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teers, were to-day exercised in evolutions of the line. There were
four regiments and battalions on the drill besides the Twenty-fifth.
The performance was very creditable to all of the troops in the line.

April 24th to July 8th. — Under the call of the Executive Council
of the State for ten regiments with field officers appointed by the
Governor and Council, Lamar's regiment of artillery and the



o:i



Southern Histoi'ical Society Papers.



Twenty-fitth South Carolina volunteers had been raised and organ-
ized. The conscription laws of the Confederacy caused all further
proceedings under the call to be suspended. Lamar had died, and
Colonel Frederick had succeeded him in command of the artillery
regiment. Some demagogue in the Legislature of the State, with
his eye on that regiment, introduced and got a bill through which
provided for an election of field officers in the regiments organized
under the call of the Executive Council. No particular regiment was
mentioned in the bill, and it applied as much to the Twenty-fifth regi-
ment as to the artillery. It would be very remarkable if in a whole
regiment there were no aspirants for office, and the Twenty-fifth was
not an exception to an assemblage of about one thousand average
citizens. There soon sprung up in the regiment considerable discus-
sion over the proposed election. There were those found in the com-
mand who were willing to take the places now filled by the field offi-
cers. The Adjutant-General of the State had the indiscretion to issue
the orders for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the statute,
apparently forgetting that the State had lost all power and right to
control troops in the Confederate service. This action of the Adjutant-
General had the effect of increasing the ardor of the candidates, and
give a fresh impulse to electioneering. Before the day fixed for the
election the aspirants had pretty generally canvassed the regiment,
and ascertained that the field officers were so well established in the
regards of the men that it was useless to oppose them. No election
was held. General Beauregard put a stop to the whole thing by pub-
lishing an order in which he said that the act of the Legislature did
rrot apply to the artillery or the Twenty-fifth, because, said the order,
" the State of South Carolina could never have intended to control
the Confederate army. The law must have been designed to apply
to some other troops." The agitation resulted in a benefit to the
regiment, for it was ascertained that the men stood ready to endorse
the field officers. The 15th of May was the day named by the order
of the Adjutant- General for the election. Colonel Simonton was not
in command of the regiment, and the Major and the Lieutenant-Colonel
were both on leave of absence — the former on sick leave, and the lat-
ter on account of the illness and death of his father. The absence of
the field officers made the many favorable expressions of opinion
which reached their ears still more agreeable.

About this time the Twenty-fourth and Sixteenth South Carolina
Volunteers, Forty-sixth Georgia, and the Eighth Georgia Battalion
and Fergerson's Light Battery were organized into a brigade and took



Diary of Lieutenant- Colonel John G. Pressley. 53

their departure, under the command of Brigadier- General S. R. Gist,
to join the army of the Mississippi. Colonel Simonton, by the ab-
sence of Colonel C. H. Stevens, became for awhile the ranking- .officer
on James Island, and the command of the island devolved on him.
The camp of the regiment was moved to Secessionville, and regi-
mental headquarters established in Lawtore's house. Captain G. H.
Moffet, the adjutant, usually went with and acted as assistant adjutant
genera! for Colonel Simonton when he was exercising a brigadier's
command. Lieutenant F. J. Lesesne, of the Ripley Guards, in the
absence of Moffet, acted as adjutant of the regiment. I found him
invariably brave, trustworthy and efficient.

In the latter part of the spring we lost the services of our chaplain,
E. T. Winkler, D. D. He was detached from the regiment and or-
dered up to the city for duty in the hospitals. We were exceedingly
fortunate in having his place filled by Rev. A. F. Dickson, a Presby-
terian minister of high position in his church. Mr. Dickson followed
in the footsteps of his predecessors in the chaplaincy, and discharged
all of the duties of his honorable and important office with zeal and
ability. The officers and men soon learned to love him as they had
done our former chaplains. Mr. Dickson distinguished himself by
the same kindly efforts to promote the comfort of the well, mollify
the sufferings of the sick, and strengthen the faith of the dying which
had characterized the administration of the office by Revs. Porter
and Winkler. Our three chaplains were men of broad and catholic
views. Their perfect freedom from bigotry procured them the esteem
and confidence of the men of every religious persuasion, as well as of
those of no particular denominational bias.

