accomodate a garrison of fourteen hundred men, and was strong enough to resist the heaviest shot and shell.
It was flanked on the west by Vincent
's creek and the marshes, on the east by the sea, and had a wet ditch.
It could only be approached in front over ground that was completely swept by its guns.
The guns of Gregg
took it in reverse, while those of the enemy's batteries on James
and Sullivan's Islands
took it both in reverse and flank.
The barbette guns of Sumter
commanded it by a plunging fire, and threw shells a mile beyond.
The operations were carried on along a narrow strip of land less than one-half the front of the work, a thing of rare occurrence in besieging a strong work; while it differed from most operations of the kind, in the fact that both parties had communication with the sea. A more difficult problem than the reduction of Battery Wagner has seldom been presented to the engineer for solution.
The enemy had also constructed detached batteries in the sand-hills lower down the island, which, with those previously mentioned, commanded the approaches to it from all quarters.
On the south end of the island was a long rifle-pit to guard against a landing from boats.
Directly south of Morris
lies Folly Island
, separated from it by an inlet of the sea three hundred yards wide.
Its general features are the same, except that it is covered by a heavy growth of timber, well calculated to conceal preliminary operations.
On the west Folly Island
is separated from James Island
by a narrow stream and a continuation of the marshes that bound Morris Island
on that side.
After the failure of the attack on Fort Sumter
, in April, the government determined to place Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore
in charge of the operations about to be renewed against the defenses before Charleston
At the time he was at the head of a division in the field in Kentucky
He was called to Washington
After listening to the views of the administration and fully understanding their wishes, he agreed to accomplish three things, if placed in command of the land operations, viz.: possess and hold the south end of Morris Island
, reduce Fort Wagner
, and destroy Sumter
for offensive purposes.
The Secretary of the Navy
gave him to understand that if these things were accomplished, the iron-clads would go in and finish what remained to be done in the capture of Charleston
reached Hilton Head
on the 12th of June, 1863, at which time we had a small force on Folly Island
, holding it as a base of future operations.
The General immediately proceeded hither to examine the situation.
From the jungles on the north end of the island he looked across the inlet on to the sand-hills of