his full share in all the dangers and fatigues of the siege, and after Colonel Stephen Elliott
's promotion, he was placed in command of Fort Sumter
, which had been reduced to a silent mass of ruins, that only showed the redoubtable spirit of its defenders by the little flag that defied the utmost hatred of its foes, and fluttered day after day in the soft salt breeze before their eyes, despite their fierce attacks by land and by sea. It was sometimes shot down as often as six times during the course of a single day, but was always instantly replaced under fire
of the heaviest guns that up to that time had ever been used.
And it flew proudly there, until that sad night in January, 1865, when Charleston
was evacuated, the Confederate
authorities having determined to withdraw the troops from her defences, and send them to reinforce General Joseph E. Johnston
's little army.
The last sun-set gun boomed across the water from Fort Moultrie
the evening of the evacuation, and Major Huguenin
, who succeeded Mitchel
in the command of Fort Sumter
, with his own hands drew down the faithful flag that was never more to wave from its oft-broken staff, cut the halliards, and with a heavy heart placed it in his valise.
As soon as darkness closed in sufficiently to cover his movements, he crossed the harbor with his little band of veterans and rejoined his regiment, that was marching away in the brigade of regular artillery from Sullivan
's island, leaving behind them all the guns that they had served so long with such skill on many brilliant and successful occasions.
When the sun rose next morning, illuminating the old city, shining gayly on the white seas and the glittering waves, the siege had ended, for the forts were all empty and silent, and the way was left open to the enemy, who sailed cautiously in and took possession of the batteries and cannon that they had never been able to capture.
The holy quiet of that sweet Sunday morning was harshly broken, and made hideous to the ears of the heart-sick inhabitants who remained, by the jubilant cries of drunken negroes, the armed tread of the foe, and their insolent bands of music, as they rejoiced in the bitter sorrow and humiliation of those who were now, alas, deprived of their beloved defenders.
But to return to Captain Mitchel
On the 20th of July, 1864, the sentinel on the parapet of Fort Sumter
sent to ask the commander to be allowed to leave his post because the shelling of the enemy's batteries on Morris Island
was too severe for him to remain without the “bomb-proof.”
refused to give him permission to do so, thinking it a bad precedent to establish, but when he received another