The Battle of Honey Hill, S.C.
Report of Brigadier General Edward E. Potter
U.S. Army, Commanding First Brigade
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


HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, FIELD DIVISION,
Deveaux's Neck, December 11, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade in the affair of the 30th ultimo, at Honey Hill, near Grahamville, S.C.:

The brigade moved at 8 a.m., on the Grahamville road, from the church at the intersection of that road with the one leading from Boyd's Landing to Tenny's Landing. The One Hundred and twenty-seventh New York were in advance, followed by the Twenty-fifth Ohio, and in its rear a section of Battery F, Third New York Artillery. After marching about half a mile the enemy was encountered. He had one piece of artillery in position on the raid on slightly rising ground at the end of a swampy defile. The One hundred and twenty-seventh were deployed as skirmishers to the right and left of the road, and the Twenty-fifth Ohio, One hundred and fifty-seventh New York, and One hundred and forty-fourth New York, advanced to their support. On the left of the road was a thick jungle, almost impassable for infantry; on the right were occasional Openings, but here the enemy had set fire to the tall grass and weeds, and this seriously impeded the advance of the troops. I was consequently obliged to order the regiments in the rear to advance by the flank along the road at double-quick, in order to expose them for as short a time as possible to the enemy's fire, which enfiladed the road. The section of Battery F, Third New York Artillery, also advanced and came into battery on the road. The enemy now fell back and the brigade marched a short distance by the flank on the road, with the One hundred and twenty-seventh deployed as skirmishers. The enemy took up a new position, from which he was soon driven, and the command moved forward without opposition until Honey Hill was reached. At this point the road to Grahamville takes a sharp turn to the left, and another road comes in from the right, probably connecting with the Coosawhatchie road. Along the last road and to the right of the Grahamville road the enemy was found intrenched; a vigorous charge of the Twenty-fifth Ohio drove them from these intrenchments, which connected with the main work placed on a hill thirty feet in height and mounting five guns. On the left of the Grahamville road the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York drove the enemy and got within 200 yards of their works. Our line was now formed, with the One hundred and forty-fourth New York, Twenty-fifth Ohio, Thirty-second U. S. Colored Troops, and marines on the right of the road, and the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York, Fifty-sixth New York, and One hundred and fifty-seventh New York upon the left. The section of Battery F, Third New York Artillery, went in battery on the road about the center of the line and opened a rapid and steady fire. I ordered the right of the line to press forward, swinging round to the left, and if possible to take the enemy's works in flank and rear; but after advancing a short distance, the dense undergrowth and deep swamps prevented their farther progress. The Thirty-fifth U.S. Colored Troops, which had come up about this time, was pushed out on our right center; but the heavy fire of the enemy and the difficulties of the ground compelled them to withdraw. Colonel Beecher was severely wounded, but kept the field. The regiment was reformed and held in reserve in rear of the section of Battery F, Third New York Artillery. On our extreme left the enemy pressed rather heavily, and the left wing of the Fifty-sixth New York was ordered to take position on the left, and in support of the One hundred and fifty-seventh New York. Here also the deep swamp and abatis in front of the enemy's works prevented the advance of our troops. We maintained our position thus taken until dark, keeping up and receiving a heavy fire, and suffering considerable loss from our exposed situation. At dusk, in accordance with instructions received from the brigadier-general commanding the Field Division, I commenced to withdraw the troops. A position was taken up about half a mile in our rear, and the One hundred and forty-fourth and Fifty-sixth New York formed a line on either side of the road to cover the retrograde movement. The One hundred and twenty-seventh New York and the One hundred and second U.S. Colored Troops, of the Second Brigade, were left as supports for a section of the Naval Battery, which kept up a fire against the enemy's works. The regiments on the left were first withdrawn, and then the regiments on the right. A second position was taken up about a mile in rear of the first, and the Twenty-fifth Ohio and One hundred and fifty-seventh New York ordered to hold it. The section of the Naval Battery and its supports were then withdrawn, and after they had passed the first line was held for two hours. At the expiration of this time the One hundred and forty-fourth and Fifty-sixth New York took up their march for the church. The second line was held for half an hour after the last-mentioned regiments had passed. I remained at the church until 3 a.m. of the 1st instant, with the One hundred and forty-fourth New York and Thirty-second U.S. Colored Troops and a section of Battery F, Third New York Artillery. These regiments then moved down to the cross-roads and bivouacked. The whole movement was conducted without confusion and in perfect order.

I cannot close this report without making honorable mention of the good conduct and steadiness displayed by the officers and men under the most trying circumstances. Exposed to a heavy fire from a concealed enemy who was strongly intrenched, and laboring under every disadvantage of ground, they maintained their position with the greatest tenacity and endurance. Nothing but the formidable character of the obstacles which they had to encounter prevented them from achieving success. Where all behaved so well it is difficult to specify marked instances of good conduct, but special mention may be made of the One hundred and twenty-seventh New York, Colonel Gurney, which had the advance, and the One hundred and fifty-seventh New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Carmichael, and Twenty-fifth Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Haughton, on the right and left of the line. These last two regiments met and resisted several charges of the enemy. The Thirty-second U.S. Colored Troops, Colonel Baird, and Thirty-fifth U.S. Colored Troops, Colonel Beecher, are also deserving of great credit. The former regiment lost Lieutenant-Colonel Geary, wounded. Colonel Beecher, of the latter regiment, was severely wounded early in the action, but kept the field until the close of the day. The One hundred and forty-fourth New York, Colonel Lewis, and Fifty-sixth New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Tyler, although not so warmly engaged as the other regiments, conducted themselves with great steadiness and courage.

My own staff-- consisting of Captain Manning, acting assistant adjutant-general; Captain Silva, acting aide-de-camp; Captain Jewett, inspector of the District of Hilton Head, and Lieutenant Davis, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry--were active and efficient in the discharge of their duties, displaying coolness and gallantry under fire, and great intelligence in the transmission of orders.

I forward herewith a report of casualties in the brigade.(*)

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

EDWARD E. POTTER,
Brigadier-General Commanding.

Lieut. L. B. PERRY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


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