Today in History:

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

Page 88 S.C.,FLA., AND ON THE GA. COAST. Chapter XLVII.

proceed, and had clearly struck it at a point very far distant from the contemplated passage. I know not whether to attribute the actions of this pilot to ignorance or deliberate misconduct. By this failure, though without personal knowledge of the locality, I was driven to my own responsibility and my own efforts to pass that bar. During the delay which occurred here, the barges had all closed well up each other, and the expedition was substantially together and well in hand. We were then lying close to the marsh in front of Simkins, and not more than 1,000 yards from Fort Johnson, the general direction of which was evident enough. Accident put us at once in possession of a practicable passage close to this marsh, deep, but only admitting one boat at a time,and speedily opening into a much wider expanse. Not more than ten minutes elapsed after the refusal of the pilot to proceed before the whole expedition was under orders, advancing with the utmost dispatch, and promptly filing through the channel. From this point there was no obstacle to encounter except the enemy. It was becoming daylight and the designated point of landing was in view. The first gun was fired as the leading boat rounded a small sandspit running out from Simkins toward the Brooke gun battery,and about 100 yards from it.

I am persuaded, after the most through subsequent investigation, aside from my personal knowledge at the time, that when this shot was fired all the boats of the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers,with two exceptions, the boats of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, and a very considerable number of those containing the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York Volunteers had passed the bar and were in good water. The distance between that bar and the leading boat did not exceed 600 yards. Hereupon cannonading and musketry were opened upon us from Simkins along the beach and from Fort Johnson with considerable rapidity but entirely over our heads.

A landing was immediately and successfully effected by the leading boats at the Brooke gun battery, which was readily carried, and no halt whatever occurred at it. Five boats were now ashore, being those commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Conyngham, Captain T. B. Camp, First Lieutenant J. G. Stevens, and Lieutenant T. E. Evans, with my own, which, besides the crew, carried Acting Adjutant Bunyan, a bugler, and a signal sergeant, being a total of 6 officers and 135 men, all of the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. It was now apparent that not only were no other boats landing but that the entire expedition were retreating in the boats, not only without orders, but in disobedience to the most explicit orders to the contrary. Neither then nor since have I been able to arrive at any satisfactory knowledge of the causes and facts connected with their failure to land.

So much of the expedition as disembarked pushed with all the vigor possible upon Fort Johnson and its connected line of high earthen parapets. The parapet was entered near the main fort with a brisk movement of about 30 of the advance, who exchanged shots within the work, but were compelled to retire. The whole of our force was then conducted along the entire line from the rebel left to the right, with repeated efforts to enter it, until at the extreme right another assault was attempted. It was only partially successful and resulted in the capture of most of the troops who joined in the attempt.

Page 88 S.C.,FLA., AND ON THE GA. COAST. Chapter XLVII.