Port Royal Harbor, S. C., May 31, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to inform the Department that the gunboats have possession of Stono.
From information derived chiefly from the contraband pilot, Robert Smalls, I had reason to believe that the rebels had abandoned their batteries? and accordingly directed Commander Marchand, the senior officer off Charleston, to make a reconnoissance to ascertain the truth of the report. This was done on the 19th instant, and the information proving correct, I ordered the gunboats on the next day (being myself off Charleston in the Keystone State) to cross the bar.
The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand, assisted materially by C. O. Boutelle, esq., assistant on the Coast Survey, succeeded in entering Stono, and proceeded up the river above the Old Fort opposite Legareville. On their approach, the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy.
Six prisoners were captured by Messrs. Boyd and Bradford, two officers of the surveying steamer Bibb, with a boat s crew of five seamen. The prisoners were a picket guard at the magazine of the Old Fort, and belong to the Twenty-fourth South Carolina Regiment.
On the 28th instant the Huron crossed the bar, and on the day following the Pawnee.
Enclosed is a copy of an interesting report from Commander Drayton, in which he says: “We are in as complete possession of the river as of Port Royal, and can land and protect the army whenever it wishes.”
There are no batteries of the enemy on the Stono below Wappoo Cut, where, however, the rebels have a battery of smoothbore guns, with a rifled cannon of long range, exceeding that of any in the squadron.
This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston, of which General Hunter proposes to take advantage.
I have at his disposal for the transportation of troops the steamers Alabama, Bienville, Henry Andrew, and Hale, and the Planter and the tugs Pettit and Mercury are to-night employed on the same duty.
The army are very deficient in vessels for transportation.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. DU PONT,
Flag-Officer, Comdg. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy, Washington.
Navy O.R.– Series I–Volume 13 [S# 13]
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
From May 14, 1862, To April 7, 1863. pp. 102-154