Report of Brigadier-General Alfred H. Terry, Commanding, 2nd Brigade, U.S. Tenth Army Corps, Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina (3 November 1862)

Brigadier-General Alfred H. Terry, U.S. Army (c. late 1860s, public domain).

Brigadier-General Alfred H. Terry, U.S. Army (c. late 1860s, public domain).

HEADQUARTERS U.S. FORCES,
Hilton Head, S.C., November 3, 1862.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the troops under my command in the expedition to Pocotaligo on the 21st, 22d, and 23d ultimo:

My force consisted of 514 officers and men of the Seventh Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, under Col. Joseph R. Hawley, temporarily organized as six companies; 480 officers and men of the Third Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, under Col. John H. Jackson, organized as six companies; 420 officers and men of the Seventy-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, under Col. D. C. Strawbridge, also organized as six companies; four companies of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, under Maj. H. Rogers, jr., and a section of Hamilton’s battery (E), of the Third Artillery, U.S. Army. A detachment of the Volunteer Engineer Regiment, 250 strong, under the command of Col. E. W. Serrell, also accompanied the troops from this post. On arriving at Mackay’s Point Colonel Serrell was attached to the staff of the general commanding, and Lieut. Col. James F. Hall, upon whom the command of the detachment devolved, was ordered to report to me.

The embarkation from this point was effected during the afternoon of the 21st and was completed at dusk, the troops being distributed on the transports as follows: The Seventh Connecticut on the transport Boston; the Third New Hampshire on the Boston and the gunboats Patroon and Uncas; The Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers on the transport Flora and the gunboat Water Witch; the Third Rhode Island Artillery on the gunboats Marblehead and Vixen; the Volunteer Engineers on the armed transport George Washington, and the section of artillery on one of the flats constructed for that purpose. After the embarkation the vessels of the expedition moved in their places prescribed by the order of sailing.

Between 9 and 10 o’clock in the evening I received a verbal order from the brigadier-general commanding to detail 107 officers and men to embark in the boats of the men-of-war, and proceed to and beyond Mackay’s Point and endeavor to capture the enemy’s outposts in that vicinity. In accordance with this order I detailed for this service 2 officers and 75 men from the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers and 2 officers and 32 men of the Third New Hampshire Volunteers. Captain Gray, of the Seventh Connecticut, with 95 men, was directed to proceed up Broad River, beyond Mackay’s Point, and land in the rear of the pickets and cut off their retreat in the direction of Pocotaligo. The remaining 12 men, under command of Lieut. S. M. Smith, of the Third Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, were directed to proceed up the Pocotaligo River and capture the pickets upon Cuthbert’s Island. I have received no written report from Captain Gray, but I learned from him verbally that, under the guidance of the negro guide furnished to him, he ascended Broad River some 3 miles above Mackay’s Point, a distance much beyond the proper point for a landing, and when the error was discovered it was too late to effect his object. Lieutenant Smith was more fortunate; he landed undiscovered, and by a judicious disposition of his men succeeded in capturing 1 lieutenant and 3 men of the enemy, together with their horses. I inclose [sic] you Lieutenant Smith’s report.*

Owing to the sailing signal being unobserved or misunderstood much confusion and delay occurred in the movements of the vessels on which my command was embarked, and they did not arrive at the point of debarkation until long after the anticipated time. The Boston, on which were my own headquarters, did not arrive until nearly 8 a.m. of the 22d, and the gunboats Marblehead and Water Witch were delayed until a very late period of the day.

Upon my arrival I found that the debarkation of the troops already arrived was proceeding, and I immediately commenced landing the men upon my own vessel.

I here received orders from the general commanding to form my own brigade in columns, right in front, immediately in rear of the First Brigade, and to put the whole force in motion toward Pocotaligo. On landing I found that the First Brigade, under Colonel Chatfield, with the exception of the Fourth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, had already moved forward, and that the battery of my brigade and the one company of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, which had arrived, had accompanied them. Lieutenant Henry, with the battery of the First Brigade, and Lieut. Lloyd Phoenix, U.S. Navy, with three boat howitzers, here reported to me.

