The Battle of Port Royal.

The Great Naval Bombardment, the most celebrated of modern times, and one of the most brilliant specimens of naval tactics, and splendid gunnery, will forever remain a most interesting event in the history of the Great Rebellion. We therefore dedicate a large portion of our space to this subject, and present a description of the magnificent scene, selected from the correspondent of the New York papers.

The reader, in reading the following description, will recollect that Hilton Head, on which Fort Walker is situated, is on the South or Savannah side of the entrance of Port Royal Bay, and the two other forts on the Charleston side. Our ships sailed up and down the bay, in the form of an elipsis, delivering their fire as they passed the forts.

The plan of our attack was equally simple, admirable and effective, being neither more nor less than the ships to steam in a circle, or ellipse, running close to one shore as they came down the river, drifting or steaming as slowly as possible past the batteries there, and paying their fiery respects, then making the turn to go back, and as they went up the river, favoring the other batteries with similar compliment — the game to be continued al libitum, or until the rebel flag came down.

The ships were all prepared for action the day before, and, at 9 o'clock on Thursday morning, began to move from their respective points of anchorage, and take their appointed places in the line of battle. At about half past nine o'clock, they began their magnificent march in the following order, as nearly as it could be preserved; though, after making the first voyage round, it was found feasible and more effective to change slightly the plan, and proceed in a single line, which was done, in obedience to orders signalized from the flag-ship.

Port, or flanking column. Starboard, or main column.
Bienville, Captain James Steedman, 9 guns; 8 short 82 pounders, and 1 long rifled pivot gun forward. Wabash — Flag officer Dupont, 53 guns.
Penguin — 5 guns. Susquehanna — 13 guns.
Augusta — 9 guns. Mohican — 7 guns.
Curlew — 7 guns. Seminole — 7 guns.
Seneca — 1 large rifled gun; Pawnee — 9 guns.
2 small howitzers. Pembina — 3 guns.
R. B. Forbes — 1 gun. Vandalls, in tow of the gunboat Isaac Smith — 22 guns.
The Forbes did not come into the fight until the second round, having been engaged in towing the 'Dale' to sea. Isaac Smith — 1 large pivot gun.

The action commenced at precisely 10 A. M., the first shot being fired from the Hilton Head fortification at the flag ship, and three guns were fired before we replied. The shots then elicited a reply, Com. Dupont being too punctilious a gentleman to permit so marked a compliment to be long unrecognized and unanswered. The two entire broadsides of the Wabash, composed of two batteries of 26 guns each, and the pivot guns at once poured in their fearful storm of shells upon the batteries on both sides of the river at once. The men, who had stripped to their work, instantly reloaded the guns, and as the frigate moved with just sufficient speed to give her steerage way, and keep her under control, she had the battery in range for twenty minutes, for all of which time the men were loading and firing at the rate of once a minute for each gun — thus giving the immense number of 440 shells that were rammed in upon that devoted garrison by the Wabash alone every time she passed; for after the first fire she used only the starboard guns. Let it be noted, too, that the ships were within point blank range of the shore, some of them approaching within less than 200 yards of the battery; the Bienville, which ran closer in than any other ship, was so close as plainly to distingush the color of the shirts of the men who worked the guns, and to hear their cries of encouragement to each other. When it is remembered that the guns used are large enough to carry with effective precision two miles and a half, a slight idea of their tremendous effect at such short range can be formed. Though the rebel guns in this work were columbiads of the largest size, and carrying a 130-pound projectile, and the guns are so heavy as to require twelve men to work each one, and move it effectively on its carriage, such was the irresistable force of our shot that in 20 minutes three of these immense columbiads were dismounted — knocked from their carriages, and rendered completely useless.

Of course the ships were not obliged to wait until they got abreast of the works to commence firing, but the make of the river permitted them to begin to throw angular raking shots at a distance of three quarters of a mile, firing down the river, keeping it up as they slowly drifted past, and finally finishing the round by pitching some parting shots up the river at a similar angle with the ones first fired. This plan permitted seven or eight of our vessels to play on the fortifications at the same time.

The peculiar condition of the river is such that not more than eight of our ships could bring their guns to bear on the shore batteries at the same time; but even then the sight was one of the most magnificent conceivable. Eight vessels would deliver a broad side of not less than 50 guns at a single fire, led by the battery of the Wabash, of 27 guns, and as each gun could be loaded and discharged once in a minute at the very lowest estimate, it will be seen that more than 50 bombs and other terribly destructive projectiles were rained into the Hilton Head fortification every minute that the fleet was within range.

