Page 38: Battle Account of the June 4, 1862 Battle of Secessionville as printed in New Castle Courant Newspaper, June 28, 1862;
Page 39: Wartime Letter from John McKee to his parents, April 27, 1862; Letters from Captain James Cline (later Major Cline) to Col. Daniel Leasure, including an account of being taken prisoner in the Port Royal, South Carolina area.
NEW CASTLE, SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 1862.
NEW YORK June 27. The New York Express says that Gen. Benham is understood to be under arrest, with orders to report to Washington. It is stated that General Hunter left James Island on the 12th inst., leaving General Benham in command with orders to make no advance towards Charleston without reinforcements or further orders. It was reported by deserters that the whole rebel force at Secessionville was but two battalions with six guns mounted and seven more ready for use. The reconnaissance was made on the 16th. General Stevens, with 4,000 men, was to make the attack at daybreak, while General Wright and Colonel Williams, with 3,000 more were to support him. Somehow the movement was delayed an hour, and as our troops rushed up through a plain field there were in broad day-light, and were met by a murderous fire of grape and canister. Two regiments only reached the front, and were much cut up, namely: the 8th Michigan and 79th New York.
The 28th Massachusetts broke and scattered, and the 49th New York did little better. The first two regiments drove the gunners from their guns, and some even penetrated the works, but the other regiments failing to support them, they had to retire after holding the battery twenty minutes. In the meantime Col. Williams coming to their support, was separated by a march from the fort, and exposed to a severe cross fire from some rebel guns in the woods. His troops, consisting of the 3d Rhode Island regiment, fought nobly and met with considerable loss for three quarters of an hour. Not a gun was fired from the fort, and the prompt presence of a few hundred men would have carried it, but they were not there and our troops had to retire.
Another account confirms the above in the main, but states that the Massachusetts regiment did well. Our loss is given at 84 killed, 366 wounded and 124 missing. Our camp is now within range of the fire of our gunboats, and in safe condition. Intrenchments are being thrown up while we await reinforcements. General Brannons troops to the number of 2,000, had arrived from Key West at James Island, but our forces must be largely reinforced before operations can be resumed. The rebels are constantly receiving additional troops, and preparations for the defence at Charleston are being extensively made.
A letter from Beaufort states the loss of the 3d New Hampshire at 6 killed and of the 8th Michigan 300. The same letter asserts that Commodore Dupont says he can take Charleston with five gunboats. He will run by Fort Sumter and the other fortifications without a loss of more that two of his boats, and with the others shell the city.
A letter from an officer of the 48 New York regiment gives the aggregate losses as follows: 28th Massachusetts 8 killed, 41 wounded, 24 missing; 79th New York 6 killed, 63 wounded, 40 missing; 36th New York, 5 killed, 14 wounded, 16 missing; 7th Connecticut, 13 killed, 75 wounded, 2 missing; 7th and 8th Michigan, total 169. Total loss, 677 in killed, wounded and missing.
NEW YORK, June 27 The following is a partial list of casualties near Charleston in the One Hundredth regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Company A Wounded: Sergt. John Elliot, Wm. Claffey, Noeh E. Sewell and Caleb Joseph.
Company B Killed: Corporal John S. Watson and Corporal Wm A Anderson. Wounded: Robt. E Reed, Hugh Wilson, Frederick Bander, John C. Moore, John A. Walton, Thos. E Miles and Henry Dillaman.
Company E Killed: Aug. Reed. Wounded: Corp. Wm Harlan, Corp. Nathan Offet, George Montgomery, John S. Barber, John S. Dick, Samuel George and Jessie B. Shaner.
Company F Corporal James S. Patterson killed; Danile Herbert, wounded.
Company G Samuel B. Campbell and George W. Washabaugh, wounded.
Company H George Whitstone and Charles H. Stansbury, wounded.
Company K Thomas Gorman, killed; First Lieut. Jos. Gilleland, wounded.
Company I Second Lieut. Samuel Morrow, killed; First Lieut. John P. Blair, Sergt. Henry H. Robinson and Robert Davis wounded.
Company M Thomas Eba, David Meredith, and Peter Harrison, killed; Thomas Williams, wounded.
Mr. John McKee, son of Thomas J. McKee, of Neshannock township, now at Beaufort, S. C. writes to his parents under date April 27th. He says:
I have very good times here. We have plenty of every thing even to fish. The drum fish is first class they weigh fro 25 to 100 lbs. And have a delicious taste the bones are not much trouble to pick out. I had a mess of fine blackberries on Saturday the Island is covered with them, and the soldiers, I can assure you, are enjoying them. Corn is over tow feet in height, and squash vines fully as long. You would be surprised to see the different sizes of peaches that are on the same tree some are coloring, others are no larger than peas, and blossoms in abundance. When nearly ripe, if I have an opportunity I will send you a small box full for a taste or rarity. The figs are growing rapidly the large oranges are beginning to color, and I think they will soon be fit for use, and as soldiers are expected to take care of themselves, I will endeavor to get my share.
It is reported that Hunter has ordered Jacksonville to be evacuated. The weather is cool we had a heavy storm last night. Give my respects to all my friends &c.
Letters from Capt. Cline.
Below are the letters form Capt. Cline, written to Col. Leasure. It will be remembered that the Capt. Was among the prisoners taken at James Island:
BRANCHVILLE, S. C. June 5, 1862.
COL. D. LEASURE.
Dear sir: By permission of Capt. A. H. Cooper in whose charge we now are, I write to you in reference to our clothes, as you are aware we were taken in the skirmish of Tuesday morning, by the Irish Volunteers, commanded by Capt. Ryan, who is a gentleman and a soldier. We have been very kindly treated by the citizens and soldiers among whom we have been. I do not lay the blame of our capture upon any one officer in particular. I would just say, that had we been properly supported when the charge was made, we might not have been taken. Capt. A. H. Cooper has very kindly offered to endeavor to get this sent to you. I wish you to send me by the messengers, my coat, sash, and two or three shirts, call upon Lieut. Patton for them. Be so kind as to send to the Company commanders of the men taken, for a shirt each, and if any opportunity offers please draw from the Q M a pair of pants and blouses for each of the men if this cannot be done send the infantry coats and blouses that are in the Knapsacks of the men. Pack all in as small a space as possible and do not send any unnecessary articles. You need not send the knapsacks, we are quartered in a large and comfortable house. Capt. Cooper is kindly extending to us all the comforts and conveniences that is in his power. While we are prisoners of war I hope it may not be our misfortune to pass into other hands, as we could into expect always to receive such kind treatment. We had two men slightly wounded in the flanking party: Sergt. Gilfillan wounded in the foot; and Sergt. McClure of Co. D, wounded in the foot; both doing well. Tell the friends of the boys to write to our friends at home and tell them where we are and how we are treated.
If you will do this for us we will look upon it as a great favor. Tell Lieut. Patton to write to my wife. Col. Perhaps you may think that I am asking too much for men who surrendered, but if some of the men who laid behind the hedge had come out and fought with us, we might not have been here. The brave men who cut us off bear testimony that the sharpest fire they received came from our position. Do this for us and confer a favor upon your friend.
CAPT. J. H. CLINE.
COLUMBIA, S. C. June 9th, 1862.
COL. D. LEASURE.
Dear sir: - Through permission of the military authorities at this place, I have obtained a leave to write to you, and am assured that every exertion will be made to get the letter to you. I am in the same room with Lieut. Col. Bennet, Lieut. Kerby, Lieut. McElheny, and Mr. Willis. The authorities are very kind to us and do all that can be done to make our captivity as pleasant as possible. The men are generally healthy and in good spirits. I write to you to see if you would not use some exertions to bring about our exchange. The authorities here, I am confident will try to do their part, if our government will act. Exchanges have taken place in other departments of the army, and I am confident that a little influence, properly exerted will produce the desired effect. We have been in captivity but a short time as yet, but only those who have experienced it know how galling it is to be deprived of the society of friends and immured within the walls of a prison. Col. I hope you will use every exertion to secure our exchange. I have always trusted that I possessed a liberal share of your confidence; this being the case, I am confident you will make every exertion in your power to secure our exchange. Tell Lieut. Patton to write to my wife. Trusting in your assistance, I remain your obedient servant.
Capt. Jas. H. Cline.
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