I immediately directed Colonel Bell, of the Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, to move his regiment forward, and, as soon as my own brigade was formed, put them in march, the battery and boat howitzers leading, followed by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, the Seventh Connecticut, the Third New Hampshire, and the Engineers. Finding that the First Brigade was some distance in advance, I sent orders to Colonel Chatfield to halt his command until my own men should come up. The whole force being united, Lieutenant Henry’s section of artillery joined the First Brigade; Lieutenant’s [sic] Gittings’ section joined my own, and the company of Rhode Island Artillery, under Capt. J. J. Comstock, was assigned to duty with the battery of boat howitzers. The column was then put in motion, but immediately thereafter I received orders from the general commanding to halt, throw out pickets, and await his arrival. The point at which this halt was made was some 2½ or 3 miles from the landing. On the general’s arrival the whole force advanced, marching by the flank. Approaching Frampton’s, the sound of artillery was heard at the front, and I soon received orders to form column and move forward at the double-quick to support the First Brigade, then engaged with the enemy. I here detailed half a company of the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers as a hospital guard, and the remainder of the same company, under Captain Tourtellotte, to assist the boat howitzers.

In obedience to further orders from the commanding general my leading regiment (the Seventh-sixth Pennsylvania) was thrown into the woods, 200 yards to the left of the road, to protect the left fank of the first line, and the Seventh Connecticut and Third New Hampshire were deployed on the right and left, immediately in the rear of the batteries, which were maintaining a rapid fire. The brigade remained in this position for some time, the men lying down and thus escaping serious damage from the enemy’s fire. Having received orders to that effect, I moved forward a short distance beyond the guns, while a charge upon the battery in our front was executed by troops of the First Brigade. The enemy being drive from their position, I was ordered to again advance, and I attempted to do so in line; but finding the ground in front densely wooded, and intersected by a marsh that could only be crossed by a causeway, the regiments were brought into the road by the flank. After passing the causeway and reaching the firm and open ground beyond I threw them again into column, the Third New Hampshire and Seventh Connecticut on the right of the road and the Seventh-sixth Pennsylvania on the left.

Having advanced some distance in this formation the ground again became broken by woods and marshes, and I was again obliged to bring my men into the road and advance by the flank. Soon after coming into the road I received orders from the general commanding to send one regiment to the front on the double-quick, and to post another regiment, with one piece of artillery, on an obscure road, running into the Pocotaligo road from the Coosawhatchie road, so as to protect the left of our forces from any attack from that direction. I sent forward the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, and went personally to post the Third New Hampshire and one boat howitzer in the directed position. Having accomplished this and coming to the front, I found the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers and Seventh Connecticut already deployed on the left and right of the road, just within the edge of the wood which borders the marshy banks of the Pocotaligo River, beyond which the enemy had taken position, the batteries being on the road a little in advance of the line. Soon after my arrival our artillery fire was much diminished, owing to the exhaustion of the ammunition, and the fire of the enemy correspondingly increased. I therefore ordered forward the flank companies of the Seventh Connecticut, armed with Sharps breech-loading rifles, to open upon them. This order was obeyed with alacrity, and such was the accuracy and tremendous rapidity of their fire that the opposing battery was completely silenced and the enemy’s infantry were able to make only a feeble reply. At about this time the two companies of the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, under command of Captain Hicks, which were embarked on the gunboat Water Witch, came up, and were formed on the left of the artillery, between it and their own regiment, where they did good service. When the enemy’s fire slackened I gave the order to cease firing As soon as this was done the enemy’s again sprang up. I then commenced firing from the whole line, ceasing from time to time as theirs was controlled and again reviewing it as theirs revived in consequence of the cessation of ours or of the arrival of their re-enforcements. During this time a considerable body of cavalry appeared on this side of the river, threatening our left flank. Colonel Strawbridge, whose regiment formed our left, promptly wheeled up two companies, opened fire, and drove them back. They did not again advance during the day.

Shortly after the fire was first opened I endeavored to ascertain whether the river was fordable, and for this purpose directed Colonel Hawley, of the Seventh Connecticut, to call for volunteers to examine it, and First Lieut. E. S. Perry and Private Crabbe, of Company H, gallantly offered to perform this duty. Advancing under the fire of both parties they reached the banks, and ascertained that it is one of the narrow, but deep and muddy, streams common in this region, and that there was no possibility of fording it.

