Union Forces Commanded by: Col. ?? Hoyt and Maj. ?? Little
Confederate Forces Commanded by:
*Killed, Wounded and Captured Conclusion: Confederate Victory
On July 2, the Union army launched a planned amphibious attack against Ft. Johnson and Fort Simkins, located on James Island. The 52nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, led by Col. ?? Hoyt, and the 127th New York Volunteer Infantry, led by Maj. ?? Little, and 3 detachments from the 3rd Rhode Island Volunteer Artillery, were sent on the expedition from Morris Island to James Island. Once they reached James Island by boats, the Union troops were to split into 2 seperate "wings", with one wing to take Fort Johnson and the other one to take Fort Simkins.
The Union troops embarked on the mission immediately after dark. The low tide caused the boats to run aground, which produced some delay. They were to cross the harbor till opposite the beach between the forts; then each boat's crew was to land, and make a bayonet assault against the Confederate positions, with the 52nd Pennsylvania attacking Fort Johnson and the 127th New York attacking Fort Simkins. Eventually, they found a narrow channel through the bar and passed through. It was now about daybreak when they reached their destinations and the Confederates opened fire upon seeing them. Their gunfire harmlessly passed overhead.
The first 5 boats of Pennsylvanians rowed rapidly to the shore, and and 141 Union troops aboard landed, took a water artillery battery, and pushed toward Fort Johnson. After some initial success against the smaller Confederate force, the attack soon began to falter. They were not able to carry the second set of works, and being deserted by the other Federals, were obliged to surrender to the Confederate force. An estimated 150 Confederates were present when the attack commenced and about 300 at the time of the Union surrender.
Only the 1st Division, of the 52nd Pennsylvania, made the attack. The rest of the Union force retreated when the Confederate fire dissuaded them from proceding to their targets. Great confusion existed in the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the 52nd Pennsylvania Regiment and a retreat commenced. The occupants of each division said that they saw others retreating before they themselves turned; the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the 52nd Pennsylvania falling back in confusion. The 127th New York joined in the retreat, also. The whole expedition returned to Morris Island.
The expedition was well planned, and notwithstanding hinderances and delays would have succeeded had it not been for the absence of the commanding officer and the want of spirit and energy on the part of many of his subordinates. This attack opened a week's fighting around Charleston with every assault ending in a Confederate victory though each attack drained the Charleston's diminished Confederate troop strength.