071 the 2jd of May I was detailed as president of a Board of Ex-
aminers, with Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. Jeffords, of the cavalry, and
Captain C. H. Parker, of the artillery, as my associates. I was absent
for about twenty days, during which time the command of the
Twenty-fifth devolved on Major John V. Glover. The regiment never
suffered in its discipline nor otherwise in the hands of Major Glover.
As an assistant, messmate, friend and associate, he was all that a regi-
mental commander could desire.

The months of May and June and the early part of July, 1863,
were very quiet times on James Island. Daily drills, dress parades and
guard mountings, made camp life somewhat monotonous. A feeling
of security had taken possession of the soldiers to such an extent
that many of the men and some of the officers on the island had
brought their wives and expected a quiet summer. Other officers



54 Southern Historical Society Papers.

were making arrangements to bring their families to camp. No one
had any idea of how busy the enemy were preparing for the siege of
Charleston, more vigorously than it had yet been pressed.

About the ist of July, First Lieutenant Samuel Dibble, of the
Edisto Rifles, a restless, dashing and daring young officer, deter-
mined to tind out whether the enemy were occupying Long Island.
This island is the next below Secessionville, and was at the time cov-
ered by a dense growth of pines, scrub oaks and such other trees as
grow on the uncultivated islands on the coast. He received permis-
sion to go on a scouting expedition, and selected to accompany him
two men well qualified for such service, men of true courage and
extraordinary presence of mind. These two men, both of whom
were only too glad to have an opportunity to volunteer for desperate
service, were Sergeant D. M. McClary of the Wee Nees and Cor-
poral McLeod of the Washington Light Infantry Company B. A
very light boat which belonged to the post was manned by these
two non-commissioned officers, with the Lieutenant at the helm.
During the night at high water they pulled across the marsh and
landed on Long Island. The men were instructed by Lieutenant
Dibble to wait at the boat till his return, proposing to go into the
woods by himself and ascertain the situation, and telling them that
he would not be gone very long. McClary and McLeod waited till
daylight, concealing themselves in the grass, when a Federal sergeant
came out of the woods, drew out a telescope and after adjusting the
glasses rested it against a tree and leveled it at our works at Seces-
sionville. The non-appearance of Lieutenant Dibble was now
understood by his escort. They at once ordered the Yankee to
surrender, and having disarmed him ordered him to take hold of
one end of the boat, which was now aground, the tide having re-
ceded, and assist in pushing it to the water. They had not pro-
ceeded far across the mud flat before a squad of the enemy appeared
on the edge of the marsh, and demanded their surrender. This
they refused, and ordered their prisoner, on pain of instant death, to
push the boat with all his might.

They had not many paces more to go till they got the boat to the
water, when they got in, compelling their prisoner to follow them
and still to protect them by keeping himself between them and the
squad, loudly calling for their surrender. They soon got out of
range without a shot being fired, the Yankees preferring to allow the
game to escape rather than endanger the life of their comrade. He
was brought safely to Secessionville. We searched him for papers,



Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Pressley. 55

and found a diary, which he had brought down to the capture of
Lieutenant Dibble. The diary gave an account of the building of
masked batteries at Folley Inlet on the northern end of FoUey
Island, of which the Confederates had no knowledge previously.
I deemed this information quite important, and sent the diary imme-
diately to General Ripley in Charleston. [If proper attention had
been paid to the information which it contained the surprise and dis-
aster of the loth of July would have been avoided, and the advantage
gained would in some measure have compensated for the unequal
exchange which had been made when we lost Lieutenant Dibble and
got a sergeant.] I allowed nothing taken from our prisoner except
this diary, and the spy- glass. These he begged to be allowed to
retain. He was told that the diary was too valuable to be left in his
keeping, and that as our Lieutenant had a spy-glass with him when
he was captured, we would take this glass in exchange. [Lieu-
tenant Dibble remained a prisoner in the hands of the enemy till
October, 1864, and the Twenty-fifth South Carolina Volunteers was
thus deprived of one of our most promising officers.]

