previous next

[147]

As I have already said, I found at Charleston an exceedingly bad defensive condition against a determined attack. Excepting Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island, the works and batteries covering Charleston Harbor, including Fort Sumter, were insufficiently armed and their barbette guns without the protection of heavy traverses. In all the harbor works there were only three 10-inch and a few 8-inch columbiads, which had been left in Forts Sumter and Moultrie by Major Anderson, and about a dozen rifle gunsunbanded 32-pounders, made by the Confederates--which burst after a few discharges. There were, however, a number of good 42-pounders of the old pattern, which I afterward had rifled and banded. I found a continuous floating boom of large timbers bound together and interlinked, stretching across from Fort Sumter to Fort Moultrie. But this was a fragile and unreliable barrier, as it offered too great a resistance to the strong current of the ebb and flood tide at full moon, especially after southeasterly gales, which backed up the waters in the bay and in the Ashley and Cooper rivers. It was exposed, therefore, at such periods, to be broken, particularly as the channel-bottom was hard and smooth, and the light anchors which held the boom in position were constantly dragging — a fact which made the breaking of the boom an easy matter under the strain of hostile steamers coming against it under full headway. For this reason the engineers had proposed the substitution of a rope obstruction, which would be free from tidal strain, but little had been done toward its preparation. 1, therefore, soon after assuming command, ordered its immediate completion, and, to give it protection and greater efficiency, directed that two lines of torpedoes be planted a few hundred yards in advance of it. But before the order could be carried out, a strong southerly storm broke the timber boom in several places, leaving the channel unprotected, except by the guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie. Fortunately, however, the Federal fleet made no effort to enter the harbor, as it might have done if it had made the attempt at night. A few days later the rope obstruction and torpedoes were in position, and so remained without serious injury till the end of the war.

The rope obstruction was made of two heavy cables, about five or six feet apart, the one below the other, and connected together by a network of smaller ropes. The anchors were made fast to

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Moultrie (1)
R. H. Anderson (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: