, then on picket duty; but they found Terry
wide awake and ready, with the gunboats Pawnee
, John Adams
, and Mayflower
at hand; by whose aid they were easily driven off, with a loss of some 200.
Ours was 100.
proceeded to Morris island
forthwith, to share in the meditated grand assault on Fort Wagner
The preliminary bombardment was to have opened at daylight;1
but a terrible storm had so delayed our preparations and dampened our powder that it did not actually commence till 12 1/2 P. M. From that time till dark, the rain of fire from our semicircle of batteries, ranged across the island at the distance of a mile, while our iron-clads, moving up to within a few hundred yards, poured in their heaviest missiles, regardless of the fire of the fort and that of Sumter
, in fact, kept but two great guns at work; her men lying close in their bomb-proofs, till, their flag being shot away, a dozen or so instantly swarmed out to replace it; when they as quickly disappeared.
On our side, fully a hundred great guns steadily thundered; the shells of our monitors often throwing up clouds of sand which must have nearly choked the entrance to the garrison's bomb-proof; tearing the fort out of all regularity of outline, all appearance of structure or symmetry.
By many on our side, it was fondly counted that her bomb-proof must have been pierced and riddled, her garrison shattered and routed, by that tremendous bombardment.
Events proved how sadly mistaken were all such sanguine calculations.
The garrison had lain all day in their bomb-proof substantially unharmed: returning, for appearance's sake, perhaps one shot for every five hundred hurled at them, but reserving their strength and their iron for the sterner ordeal which they felt to be at hand.
As the day declined, the roar of our great guns, no longer incessant, was renewed at longer and longer intervals, and finally ceased; our iron-clads, save the Montauk
, returning to their anchorage; while a thunderstorm burst over land and sea; sharp flashes of lightning intermitting and intensifying the fast coming darkness, as our leaders, galloping hither and thither, perfected their dispositions for the pending assault.
Our men were formed in three brigades: the first, led by Gen. Strong
, consisting of the 54th Massachusetts (colored), Col. Robert G. Shaw
, the 6th Connecticut, Col.
(Chat-field, the 48th New York, Col. Barton
, the 3d New Hampshire, Col. Jackson
, the 76th Pennsylvania, Col. Strawbridge
, and the 9th Maine, Col. Emery
: the 54th Mass. having been assigned to this brigade at the request of its young Colonel
, between whom and Gen. Strong
a warm attachment had sprung up during their brief acquaintance, formed and ripened in the field.
's was the first colored regiment organized in a Free State; and it shared his anxiety to prove that it was not in vain that Blacks as well as Whites had been summoned to battle for their country and the Freedom of Man. In order to be here in season, it had been for two days marching through heavy sands and working its way across creeks and inlets, unsheltered through the pelting rains of the intervening