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Confederate States Engineer's office, Charleston, S. C., April 9, 1863.
Major D. B. Harris, Chief Engineer Department:
Major: I have the honor to make the following report of the engagement between Fort Sumter and the enemy's iron-clad fleet on the seventh of April, 1863, at three o'clock P. M., lasting two hours and twenty-five minutes:

The incidents which transpired during the engagement are based upon information received from the officers in charge of the works, but more particularly from the observations of Colonel Rhett, commanding Fort Sumter, and Lieutenant S. C. Boyleston, Adjutant First regiment South Carolina artillery, who made special observations during the whole action; the remainder from personal inspection afterward.

Forts Sumter, Moultrie, Batteries Bee, Beauregard, Cummins' Point, and Wagner, were engaged. The fleet consisted of the Ironsides, supposed armament sixteen guns; the Keokuk, two stationary turrets, carrying one gun each, and seven single revolving turreted vessels, carrying (supposed) two guns in each, presumed to be the Montauk, Passaic, Weehawkeh, Patapsco, Nahant, Catskill, and Nantucket, which took position from nine hundred to fifteen hundred yards from Fort Sumter.

They steamed up main ship channel toward Fort Moultrie, in line of battle, as follows: Four single turrets, Ironsides, three single turrets, and Keokuk, following one after the other at intervals of about three hundred yards--the foremost one moving slowly, and carrying on her prow the “Devil,” or torpedo-searcher, a description of which will be sent you. When within twenty-two hundred yards, Fort Moultrie fired the first gun upon her, near buoy number three, then distant about fifteen hundred yards from Sumter, which had previously trained her battery of barbette guns upon the buoy, and opened fire by battery when she reached that position, at three minutes past three o'clock.

The first turret opened fire at five minutes past three, and moved backward, thus developing their manoeuvre of attack. At this moment the engagement became general. The second turret passed the first, fired, moved backward; the first moved forward, passed the second, fired, and backed, then retired from action; the other turrets monoeuvring in the same relative manner, each time nearing or receding a little from the fort in order not to present a permanent target.

The Ironsides, when at seventeen hundred yards from Moultrie, and two thousand from Sumter, stopped, discharged a battery at the former, when Sumter concentrated a heavy fire upon her; numbers of shot were seen to strike her, and several to penetrate; three, at least, in her wooden stern. Deeming two thousand yards too close quarters, she retired out of range, supposed injured, in favor of less prominent and more formidable imps, after an engagement of forty-five minutes. The Keokuk, at five minutes past four, defiantly turning her prow directly toward Sumter, firing from her forward turret gun, the batteries of Sumter, Moultrie, Bee, and Cummins' Point, were concentrated upon her, her turrets receiving numbers of well-directed shots, several apparently penetrating, showed evidence of considerable damage. When within nine hundred yards she was struck, supposed by a wrought iron bolt (one hundred and seventeen pounds) from a seven-inch Brooke rifle en barbette, near her bow, penetrating, and ripping up a plating about six feet long, and two and a half wide, which ended her career; she stopped, seemed disabled for a few minutes, then turned to the channel and proceeded toward the bar at forty-five minutes past four. She sank off the south end of Morris Island, at half past 8 o'clock, the following morning; her smoke-stack and turrets are now visible at low water. From her wreck floated ashore a book, a spy-glass, and pieces of furniture bespattered with blood, and small fragments of iron sticking in them.

The firing of the turrets was timed — they discharged generally at intervals of ten minutes; the engagement lasted two hours and twenty-five minutes. Allowing six of them constantly engaged, they delivered eighty-seven shots; one fired twice, and retired; the Keokuk fired three or four times, and the Ironsides about seventeen--making the total number fired by the enemy about one hundred and ten, which were principally directed at Sumter. Her walls show the effect of fifty-five missiles — shot, shell, and fragments; the carriage of a ten-inch. columbiad on the western face was completely demolished by a shot coming over the parapet; a forty-two-pounder rifle on the north-east face, dismounted by breaking a travese wheel — both soon remounted in position; four small holes knocked in the roof of the eastern quarters by grazing shots ; an eight-inch columbiad burst on the eastern face, throwing the chase and half the reinforce over the parapet, the other half over the quarters in the parade, demolished the carriage, but did no other damage; nearly all the window panes and some of the sashes in the fort were broken by concussion.

The accompanying table of effects of shot, and sketches of the elevations of the faces, show the points of impact, the kind of projectile used, so far as could be ascertained by inspection, and found ; they were principally fifteen-inch shell and eleven-inch shot. The nature of the material against which they were projected, crumbling generally without retaining an impression, precludes any positive information as to their exact kind or calibre — only a few were evident; to the best of my judgment, according to the effect, eight fifteen-inch shells struck the faces--two of these penetrated the wall of the eastern face, just below the embrasures in the second tier, next to the east pan-coupe, not seriously damaging the masonry; one exploding in the casemate set fire to some bedding,

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Sumter (1)
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