The Battle of Honey Hill, S.C.
Report of Commander George H. Preble
U.S. Navy, Commanding Marine 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 MARINE BRIGADE,
In Camp on Grahamville Road, S. C., December 4, 1864.
GENERAL: In obedience to your order of yesterday, I have the honor to report the part taken by the naval force under my command in the action at Honey Hill, S. C., on the 30th of November, ultimo:
After landing the artillery battalion on the morning of the 29th, at 9 a.m., it was advanced, under command of Lieut. Commander E. O. Matthews, U.S. Navy, about two miles along the road, supported on the right by the sailor battalion of infantry, under command of Lieut. James O'Kane, U.S. Navy, and on the left by the battalion of marines, under command of First Lieut. of Marines G. G. Stoddard, thrown out in advance as skirmishers. At the forks of the road I halted the command and brought our artillery into a defensive position. Having no guide or map to refer to, and not satisfied that the crossing was the one designated as our halting place, from the road not continuing beyond, as shown me on your map at the landing, Lieut. Commander A. F. Crosman, acting adjutant of the brigade, with myself and fifteen of the sailor infantry, went out along the road to the right and disclosed the enemy's cavalry and infantry pickets watching our movements. A few rifle-shots were exchanged, when we fell back to the main command, and at 4 p.m. I moved it to the right or north about two miles, where we were intrenching our camp, when Brigadier-General Potter rode up and informed me that we were on the wrong road. I returned with the command to the forks of the road and encamped for the night, by his order, to refresh our men, who had been dragging the field pieces all day, General Potter continuing with his forces on his route to the left.
At 7 a.m. on the 30th we were on the march again along the southern road. At 7.45 a.m., on
receipt of your order, the two lightest 12-pounder howitzers were sent back to the forks of the
road we had left, to defend that point until the arrival of a battery from Beaufort. Actg. Ensign J.
A. Edgren was detailed to take charge of these pieces. Their arrival was timely, and repulsed a
party of cavalry and infantry who were advancing on our right. At 9 a.m. I reported to you in
person at your headquarters, at the church. At 9.30 a.m. my brigade was formed in the rear of the
First Brigade as the reserve, and was kept in
Lieutenant Stoddard calls attention to the gallant conduct of Sergeant Cogly in bringing up ammunition to the front under heavy fire, and thus enabling the battalion to hold its position.
With the exception of one man wounded in the battery, all the casualties in my command were among the marines. Considering that the marines were drawn from the vessels of the squadron scattered on the blockade, and had been formed into a battalion only two days previous, and that all the company officers were sergeants, I think their conduct creditable to the corps.
Asst. Surg. W. J. Bowdie, of U.S. Navy, my senior medical officer, at the request of Surg.
George S. Burton, U.S. Army, chief medical officer of the military force, was detailed to the
church hospital in the rear, and from 9 a.m. the 30th until 2 p.m. December 1 was constantly
employed in attending to the wounded brought from the front, and has since been and is still
employed at Boyd's Landing in that service.
Asst. Surg. E. M. Corson and Actg. Asst. Surg. H. L. Gibbs were at the front and rendered constant and efficient service to our own and the wounded of the army.
As the casualties in my brigade were fortunately slight, the service of all these surgeons was principally given to the military.
The medical supplies of the army not having arrived, those intended for this command, and happily at hand, were consumed for the wounded of the army.
Herewith I transmit Assistant Surgeon Bowdle's report of killed, wounded, and missing by name, as required by your order.(*) Henry Kittering, seaman, reported as missing, has since returned to the command.
In conclusion I congratulate you, general, on the brave troops you command. I am sure a more cheerful and reliant spirit or greater bravery could not have been displayed by any body of men, and it was only that the enemy was in too strong force and position for the limited force at your control that we did not carry his works.
I take this occasion to express my grateful appreciation of the many kind attentions received by myself and officers from our military brethren in arms. It has been, and shall be, my endeavor to cordially co-operate with the military forces.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. HENRY PREBLE,
Commander, U.S. Navy, Commanding Naval Brigade,
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Brig. Gen. J.P. HATCH, U.S. Army,
Commanding Coast Division, U. S. Army.
Return to Honey Hill home page