Battle of Battle of Pocotaligo 21st, 22nd and 23rd. October 1862


On October 21st 1862, a Union force of 4200 men, under the command of Brigadier General John M Brannan, boarded 15 transport ships and left Hilton Head, South Carolina, Brannan orders were “to destroy the railroad and railroad bridges on the Charleston and Savannah line”. Under protection of the Navel Squadron, they sailed up the broad river, disembarking the next morning, of the 22nd, at Mackay Point (between the Coosawhatchie and Pocotaligo Rivers), less than ten miles distant from the railroad. The 47th and 55th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments, under the command of Colonel Tilghman H. Good began the march towards Pocotaligo. A small detachment of 300 men-two companies of engineers and the 48th New York regiment- moved up the Coosawhatchie River with orders to attack the bridge at Coosawhatchie and then to turn towards Pocotaligo tearing up the rails as they went.

Colonel W. S. Walker, commander of the Confederate forces holding the Pocotaligo area, called for reinforcement from Charleston and Savannah, and deployed his Confederate troops to meet the two Union advances, sending 200 of his men to guard the bridge, while the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, supported by two companies of cavalry and some sharpshooters, were dispatched to meet the main Union advance on Mackey Point road. Brannan’s Division encountered the Rebels near the abandoned Caston’s Plantation when the Confederate artillery opened fire with their two howitzers. The Confederates retreated when the Union artillery responded.

Walker slowly withdrew, making a rolling defense while Brannan moved in pursuit, eventually falling back to the defensive works at Pocotaligo. The Union advance stalled when they encountered the Confederates on the opposite side of a muddy marsh where they blazed away at each other for more than two hours with musket and cannon fire, until the arrival of Confederate reinforcements.

As night fell, Brannan, realizing that the railroad bridge was out of reach, ordered retreat up the Mackay’s Point road to safety of his flotilla, the 47th Pennsylvania forming the rearguard, with the Rutledge Mounted Rifles and Kirk’s Partisan Rangers in pursuit. Brannan’s troops re-embarked at Mackay’s Point, at approximately 3:30 am on the 23rd, and returned to Hilton Head.

Federal Casualties:                                                                          Confederate Casualties:

Killed                                     61                                                             21

Wounded                            276                                                           124

Missing/captured                    6                                                             18

Total casualties                   343                                                           163

General order of General Beauregard. C. S. Army.

General Orders NO 46             Headquarters Department of SC. Ga. And FL.

The troops engaged in the action with the enemy at Pocotaligo on the 22d October, 1862, will have inscribed on their colors “Pocptaligo, 22d October 1862,” in honor of the veteran-like steadiness and unsurpassable courage displayed on that day in their conflict with and defeat of an enemy of almost incredible superiority in numbers. The whole country has been already informed of and appreciates the brilliant events and incidents of the battle of Pocotaligo, and it has only remained thus officially to authorize an honor so brilliantly won. The Field of Pocotaligo, made memorable by those who held it on the 22d of October, 1862, surely can not be yielded up to any greater force with which the enemy may attack in that quarter.

By command of General Beauregard:

                                                                                                                Thomas Jordan,

                                                                                                                                Chief of Staff