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[212] parapet and within the ditches of the Fort to battle with the whole rebel garrison.

In the assault of the eleventh instant, but one brigade, and that a very small one, under the command of General Strong, were engaged; in that of last evening a whole division, consisting of three full brigades, were drawn out in line to take part in the action, but on account of some misunderstanding of orders, but two actually participated in the fight.

Since the engagement of the eleventh, General Gillmore has strained every nerve to strengthen his position on Morris Island, and so far as human foresight can discern, has made his lines of defence impregnable before advancing to the attack.

Three fourths of the island is in our possession; five batteries have been erected, in all containing nine thirty-pound and four twenty-pound Parrotts, and ten ten-inch mortars on the left, with two thirty-pound Parrotts, ten ten-inch mortars, and three full batteries of light artillery on the right. The earth-works protecting these guns have all been erected by the New-York volunteer engineers, under the direction of Captain Brooks and Lieuts. Mirche and Suter of General Gillmore's staff. During the action of yesterday, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, Chief of Artillery on General Gillmore's staff, commanded on the left, and Captain Langdon, of the First U. S. artillery, company M, on the right. The extreme right rests on the ocean beach; the extreme left on the edge of a swamp, about five hundred yards from the small creek separating Morris Island from James Island. The whole line of batteries sweeps in the form of a semicircle, and is at all points about one thousand eight hundred yards from Fort Wagner. Nearly all the guns upon the left are about four thousand yards from Fort Sumter; but being of light calibre compared with the one on that formidable structure, were not brought to bear upon her at any time during the action.

General Gillmore designed to commence the bombardment of the Fort at daylight yesterday morning, but on account of a terrific thunderstorm, which commenced early in the evening and continued until morning, delaying the work of the engineers and dampening the ammunition, the action did not open until half-past 12. At that hour Admiral Dahlgren signalled that he was ready, and in a few moments the Montauk, (his flag-ship,) the Ironsides, the Catskill, the Nantucket, the Weehawken, and the Patapsco moved into line in the order in which I have named them, and commenced hurling their heaviest shot and shell around, upon, and within the Fort, and, with intervals of but a very few minutes, continued this terrible fire until one hour after the sun had gone down. During all the afternoon the iron fleet lay about one mile off from the Fort, but just at the close of the engagement, and but a few moments before the first assault was made by General Strong, the Admiral ran the Montauk directly under the guns of Fort Wagner, and, within two hundred and eighty yards, fired round after round from his fifteen-inch gun, sending, as every shot struck, vast clouds of sand, mud, and timber high up into the air, making one huge sand-heap of that portion of the Fort facing the sea, and dismounting two of the heaviest guns.

Deserters and prisoners tell us that Fort Wagner mounts thirteen rifled guns of heavy calibre, but during all this furious bombardment by land and sea, she condescended to reply with but two--one upon the whole fleet of iron-clads, and one upon the entire line of land-batteries. She may possibly have fired one shot to our one hundred, but I think even that number is a large estimate. There were no casualties on the monitors or Ironsides, and but one man killed and one slightly wounded within the batteries. The firing was almost entirely from our own side. With the most powerful glass, but very few men could be seen in the Fort. At half-past 2, a shot from one of our guns on the left cut the halyards on the flag-staff and brought the rebel flag fluttering to the ground.

In a moment, almost before we had begun to ask ourselves whether they had really lowered their flag, and were upon the point of surrendering or not, the old red battle-flag, which the army of the Potomac has so often had defiantly shaken in its face, was run up about ten feet above the parapet, a little cluster of men rallied around it, cheered, waved their hats, and then disappeared, and were not again seen during the day. Fort Sumter, the moment the rebel flag came to the ground, sent a shot over our heads to assure us that it had been lowered by accident and not by design. In this shot she also desired us to distinctly understand that before Fort Wagner surrendered, she herself would have to be consulted. With the exception of this little episode, almost profound silence, so far as the rebel garrison themselves could maintain it, prevailed within the Fort. A heavy cloud of smoke and sand, occasioned by our constantly exploding shell, hung over the Fort all the afternoon, and it was only when the wind drifted it away that we were able to see the amount of damage we had done. In a few hours what had been the smooth, regular lines of the engineer, and the beautiful sodded embankments, became rugged and irregular heaps of sand with great gaps and chasms in all the sides of the Fort exposed to our fire. From my point of observation, a wooden look-out, fifty feet high, erected for General Gillmore and staff upon a sand-hill of about the same height, and situated a short distance back of the batteries, it seemed as if no human being could live beneath so terrible a fire whether protected by bombproofs or not, and in this opinion I was fully sustained by nearly every person around me. There seemed to be but one opinion, and that was that we had silenced nearly every gun, that the fifteen-inch shells had driven the rebels from the bomb-proofs, and that if there had been a strong infantry force in the rear of the Fort we had made it impossible for them to remain there and had slaughtered them by hundreds. But

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