HDQRS. SEVENTH MIL. DIST. OF SOUTH CAROLINA, James Island, July 23, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report the operations of the troops under my command for the eight days commencing on the 2nd instant, during which time the enemy made several attacks at various points of this district, and a determined and persistent effort to reduce our Stono batteries, turn our southern lines of works, and to hold the upper Stono.
On the morning of the 2nd, at daybreak, it being low tide, the enemy threw a considerable force upon the peninsula at the south extremity of this island from Long and Dixon's Islands. Driving in our cavalry vedettes, they advanced rapidly upon the line of infantry pickets stretching from Rivers' Causeway to the StoNumbers Here they were met with a stubborn resistance by Major Manigault, commanding, and on the left, the picket being supported by Lieutenant De Lorme's section light artillery, with a detachment of siege-train artillery, acting as infantry (Lieutenant Spivey), they were several times driven back with great slaughter. Unfortunately Lieutenant De Lorme, whose gallantry was conspicuous, overconfident of his ability to repulse them, delayed too long before attempting to retire his pieces, and at the fourth charge, which he was unable to resist, lost his guns, taking off, however, his limbers and horses. The caissons had been left at camp. Prisoners subsequently captured admit a loss of 200 in front of these guns, and the number of ambulances and boats employed transporting the wounded of ambulances and boats employed transporting the wounded and dead, easily seen from our observatories, together with the number of unburied dead subsequently found, fully confirm the statement.
Our picket-line was retired within range of our batteries and established form the Stono to Secessionville. The enemy advanced to within a few hundred years of our pickets, when they established a skirmish line and began to intrench. I had not force enough to attack the, requiring all the troops that I could collect to hold the main lines and to do the necessary picket duty in front. In order to accomplish this I had to make drafts upon the garrisons of Fort Johnson and Batteries Haskell, Tatom, &c., which, although small, were the largest that could be spared, and then at some hazard. In this way 100 men were withdrawn from Fort Johnson.
It is to be observed that troops had been noticed passing form Morris to Folly Island the previous day, and the exhibition of strength in my front, estimated at 3,000, induced me to believe that most of the troops on Morris Island had been withdrawn.
Simultaneous with the advance of the enemy a large gun-boat steamed up the Stono to protect his left flank. This boat, coming in range of the guns at Battery Pringle, was made to retire. The enemy then advanced two lines of battle, with a heavy skirmish line, well to the front. I directed such guns of our batteries on the southern lines and at Secessionville as could reach to be opened upon their lines, which were retired, except the picket-line, beyond range. It is believed and was acknowledged by prisoners that this fire had a telling effect upon them. No new advance new made, and not being strong enough to attack the enemy, no further change occurred during the day. While these events were transpiring on the southern end of the island the enemy were intent upon an enterprise in another quarter, which would, could it have succeeded, have been attended with most serious consequences.