Coosawhatchie as I directed or, if instead of sending forward only a battalion, General Gartell had employed all of his available force to engage the enemy on the Gregory's Neck road, leaving a small support for the guns in the fort at Coosawhatchie, I think the enemy would not have succeeded in establishing themselves on Gregory's Neck. The position they succeeded in securing was strong, being on a peninsula, not more than a mile and a half in width, between the Coosawhatchie and Tullifinny, with both flanks protected by those rivers and swamps, some of them thickly wooded. They also occupied Mackay's Point, making it necessary that I should employ a part of my small force to watch the enemy on Graham's Neck to guard against a movement on the railroad from that quarter. I was convinced that I could not, with the force at my command, dislodge the enemy from his position by a direct attack in from, and therefore directed my attention to their rear.
The only plan offering any prospect of success was an attack in the rear from the Tullifinny side. To do this it was necessary to bridge that stream and concentrate a column of reliable troops to attack the enemy in his entrenchments. The means of bridging the stream were procured, and I selected the most suitable point of passage; but at no time was I able to concentrate for the attack more than a thousand troops reliable for such service, for, by concurrent testimony [of] the subordinate commanders, the reserves and militia could not be relied on to attack the enemy in their entrenchments. The number of the enemy on Gregory's Neck I estimate at between 4,000 and 5,000.
Under instructions from the lieutenant-General commanding, directing me if I could not dislodge the enemy from his position to strengthen my own, so as to hold the railroad and send him all the troops I could spare, I sent him the part of General Young's brigade that had arrived, and a few other troops to operate in the immediate vicinity of Savannah, and directed my attention to holding the road to Savannah River, watching and obstructing the crossings on that stream, and making preparations for dislodging the enemy on Gregory's Neck whenever I could collect the necessary force. While these operations were in progress near Coosawhatchie, Brigadier-General Chesnut guarded the road from Bee's Creek to Hardeeville, and Colonel Colcock guarded the line of the Savannah River to Hudson's Ferry until the arrival in that vicinity of Major General Wheeler and Brigadier-General Yound. I regarded it as my especial duty to hold the Charleston and Savannah Railroad and keep open communication to Savannah River. This was done; for though the enemy succeeded in establishing batteries within easy range of the railroad, and use their artillery very freely, we held that road, the passage of trains was never interrupted, and only one locomotive and one box-car damaged and two rails broken, until after Savannah had been evacuated and the troops and material brought from that city secured. Trains were passing over the road up to the 27th of December, when, under instructions from the lieutenant-General commanding, I turned over the immediate command of the troops in that vicinity to Major-General McLaws.
While these operations were going on from Pocotaligo to the Savannah River, the other troops under my command held securely Charleston and its harbor and all of the coast of South Carolina in our possession. The artillery and other veteran troops behaved throughout with their accustomed steadiness and gallantry, and the South Carolina cadets, Major White commanding, who for the first time felt the fire of the enemy, so bore themselves as to win the admiration of the veteran who observed and served with them.