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[479] The marsh here was a bed of soft, black mud, 16 to 18 feet deep, overgrown with reeds and grass, traversed by tortuous, sluggish water-courses, and overflowed at high tide. here, at a point midway between Morris and James islands, fully five miles from the lower end of Charleston, on a capacious and substantial platform of logs, placed directly on the surface of the marsh, but strengthened, beneath its gun platform, by piles, driven through the mud into the solid sand below — the rectangular space inclosed by them being filled in with sand — was established the “Marsh battery;” mounting a single 8-inch rifled Parrott, named by the soldiers “ the Swamp Angel.” Protected by a sand-bag parapet and epaulement, it was soon made ready to transmit the compliments of the besiegers to the heart of the Rebellion.

When all was ready, fire was opened1 with shot and shell, from twelve batteries of heavy guns, on Sumter, Wagner, and the Cumming's Point batteries, but mainly on Sumter — the breaching guns being served with great care and deliberation — the distance of our batteries from Sumter varying from 3,428 to 4,290 yards, or from two to two and a half miles. Those in the second parallel were exposed to a galling fire from Wagner, which, though somewhat impeded by a cross-fire from our iron-clads, at times caused a partial suspension of our bombardment; while a heavy north-easter, raging on two days,2 seriously affected the accuracy of our fire at distant Sumter; which the Rebels were constantly strengthening by sand-bags so fast as it was demolished by our shot. Yet Gillmore ceased firing on the 23d, because he considered, and reported to Halleck, that Fort Sumter, as an offensive work, was now practically demolished: its barbette guns being mainly dismounted; its stately and solid walls reduced to a heap of unsightly ruins, whence most of the guns were gradually withdrawn by night, because no longer capable of effective service upon or within its walls; and its garrison of artillerists exchanged for one mainly of infantry, who were tolerably safe in the bomb-proofs covered by its sheltering ruins, but capable neither of impeding our approaches to Wagner nor offering formidable resistance to our iron-clads.

Gillmore now expected the iron-clads to force their way into the inner harbor and up to the city, which he deemed no longer defensible against our naval force; but Dahlgren did not concur in this opinion of the feasibility of such an enterprise, and it was not attempted.

Gillmore, having completed3 his arrangements for opening fire from “the Swamp Angel,” summoned Beauregard to abandon Morris island and Sumter, on penalty of the bombardment of Charleston. Receiving no reply, he fired a few shots from that battery, and desisted. Beauregard thereupon complained that no reasonable notice was given of this opening on an inhabited city; adding that he was absent from his post when Gillmore's message was received there. Gillmore could not see how he was blamable for this absence, and insisted that he had done nothing contrary to the laws of war.

1 Aug. 17.

2 Aug. 18-19.

3 Aug. 21

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Quincy A. Gillmore (5)
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