Battle of Honey Hill

Coordinates: 32°29′10″N 80°56′03″W / 32.4860°N 80.9343°W / 32.4860; -80.9343
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Battle of Honey Hill
Part of the American Civil War
DateNovember 30, 1864 (1864-11-30)
Result Confederate victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America Confederate States (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
John P. Hatch G. W. Smith
Charles J. Colcock[1]
Units involved
Coastal Division, Department of the South
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Georgia Militia
Department of Georgia [2]
5,000 1,400
Casualties and losses
755 total
88 killed,
623 wounded
44 captured
50 total
8 killed
42 wounded

The Battle of Honey Hill was the third battle of Sherman's March to the Sea, fought November 30, 1864, during the American Civil War. It did not involve Major General William T. Sherman's main force, marching from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, but was a failed Union Army expedition under Brig. Gen. John P. Hatch that attempted to cut off the Charleston and Savannah Railroad in support of Sherman's projected arrival in Savannah.


Map of Honey Hill and Grahamsville, Official Military Atlas of the Civil War, Plate XCI, Nr.4
Map of Honey Hill Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Hatch's expeditionary force left Hilton Head, South Carolina, for Boyd’s Neck (above Beaufort) on November 28. It consisted of 5,000 men—two brigades of the Coast Division of the Department of the South, one naval brigade, and portions of three batteries of light artillery. They steamed up the Broad River in transports to cut the Charleston and Savannah Railroad near Pocotaligo. Due to a heavy fog the troops were not disembarked from the transports until late the following afternoon, and Hatch immediately started forward to cut the railroad near Grahamville.[3]

However, the expedition maps and guides proved worthless and Hatch was unable to proceed on the right road until the morning of November 30. At Honey Hill, a few miles from Grahamville, he encountered a Confederate force of regulars and militia, under Col. Charles J. Colcock, with a battery of seven guns across the road. Determined attacks were launched by U.S. Colored Troops including a brigade led by Alfred S. Hartwell that included the 54th Massachusetts and 55th Massachusetts.[4] The position of the Federal force was such that only one section of artillery could be used at a time, and the Confederates were too well entrenched to be dislodged. Fighting kept up until dark when Hatch, realizing the impossibility of successfully attacking or turning the flank of the enemy, withdrew to his transports at Boyd’s Neck, having lost 89 men killed, 629 wounded, and 28 missing. The Confederate casualties amounted to eight killed and 39 wounded.[5]

Captains George E. Gouraud[6] and Thomas F. Ellsworth[7] as well as First Lt. Orson W. Bennett[8] were awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2001 another medal was awarded posthumously to then Corporal Andrew J. Smith.[9]

Union order of battle[edit]

BG John P. Hatch

Brigade Regiment and Batteries
1st Brigade

BG Edward E. Potter

2nd Brigade

Col Alfred S. Hartwell

Naval Brigade

Commander George H. Preble[10]

  • Sailor Battalion of Infantry: Lt James O'Kane
  • USMC Battalion of Infantry: Lt George G. Stoddard
Artillery Brigade

Ltc William Ames


Cpt George Hurlbut

Confederate order of battle[edit]

MG Gustavus W. Smith[11]
Col Charles J. Colcock[12]

Chief of Artillery: Col Ambrosio José Gonzales

Brigade Regiment and Batteries
Provisional Army of the Confederate States
  • 47th Georgia Infantry: Ltc Aaron Edwards
  • 3rd South Carolina Cavalry (3-4 Coys): Maj John Jenkins
  • Beaufort Artillery (2 guns):[13] Cpt Henry M. Stuart
  • DePass's Battery (2 guns)
  • LaFayette Artillery (3 guns)
Reinforcement during battle:

BG Beverly H. Robertson

1st Brigade, Georgia Militia

Col James Willis

  • 1st Militia
  • 2nd Militia
  • 3rd Militia
Brigade, Georgia State Line

Ltc James Wilson

  • 1st State Line
  • 2nd State Line
Georgia Reserves
  • Athens Reserves Battalion: Maj Ferdinand W.C. Cook
  • Augusta Reserves Battalion: Maj George T. Jackson


In a report of Hatch December 1864 summarized the Union losses:[14]

  • 1st Brigade: casualties of 2 officers and 54 men killed;28 officers and 409 men wounded; 1 officer and 14 men missing.
  • 2nd Brigade: casualties of 3 officers and 28 men killed;10 officers and 160 men wounded; 1 officer and 8 men missing.
  • Naval Brigade: casualties of 1 man killed; 7 men wounded; 4 men missing
  • Artillery Brigade: casualties of 1 officer killed; 2 officers and 12 men wounded
  • Cavalry: casualties of 1 man wounded

The Confederate losses were reported by Lt Col C.C. Jones in his Siege of Savannah as 4 killed and 40 wounded. The Savannah Republican newspaper on Dec 1, 1864 reported "between eighty and one hundred killed and wounded"[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stone, pp. 214–25; General Smith, of higher rank, relinquished command to Col Colcock, who was more knowledgeable of the battlefield.
  2. ^ CWSAC Report Update
  3. ^ McKee, James H. Back "in War Times": History of the 144th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, 1903, p. 184.
  4. ^ Jonathan Sutherland (2004). "Honey Hill, Battle of (November 30, 1864)". African Americans at war: an encyclopedia. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-1-57607-746-7.
  5. ^ Reminiscences of Charleston, Jacob N. Cardozo, 1866, p. 118
  6. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients - Civil War (G-L)". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12.
  7. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients - Civil War (A-F)". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12.
  8. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients - Civil War (A-F)". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12.
  9. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients - Civil War (S-Z)". Archived from the original on 2015-07-16.
  10. ^ Bodine, A.S. Narrative of the Battle of Honey Hill; by Lt. A.S. Bodine, Co. B, 127th New York Volunteer Infantry. (undated)
  11. ^ a b Robertson, p. 242
  12. ^ Commanding Officer, 3rd South Carolina Cavalry
  13. ^ Stone, p. 218 claims 5 guns from Beufort Artillery, 2 guns from Earle's Battery of Furman's Artillery and Kanapaux's Battery of LaFayette Artillery
  14. ^ Official Records Series 1 Volume 44 Chap LVI .p. 425


  • Emilio, Luis F (1894). History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1863–65. Boston,MA: Boston Book Co.
  • Roster of the Twenty Fifth Ohio Infantry Regiment
  • Stone, David H; Stone, David H Jr (2008). Vital Rails: The Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-716-0.
  • National Park Service battle description Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  • Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
  • The Union Army; A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States, 1861–65—Records of the Regiments in the Union Army—Cyclopedia of Battles—Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers, Federal Publishing Company (Madison, Wisconsin), 1908 (reprinted by Broadfoot Publishing, 1997).
  • CWSAC Report Update

External links[edit]

32°29′10″N 80°56′03″W / 32.4860°N 80.9343°W / 32.4860; -80.9343