Each ship was in effective range of the fort for about 20 minutes, every time the line came round; they moved like a terrible procession of destroying angels, and at each of their visits, which indeed were few, but not far between, the combined force hailed upon the doomed shore a fiery storm of more than 400 fiery shells.

The spectacle was one of the most impressive that could be presented to the eye of man. The air was filled with bursting bombs — each deadly projectile, as it hummed through the air, first rose heavenward in a graceful curve, and then swooped down to earth to fulfill its fatal errand, leaving through the air a thin wavering line of smoke, that was first snowy white, then light purple, then fading to a pale blue, quickly blended with the azure of the clear Southern sky. Beautiful as was the airy course of the deadly missile, its earthly track was marked by a crimson stream of flowing blood, by the sickening crash of shattering bones, and by wreck, ruin and destruction of whatever thing it touched. Nothing could stand before this fiery storm — guns were hurled from their carriages; houses were knocked into heaps of brick and mortar, and beams and boards; the formidable fort-walls of the solidest masonry, were in places torn and splintered, and the tough trees of pitch pine woods, were shivered, twisted, wrenched and cut off like slender reeds; and the men were beaten into quivering masses of bruised, gory flesh, or were torn into mutilated, ghastly, sickening objects.

The terrible effects of a shell bursting in the midst of a group of men cannot be adequately described, for words and pen alike are weak. — A knot of men are talking together, full of sturdiest life and earnest action; every word and gesture denoting the healthiest and most vigorous manliness and strength — there comes a puff of pearly smoke, a blinding flash of red fire, a sharp, sudden report, and in an instant the active life of the eager men is crushed and beaten out, the parched sand drinks up their life blood before the smoke can clear away; but the mangled limbs, the still throbbing brains, the gaping wounds, half filled with dirt and purple mud, are not covered by the sand until that later hour when the sword and musket are laid aside for the pick and spade, and men forget their deadly hates to consign "Earth to earth, and dust to dust."

The effects of a round shot, or of one of the newly invented rifled cannon projectiles, are not so ghastly and terrible to the eye — the men die, but their limbs are not torn and twisted off as by the iron splinters of a bursting bomb.

It was suspected that the enemy had a large force concealed in the woods back of the fort, and many shells were thrown in them for the purpose of dislodging any troops there stationed. The supposition was partially correct; a number of men had fled from the fort to the woods, terrified at the tremendous effects of our fire. Many of these poor fellows were killed without having fired a shot.

Had Gen. McDowell so shelled the woods near Manassas, instead of sending in, unsupported, single regiments of infantry, there had never been for us any Bull Run rout.

After the ships had made one round, and sailed their fiery circle once, the order of battle was changed; certain ones of the gunboats dropped out of their assigned places, having discovered that they could take up a position which would enable them to remain stationary, and still keep up a rapid and galling fire on the fort. So, henceforth, the other attacking ships moved in a single line, the Wabash still leading.

Four of the gunboats ran into the hight of the river to the north of the fort, where they were enabled to keep up an enfilading fire, that completely raked the entire fortifications of Fort Walker, and distressed the enemy exceedingly. These gunboats were the Ottawa, Curlew, Seneca and Unadilla. They were after ward joined by the Pocahontas, under command of Capt. Percival Drayton, a South Carolinian, and brother of Brigadier-General Drayton, of the rebels. Capt. Drayton, though placed in this peculiar and painful position, evinced no lack of loyalty to the Union, or eagerness to give the rebels their due, and the Pocahontas was most active in the fight until it ended.

For the second time the fleet came steaming down; for the second time they poured in that terrible fire, dismantling the guns, shattering the buildings, and stretching in death numbers of their men; and for the second time the fleet passed on in safety, showing not the slighest sign of any intention of going to the bottom.

But the enemy was by no means inactive. — He offered a stubborn — an heroic resistence. — Looking through a powerful telescope, belonging to the engineer officers of the expedition. I saw, when the ships were approaching the battery the second time, two men wearing red shirts. They had been particularly active, and now sat at the muzzle of a gun, apparently exhausted, and waiting for more ammunition. This terrible fire from the fleet was falling all around them, but they moved not, and I doubted if they were alive. Finally they sprang up and loaded their piece — a shell at that instant burst near them, and they disappeared, doubtless blown into atoms. I heard frequently, during the hottest of the fight, unqualified expressions of approval for the manner in which the rebels served their guns. That their marksmanship was good, the torn hulls and cut rigging of our vessels, rather than the number of killed on board, furnish full evidence.

