previous next
[184] St. Helena. He procured two frail race-boats, and putting Lieutenant James A. Hamilton in charge of one he took the other. A dark night found the two fleet boats gliding abreast and about two hundred feet apart down towards the vessels that lay head to an ebb tide. A pair of torpedoes were sent on their mission; one of the vessels, the smaller, with a crew of about thirty, was blown to atoms. Excepting the actors in this affair no one knew of it; Captain Elliott kept his own counsel, and was the more successful for it. After the removal of Colonel Rhett to another field of service Colonel Stephen Elliott was placed in charge of Fort Sumter. How he floated masses of ranging timber down the harbor at night and dragged it through the rear ports; how he created a frame and filled it in with debris; how he unpaved the streets of Charleston, and set the cobble-stones outside of his unique parapet, and how he flung out a new and defiant flag over the “fort within a fort,” is for a gifted pen. Elliott, the genius of war, lifted the drooping crest of the old fortress, and like Druilius used the enemy's material to defeat him. Anticipating a night attack from the enemy (which afterwards was skilfully planned, and which met with a complete and disastrous overthrow to the Federals, nearly all of whom were captured or killed) he desired to avert or weaken such an assault by attacking the “Ironsides,” then the rallying centre of the fleet. Torpedoes at this time were used successfully on the western rivers, and were being discussed in Charleston. Colonel Elliott wrote to his friend and late brother officer. The original is in the possession of one of Lieutenant Hamilton's relatives:

August 29, 1863.
Dear Jim,--As you have already heard from----, General Beauregard desired me to suggest a commissioned officer who might take charge of the completion, and perhaps the application, of the four torpedoes now at McPhersonville. I could think of no one so fit as your-self, as you understand the machines and are perfectly capable of applying them. In the latter operation, however, I hope to have a share myself, if my duties do not interfere. * * * Call for what you want and you shall have it. * * * I consider the blowing up of the “Ironsides” of so much importance that it overcomes my scruples. * * * Hoping you will pitch in and be ready for the dark nights,

I am yours truly, &c.,

The next day saw the laconic Colonel and his trusted Lieutenant seated on the boulders counting the chances. “Which of the vessels ”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
McPhersonville (South Carolina, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stephen Elliott (5)
James A. Hamilton (3)
Claudine Rhett (1)
G. T. Beauregard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 29th, 1863 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: