|Lieut. Col. Oliver T. Beard
Expedition to Doboy River, Ga
November 13-18, 1862
War of Rebellion Records
|NOVEMBER 13-18, 1862. --
Expedition from Beaufort, S. C., to Doboy River, Ga.
Report of Lieut. Col. Oliver T. Beard, Forty-eighth New York Infantry, commanding expedition.
Beaufort, S. C., November. 22, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that, as directed by you I proceeded on the 13th instant, on
the U. S. steamer Darlington, with 160 of the First South Carolina Volunteers (colored regiment) in
quest of lumber and other articles needed for the department. The steamer Ben De Ford, ordered
by yon to report to me at Doboy Sound, did not, owing to the heavy fogs and adverse winds, reach
that point until the 19th instant.
On the 18th, accompanied by the U. S. gunboat Madgie, I proceeded to the mills located on Doboy
River, Georgia. On reaching the mills I found it necessary to reconnoiter the land adjacent thereto.
To do this it was necessary to cross a narrow causeway, leading from the mill through a swamp to
the main highland, a distance of about 450 yards. This highland was heavily wooded, except on the
summit, which was cleared and occupied with houses. My men (34 in number) had no sooner passed
across the causeway and through the wood to the clearing beyond than they were fired on by the
enemy who were posted in the thicket in front and on both sides. At the first fire one man was
dangerously wounded and a momentary panic seized the men; but it was only momentary. They
speedily rallied and opened a brisk fire on the places occupied by the concealed enemy. This fire
they kept up with great regularity and coolness until ordered by me to retire to the end of the
causeway. They retired, firing as they went with a slowness and deliberateness that could not have
been surpassed by veteran troops. Three others were severely wounded while they were retiring.
When my men reached the end of the causeway I had the bow gun of the Darlington directed on the
wood, after which the fire of the enemy ceased, though numbers of them were seen during the two
days and nights we remained.
I succeeded in loading the steamers Ben De Ford and Darlington with from 200,000 to 300,000 feet
of superior boards and planks, besides securing a number of circular and other saws, belting,
corn-mills, and other property, which I was directed by you to obtain for the use of your department.
When it is remembered that these men never had arms in their hands until four days before they
started on the expedition I think you cannot fail to give them great praise for standing a galling fire
from a concealed enemy so bravely and for holding the causeway referred to during the two days
and nights required for loading two large steamers with valuable property in the face of an enemy.
To do this, my men worked day and night without intermission; and, though short of provisions, I
heard not a murmur.
On the last expedition the fact was developed that colored men would fight behind barricades; this
time they have proved, by their heroism, that they will fight in the open field.
Captain Trowbridge aided me greatly. Captain Crandel, of the Darlington, I found a trifling, childish
pest. Captain Meriam, of the gunboat Madgie, rendered me valuable assistance.
I cannot forbear to make honorable mention of Captain Hallett, of the Ben De Ford. With a man of
less nerve and less capacity I would not have dared to take so large a steamer to such a place,
hence I could not have obtained so valuable a cargo.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. T. BEARD,
Lieutenant-Colonel Forty-eighth New York Volunteers.
Brig. Gen, RUFUS SAXTON, U. S. Vols., Mil. Gov., Dept. of the South.