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[53] a masked battery of heavy columbiads opened upon us from the part of Sullivan's Island near the floating battery, of the existence of which we had not the slightest intimation. It was covered with brush and other material, which completely concealed it. It was skilfully constructed and well secured; seventeen mortars firing 10-inch shell, 33 heavy guns, mostly columbiads, being engaged in the assault. The crash made by those shots against the walls was terrific, and many of the shells took effect inside the fort. We took breakfast at 6 1/2 o'clock, leisurely and calmly, after which the command was divided into three reliefs, equally dividing the officers and men. The first relief was under the command of Capt. Doubleday, of the Artillery, and Lieut. Snyder, of the Engineer corps. This detachment went to the guns and opened fire upon the Cumming's Point battery, Fort Moultrie, and Sullivan's Island. The iron battery was of immense strength, and most of our shots struck and glanced off again. The fire was so terrific on the parapet of Sumter that Maj. Anderson refused to allow the men to man the guns. Had they been permitted to do so every one of them would have been sacrificed. Fort Moultrie was considerably damaged by our cannonading, a great many of our shots having taken effect on the embrasures. Several shots are known to have penetrated the floating battery; but little damage was done to it.

The reliefs were changed every four hours. We succeeded in dismounting two of the guns on Cumming's Point battery. A new English gun which was employed by the enemy, was fired with great accuracy. Several of its shots entered the embrasures of Sumter, one of them slightly wounding four men. The full effect of our firing we have been unable to ascertain, having nothing to rely upon but the reports of the enemy. Our men owed their safety to the entirely extraordinary care exercised by the officers in command. A man was kept constantly on the look-out, who would cry “shot” or “shell” at every shot the enemy made, thus affording our men ample opportunity to seek shelter. The workmen were at first rather reluctant to assist the soldiers in handling the guns, but they gradually took hold and rendered valuable assistance. But few shots were fired before every one of them was desperately engaged in the conflict.

We had to abandon one gun on account of the close fire made upon it. Hearing the fire renewed with it, I went to the spot. I there found a party of workmen engaged in serving it. I saw one of them stooping over, with his hands on his knees, convulsed with joy, while the tears rolled down his powder-begrimmed cheeks. “What are you doing here with that gun?” I asked. “Hit it right in the centre,” was the reply, the man meaning that his shot had taken effect in the centre of the floating battery.

The aim of the enemy was principally directed at our flag-staff, from which proudly waved the Stars and Stripes. After two days incessant firing, the flag-staff was finally shot away.

The effect of the enemy's shot on the officers' quarters particularly, was terrific. One tower was so completely demolished that not one brick was left standing upon the other. The barracks caught fire on the first day several times, and were put out several times by Mr. Hart, of New York, a volunteer, who particularly distinguished himself for his coolness and bravery, assisted by others. Half a million dollars will hardly suffice to repair the damages to the fort. On the second day it caught fire from a 10-inch shell, the danger to be encountered in the attempt to extinguish it being so great that the Major concluded not to attempt it. The effect of the fire was more disastrous than we could have supposed. The subsequent shots of the enemy took more effect in consequence; the walls were weakened, and we were more exposed. The main gates were destroyed by the fire, thus leaving us exposed to the murderous fire of the enemy. Five hundred men could have formed on the gorge and marched on us without our being able to oppose them. The fire surrounded the fort on all sides. Fearful that the walls might crack, and the shells pierce and prostrate them, we commenced taking the powder out of the magazine before the fire had fully enveloped it. We took 96 barrels of powder out, and threw them into the sea, leaving 200 barrels in. Owing to a lack of cartridges, we kept five men inside the magazine, sewing as we wanted them, thus using up our shirts, sheets, blankets, and all the available material in the fort. When we were finally obliged to close the magazine, and our material for cartridges was exhausted, we were left destitute of any means to continue the contest. We had eaten our last biscuit thirty-six hours before. We came very near being stifled with the dense livid smoke from the burning buildings. The men lay prostrate on the ground, with wet handkerchiefs over their mouths and eyes, gasping for breath. It was a moment of imminent peril. If an eddy of wind had not ensued, we all, probably, should have been suffocated. The crashing of the shot, the bursting of the shells, the falling of walls, and the roar of the flames, made a pandemonium of the fort. We nevertheless kept up a steady fire. Toward the close of the day ex-Senator Wigfall made his appearance at the embrasure with a white handkerchief on the end of a sword, and begged for admittance. He asked to see Major Anderson. While Wigfall was in the act of crawling through the embrasure, Lieut. Snyder called out to him, “Major Anderson is at the main gate.” He passed through the embrasure into the casemate, paying no attention to what the Lieutenant had said. Here he was met by Capt. Foster, Lieut. Mead, and Lieut. Davis. He said: “I wish to see Major Anderson; I am Gen. Wigfall, and come from Gen. Beauregard.”

He then added in an excited manner, “Let us stop this firing. You are on fire and your flag is down. Let us quit.”

Lieut. Davis replied, “No, Sir, our flag is not down. Step out here and you will see it waving over the ramparts.”

“Let us quit this,” said Wigfall. “Here's a white flag, will anybody wave it out of the embrasure?”

One of the officers replied, “That is for you to do, if you choose.”

Wigfall responded, “If there is no one else to do it, I will,” and jumping into the embrasure waved the flag toward Moultrie. The firing still continued from Moultrie and the batteries of Sullivan's Island. In answer to his repeated requests one of the officers said “one of our men may hold the flag,” and Corporal Binghurst jumped into the embrasure. The shot continuing to strike all around him, he jumped down again, after having waved the flag a few moments, and said, “Damn it, they don't respect this flag, they are firing at it.”

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