Boyds Neck, S.C.
November 30, 1864
Here we landed from the Str at six a.m. We have made this a temporary base for operations. Find that part of the Regiment already landed has gone to the front
We leave a few men to care for the extra supplies and march on to overtake them without stopping for breakfast. At the landing is the plantation house, which had been used as a picket station by the enemy. Yesterday we made a reconnaissance but found no enemy. We pushed on through a fine section of cotton lands. Land now neglected and waving in long wild grass until we came to the crossroads about 4 miles from landing, we find a few troops here and turning to our left we march two miles further, until we arrive at a church where we find the mass of our troops. Join the Regiment. Here we halt a few minutes. The enemy reported in our front. The church is taken possession of by our surgeons for a hospital if needed. We get into position here. Meet Henry Gibbs Asst. Surg.*** who is here with the Naval Brigade. I am glad to welcome my cousin, he feels a little excited in the prospect of a battle. Have Asst. Surg. Babbit 55th Mass detailed to assist me. We advance and about a mile from here, at half-past ten, the enemy opens. They are in position beyond a creek with a swamp on either flank. They serve a couple of pieces of artillery here with effect as all our force is within range. The 2nd Brigade has the advance. We are marched into an open field and halted almost within musket range of the enemy. Here we are doomed to inactivity for half an hour. The enemy is driven from his cover and we advance to care for the wounded. Find we have lost more largely than we expected. A number killed and quite a number wounded.
Here I am placed in charge of the field by Burton, Chief Medical Officer and as we advance I hasten forward.
We saw nothing more of the enemy for two miles, when on turning a corner in the road we were brought within range of their battery.
The first shot ploughed through our ranks, killing several and wounding more
A few moments later a Lieut of Artillery (Wildt of Bat. B, 3rd N.Y, Art. ) was brought me with his leg all shattered only hanging by fragments. I hastily removed the leg, binding up the stump and sent the brave fellow to the rear where he died a few hours later. From this the battle opened in earnest.
My temporary rendevous soon became overrun with the wounded and I had all I could do.
This was before twelve and the battle continued in earnest.
We were in complete ignorance of the enemys positions or the country surrounding, farther than that the road led to their works, through a swamp which was almost impenetrable. We tried to deploy but were soon thrown in confusion.
We were continually pushing ahead to have our advance cut in pieces by their batteries. We brought up 16 pieces of artillery and blazed away with a terrific noise.
Several charges were attempted to no purpose. Col. Beecher led his men very near the works where he was wounded.
First his fine gray horse was killed under him, then he was struck by a spent ball upon the thigh, again in the hand, and a third time in the right groin. This last was very severe, striking just inside the femoral artery and losing itself behind in the gluteal region. He would not return. I examined the wound under fire and dressed it. He refused to take my advice and retire but determined to keep the field, as long as he was able.
Our Regiment was now lying down in support of the batteries and the Col and myself spent a few minutes in conversation of more than ordinary interest.
About this time Col. Hartwell, 55th Mass was wounded and taken to the rear, although not very severely.
We soon ceased our advances and the battle became more of an artillery duel than close musketry engagement.
It is easy to criticize but difficult to direct. Had we known the ground we should never have fought where we did or had the battle been begun, we should have saved life by pushing our whole force at once upon the point.
I had no opportunity to get breakfast, of course no dinner, had worked hard from sunrise and by three oclock I became very feint, quite exhausted.. I took some hard bread from a wounded mans haversack and a drink of brandy from my canteen but the brandy made my head feel uncomfortable and I was sorry I had taken it.
We worked unremittingly until sundown, when a retreat was ordered. We fell slowly back, taking everything with us and were unpursued. We fell back to the church. Col. Riding on my horse and a dismal retreat in the darkness it proved.. At the church we found a host of wounded. Soon sent the Col. to the landing and went to work. Here lay several hundred wounded, the church full and for rods about it, as thick as they could lie. We had no ambulances and there was no other way than to carry the poor fellows and now our boys were already as tired as men ever ought to be. A Regiment, 26 U.S.C.T. not in battle now came up and divided into squads of four each, they tenderly carried our wounded men. A fearful journey it proved for both. Six miles in the dark, under those circumstances, was a fearful journey.
At eleven oclock we had the last off, and by kindness of my friend, Dr. Russell of 4th Mass Cavalry I obtained a horse and we rode to the landing. I endeavor to find the Col and make him comfortable but learned that he had already gone to Beaufort * Str.
Dr. and myself bivouaced under a tree and it was about three a.m. when we "turned in" and without blankets we were so cold that although nearly exhausted we slept but little.
The day had been pleasant but the night was cold and all suffered, well as wounded.
Thus ended the battle of Honey Hill, S.C.
Copyright ©2002, Julius Huguenin, allrights reserved. Used with permision USGenWeb Jasper County Web Site. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However, this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same.
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