No. 22. Report of Captain John B. Fish, Fifty-second Pennsylvania Infantry, of assault on Fort Johnson and Battery Simkins.
CAMP FIFTY-SECOND PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS, Morris Island, S. C., July 8, 1864.
MAJOR: In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by me in the recent attack on Fort Johnson:
My instructions from headquarters were that I should furnish two boat crews, one to No. 7 and one to No. 8 boats, 12 of my to go in the former and 30 in the latter. All of the boats were to maintain their position in line, and to secure this they were to be provided with ropes, which was not done.
When I embarked my men occupied boats Nos.8 and 9. As soon as they were loaded I pulled for Paine's Wharf, and took my position in rear of boats already threw. After waiting there about three hours the boats ahead began to move off, I following in my place. After moving out, the boats in advance stopped, and some of the rear boats came up and passed.
At this time all stopped moving, except with the tide, and the order of line was entirely broken. In this condition we were delayed about one hour, when the advance boas moved on again quite rapidly.
I remained behind No. 8, boat and then found that I was behind my place in line, and called to the officer in command of No. 8 boat that I should hold him responsible for keeping his place in line; after which I did not wait for No. 8 boat, but pulled as fast as possible for Johnson's Point, passing many boats and running against others.
In passing Johnson's Point we ran aground. I then heard the sentinel on shore challenge and fire his piece. We were delayed but a moment on the bar, but found the channel and pulled rapidly down the shore. Soon after passing the bar the first gun was fired form the fort. I used every effort to reach the shore, when we ran into two or three boats that were turned from shore. In the collision my boat was injured and my hand somewhat bruised. I then inquired why they were not making shore, and was answered that all were going back,and at this time a light boat passed, the occupants saying, "Retreat." The party I did not know. I replied that there was no retreat unless the bugle sounded. Some main in my boat said the bugle had sounded,which caused me to hesitate. I then inquired if any of our boats had landed, and was answered that none had landed. I saw two boats on shore, and asked if they were not our boats. i could not believe that the bugle had sounded without my hearing it, so made an effort to rally the boats around me, but without avail. All boats at this time were going back or not going forward. I ordered my oarsmen to pull for shore and set the example.
At this time I heard a cheer from the fort and supposed it was the rebels exulting over our defeat. The boats were put about without my orders. Feeling now that all was lost, I ordered the boat run for Gregg, bearing off toward Sumter to avoid the bar and crowd of boats. As we were on our return I heard two