November 3-10, 1862 -- Expedition along the coasts of Georgia and East Florida.
Report of Lieut. Col. Oliver T. Beard, Forty-eighth New York Infantry, commanding expedition.
BEAUFORT, S. C., November 10, 1862.
General: I have the honor to report that, as directed by you, I have tried a portion of the First South Carolina Volunteers (negro regiment).
On Monday, November 3, with the steamer Darlington, having on board Captain Trowbridge's company of colored troops (62) I proceeded up Bell River, Florida, drove in the rebel pickets below Cooper's, and destroyed their place of rendezvous; thence proceeded and destroyed the salt-works, and all the salt, corn, and wagons which we could not carry away, besides killing the horses; thence we proceeded to Jolly River, and destroyed two salt-works, with a large amount of salt and corn; thence proceeded to Saint Mary's, and brought off two families of contrabands, after driving in the enemy's pickets.
On Tuesday, November 4, I proceeded to King's Bay Georgia and destroyed a large salt-work on a creek about a mile from the landing, together with all the property on the place. Here we were attacked by about 80 of the enemy, of whom we killed 2.
On Thursday, November 6, landed on Butler Island and brought off 80 bushels of rice; also landed at Darien and captured 3 prisoners and some arms.
Friday, November 7, accompanied by the gunboat Potomska, Lieutenant Budd commanding, proceeded up Sapello River. The gunboat could proceed no farther than King's. Lieutenant Budd came on board the Darlington and proceeded up the river with us to Fairhope. At Spaulding's we were attacked by 80 or 90 of the enemy who were well posted on a bluff behind trees. At this point the channel runs within 50 yards of the bluff. We killed 2 of the enemy and had 1 colored man wounded. At Fairhope we destroyed the salt-work, some tan-vats, corn, and other things that might be of use to the enemy.
On return past Spaulding's we were again attacked by the enemy in greater force. We effected a landing and burned all the buildings on the place and captured some arms, &c. Five of the enemy were killed; we lost 3 wounded. We were greatly aided here by the Potomska, which from a bend below shelled the woods. Under the guns of the Potomska we landed at Colonel Brailsford's, drove in a company of pickets from his regiment, and destroyed all the property on the place, together with the most important buildings.
I am greatly indebted to Lieutenant Budd for the success of this day.
The colored men fought with astonishing coolness and bravery. For alacrity in effecting landings, for determination, and for bush fighting I found them all I could desire--more than I had hoped. They behaved bravely, gloriously, and deserve all praise.
I started from Saint Simon's with 62 colored fighting men and returned to Beaufort with 156 fighting men (all colored). As soon as we took a slave from his claimant we placed a musket in his hand and he began to fight for the freedom of others.
Besides these men we brought off 61 women and children. We destroyed nine large salt-works, together with $20,000 worth of horses, salt, corn, rice, &c., which we could not carry away.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. T. BEARD
Lieut. Col. Forty-eighth New York Vols., Comdg. Expedition.
Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton,
Military Governor, Department of the South
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Volume 14. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.