July gth.—A\\ of our hopes of a quiet summer are rudely dis-
pelled. The enemy unmasked formidable batteries at Folley Inlet,
and their iron-clad fleet appeared and crossed the bar. The steamer
Pawnee came up Stono river and shelled James Island as she pro-
ceeded. The regiment marched to the cross-roads near the Presby-
terian church where we had so often been when our works were
threatened, and there we spent the night in battle array.

July 10th, 186 J. — The enemy opened a furious fire from their
battery at Folley Inlet. Under cover of this fire General Strong's
brigade crossed and captured all of our works on the southern end
of Morris Island. The camp and camp equipage of the Twenty-first
regiment fell into their hands. Our troops were driven with consid-
erable loss down to Battery Wagner, and the further progress of the
enemy was stopped by the guns of that famous fortification.

The regiment remained on the picket line all day and night expect-
ing that the enemy would advance on our works simultaneously with
the attack on Morris Island, but all was quiet in our front though
the enemy had advanced and held James Island as far as Grimballs.

July nth. — We were relieved this morning and returned to our
camp at Secessionville. The signal book which was found on the
Keokuk remained for a long time in the hands of General Beauregard
as useless as a sealed volume. At length a signal officer of the
enemy was captured near Beaufort. (I have seen it stated by a Fed-



36 Southern Historical Society Papers.

eral officer that the capture was made near Georgetown.) A staff
officer ot" General Beauregard's undertook to learn the signals, had
himself dressed in Federal uniform and incarcerated with the prisoner.
He made the Federal believe that he was a Yankee just captured and
had succeeded in hiding away in his boot the signal book. Said
the Confederate, "I had just received an appointment in the signal
corps, but was captured before I learnt enough to be of any service.
As I have managed to keep my book, we can improve the time by
your teaching me the signals. When we are exchanged I will be of
some use."

The Federal officer, completely deceived, fell into the trap so art-
fully set for him. He found an apt scholar. It was not long before
the Federal system of signals was thoroughly understood by a Con-
federate officer capable of imparting his knowledge to our whole
signal corps. The two officers were separated, the Federal in igno-
rance of the fact that his pupil was soon to be set to work teaching
the Confederates to read the Federal signals.

Late in the afternoon of to day (nth Julyj one of the signal corps
brought Colonel Simonton a dispatch which they had interpreted, as
the enemy's signal officers were sending it from Gilmore, command-
ing the land forces, to Admiral Dahlgreen, commanding the fieet. It
was a request that the Admiral would furnish him with one hundred
boats to be manned by the land forces, and to be used in attacking
Secessionville, across the marsh by way of the creeks from Folley
Island. The attack was to be made before morning. Our engineers
had never contemplated the possibility of attack from that direction,
and had constructed no defences of any kind on the water front. The
creek, which runs by the peninsula on which the village was built,
reaches for forty or fifty yards to the high land and then recedes very
gradually. A substantial wharf was built where the creek touched
the high land. At high water there is from five to eight feet of water
in the creek. There is considerable water in it at all stages of the
tide. There is nothing by way of dtfence between us and the enemy
at night except a boat picket of three or four men. But for this notice
of the intention of the enemy to move on us, such an attack as had
been planned would almost certainly have been successful if made
with boldness and energy. The enemy could have formed along our
water front almost as quickly as our troops could have been gotten
under arms. If our boat pickets could have been secured so that no
alarm would have been given we might have been taken completely
by surprise. As soon as the information was received I assembled



Diary of Lieutenant- Colonel John G. Pressley. 5*7

the regiment and made known to them what was expected. We ap-
plied to the engineers for intrenching tools, but it was found impos-
sible to supply us, in time for the emergency, with more than one
spade for every eight or ten men. The regiment was put to work at
once digging a line of rifle pits. The men worked with a will, as
soldiers always do when they believe that they, and not some other
command, will fight behind the works which they are set to con-
structing. The spades were kept busy, the men relieved each other
at short intervals. We had not been at work long before another
dispatch was brought to Colonel Simonton, and by him forwarded to
me. Gilmore said to Dahlgreen : " Hurry up the boats, the Rebels
are at work."

