The third parallel, four hundred and fifty yards from Wagner
, was opened on the 9th of August.
The approaches were pushed forward as rapidly as possible, sometimes by the full, and at other times by the flying, sap. The fourth parallel was opened on the 22d within three hundred yards of the fort.
Immediately in front was a sand ridge where the enemy's sharpshooters were stationed, from which they constantly annoyed our men in the trenches.
To take it was a necessity, for while they held it the approaches could not be advanced.
On the night of the 26th a dash was made at it with the bayonet, when it was taken, with seventy prisoners. The alarm opened the guns of Wagner
, and brought a shower of grape, which killed and wounded a few of our men. Shovels were placed in the hands of the prisoners, who were obliged to dig for shelter from their own people.
The fifth parallel was opened the same night, within two hundred yards of Wagner
This was the most advanced parallel.
Beyond this point the approaches were simply zig-zags, making sharp angles with each other, and thus the engineers crept gradually up to the work until the counterscarp was crowned on the night of the 6th of September.
The next day after the ridge was taken the enemy made one of those fatal shots sometimes witnessed in siege operations.
The Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Regiment was the guard in the trenches.
There had not been much firing during the day, and in consequence the men became careless.
Nine soldiers of this regiment were sitting in a little area, without the cover of the trenches, when toward evening a single mortar shell was fired from James Island
Slowly it described the usual curve of such projectiles, and coming to the earth, fell and exploded in the midst of the party.
Seven were killed outright, and the two others so badly wounded that they died in a short time.
The members of their bodies, clothing, equipments and broken guns were scattered in all directions.
The nearer the approach to the fort the more difficult and dangerous became the operations.
The enemy kept up an incessant fire day and night, and the low trenches afforded poor shelter to the troops guarding them.
The engineers and fatigue parties were almost entirely without protection.
The enemy had planted the ground immediately in front of the fort with torpedoes, which increased the danger; a number were digged up and destroyed, while others exploded with fatal effect to our men. The ground was literally sown with them; they were buried just beneath the surface, and so arranged with a plunger that they would explode on being trod upon.
Their presence was rather turned to our advantage, for they prevented a sortie from the enemy.