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When the brigade made the assault General Strong gallantly rode at its head. When it fell back, broken, torn, and bleeding, Major Plimpton of the Third New-Hampshire was the highest commissioned officer to command it. General Strong, Colonel Shaw, Colonel Chatfield, Colonel Barton, Colonel Green, Colonel Jackson, all had fallen; and the list I send you will tell how many other brave officers fell with them. Stories are flying about that this regiment and that regiment broke and run; that but for the frightened Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (negro) we would have carried the Fort; that the Ninth Maine did not reflect much honor upon the gallant State she represents, and a thousand other reasons which I care not to enumerate. It is absurd to say these men did not fight and were not exposed to perhaps the most deadly fire of the war, when so many officers and so many of the rank and file were killed. It must be remembered, too, that this assault was made in the night — a very dark night — even the light of the stars was obscured by the blackness of a heavy thunder-storm, and the enemy could be distinguished from our own men only by the light of bursting shell and the flash of the howitzer and the musket. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, (negro,) whom copperhead officers would have called cowardly if they had stormed and carried the gates of hell, went boldly into battle, for the second time, commanded by their brave Colonel, but came out of it led by no higher officer than the boy, Lieutenant Higginson.

The First brigade, under the lead of General Strong, failed to take the Fort. It was now the turn of Colonel Putnam, commanding the Second brigade, composed of the Seventh New-Hampshire, the Sixty-second Ohio, Colonel Steele, the Sixty-seventh Ohio, Colonel Vorhees, and the One Hundredth New-York, Colonel Dandy, to make the attempt. But alas! the task was too much for him. Through the same terrible fire he led his men to, over, and into the Fort, and for an hour held one half of it, fighting every moment of that time with the utmost desperation, and, as with the First brigade, it was not until he himself fell killed, and nearly all his officers wounded, and no reenforcements arriving, that his men fell back, and the rebel shout and cheer of victory was heard above the roar of Sumter and the guns from Cumming's Point.

In this second assault by Colonel Putnam's brigade, Colonel Turner, of General Gillmore's staff, stood at the side of Colonel Putnam when he fell, and with his voice and sword urged on the thinned ranks to the final charge. But it was too late. The Third brigade, General Stevenson's, was not on hand. It was madness for the Second to remain loner under so deadly a fire, and the thought of surrendering in a body to the enemy could not for a moment be entertained. To fight their way back to the intrenchments was all that could be done, and in this retreat many a poor fellow fell, never to rise again.

Without a doubt, many of our men fell from our own fire. The darkness was so intense, the roar of artillery so loud, the flight of grape and canister shot so rapid and destructive, that it was absolutely impossible to preserve order in the ranks of individual companies, to say nothing of the regiments.

More than half the time we were in the Fort, the fight was simply a hand-to-hand one, as the wounds received by many clearly indicate. Some have sword-thrusts, some are hacked on the head, some are stabbed with bayonets, and a few were knocked down with the butt-end of muskets, but recovered in time to get away with swollen heads. There was terrible fighting to get into the Fort, and terrible fighting to get out of it. The cowardly stood no better chance for their lives than the fearless. Even if they surrendered, the shell of Sumter were thickly falling around them in the darkness, and, as prisoners, they could not be safe, until victory, decisive and unquestioned, rested with one or the other belligerent.

The battle is over; it is midnight; the ocean beach is crowded with the dead, the dying, and the wounded. It is with difficulty you can urge your horse through to Lighthouse Inlet. Faint lights are glimmering in the sand-holes and riflepits to the right, as you pass down the beach. In these holes many a poor wounded and bleeding soldier has lain down to his last sleep. Friends are bending over them to staunch their wounds, or bind up their shattered limbs, but the deathly glare from sunken eyes tells that their kind services are all in vain.

In this night assault, and from its commencement to its close, General Gillmore, his staff, and his volunteer aids, consisting of Colonel Littlefield, of the Fourth South-Carolina, and Majors Bannister and Stryker, of the Paymaster's Department, were constantly under fire and doing all in their power to sustain the courage of the troops and urge on reenforcements. All that human power could do to carry this formidable earth-work seems to have been done. No one would have imagined in the morning that so fierce a cannonade from both the navy and the batteries on shore could fail to destroy every bomb-proof the rebels had erected. But the moment our men touched the parapets of the Fort one thousand three hundred strong streamed from their safe hiding-place, where they had been concealed during the day, and flesh and strong, were prepared to drive us back. We then found to our sorrow that the fifteen-inch shot from the monitors, even when fired at a distance of but one thousand and eighty yards, had not injured them in the least. Only the parapets of the Fort had been knocked into sand heaps.

In their proper places I forgot to mention that the gunboats Wissahickon, Captain Davis, the Chippewa, Captain Harris, the Paul Jones, Captain Buger, and the Ottawa, were also engaged in the bombardment at long-range, and that during every day of the week, from the tenth to the seventeenth, had been more or less engaged with the work.

The amount of shell thrown at Fort Wagner would almost build another Ironsides.

N. P.

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