged the great value of our signals, and in his communication to Colonel Myer (a copy of which I inclose, marked B) he ascribes the victory of the 16th to the facilities for communication afforded by our signals.
My detachment of signal men behaved well. I beg to be permitted to bring to your notice the name of Private William r. Elston. This man worked my flag coolly and courageously during the action; he is well worthy of reward. While sending a message from the Pawnee, a round shot entered the side of the ship, about 15 inches from his person. Although making a number a the time, he did not stop nor make any error. At no time did I see him flinch when under the heavy fire from the battery. In addition to this, he proved himself the most vigilant, intelligent, and trustworthy lookout of m party. I therefore respectfully commend him to your favorable notice, hoping he may be suitably rewarded from his gallant conduct.
The other two men, Privates Tilley and Parsons, are also deserving of notice. They were constant and faithful in the discharge of their duties, and were steady and reliable under fire.
I had no casualties among my men. I received a slight wound in my right shoulder and neck from a splinter; was not disabled for duty.
On the 17th, our forces left James Island, and on the 18th the Pawnee dropped down the river to here anchorage at this mouth.
On the afternoon of the 18th, I was relieved from duty on the Pawnee, and accompanied General Terry to Morris Island, where I was on the 19th ordered to duty in the batteries. On the 20th, I was relieved from duty on the staff of General Terry, and on the 23rd was ordered to duty at Hilton Head.
I may state that I labored under many disadvantages while reading signals during action, the distance between the shore and ship communication being too great to dispense with a glass, while the almost constant jarring of the vessel, caused by the firing of the guns, made it difficult to read at all.