I have refrained till now from informing you of a little expedition which for the last few days has been planning for us. I suppose there never was an expedition, however small, that got off at the time specified, nor one that was kept secret. So we are five days later than intended, and the floating rumors of our plans are enough in number to make it appear that we are to take Charleston and all other prominent Secesh places on the coast of Dixie.
The Planter, the same that Robert Small ran out of Charleston, and the John Adams, each with a company of soldiers and some large guns on board, started from camp at noon today, Major Strong on the John Adams. About four this afternoon we started with four companies including that of Cap’t R[andolph] the Colonel, Surgeon, and second assist't surgeon, and at this moment we are outside the bar, off Hilton Head, sailing as quietly in the soft moonlight and warm atmosphere as if our intentions were of the most peaceful nature.
The Ben Deford is really a magnificent steamer for transporting troops. A turn among the soldiers just now, convinced me that we can have ventilation enough and warmth enough to prevent illness. It is a real pleasure to go and see them so quietly wrapped in their blankets, — no quarreling, no profanity. Very much depends upon our success in this expedition, and the whole responsibility rests upon our Colonel. He has absolute authority over these three steamers. Our men were all anxious to go, and many, belonging to companies not designated for the trip, went to Col. H. and begged to go. Some have been permitted to do so. It remains to see how they will fight.
1 John D. Strong.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 347-8