Federal forces at Port Royal initiated the campaign in the fall of 1864 to support the movement of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army against Savannah.
(November 30, 1864). The Battle of Honey Hill was the first in a series of engagements fought at the headwaters of the Broad River along the Charleston and Savannah Railroad in November and December 1864. Federal forces at Port Royal initiated the campaign in the fall of 1864 to support the movement of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army against Savannah. On November 29, 1864, a six-thousand-man division under General John P. Hatch, including a brigade of marines and sailors, was transported up the Broad River and disembarked at Boyd’s Landing for an attack against the railroad junction at Gopher Hill. One half of Hatch’s command was made up of black regiments. Bad weather, faulty maps, and poor guides delayed the Federals for an entire day. This allowed the Confederates to mass some fourteen hundred Georgia militia and State Line troops under General Gustavus W. Smith and five hundred South Carolina cavalry and artillerymen under Colonel Charles J. Colcock astride the road to Gopher Hill in fixed fortifications at a spot known as Honey Hill.
On November 30, the Federals were repulsed in numerous attempts to force their way through the Confederate lines. With the arrival of Confederate reinforcements the Northerners pulled back to Boyd’s Landing. The battle resulted in 746 Union casualties and, though unreported, the Confederates suffered at least one hundred casualties. A week later Hatch shifted his command to Gregorie’s Neck and struck at the railroad near Tulifinny Crossroads. Again the Confederates, now under the command of General Sam Jones, stopped the Union advance short of the railroad. The Federals then made preparations to attack Pocotaligo, but by then Sherman’s army had reached the sea, and on December 20, 1864, the Confederates evacuated Savannah. By mid-January elements of Sherman’s army linked up with Hatch’s division and the Confederates abandoned the railroad line and retreated across the Combahee and Salkehatchie Rivers.
Cozzens, Peter. “Smokescreen at Honey Hill.” Civil War Times Illustrated 38 (February 2000): 32–38.
Emilio, Luis F. A Brave Black Regiment: History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1863–1865. New York: Arno, 1969.
Hudson, Leonne M. “A Confederate Victory at Grahamville: Fighting at Honey Hill.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 94 (January 1993): 19–33.