Report of Colonel Louis Bell, Commanding, 4th New Hampshire Volunteers, Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina (24 October 1862)

Col. Louis Bell, Commanding, 4th New Hampshire Volunteers (c. 1861-1865, public domain).

Col. Louis Bell, Commanding, 4th New Hampshire Volunteers (c. 1861-1865, public domain).

October 24, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit a report of the part taken by the Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers in the action of the 22d:

On coming under fire I was ordered to form close column by division, which I did, and the regiment remained in close column for some fifteen minutes, exposed to a very annoying fire of spherical-case shot. We then deployed on the left of the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment. The enemy having been driven from his first position, I was ordered to form column by company in the wood on the right side of the causeway and be ready to charge. The wood proved so thick that we could not move in it, and the ground in front being utterly impassable I deployed my regiment on the edge of the woods.

At about 2 o’clock I received an order to drive the enemy from the position he then occupied. I deployed five companies on the left of the road and four on the right and advanced in line of battle. After sharp firing on the left for a few minutes the enemy retired. Finding the ground impassable in front, I moved across the causeway by the flank. Three companies passed and formed in line on the solid ground, while the fourth company (G) was ordered to halt and repair the bridge (which the enemy had partially destroyed), so that it should be passable for artillery. The artillery having passed over I deployed the whole regiment as skirmishers, and we acted as the support of the artillery from this place to the place where the artillery finally halted. After firing as skirmishers for a few minutes at the most advanced post occupied by the forces we were relieved by some other regiment, and I sent orders to have the regiment reformed in line. At this time I was temporarily disabled. Lieutenant-Colonel Sleeper moved the regiment to the front on the left of the Sixth Connecticut Regiment, where it remained for some half an hour, when Lieutenant-Colonel Sleeper was ordered to move the regiment into the road, where it remained a few minutes and was again ordered into the wood at the left.

At about 5 o’clock Lieutenant-Colonel Sleeper received the order to retire. I rejoined and resumed command of the regiment at the causeway. My regiment passed the causeway and took up a position in the wood on the right. Being ordered to act as rear guard, we moved (after the other troops had passed) to the ground used as a hospital. I caused all the scattered arms and accouterments [sic] to be collected as we retired and all other property I destroyed.

Owing to the large number of wounded in front our march was very slow. Before we reached the shore more than half of my regiment were at work conveying the wounded. I cannot refrain from mentioning that in many instances we found wounded men by the road-side with only one or two men with them, the rest of the men detailed to carry them having deserted them. No wounded man was left behind. My regiment arrived in camp at 4 o’clock in the morning.

I am proud to be able to say that I had no stragglers from my regiment and that no officer or soldier flinched.

I have the honor to inclose [sic] a list* of the killed and wounded in the Fourth New Hampshire Regiment, and also a list of the arms and accounterments [sic] left on the field and now in our possession.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

Colonel Fourth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

* Embodied in revised statement, p. 148.




Report of Col. Louis Bell, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Prepared Under the Direction of the Secretary of War, By Lieut. Col. Robert N. Scott, Third U.S. Artillery, and Published Pursuant to Act of Congress Approved June 16, 1880, Series I, Vol. XIV. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1885.