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I found that the abolitionists occupied the island, in force, from the southern part to Gregg's Hill, upon which they were already erecting batteries, and had constructed a signal station; that they had thrown forward their skirmishers to a point indicated by a single palmetto tree, one mile and a quarter to their front, and about three quarters of a mile from Fort Wagner, at which last post, the undulating and successive ranges of sand hills shielded them and their operations from our view.

In the course of the morning, their riflemen gave us some annoyance, and during the day, the wooden vessels of their fleet, aided by one turreted iron-clad, attacked our works, throwing some three hundred heavy shell and shot. I determined to make a slight reconnoissance at night (to feel the enemy and to add to the confidence of the garrison), and ordered a party consisting of one hundred and fifty men, from various commands, under Major Ryan, of Nelson's South Carolina battalion, to push forward, drive in the enemy's pickets, and feel its way until it encountered a heavy supporting force. This duty was gallantly and well performed. Major Ryan pushed the pickets and first reserve back upon a reserve brigade, in such disorder that the latter fired upon their retreating companies, inflicting a heavy loss, in addition to the punishment already inflicted by Major Ryan.

I established rifle-pits some two hundred yards outside the works (the nearest practicable point), and made such dispositions for holding the post against assaults (by assigning each command its particular position, &c.) as were necessary.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the bombardment was kept up from the fleet from ten until five each day; the average number of projectiles thrown at the works being three hundred daily; the casualties being few, and the damage to the fort inappreciable, our work having been directed up to this time, not to repairs, but to improvements at Forts Wagner and Gregg. During these three days, the enemy, under cover of the sand-hills, erected batteries on land, the nearest being about three-quarters of a mile off, and others extending from Gregg's Hill to the left, and distant about one mile and three-quarters from Fort Wagner. These batteries were gradually unmasked, and were, with the exception of the first, entirely without range of our guns.

On Saturday morning, the eighteenth instant, at 8.15 A. M., the enemy having disclosed his land batteries, brought up to their support his entire fleet, consisting of the Ironsides, flag ship; five monitors, and a large number of wooden steam gun-ships. With this immense circle of fire by land and sea, he poured, for eleven hours, without cessation or intermission, a storm of shot and shell upon Fort Wagner, which is, perhaps, unequalled in history.

My estimation is that not less than nine thousand solid shot and shell of all sizes, from fifteeninch downwards, were hurled during this period, at the work; the estimate of others is very much greater. The garrison of the fort on this day consisted of the Charleston battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Gaillard (whose position extended from the sally-port, in Light-House Inlet Creek on the right, to the left until it rested on Colonel McKeatchin's regiment, Fifty-first North Carolina), which extended to the gun-chamber, opposite the bomb-proof door, at which point, and extending along the face of the work to the left, to the sally-port next to Fort Gregg, the Thirty-first North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel Knight, occupied the work. These positions for the infantry were verified by frequent inspections, and the several commands were required to sleep in position, and each man was instructed as to the exact point which he should occupy, and which in any moment of confusion he would be required to gain and hold. In addition to this, a small portion of the Thirty-first North Carolina were held as a reserve in the parade, and a part occupied the parapet just to the right of the sally-port. On the outside of the fort two companies of the Charleston battalion held the sand-hills along the beach, and their face extending from the sally-port to the sea beach.

The artillerists occupied the several gun-chambers, and two light field pieces were placed in battery, outside of the fort on the traverse, near the sally-port. The artillery command consisted of Captains Tatum and Adams' First South Carolina infantry, Buckner and Dixon's Sixty-third Georgia heavy artillery, and Captain Du Pass, commanding light artillery, all under the general command of Lieutenant-Colonel Simkins, Chief of Artillery. The infantry, except the Charleston battalion, and the artillery, except the gun detachments, were placed, shortly after the shelling commenced, under cover of the bomb-proofs. The first-named battalion, with a heroic intrepidity never surpassed, animated by the splendid example of their field officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Gaillard and Major Ramsay, had no protection, except such as the parapet afforded them, yet maintained their position without flinching, during the entire day. The ten-inch gun was fired at intervals of ten to fifteen minutes, against the iron-clads, and the heavy guns on the land face, whenever the working parties or cannoniers of the enemy on the land showed themselves within range. The mortar in charge of Captain Tatum was fired every half hour.

The casualties during the day, from the bombardment, did not exceed eight killed and twenty wounded.

About ten o'clock, the flag halyards were cut, and the Confederate flag blew over into the fort. Instantly Major Ramsay, of the Charleston battalion, Lieutenant Rudick, Sixty-third Georgia (artillery), Sergeant Shelton, and private Flynn, Charleston battalion, sprang forward and replaced it on the ramparts, while, at the same time, Captain Barnwell, of the engineers, dashed out, seized a battle-flag, and erected it by the side of the garrison flag. This flag was subsequently

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William H. Ryan (3)
W. T. Tatum (2)
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