By this time a new element began to mingle with the feelings of the rebel garrison. With astonishment and wonder that they had not yet sunk any of the opposing vessels, began to mingle a large, a very large proportion of doubt whether they could do it.

Without paying more attention to the barking of the battery at Fort Beauregard, on Bay Point, than to pitch them an occasional shot merely to let them know they were not forgotten, for the third time the fleet rounded their circular track, and came slowly down to pay their respects again. Again was the whole of the fire of the fort concentrated on the Wabash, and afterwards in turn on each of the ships, as they passed in a fiery procession before the fort, delivering with the utmost coolness and the most exact precision their murderous fire, running even nearer than before, firing more effectually than ever, and again steaming away unharmed, and turning the point for still another round.

The utmost consternation now took full possession of the rebels, and in an uncontrollable panic they fled with the utmost precipitation. The panic at Bull Run was not more complete; indeed, not half so much so, for the rebels in their mortal terror ran for the woods without stopping for anything whatever. They left in their tents hundreds of dollars of money, gold watches, costly swords, and other valuables, showing that their fear was uncontrollable and complete.

The flight was observed first from the little gun-boat Mercury, was communicated to the flag-ship, and was immediately telegraphed to all the fleet.

Captain John Rodgers, now the commander the sloop-of-war Flag, who had been on board the Wabash, acting as aid to Flag Officer Dupont during the fight, was at once sent on shore in a boat, with a flag of truce, to ascertain if the flight was real or a feint. He found the fort entirely deserted, and immediately; with his own hand, ran up the Stars and Stripes on the ramparts.

At precisely 3 o'clock p. m. of Thursday, November 7, 1861, the American flag was planted in South Carolina, on a South Carolina fort, for the first time since it was hauled down at the disgraceful capture of Fort Sumter.

The thousands of men on the transports witnessed the event with frantic delight, and hailed the flag with cheers that seemed to have no limit, either in number or in enthusiasm, and in less than five minutes half a dozen brass bands on the various decks were filling the rebel air with the joyous, triumphant, and unaccustomed strains of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle."

The action lasted exactly five hours, from the minute of firing the first shot to the instant of running up the flag.

Preparations were now instantly made to land our troops, that the place might be immediately and efficiently garrisoned, and secured against a recapture. The 7th Connecticut regiment were embarked in 27 large boats, which little fleet was towed as near the shore as practicable by the steamer Winfield Scott, when they were pulled near to the beach by the oarsmen, and the men, numbering 1,046, sprang into the water, up to their hips, and with loud cheers waded ashore and took possession of the place. They were followed by the rest of the First Brigade, under the command of Gen. Wright. Pickets were thrown out that same night for miles in every feasible direction, double guards were set, and every precaution taken against a surprise.

There was but little need, however, of so much caution, for the enemy had deserted in such a panic that the idea of return could never have occurred to them. Their tents were left standing, and they had left in their hurried departure everything not actually upon their persons. The tents were filled with clothing, arms, food, bedding, and everything usually pertaining to a camp. In some of the tents were tables with everything laid for dinner, and covered with a bountiful supply of cold meats, bread, biscuit, etc., and in sundry bottles and demijohns were certain liquid comforts that caused special rejoicing to the hearts of the captors.

One of our soldiers discovered $1000 in gold and silver; and others were so lucky or unlucky, it is not decided which, as to discover considerable sums of South Carolina paper money.

The search for trophies was universal, and there were few who visited the shore on that memorable day of the battle, who have not secured mementoes of the action, more or less valuable.

The road the rebels took was strewn for miles with muskets, knapsacks, blankets, cartridge boxes, and other valuables that they had thrown away in their flight. They had retreated across the island to Seabrook, a distance of half a dozen miles, where they took boat for Savannah. Even the wharf at Seabrook was strewn with valuables, carried even so far and abandoned at the last moment. The troops who were in charge of this fort, and who certainly fought most gallantly, where the 12th regiment of South Carolina volunteers, under Col. Jones, and the 9th South Carolina Volunteers, commanded by Col. Haywood, and a battalion of German Artillery, under Col. Wagener. They had in the fort about 1,300 men in all — enough to serve all the guns in the most efficient manner. They had also a field battery with 500 troops stationed at a point a short distance above Hilton Head, where they anticipated our transports would undertake to send troops to attempt a flank movement for the assistance of the navy. On the opposite side of the river they had 400 men. It cannot be denied that the resistance was as gallant as the final panic was complete; but the hardest fighting on the rebel side was all done by the Gorman artillery, they being the last to leave the fort, which they did not do until long after the greater part of the valiant Palmetto "Chivalry" had taken to the woods to save their precious necks.

