No. 14. Report of Captain Robert W. Bannatyne, Fifty-second Pennsylvania Infantry, of assault on Fort Johnson and Battery Simkins.
MORRIS ISLAND, S. C., August 10, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by my command in the attack on Fort Johnson, S. C., July 3, 1864:
My boat was known as beach boat,in the line of attack as No. 16 boat, third division, which was commanded by Major Thomas B. Jayne, of Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. The names of the boat's crew were: Cockswain, John J. Culberson; oarsmen, N. Josling, J. G. Gilmartin, D. Shoemaker, G. R. Wilcox, all of Company B, Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. The infantry force at my disposal was 1 sergeant, 5 corporals, and 16 privates, all of Company B, Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. The number of men in the boat was 28, including myself. The men were loaded in the boats at the boat-infantry landing, and as fast as the boats were ready, they moved on the Paine's Dock, the final place of starting. In going to the dock my boat got aground, but was soon got off.
According to instructions received from Colonel Hoyt previous to starting, the boats were to leave Paine's Dock in a single line, one behind the other, and connected by a rope from the stern of the leading boat to the bow of the next boat in the rear. We were to go by the rear that runs out from Battery Simkins, which course would bring us to the left and nearly opposite Fort Sumter. When the last boats of the line had passed the bar we were to turn by the left flank and pull straight to the beach near Fort Johnson, and at the same time to preserve the line of battle as near as possible. However, at a late hour this plan was changed and we were told by the colonel, that we would pass the bar by a channel nearer James Island. We were to have one pilot, and he was to be in the leading boat, and the other boats were to follow him in line, one behind the other, as near as possible and on this plan we started from Paine's Dock about 1 a.m. of July 3, 1864. Did not go but a short distance until the boats were out of their places; not being connected together it was impossible to keep in line in the darkness, and no talking being allowed except in a whisper. After going a short distance from Paine's Dock, Colonel Hoyt came alongside and said, "You are out of your place," to move up. I then pulled on until I found that I was certainly ahead of my place in line, when I lay to and then discovered that the boats were moving very slow, and it appeared to me as though the pilot could not find the passage through the bar. The tide was coming in and drifting us to the left. After some delay the boats moved on, but rather slow. I then pulled on until I found that I was ahead of my place, and then stopped. It then commenced to show daylight in the east. I then moved on slowly several boats passed me an I saw that those ahead of me were passing the bar, and several were aground, or at least stopped, when I passed the bar. In passing my boat struck the bottom several times, but did not get hard aground. The channel was narrow and crooked and scarcely water to float our boats. Before I was fairly by the bar the enemy fired a gun from Johnson. At the report of the gun the cockswain threw himself down and lost the oar that he was steering the boat with. The stroke-oar was then