enemy's engineers were quite as well aware as ours of the relative weakness of the north-west face of Sumter
(which had never been completed — the fort being designed, indeed, to guard the harbor, but not against an offensive so formidable and persistent as ours), and had no idea of allowing our iron-clads to pass their heaviest batteries and concentrate their fire upon that quarter.
Accordingly, when the Weehawken
had come filly abreast of Sumter
, and completely under the fire of Moultrie
's and other batteries as well as hers, she found herself confronted by a stout hawser buoyed up by empty casks, stretching completely across the channel from the north-west angle of Fort Sumter
, and festooned with nets, seines, cables, &c., attached to torpedoes below — all contrived, if the torpedoes failed to destroy any vessel which might attempt to break the hawser, at least to foul her propeller and deprive her crew of all command over her movements, leaving her to drift helpless and useless where a few hours at most must insure her demolition.
did not choose to squander his vessel so recklessly; and, after a brief hesitation, attempted to pass westward of Fort Sumter
, between that and Cumming
's Point: but this channel was found obstructed by a row of great piles, driven far into the earth and rising ten feet above the surface of the water; with another row stretching across its entire width a mile or so farther up the harbor; with still another behind this, backed by three Rebel iron-clads, all smoking and roaring in concert with the forts and batteries on every side.
And now, as if our embarrassments were too trivial, the Ironsides
is caught by the tide and veered off her course, refusing to mind her helm, and deranging the movements of her consorts: the Catskill
running afoul of her on either side, and requiring a precious quarter of an hour to get clear again.
This constrained Coin.
to signal the rest of tile fleet to disregard the movements of the Ironsides
, and take the positions wherein their fire would prove most effective.
Thus directed, Lt. Rhind
ran the Keokuk
within 500 yards of Fort Sumter
, and there held her, pouring in her hottest fire, till she was riddled and sinking; the Catskill
and the Montauk
being scarcely farther off. Let the observer already quoted depict for us the manner of serving tile guns in those narrow, dim-lit caverns, the turrets of the monitors:
Could you look through the smoke, and through the flame-lit ports, into one of those revolving towers, a spectacle would meet your eye such as Vulcan's stithy might present.
Here are the two huge guns which form the armament of each monitor — the one 11 and tile other 15 inches in diameter of bore.
The gunners, begrimed with powder and stripped to the waist, are loading the gun. The allowance of powder--thirty-five pounds to each charge — is passed up rapidly from below; the shot, weighing four hundred and twenty pounds, is hoisted up by mechanical appliances to the muzzle of the gun, and rammed home; the gun is run out to the port, and tightly “compressed;” the port is open for an instant, the captain of the gun stands behind, lanyard in hand--“Ready, fire!”
and the enormous projectile rushes through its huge parabola, with the weight of ten thousand tons, home to its mark.
For half an hour thereafter, our sailors maintained the unequal and plainly hopeless contest — all of them under the fire of hundreds of the heaviest and best rifled guns that could be made, or bought, or stolen.
The Rebel gunners had been directed