Today in History:

87 Series I Volume XXXV-I Serial 65 - Olustee Part I



CAPTAIN: I beg leave to submit the following report of the operations of the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers on Fort Johnson, in Charleston Harbor, on the morning of 3rd July lost:

In pursuance of orders from Colonel Gurney, One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, commanding U. S. Forces, Morris Island, S. C., the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to the number of 500 officers and men, embarked in twenty barges on the evening of 2nd July, and moved to Paine's Dock the appointed rendezvous, arriving there somewhat before 12 midnight. We were immediately joined by the other forces composing the expedition to wit, 60 officers and men of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, under Captain Churchill, and the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, under command of Major Little, of that regiment. At a minutes past 1 a.m., the moment the tide (which had been at dead low water) turned, the fleet of boats moved for its destination under the instructions, in the order and for the purpose following. All these instructions and orders had been fully, carefully,and repeatedly explained and communicated to the officers and men in the affair to an extent to render misconception impossible. We were to move across Charleston Harbor, land on the beach between Fort Johnson and Battery Simkins, assault and carry the works on the east and of James Island,the attack on Fort Johnson being assigned to the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, that on Simkins to the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, the artillery detachment being divided between them both. The boats were to move across the harbor with the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers in advance, followed by the Third Rhode Island Artillery and the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, in single file, well closed up, expecting to cross the bar at a point midway between Forts Sumter and Simkins, head for Johnson's Point, face by the left flank, and move vigorously to the beach and carry the works with the bayonet. A pilot (one Sergeant Bennett, of Company E, One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers), who was selected by Colonel Gurney to conduct us, was placed in the leading boat, commanded by First Lieutenant Farr, Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. Colonel Gurney announced his intention of making his own headquarters at Paine's Dock, and ordered an officer of his staff, name unknown to me, to report with a light dispatch-boat to myself, then to be the senior officers in the movement across the harbor and the expected assault. This officer did not report to me. But one signal of retreat, should such possibly be ordered, was agreed upon,and this was to be made upon a bugle, which was in my possession.

With these plain and minute instructions, which were understood by everybody afloat, we moved from Paine's Dock the instant the tide turned. The head of the column,properly followed, proceeded in the proper direction. I am aware of no delays which occurred except such as were necessarily caused by the pilot in his attempts to find and keep the channel he sought. Upon arriving at the bar extending from Simkins to Fort Sumter, the great obstacle we had to encounter, it was found still to be out of water, the tide being at about a quarter full. The pilot in the leading boat announced his utter inability to find any channel through the bar and declined to