It may well be imagined that this gave the men a fresh impulse,
if they needed anything to increase their energy. By night-fall we
had a very respectable line of rifle pits dug, of suflicient length to
protect the whole regiment. The garrison of the Peninsula was
reinforced by a battery of light artillery, and every possible dis-
position made to receive the enemy. The whole night was spent
under arms, but no attack was made. Our active preparations
probably deterred General Gilmore from the attempt to carry out
his plans. The enterprise and ingenuity of General Beauregard's
staff officer, of whom mention has been made, saved us and
Charleston. Had Secessionville been captured, the fall of the other
defences on James Island would be almost inevitable. [I have
been informed by a Federal officer, since the war, that the enemy
learnt to read our signals, but not at so early a date. Their
discovery was made by a long series of observations. By record-
ing a great number of motions of the flag or lantern, on the prin-
ciple that the letters of the alphabet in composition bear certain
proportions to each other in the number of times they are used,
our signals were unraveled.]

J2ily ij. — I was ordered to move the camp of the regiment nearer
to the city. We were relieved by other troops, left Secessionville,
and moved to the place occupied by us in June, 1862. The new
camp was called "Camp Pettigrew, " in honor of Brigadier-
General J. Johnson Pettigrew, who had been killed at " Falling
Waters," in Virginia. He was well known to the officers and
men of several companies of the regiment, and greatly honored
and esteemed by all who knew him.

On the 75M 0/ July an attack on the enemy was planned by
the generals in command on the James Island, but owing to the



58 Southern Historical Society Papers.

mistake or forg^etfulness of the staff officer, whose duty it was to
extend the order, I received no notice till after ii o'clock at night.
I was then roused from a sound sleep by a courier with orders.
These orders directed me to report immediately at Secessionville
with the regiment. Upon coming out of my tent I found the
camp astir, the men had in some (to me) unaccountable way got
wind of what was about to be done. The regiment, except the
Wee Nees, who were on the picket line, was soon formed on the
color front. We marched to Secessionville by way of the bridge
at Clark's house. When arrived, we found several regiments of
infantry and batteries of artillery which had preceded us in line
and ready for action. I was met by a staff officer, who directed
me to halt the regiment and report to Brigadier -General A. H. Col-
quit (the present United States Senator from Georgia). I found that
officer with Generals Hagood and Ripley at the famous Lamar Bat-
tery, all as cool and in as good spirits as if there was no serious
work in hand. General Colquit was the ranking officer. I think
that I was selected to lead the advance because of my thorough
acquaintance with the ground upon which we were about to operate.
Upon being introduced to General Colquit by General Hagood, he
inquired of me —

" Colonel, do you know the road leading to Legare's ?"
"Yes, General," I replied; "I know every foot of the island
in our front."

" Well, then," said he, " march your regiment out of the works,
deploy about two hundred and fifty men as skirmishers, hold the
rest in reserve, use the road to Legare's as a directrix, keep your
reserves well up with your skirmish line; when it is light enough to
see about fifty yards, advance and drive the enemy till you are
stopped by them, and I will assist you."

"Very well. General, I will carry out your orders."
We then marched out of the Secessionville sally-port and to the
road leading by the place where River's House once stood. Com-
panies A, B, E, F, G. and H, were thrown out as skirmishers.
and companies D, K and I, held in reserve. This disposition
was made with as litde noise as possible, but in the darkness the
right flank of the skirmish line was thrown too far forward, and
encountered the enemy before we were ready to advance. A brisk
fire was opened on our right by the enemy, which was promptly
returned. It was now nearly daylight, and the signal for a general
advance was sounded.



Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Pressley. 59

Galway, our bugler, was kept by my side, and sounded the signals.
The regiment had been drilled to skirmish by the sound of the bugle.
We encountered the enemy on the edge of the marsh below the
River's House. They were promptly driven across, our skirmish
line following through the mud and water of the marsh. The re-
serves crossed on the causeway, marching by the right flank. As
soon as the high land was reached they were brought into line and
kept up with the skirmishers till the end of the engagement. We
were followed by two or three regiments of Georgians. The enemy
made a stand at the edge of the marsh after crossing. It was not yet
light enough to see them in the tall grass and bushes with which the
field was covered. Their whereabouts was ascertained by the flashes
of their guns along their line. Neither our skirmish line nor reserves
halted. The enemy fled before we reached them, and made another
stand two or three hundred yards further down. They were driven
from this position as easily as from the first. We then discovered that
we were fighting colored troops. Some dead were found and prison-
ers taken. The Marion Artillery, Captain Parker, came up on our
left flank and opened fire, doing effective service. It was now fully
daylight. We continued to press forward, the firing becoming rather
desultory, till we came in sight of Legare's lower house. Just below
the house we found the enemy's camp and about a brigade of infantry
in line, with a battery of artillery on their right. This battery gave
their exclusive attention to the Marions. Captain Parker gallantly
returned the compliment. As soon as we commenced the movement
at River's the fleet of gunboats lying in the Stono river opened their
batteries, but the Twenty-fifth kept so near the enemy that their guns
could not be aimed at us without endangering their own troops. The
consequence was that all the damage done by the artillery of the fleet
fell to the share of the Georgians and our litter corps in our rear.

About the time that the Twenty-fifth marched out of the Seces-
sionville sally-port General Hagood, in command of one or two light
batteries of artillery and two or three regiments of infantry, started
to attack the enemy's gunboats in the river and their infantry
encamped at Grimballs. He was entirely successful, routing their
infantry and driving the gunboats down the river towards Battery
Island.

After emerging from the bushes, young pines, and tall grass that
covered that portion of the island above Legare's plantation house and
driving the enemy down to their camp below " Legare's overseer's
house," my attention was called to a body of troops coming from to-



60 Southern Historical Society Papers.

wards Grimballs' house on the causeway leading across the marsh on
our right. They were at first mistaken for a regiment of the troops that
had gone to Grimballs. If we had proceeded as rapidly as we had
been advancing these troops would have gotten in between us and
the Georgians in our rear. I called in the skirmishers and made an
oblique change of front to the right in order to meet this regiment.
As soon as these troops discovered that we had made proper dispo-
sition to meet them and before we opened fire on them they broke
and fled across the marsh towards the Stono river in great confusion.
There was an officer mounted on a fine looking black horse with
them who seemed to be rather disgusted at the conduct of his men.
He did not follow them, but continued his course on the causeway at
a very slow pace. Several shots were fired at him, but the brave
fellow, without accelerating his pace, escaped and when last seen was
about joining the main body of the enemy. We then resumed our
former front and continued to advance in line of battle towards the
enemy, my intention being to charge the light battery engaged with
the Marion artillery, when Captain Taliaferro, of General Colquit's
staff, rode up from the rear and directed a halt. After waiting a few
minutes I concluded that there was some mistake on the part of the
staff officer, and started again for the enemy's battery. We had not
proceeded far when Captain Taliaferro again rode up and informed
me that the General directed me to move by the right flank.

" Captain," said I, " that movement will take us out of the fight,
and General Colquit instructed me to press the enemy till they
stopped my regiment and he would help us. They have not stopped
us yet."

"The General's orders that you move to the right are peremp-
tory," said the Captain.

"Very well, Captain, I must obey, then," said I, and gave the
order to march by the right flank. We soon struck the Grimball
causeway and followed it out of the fight. The Georgians in our
rear were turned back about the time the Twenty-fifth was stopped
and we brought up the rear in the retrograde movement. The
enemy made no attempt to follow us. In crossing the marsh on the
Grimball causeway the gunboats shelled us furiously, being able to
do so now without danger to their own troops. During the
engagement we saw the signal officers of the enemy on a tree in the
rear of their line of battle, busily sending and receiving signals
between the land forces and the fleet. They were thus able to act
in concert.



Diary of Lieutenant- Colonel John G. Pressley. 61

The force of the enemy in our front, exclusive of the troops
routed at Grimball's, consisted, as nearly as I could estimate them,



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