HDQRS. DEPT. SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
August 26, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded. The system of signals has lately been changed in this department, owing to the recent desertion of some operators. An investigation of all the circumstances has been directed.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
SIGNAL OFFICE, September 4, 1863.
Respectfully returned to the Adjutant and Inspector General. Notice of this occurrence had already been received at this office, from the signal officer in charge of the line, and proper precautions have been taken to prevent the enemy deriving any benefit from it.
AUGUST 20-21, 1863.- Attempt of Destroy the U. S. S. Ironsides, off Charleston Harbor, S. C.
Report of Captain J. Carlin, commanding Torpedo Ram.
CHARLESTON, August 22, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I attacked the Ironsides on the night of the 20th, but regret to say, however, it was not accompanied with any beneficial result.
I communicated with Fort Sumter at 10 a. m. and obtained a guard of 11 men, under command of Lieutenant [E. S.] Fickling. At 11.30 p. m. I passed the obstructions,a nd at 12 sighted the Ironsides lying at anchor in the channel off Morris Island, with five monitors moored immediately in a shout-southwest direction from her, and about 300 yards distant. One monitor was anchored in the direction bearing upon Battery Gregg, and about half a mile distant. When I came within quarter of a mile of the Ironsides I lowered the torpedoes and proceeded directly for the ship, feeling at the same time fully confident of striking her in the right place. At this time she was lying across the channel and heading for Morris Island. I steered up, keeping the object on our port bow, and, when within 40 yards from the ship, I stopped the engine and ordered the helm put hard a starboard.
I attribute my failure to the want of proper execution of this order. I noticed the slow obedience of the ship to her helm, and again gave the order, repeating it three times. It was a moment of great anxiety and expectation, and not doubting but I would strike her, I was obliged to attend to the proper command of the officers and men, and restrain any undue excitement. In this I was ably assisted by the cool, courageous bearing of Lieutenant Fickling, who commanded the force stationed for defense. I discovered, as we ranged up alongside, that, in consequence of the Ironsides being in the act of swinging to the ebb, we must miss with our torpedoes,