At 8.30 p. m., rockets were observed to be thrown up at Battery Haskell, which was the arranged signal for communicating a demonstration or threatened attack. In a few minutes I received information from Secessionville by telegraph that the enemy had landed at Haskell. I at once ordered all the troops in the district under arms, and directed General Hagood to re-enforce Haskell with such portions of the garrisons of Fort Johnson and Secessionville as could be spared with safety to those places, while I ordered four companies of Colonel Simonton's (Twenty-fifth) regiment from the west lines, with Blake's battery of light artillery, to make toward the supposed attacked point. General Hagood ordered five companies from Johnson and four from Secessionville to re-enforce the Twenty-seventh Regiment in the vicinity of Haskell, which was all that he thought it safe to take from these points.
In giving the order to Colonel Simonton I directed him, for fear that this was a blind to divert our attention from an attack upon Pringle (which is liable to attack by barges), or for some serious demonstration upon the southern lines, to man the batteries and to look particularly to Pringle. Colonel Gaillard, commanding at Haskell, &c., in a few minutes after the dispatch from Secessionville was received, reported that it was a mistake; that the enemy had not landed, but that the picket-boat in front of Haskell had come in and reported two barges with about 50 men each in the creek near the work. I countermanded the order to the troops to march, but directed them to be held in readiness.
At this time musketry firing was heard in the direction of Secessionville, and shortly afterward artillery firing in the direction of Tatom. Colonel Graham telegraphed that his pickets had fired upon barges near the one-gun battery (Secessionville rear) and I subsequently learned that the gun at Tatom had been fired at boats. I was uneasy lest the enemy might attempt a landing at Clark's Point, which, although a retired (re-entering angle) position on the lines, is a good landing, and telegraphed to General Hagood who had gone to Haskell, to have Ryan and Redoubt Numbers 1 on the alert, and to re-enforce the small picket at Clark's if possible. This was done as well as could be hazarded by sending a part of the Twenty-seventh Regiment from Legare's Point toward Ryan. Intelligent and reliable scouts in boats were then sent out by General Hagood to reconnoiter the creeks in front of Haskell, who returned and reported a lot of boats in the creek near the piling; the boats so close together that men could be seen stepping from one to the other. Au gun was brought to bear in that direction, and they were fired upon, but the night was so dark that there could be no distinctness or directness of aim. After this the boat scout was again sent out and reported that the enemy's boats had left.
The commanding general will perceive from the above that the reconnaissance of the enemy was by a considerably party, and extended at the same time from Haskell to Secessionville, for the same boats could not have gone from one to the other of these points in the short time intervening between their appearance at the two places.
I hope the commanding general will pardon me for being thus minute in this matter, but I have done so for the purpose of directing his attention to the situation of this district, and to urged that additional troops be sent me for its defense. The number of troops is so small for the defense of the long lines which the conditions and