The Battle of Honey Hill, S.C.
Report of Brigadier General John P. Hatch
U.S. Army, Commanding Coast Division
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records
of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 Vols.,
(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1882)
Copy provided by Marjorie Kwiatkowski; HTML text prepared by Gary W. Myers
HDQRS. COAST DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Deveaux's Neck, S.C., December --, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of the movements of this division from the date of its embarkation at Hilton Head to the close of the action at Honey Hill:
The force collected from different points in the Department of the South, with the addition of
a small brigade from the navy, numbered, including all arms, about 5,500 men, organized as
follows: Two brigades of infantry, commanded by Brig. Gen. E. E. Potter and Col. A. S.
Hartwell, Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers; Naval Brigade, Commander George H. Preble,
U.S. Navy, commanding; portions of three batteries light artillery, Lieut. Col. William Ames,
Third Rhode Island Artillery, commanding. It was embarked on the evening of the 28th
November, with the intention of landing at Boyd's Neck at daylight the following morning. My
command of the force was to commence after landing. At 2.30 a.m., the hour previously
designated, the signal for sailing was given from the flag-ship of the department commander. The
transports immediately got under way; but soon after, a dense fog covering the river, some came
to anchor, others continuing the advance grounded, whilst others, by a mistake of the pilots, were
taken up the Chechesse instead of the Broad River. The pilot of my own steamer advising me to
wait daylight, I did so, and consequently it was from that transport the first troops commenced
landing, at about 11 a.m. The steamer Canonicus containing engineer troops and material, was
unfortunately one of the transports that had gone up the Chechesse by mistake, and did not arrive
at Boyd's Neck until about 2 p.m. This caused a delay in building the necessary landing to enable
the artillery and means of transportation to be disembarked.
The ammunition of the troops engaged being nearly expended, and none arriving from the
rear, this regiment was necessarily held in reserve, as I received information from deserters and
prisoners that large re-enforcements were being received by the enemy by railroad. One section of
Mesereau's artillery, having been placed in battery in a position completely commanded by the
artillery and sharpshooters of the enemy, lost two of its officers wounded, and most of its horses
and cannoneers; two of the ammunition-chests on the limbers were blown up. A detail of a
company from the One hundred and second U.S. Colored Troops was ordered to bring off the
guns. Capt. A. E. Lindsay, commanding the company, was killed, and Lieut. H. H. Alvord was
severely wounded. The command of the company devolved upon a sergeant, who did not
understand the object of the advance, and failed to accomplish it. First Lieut. O. W. Bennett, One
hundred and second U.S. Colored Troops, with thirty men was detached for the same purpose,
and executed it in the coolest and most gallant manner. Mesereau's artillery was then sent to the
rear, and Titus' battery brought into action. The artillery fire was directed to be continued slowly,
as the ammunition was being expended and none received from the rear. The caissons as fast as
emptied were ordered to the landing to refill. About 3 p.m. 6,000 rounds of musket ammunition
was received and issued to those regiments entirely out. It was, however, now certain that the
enemy's position could not be carried; and whilst a moderate fire was kept up, arrangements were
commenced for retiring as soon as it became dark. The ammunition of Titus' battery, except
twenty rounds each for two guns, being expended, the naval guns under Lieutenant Commander
In closing this report I must give the gallant men the credit due them. The list of killed and wounded, none of whom fell in retreat, attest their good conduct. The affair was a repulse owing entirely to the strong position held by the enemy and our want of ammunition. A few instances of individual gallantry that have come particularly to my knowledge I will mention: Col. A. S. Hartwell, Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, commanding brigade, received his third wound during the engagement at the foot of the enemy's intrenchments; Col. James C. Beecher, Thirty-fifth U.S. Colored Troops, twice wounded, refused to go to the rear until the close of the action; Lieut. George H. Crocker, Third New York Artillery, continued to serve his guns, after losing an eye, until they were withdrawn by order.
Lieut. Cols. W. T. Bennett and James F. Hall, of my staff; S. L. Woodford, One hundred and
twenty-seventh New York Volunteers; N. Haughton, Twenty-fifth Ohio; James C. Carmichael,
One hundred and fifty-seventh New York Volunteers; A. J. Willard, Thirty-fifth U.S. Colored
Troops; Lieut. Commanders A. F. Crosman and E. O. Matthews, U.S. Navy; Capt. T. J.
Mesereau, Third New York Artillery; Lieut. G. G. Stoddard, U.S. Marines; Lieuts. E. H. Titus
and George C. Breck, Third New York Artillery, deserve particular mention. The brigade
commanders--Brig. Gen. E. E. Potter, Commander G. H. Preble, U.S. Navy, and Lieut. Col.
William Ames, Third Rhode Island Artillery--gave me a hearty support. General Potter, who
commanded the advance, handled his troops handsomely, and personally superintended the
withdrawal of the rear of the command on the retreat. To my own staff I am indebted for their
energy and activity. Col. G. A. Pierce, quartermaster, volunteer aide, was wounded whilst making
a reconnaissance. Capt. G. E. Gouraud, of General Foster's staff, won the praise of all, and is
particularly commended for gallantry. (*) Capts. W. W. Sampson, acting aide-de-camp, and T. L.
Appleton assistant provost-marshal; Lieuts. L. B. Perry, acting assistant adjutant-general; E. B.
Van Winkle, aide-de-camp; D. G. McMartin,
In the reports of brigade commanders, herewith inclosed, you will find personal mention of other officers. The medical department, under direction of Surg. George S. Burton, Third Rhode Island Artillery, proved itself highly efficient, and the corps of stretcher-bearers visited thoroughly all parts of the field where the troops were engaged. A list of the casualties accompanies this report. The total killed, wounded, and missing is 746. Of the 28 missing, I have been indirectly informed that 13 unwounded and 5 wounded men are in the hands of the enemy.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. P. HATCH,
Capt. W. L. M. BURGER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Dept. of the South.
Recapitulation of the killed, wounded, and missing in the Coast Division, Department of the South
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