ter of the vessel, and a greater caution in firing have prevailed, and the suggestion of Major De Treville to Colonel Butler might have caused an immediate suspension of fire; but under the natural excitement of the moment, and the feeling of pride involved in allowing perhaps an enemy's boat unmolested to pass the fort, and the great doubt as to her character, this firing, however sad and unfortunate in its results, cannot, in my opinion, reflect criminally upon the garrison engaged in it.
It is very evident, from the testimony given above, supported by statement of Captain Woodward, assistant quartermaster (Exhibit G), that the signal corps upon the island, under its present system, cannot be relied upon, and that great reform is needed to render their services of any value.
JNO. F. LAY,
Lieutenant Colonel A. ROMAN,
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
HDQRS. TWENTIETH REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Sullivan's Island, September 3, 1863.
Colonel J. F. LAY:
COLONEL: I was on board of the steamer Sumter, in command of the Twentieth South Carolina Volunteers, when she was proceeding from Morris to Sullivan's Island on the night of the 30th of August. When she had gotten to a point nearly opposite to the Sullivan's Island batteries, in or near ship-channel, she was fired upon by one of those batteries. Being the senior officer present, I immediately ordered a light to be displayed, which was done for four or five minutes, but nothing better than a common tallow candle could be had.
The firing continued rapidly, and with more accuracy after the light was put up than before, and I therefore ordered it to be put out. The whistle was also blown, but from some cause it did not blow clearly or loudly; I doubt if it could be heard at Sullivan's Island amidst the noise of manning the batteries. A brilliant light was also displayed on the parapet of Fort Sumter and at Battery Gregg.
A pretty brisk fire was kept up on the steamer until a small boat, which I dispatched for this purpose, arrived at Sullivan's Island and gave information that we were friends. The steamer came to a dead halt, within 20 yards at farthest, after she was first fire on, by running aground, and there remained. the night was a moonlight one, but the atmosphere was a little hazy. I think that the boat might have been distinguished from a monitor, but of this I am not sure. The Moultrie House and other on Sullivan's Island were quite district from the steamer.
Major Motte A. Pringle, assistant quartermaster, was on board of the steamer, but whether or not he was in command I do not know. He displayed great coolness on the occasion, and was very active in his efforts to save the men from the wreck. I desire to say emphatically that I had not the remotest idea that the steamer was going by the ship-channel, or certainly would not have allowed it