drawings of the improvement to the Chief
of Engineers, General Totten
, who referred them, with his approval, to the Chief of Ordnance
In the course of a few weeks the latter informed me that his department had not yet noticed any great obstacle in traversing guns on moving objects, and therefore declined to adopt my invention.
When charged, in 1861, with the Confederate
attack on Fort Sumter
, I described this device to several of my engineer and artillery officers; but before I could have it applied I was ordered to Virginia
to assume command of the Confederate
force then assembling at Manassas
Afterward, on my return to Charleston
, in 1862, one of my artillery officers, Lieutenant Colonel Yates
, an intelligent and zealous soldier, applied this principle (modified, however) to one of the heavy guns in the harbor with such satisfactory results that I gave him orders to apply it as rapidly as possible to all guns of that class which we then had mounted.
By April 6th, 1863, when Admiral Dupont
made his attack on Fort Sumter
with seven monitors, the “New Ironsides,” several gunboats and mortar boats, our heaviest pieces had this traversing apparatus adapted to their chassis, and the result realized fully our expectations.
However slow or fast the Federal
vessels moved in their evolutions, they received a steady and unerring fire, which at first disconcerted them, and at last gave us a brilliant victory-disabling five of the monitors, one of which, the “Keokuk
,” sunk at her anchors that night.
It is pertinent for me, professionally, to remark, that had this Federal naval attack on Fort Sumter
of the 6th of April, 1863, been made at night, while the fleet could have easily approached near enough to see the fort-a large, lofty object, covering several acres — the monitors, which were relatively so small and low on the water, could not have been seen from the fort.
It would have been impossible, therefore, for the latter to have returned with any accuracy the fire of the fleet, and this plan — of attack could have been repeated every night until the walls of the fort should have crumbled under the enormous missiles, which made holes two and a half feet deep in the walls, and shattered the latter in an alarming manner.
I could not then have repaired during the day the damages of the night, and I am confident now, as I was then, that Fort Sumter
, if thus attacked, must have been disabled and silenced in a few days.
Such a result at that time would have been necessarily followed by the evacuation of Morris
and Sullivan's Islands
, and, soon after, of Charleston
itself, for I had not yet had time to complete and arm the system of works, including James Island
and the inner harbor, which enabled us six months later to bid defiance to Admiral Dahlgren
's powerful fleet and Gilmore
's strong land forces.