They had spiked but one gun, a most valuable rifled cannon, which they temporarily disabled with a steel spike, which can with difficulty be extracted. The other guns were, most of them, columbiads of the very largest size, 130-pounders, and of the most admirable finish, being the finest and latest productions of the Tredegar Works, Richmond, and fully equal to any guns owned by the North. There were 23 of these guns in the fort.

The fortification is of the most admirable construction, evidently planned and built under the superintendence of a thoroughly able engineer, and is one of the strongest works of the kind in the whole country. Under the efficient command of Gen. Sherman, the force here is ample for present emergencies.

The whole of the military force was put ashore as rapidly as possible, and met with no hindrance whatever.

The fate of Hilton Head Fort decided, as we anticipated, the fate of the force on the opposite side of the river. The two batteries were that night abandoned without further struggle, and at daylight in the morning the Stars and Stripes floated over both the two points and St. Phillip's Island.

The works there were two well-constructed earthworks, the one on Bay Point mounting 21 heavy columbiads, and the other mounting four columbiads.

These three batteries are amply sufficient to protect the harbor against any but such another immense naval force as has once subdued them, and may be considered impregnable against any power the rebels can at present command.

We took a few prisoners, about 25 in all, most of them being the sick in the hospital.

Among the spoils are 300 muskets the complete camp equipage of 3 regiments, 50 cannon, and immense quantities of ammunition.

It is a noticeable fact that all the powder is the very best English powder, that many of the cartridges are of English make, and that some of the projectiles for the rifled cannon are of a kind unknown in our service, but which answer to the description of certain new English inventions.


As soon as the negro slaves observed us coming on shore they flocked along the banks in great numbers, some bearing parcels and bundles as if expecting us to take them at once to a home of freedom. Every variety of negro and slave was represented. I say negro and slave, for it is a melancholy fact that some slaves are apparently as white as their masters, and as intelligent. Darkies of genuine Congo physiques, and darkies of the genuine Uncle Tom pattern, darkies young and jubilant, darkies middle-aged and eager, and gray haired, solemn-looking fellows. Some appeared mystified, and some intelligent. The quadroon and the octoroon, possessing an undistinguishable tint of negro blood mingled, one drop with seven of Southern nativity and ancient family, formed, to speak mildly, an interesting scene.

As fast as the contraband article came within reach, it was placed in the guard house, an old frame building behind Fort Walker. Here quite a collection was made. They were huddling together, half in fear, and half in hope, when a naval officer of the Bienville looked in upon them, asking: "Well, well, what are you all about?"

"Dat's jest what we'd like to find out, mas'r," was the response.

The officer assured them that they would be kindly taken care of, and perhaps found something to do, and need not be alarmed.

"Tank God for dat, mas'r," was the reply. On drawing them into conversation, they said that they caught a great deal of fish in Port Royal harbor, fishing at night, after the plantation work was over. Two slaves were found reconnoitering about on their own account, and on being brought into camp, explained that they belonged to Mrs. Pinckney, of Charleston, and came down to "see what de white people were all about." They said that the white people all ran away when the ships came up, crying, "Great God! Great God! Great God! the Yankees are coming; fire the boats." Other slaves reported that "when de white folks see de little boats comin' up, dey laffed at dem, but when dey see de big checker-sided vessels comin', dey laffed on de oder side der moufs."

The number of slaves will probably increase each day, and the importance of their aid must be great.


The town of Beaufort, I am told, is a private watering place. That is, the wealthy planters, for miles around, have erected commodious summer residences there, and in the heighth of the season the town accommodates from three thousand to four thousand inhabitants. The remainder of the year the white colored population together does not exceed five hundred. When the reconnoitering party landed they found that extreme terror of an attack, consequent upon the defeat of their countrymen at the mouth of the bay, had prompted a stampede of all the white people, with one solitary exception, the day before. The exception was a man who doubtless would have gone also, but he was too drunk to move and was taken on board the Pembina and questioned, but he was too stupid to give a coherent story. The negroes were then flocking in from the plantations and pillaging the houses. They told dreadful stories of how their owners had attempted to deter them from coming in by shooting a few down; but they had heard that the "Yankees," would give them liberty, and for such a boon they took the risk of a bullet.