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Report of Brigadier-General J. H. Trapier of the fight of 7th of April, 1863, in Charleston Harbor.
[from original Ms. Never before published.]

Dear Sir — I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of the 7th instant, between the enemy's fleet of ironclad war vessels and the fort and batteries on this island.

At about two o'clock P. M. on that day, it was reported to me that the movements of the fleet — which had been for some hours anchored within the “bar” --were suspicious, and that some of the vessels appeared to be advancing. So stealthily did they approach, however, that not until two and a half o'clock did I become convinced that the intentions of the enemy were serious, and that the long threatened attack was about to begin. I immediately repaired to Fort Moultrie, where I had previously determined to make my headquarters during the action. Slowly but steadily the ironclads approached, coming by the Middle or Swash channel in single file — the Passaic (it is believed) in the van, followed by the rest (eight in number) at equal distances — the flagship New Ironsides occupying the centre.

At three o'clock, Colonel William Butler, commanding the fort, reported to me that the leading vessel was in range. I ordered him immediately to open his batteries upon her, which was done promptly, and the action began.

Fearing that the range was rather long for effective work, the firing, after a few rounds, was suspended for a short time; but finding that the enemy refused closer quarters, there was no alternative but to engage him at long range or not at all. We decided upon the former, and Fort Moultrie again opened her batteries. Batteries Bee and Beauregard had also by this time opened fire, and the action had become general. It soon became obvious that the enemy's intention was to fight and not to run by, and orders were given to “train” on vessels nearest in, and to fire by battery. Volley after volley was delivered in this way, but although it was plain that our shot repeatedly took effect — the impact against the iron casings of the enemy been distinctly heard — yet we could not discover but that the foe was indeed invulnerable. [126]

At about five and a half o'clock P. M., or after the action had lasted about two hours and a half, the enemy slowly — as he had advanced — withdrew from the contest, apparently unharmed, so far at least as his powers of locomotion went. Subsequent events have happily revealed the fact that one, at least, of our enemy's invulnerables has given proof that brick walls and earthen parapets still hold the mastery. The nearest that the enemy ventured at any time to Fort Moultrie was estimated at one thousand yards.

Fort Moultrie was garrisoned by a detachment from the First regiment of South Carolina regular infantry, Colonel William Butler commanding, assisted by Major T. M. Baker, and consisting of the following companies:

Company A--Captain T. A. Huguenin.

Company E--Captain R. Press Smith.

Company F--Captain B. S. Burnett.

Company G--First Lieutenant E. A. Erwin commanding.

Company K--Captain C. H. Rivers.

Battery Bee was garrisoned by another detachment from the same regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Simkins, and consisting of the following companies:

Company C--Captain Robert De Treville.

Company H--Captain Warren Adams.

Company I--W. T. Tatom.

Colonel L. M. Keitt, Twentieth regiment South Carolina volunteers, commanding post, had his headquarters at this battery, by my orders.

Battery Beauregard was under the command of Captain T. A. Sitgreaves, First South Carolina regular artillery, and was garrisoned by the following companies:

Company K--First South Carolina regiment artillery--First Lieutenant W. E. Erwin commanding.

Company B--First South Carolina regiment infantry--Captain J. H. Warley.

It gives me pleasure to have it in my power to report that not a single casualty occurred among any of these troops, with the exception only of one in Fort Moultrie.

Early in the action our flag-staff was shot away, and in falling, struck Private J. S. Lusby, of Company F, inflicting a severe wound, from which he died in a short time. Neither the fort itself nor its — material was in the least injured.

It is due to the garrison at Fort Moultrie and their accomplished [127] commander, Colonel Butler, that I should not close this report without bearing testimony to the admirable skill, coolness and deliberation with which they served their guns. They went all — men as well as officers — to their work cheerfully and with alacrity, showing that their hearts were in it. There was enthusiasm, but no excitement; they lost no time in loading their guns, but never fired hastily or without aim. The reports of Colonel Keitt and Lieutenant-Colonel Simkins and Captain Sitgreaves, give me every reason to believe that the garrisons of Batteries Bee and Beauregard acquitted themselves equally well, and are equally entitled to the thanks of their commander and their country.

Colonel Butler makes honorable mention of the following officers: Captain W. H. Wigg, A. C. S., when the flag-staff was shot away, promptly mounted a traverse and placed the regimental flag in a conspicuous place upon it. Captain G. A. Wardlaw, A. Q. M., and Lieutenant and Adjutant Mitchell King, and First Lieutenant Duff G. Calhoun, were likewise prompt in placing the battle and garrison flags in conspicuous places. Lieutenant W----, ordnance officer, is also favorably mentioned.

I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement, in tabular form, showing the expenditure of ammunition by Fort Moultrie and the batteries during the action.

To Captains W. S. Greene and B. G. Pinckney, of my staff, and First Lieutenant A. H. Lucas, my Aid-de-Camp, I am indebted for valuable assistance.

All which is respectfully submitted.

J. H. Trapier, Brigadier-General Commanding.

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