nights: only reaching at 6 p. M. Gen. Strong
's headquarters, about midway of the island, where it was halted five minutes; but there was now no time for rest or food, and it went forward, hungry and weary, to take its place in the front line of the assaulting column.
That column, advancing a few hundred yards under a random fire from two or three great guns, halted half an hour, during which the 54th was addressed by Gen. Strong
and by its Colonel
; and then — as the dusk was deepening rapidly into darkness — the order to advance was given, and, under a storm of shot and shell from Wagner
, and Cumming's Point
, our soldiers moved swiftly on.
The distance traversed at double quick was perhaps half a mile; but not many had fallen until the pierced but unshaken column had almost reached the ditch and were within short musket-range of the fort, when a sheet of fire from small arms lighted up the enshrouding darkness, while howitzers in the bastions raked the ditch as our men swept across it, and hand-grenades from the parapet tore them as they climbed the seamed and ragged face of the fort and planted their colors for a moment on the top. Here fell Col. Shaw
, struck dead; here, or just in front, fell Gen. Strong
, mortally wounded, with Col. Chatfield
and many noble officers beside; while Cols. Barton
, and Jackson
, were severely wounded.
The remnant of the brigade recoiled under the command of Maj. Plympton
, 3d N. H.; while all that was left of the 54th Mass. was led off by a boy, Lt. Higginson
The first brigade being thus demolished, the second went forward, led by Col. H. S. Putnam
, 7th New Hampshire, whose regiment, with the 62d Ohio, Col. Steele
, the 67th ditto, Col. Voorhees
, and the 100th N. York
, Col. Dandy
, was now required to attempt what a stronger brigade had proved impossible.
There was no shrinking, however, until, after half an hour's bloody combat before and upon the fort--Col. Putnam
having been killed, and a large portion of his subordinates either killed or wounded — no supports arriving, the remains of the brigade, like the first, fell back into the friendly darkness, and made their way, as they best could, to our lines, as the Rebel
yell of triumph from Wagner
rose above the thunder of their guns from Sumter
and Cumming's Point
In this fearful assault, we lost fully 1,500 men; while the Rebel
killed and wounded did not much exceed 100.
There were few or no prisoners taken, save our severely wounded: and the Rebels
say they buried 600 of our dead.
Among these was Col. Shaw
--a hereditary Abolitionist — on whom they vainly thought to heap indignity by “burying him in the same pit with his niggers.”
His relatives and friends gratefully accepted the fitting tribute; and when in due time a shaft shall rise from the free soil of redeemed Carolina above that honored grave, it will perpetuate, alike for leader and for led, the memory of their devotion to the holy cause whereto they offered up their lives a willing sacrifice.
being thus proved, at a heavy cost, impregnable to assault — Gillmore
— at once General commanding and Engineer-in-Chief
--resumed the work of its reduction