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[488] grey mist, the embrasures of Capt. Morris's battery, just unmasked, could be made out. At half-past 5 o'clock there came from the ten-inch mortar-battery a huge puff of white smoke, and in another minute the smoky balloon of the bursting shell was seen high in the air, and far beyond the ramparts of the Fort. Then came the heavy thunders of the two explosions, and a great cheer burst from the whole line of soldier-spectators. Capt. Morris followed suit with a shot from one of his guns, which went over, and fell with a great splash in mid-channel. Then came a shell from Lieut. Prouty's eight-inch mortars, which burst over the Fort; and after that the discharges came thick and fast from all three batteries. The column of smoke from Lieut. Flagler's first discharge had hardly reared itself over the battery, before the man on the flagstaff, who doubtless had expected his usual quiet observations, was seen to come down the halyards by the run; standing not upon the order of his going, but going like a sash-weight when the cord breaks. Groups of idlers in the sally-port and on the glacis, were dispersed like chaff by a wind, and all sought refuge within the walls. All but two, whom I saw hiding, like a pair of ostriches, behind a frail wooden boat, which had been hauled up high and dry on the glacis. The second projectile had hardly screamed over their heads before they left their place of concealment scuttled into the Fort.

At ten minutes past six the Fort replied with a shot from Capt. Manny's twenty-four-pounder battery on the lower terreplein, which struck on the hill to the right of Morris's battery, without doing harm. The compliment was acknowledged by Capt. Morris with two of his shots, aimed straight for Manny's battery, both striking the plunge near him, and throwing masses of dirt into the air as they ricocheted to the rampart. The heavy columbiads and thirty-two-pounders on the upper terreplein now opened fire on our position, and the discharges followed each other so rapidly that the Fort looked almost like a volcano belching fire and smoke. The noise of the cannonade was so uninterrupted and great, that it seemed as if a dozen tropical thunder-storms were raging simultaneously in our vicinity. The sun shone bright on the scene of strife, and above the smoke-cloud on the Fort would now and then be seen the rich colors of the rebel flag, streaming straight out in the strong breeze which blew from the south-west.

By eight o'clock the Fort was firing nearly a gun a minute, and our batteries still more rapidly. I counted seven shots and eight shells going from our side in fifteen minutes; and it must be recollected that we had only eight mortars and three guns at work. At half-past 8 the squadron moved up to the edge of the shoal in grand style, Commodore Lockwood, on the Daylight, leading; and following each other round in an ellipse, as the large vessels did at Port Royal, they delivered their fire in turn. A heavy sea was running at the time, and the little gunboats rolled unsteadily from side to side. Their shot fell short, with the exception of the Chippewa's, a shell from which went clean over the Fort, and exploded on the Town Marsh, not more than a half-mile from the Beaufort wharves. Then there were sudden retreats of timorous spectators, you may believe; and the more unsteady of nerve continued their reconnoissances from a safer distance inland.

The gunboat attack on the Fort was not borne meekly, for the ellipse had not been sailed over before Capt. Pool opened on the squadron from his heavy guns on the south angle of the upper terreplein. His columbiads and six-inch rifles were served so well that a shot entered the Daylight, almost letting daylight through her; a shell tore through the Georgia's flag; the rigging of the Daylight was cut — as the saying in North-Carolina has it — into “straps and strings;” the Chippewa was grazed; and the Gemsbok had some of her braces and backstays carried away. The boats all stood well up to the rack, and might have aided materially in the work of reduction, if they could only have had the smooth water in which they lay all Tuesday and Wednesday. As it was, their shot did no damage whatever, if we may believe the statements of the garrison, the best directed falling on the seaward face of the glacis. It certainly seemed to me, however, that some of their shells exploded and on the rampart and in the ditch. As an instance of the unsteadiness of the vessels during the action, it may be mentioned that one of the Georgia's thirty-two-pounder guns of five thousand nine hundred weight, was tilted up behind until the muzzle actually smashed the half-port lid which hung below it.

The scene at this time was very grand, and would have afforded the materials for a Vernet battle-piece. The squadron steaming slowly in their elliptical course, and firing by turns; the Fort pouring fire and smoke at two sides; our land-batteries all engaged at once; the smoke-puffs of the badly-sent bombs showing clear and white against the blue sky; the flag of treason and rebellion flying over the green slopes of the work; and the bright sun above all shining on the picture. The thunder of cannon now shook the ground beneath our feet, and the windowpanes rattled in the houses as if they would be shivered the next instant. Women who had friends in the Fort would stand on the Beaufort piazzas, throng the windows, and wave their handkerchiefs with joy so long as the Fort was firing upon us without reply, but when our attack was raging from land and sea, shell after shell bursting within the walls or on the ramparts, and one gun after another becoming silenced, they shrunk from view, and no doubt gave way to their grief in the privacy of their apartments. As I walked that morning along the river-front to the boat in which I was to cross to Morehead, and saw the tearful eyes and mournful faces of women, I could not help thinking of that April day a year ago, when the terrible fire of thirteen rebel batteries was directed upon a few loyal men in Fort Sumter, and I thanked God in my


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Lewis O. Morris (4)
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