[Inclosure Numbers 5.]
BATTERY WILLIAM WASHINGTON,
Rantowles, S. C., February 19, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel E. B. WHITE:
SIR: In obedience to your order just received, I respectfully report: First, how and where did the house catch fire? I am not able to say precisely now it caught, but it is very evident that it caught from sparks flying from the chimney. It took fire at the place where shingles of the shed over the porch joined the roof of the house, the porch being two stories high, the shingles on the porch joining the roof of the house.
I was sitting in the room I occupied and a portion of the guard was with me in the room. The corporal first saw the fire; he being on the side where it first caught, he gave the alarm. Two of the men got the two buckets that we had and Mr. Messerry's little son got the one he had and began to carry the water as fast as they could; in the mean time the corporal had to get an ax and go upstairs and cut a hole through the roof of the house before they could apply the water. The corporal reports that when he got the hole cut through the roof that the fire was spreading very fast, and had caught in several other places in the roof of the house. About that time Mr. Messerry cried out, "There is no use in trying to save the house." I then told the men to take out what things we had in the house as quick as possible. The sentinel reports that he knew nothing of the fire until the alarm was given, he being on the west side of the house, and the fire caught on the east side. There was a high wind from the west all day; the shingles were very much decayed and very dry. I remained at the house until I was that it was impossible to extinguish the flames. I then gathered up my things and went to a safe distance.
JOHN N. EDWARDS,
Lieutenant, Commanding Battery.
[Inclosure Numbers 6.]
HDQRS. HEAVY ARTILLERY, SIXTH MIL. DISTRICT,
Verdiers, February 19, 1864.
Captain J. H. PEARCE,
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of indorsement on reports from myself and Lieutenant Edwards, dated 17th instant, relative to destruction by fire of buildings at Rantowles, and accompanying this is a report from commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the guard present at time of the fire, giving fully particulars. I very much regret that I have incurred the disapprobation of my general, and respectfully state that I had the ammunition promptly removed at Battery William Washington in order to facilitate the operations of the engineers in rebuilding the magazine, and that I had it placed in the basement of Mr. Messerry's house because I believed it the safest place that could be obtained without incurring considerable delay. I hope these considerations will induce the general to remit his censure, and not to withdraw from me his confidence as chief of heavy artillery, which position I now have the honor to hold under his command. If these state-