The “Ironsides” and monitors commenced a terrific bombardment. A fog protected them from the guns of Moultrie. Sumter, having only two ten-inch and one eleven-inch gun left on barbette, could only fire an occasional shot to show life. For seven hours, at close range, the fleet hurled shot and shell into the work. Striking the wall near the parapet, loose bricks were thrown up in columns, and fell in showers around the gunners and around the work. Walls were ploughed through, casemates filled with sand, and the shells passed across the parade, striking the interior wall of the west magazine, containing powder enough to destroy the fort and garrison. One shell struck the ventilator and exploded. It filled the magazine with smoke. Another more successful shot and all would have been lost. It was an anxious moment, but the fort was held. Gradually the morning dawned. The fog lifted, and Fort Moultrie opened fire on the ships. Instead of continuing their fire at this critical period the fleet withdrew, and the danger was removed. The object was now, in the unsafe condition of the fort, to get rid of the powder. It depended on time and the movements of the fleet. Had the fleet renewed the attack the business might have been done. The fleet delayed! Night after night the powder, ten thousand pounds, was moved in barrels, under the enemy's guns. Only eight hundred pounds were left; the crisis was passed.While the batteries were being erected and their guns directed against Sumter, the engineers pushed operations against Wagner, which they approached with steady and toilsome pace. On the night of the 23d of July the second parallel was opened six hundred yards nearer the fort. Here was our strongest position, defensive as well as offensive. In this parallel, it will be remembered, was mounted some of the guns that breached Sumter, and batteries were erected there mounting fifteen other guns and mortars. Here was built a store magazine that contained a supply of powder for all the contiguous batteries, and a small splinter-proof contained an army telegraph instrument to communicate with headquarters. Here was the “headquarters” of the trenches, where the general and field officer of the day remained when on duty at the front; and from this point the details for guards and fatigue in the trenches were sent to their respective localities. On the top of the magazine a soldier was stationed to watch the firing of the enemy's batteries, and when he pronounced the significant words, “Johnson, cover!” or “Simpkins, cover!” every one sought the friendly shelter of the neighboring sand-bags. In front of the parallel was constructed a wire entanglement to trip up assailing parties in the dark. Firing was resumed between the enemy's batteries and our own on the 25th, and there were numerous casualties. On the night of the 26th a shell from James Island burst amid a fatigue party mounting a gun, and wounded twenty-one men.
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