As soon as he could be spared from Charleston
, General Beauregard
made a thorough reconnoissance of the South Carolina
coast, from Charleston
to Port Royal
This he did at the special request of Governor Pickens
, the object being the adoption of a system of defence to be carried out at the earliest moment practicable.
On his return he prepared a memoir, wherein he recommended the erection of several important works at the mouths of the Stono
and the two Edistos, and at Georgetown
; but declined advising any for the entrance of Port Royal harbor.
He was of opinion that field-works located on the ends of the islands which closed the harbor could not protect it, for the reason that the distance between the islands was too great.
Some light works he did recommend, however, at the inner end of Port Royal
, to guard that part of the coast and prevent a landing of the enemy, which might result in the destruction of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.
But upon the earnest and reiterated request of Governor Pickens
, and other eminent citizens, whose zeal and efforts were untiring, General Beauregard
finally yielded, and drew out a plan for the defence of Port Royal
, with the distinct requirement, however, that the field-works proposed in the plan should be armed with the heaviest ordnance, chiefly 10-inch and rifled guns, and that a steel-clad floating battery, with a similar armament, should be moored midway between the two field-works.
His explanation was, that while the harbors of New York, Boston
, and New Orleans—the entrances to which are from half a mile to one and a quarter miles broad—require strongly casemated forts, armed with several hundred guns of heavy caliber, it could not be expected that Port Royal
harbor, with an entrance nearly three miles wide and twenty-six feet deep, could be effectively protected by small, hastily constructed fieldworks, inadequately armed.
What General Beauregard
had predicted was unfortunately realized.
In the autumn of that year the enemy's powerful fleet, the acquisition and fitting-out of which had cost, according to Northern accounts, more than four millions of dollars, entered Port Royal harbor and reduced its isolated works, after a short but gallant resistance on the part of their overpowered garrisons.
This event cast a gloom, for a while, over the new-born Southern Confederacy.