of Lient. Col. John H. Jackson,
New Hampshire Infantry.
THIRD NEW HAMPSHIRE VOLUNTEERS,
Head Island, SC, March 25, 1862.
I have the honor to report that, in compliance with Special Orders, No. 67, March 18, 1862, I proceeded on the 19th, with
24 officers and enlisted men, on a reconnaissance in force on May River, running between the islands of B nil and Savage and
the main-land. Accompanying the battalion from my regiment was a detachment from the Third Rhode Island Volunteers, with a
12-pounder howitzer, under the command of Lieutenant Morrow, who conducted himself in a manner deserving my thanks, and materially
assisted me in all my movements during the five days I was gone. I left my camp at this place at 2 p. in., and arrived at
Seabrook at 3.30 p. in., and had all but one company embarked at 4 o’clock, filling what boats I had, fifteen in number,
one leaking so badly I had to leave it behind. The field piece 1 embarked in a scow we found at Seabrook and towed it with
one of our large boats. Soon after leaving the wharf it began to grow dark and to rain, and the wind blew hard, so as to endanger
the safety of our field piece, the scow being low in the water. After an hour and a halves rowing, I thought best to land
a short time until the weather became somewhat calmer, and landed at Dr. Frank Pope’s Plantation, on Hilton Head Island.
The men found shelter in the buildings, and at 2.30 o’clock in the morning of Thursday, the 20th, we again embarked,
and about daybreak landed on a hard beach at Dr. James Kirks plantation, on the main-land, and 1 mile from Bluffton. I had
previously sent two companies under command of Captain Randlett to the White house, on Ephraim Baynard’s Plantation,
opposite the lower end of Pinckney Island, to drive in or capture the picket stationed there. Immediately after landing, the
command remaining with me, I threw out Captain Plimpton’s company as skirmishers in the direction of the above plantation,
to assist Captain Randlett, and to ascertain what other pickets there were near there, and, if possible, to capture them.
Immediately after landing we could see cavalry pickets in the woods skirting the plantation. I immediately had the field piece
brought up and fired three shells into the wood, scattering the enemy. As I had not made preparation to advance far into the
interior, 1 drew off my command, and dropped down to Colonel Seabrook’s wharf and plantation, on Bull Island, opposite
the mainland. After landing that portion of my command I proceeded to Baynard’s plantation, and found that 4 rebel pickets
had been captured. Captain Plimpton’s company, under command of Lieutenant Ela, had cut off their retreat, and being
hemmed in on all sides, they surrendered without resistance. On arriving, I disarmed them of their rifles and long knives,
with which they were armed, and carried them across to Buckingham’s Ferry, Hilton Head Island, and delivered them over
to au officer of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanding the picket there stationed, and requested him to send
them to headquarters, which he did. With my command I then proceeded to Bull Island. That afternoon I was notified that there
was a strong force on the main-land, and having made up my mind to visit Bluffton, I sent to headquarters for another piece
of artillery, which I received Friday afternoon. Friday morning, having got some informal ion that led me to believe there
was a picket on Savage Islands, on the side towards the mainland, I determined to reconnoiter those islands thoroughly. I
embarked my command and landed them on Savage Islands, thoroughly examined them, but formed no pickets. On the mainland opposite,
the cavalry pickets were visible narrowly watching our movements, apparently expecting us to land on the main-land above Bluffton.
At 1.30 o’clock I started on my return to Bull Island. In the morning, before starting, I was notified by our picket
that the enemy had that morning burned all the buildings (about fifteen in number) on Kirk’s Plantation, where we landed
yesterday. On our passage to Savage Islands we were frequently fired on by the rebel pickets. On our return they again fired
on us, and when opposite Kirk’s I ordered my men to return the fire, which they did, firing as each boat came abreast
the plantation. After passing beyond rifle range we could see a cluster of the horsemen apparently gathered around some wounded
or killed companion, as they dismounted. Most of our shots reached the shore, but whether we succeeded in hitting the enemy
or not I could not ascertain. That night I received another piece of artillery from headquarters, with men to man it. Next
morning, after putting one of the guns in a position to command the landing at Kirk’s, I embarked the men and landed
at the same place as on Thursday, the 20th, driving in the pickets. I then threw out two companies as skirmishers, and after
advancing a short distance into the wood sent forward two companies more to support them, under command of Captain Plimpton,
acting Major. Lieutenant Morrow having got his field piece in position, I left a few men with an officer, to assist him, and
advanced the remainder of my force towards Bluffton. In advancing I found crossroads, where I left detachments to prevent
the enemy getting into our rear. We arrived at Bluffton at 12 o’clock, driving the pickets through the town and a short
distance [beyond], but finding it impossible to cut them off abandoned the pursuit. I found the town entirely deserted, with
the exception of 3 old negroes, who informed me there had been no artillery there, and there was no evidence of any or of
any earthworks there or some distance up the river The nearest approach to artillery was an old dismounted iron gun on the
bluff near the church and on the bank of the river. 1 examined the town thoroughly; to be sure there were none of the rebels
secreted. I found no one, and neither arms nor ammunition. The town had been apparently only occupied as a headquarters for
pickets during the past three months. One of the rebel pickets, in endeavoring to escape, could not get his horse to start
for some reason or other. He was in sight of our advance, but at long-range distance, and after endeavoring for a few minutes
to urge his horse into a run and being unsuccessful, left his horse and blankets and ran for the woods, which he reached without
further harm from us. The horse was a good one, and, with a mule taken from Bull Island, I have turned over to Colonel Reynolds,
Government agent at this place, and have his receipt for them. After a thorough exanimation of the town I drew in my command,
and retired rapidly and in good order without any attack from any quarter, and returned in the boats to Bull Island. The officers
and men behaved like good soldiers, moving steadily and quietly to and from the town; remained in ranks while iii the town
(with the exception of such squads as were ordered to examine the various houses), and in every way conducted themselves in
a meritorious manner. I visited the islands near Bull Island, finding a number of cattle, sheep, and hogs, and evidences that
the enemy obtained some of their fresh provisions from these islands. As we were short of rations, I had a few of the cattle
killed and properly distributed among my com- in and. On Monday, at 3 p. in., I returned to Hilton Head. All the boats, with
the exception of three, are at Seabrook in good order. These three leaked badly from the start, and I had them sent to the
wharf at Hilton Head for repairs. All my command have returned in good health and without one accident.
great respect, your obedient servant,
H. JACKSON, Lieutenant- Colonel, Commanding Third New Hampshire Vols.
ENOCH Q. FELLOWS,
New Hampshire Volunteers, Commanding Post.
SOURCE: The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the
official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 6; pages 101-103.