At about 5 o’clock I learned from the general commanding that, in consequence of the breaking down of the bridge and the resulting impossibility of effecting a passage across the stream behind which the enemy had retreated, he had determined to withdraw his forces, and I received directions from him to cover the movement, maintaining my position until dusk and until all the wounded should be carried to the rear. The general at the same time directed the Fourth New Hampshire Regiment, then in the road, somewhat in the rear of the front, to form a line on the left and retire slowly. In pursuance of these orders I remained in position till quite dark, and until the wounded were brought in and I received orders to retire.

Prior to the reception of these orders I had relieved the Seventh Connecticut, whose ammunition was nearly exhausted, by the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania; and the Third New Hampshire, which was still at some distance to the left and rear, in the position where I had posted it, was brought back to the road, its right resting upon it; and the boat howitzer, under command of Midshipman Wallace, was brought to the front, when it fired the last discharge of artillery of the day. The regiments were withdrawn one after the other, successively forming lines to the rear to cover the withdrawal of each other, the cavalry occupying the road at charging distance behind the lines thus formed. On arriving at the first causeway I found the general commanding with the troops first withdrawn, and received from him orders to proceed at once with my brigade to Mackay’s Point and put the regiments in bivouac as they should arrive. On my way to this place, while still between 2 and 3 miles from it, I met coming up that portion of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, under Major Rogers, which had been on the gunboat Marblehead, and directed him to halt his command and report his arrival to the general commanding. As fast as the regiments came in at the point they were placed in bivouac, in brigade lines, at right angles to the road, and a fresh supply of ammunition was served out. At midnight, in accordance with directions receieved from the general commanding, Major Rogers’ detachment of the Third Rhode Island and the cavalry were thrown forward as pickets, with instructions to fire rockets as signals to the gunboats whose guns bore upon the approaches to our position, in case of the appearance of the enemy.

After my arrival I made details from the regiments of my own brigade to aid similar details from the First Brigade, who, under the immediate direction of the general commanding, were bringing in the wounded. As fast as they were brought in they were placed upon the transports, both officers and men, although very weary, working with great zeal and cheerfulness to succor their disabled comrades. The re-embarkation of the troops commenced at about 8 a.m. of the 23d and was completed at sunset, the Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Vounteers, three companies of which had been substituted for the Rhode Island detachment as pickets in the afternoon, being the last to leave the point.

In the afternoon several pickets and vedettes [sic] of the enemy were seen by our outposts, but they remained at a respectful distance and made no effort to annoy them.

During the whole of the22d nothing could surpass the coolness and firmness of both officers and men of my command. Where all have done their duty so manfully it is difficult to single out individuals for special commendation, but I desire to express my thanks to Colonels Hawley, Jackson, and Strawbridge, to Lieutenant-Colonel Hall, and to Lieut. E. Gittings, wounded, of the battery. The courage and good conduct of all these gentlemen deserve the highest approbation of the commanding general.

The Forty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was for a short time under my immediate command, and, although they are not a portion of my brigade, I cannot forbear mentioning the steadiness and discipline by this admirable regiment during our movements to the rear.

I desire also to bring to the notice of the commanding general the gallant manner in which Lieutenant Phoenix, U.S. Navy, and the officers and men under his command, and the officers and mend detailed to assist them, served the boat howitzers during the day,

My thanks are due also to a civilian, Mr. S. A. Cooley, the sutler of the Sixth Connecticut Regiment, who, under no obligations of duty, but prompted solely by motives of humanity, labored most energetically and effectively throughout the night, superintending the boats used in carrying the wounded on board the transports.

I am under great obligations to Dr. D. J. McKibbin, surgeon of volunteers, acting as brigade surgeon to the Second Brigade, for his unwearied efforts in behalf of the wounded, and to the members of my person staff, Capt. Theodore Bacon, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-genera, and Lieuts. Adrian Terry, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, and Martin S. James, Third Rhode Island Artillery, aides-de-camp, who conveyed my orders under the heaviest fire with a zeal, activity, and courage that left nothing to be desire.

I inclose [sic] reports of the commanders of the regiments of my brigade.

I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ALFRED H. TERRY,
Brigadier-General Volunteers.

Capt. LOUIS J. LAMBERT, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hilton Head, S.C.

* Not found.

 

Sources:

Report of Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, Tenth Army Corps, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Prepared Under the Direction of the Secretary of War, By Lieut. Col. Robert N. Scott, Third U.S. Artillery, and Published Pursuant to Act of Congress Approved June 16, 1880, Series I, Vol. XIV. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1885.