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[511]

Headquarters, Department of the South, Morris Island, S. C., August 22d, 1863:9 P. M.
Genl. G. T. Beauregard, Comdg. Confederate Forces, Charleston, S. C.:
Sir,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date, complaining that one of my batteries has opened upon the City of Charleston, and thrown ‘a number of heavy rifled shells into the city, the inhabitants of which, of course, were asleep and unwarned.’

My letter to you demanding the surrender of Fort Sumter and Morris Island, and threatening, in default thereof, to open fire upon Charleston, was delivered near Fort Wagner at 11.15 o'clock A. M. on the 21st instant, and should have arrived at your headquarters in time to have permitted your answer to reach me within the limit assigned—viz., four hours. The fact that you were absent from your headquarters at the time of its arrival may be regarded as an unfortunate circumstance for the City of Charleston, but is one for which I clearly am not responsible. This letter bore date at my headquarters, and was officially delivered by an officer of my staff.

The inadvertent omission of my signature doubtless affords ground for special pleading, but it is not the argument of a commander solicitous only for the safety of sleeping women and children and unarmed men. Your threats of retaliation for acts of mine, which you do not allege to be in violation of the usages of civilized warfare, except as regards the length of time allowed as notice of my intentions, are passed by without comment. I will, however, call your attention to the well-established principle, that the commander of a place attacked, but not invested, having its avenues of escape open and practicable, has no right to expect any notice of an intended bombardment other than that which is given by the threatening attitude of his adversary. Even had this letter not been written, the City of Charleston has had, according to your own computation, forty days notice of her danger.

During that time my attack on her defences has steadily progressed; the ultimate object of that attack has at no time been doubtful. If, under the circumstances, the life of a single non-combatant is exposed to peril by the bombardment of the city, the responsibility rests with those who have first failed to remove the non-combatants or secure the safety of the city, after having held control of all its approaches for a period of nearly two years and a half, in the presence of a threatening force, and who afterwards refused to accept terms upon which the bombardment might have been postponed.

From various sources, official and otherwise, I am led to believe that most of the women and children of Charleston were long since removed from the city; but, upon your assurance that the city is still ‘full’ of them, I shall suspend the bombardment until 11 o'clock P. M. to-morrow, thus giving you two days from the time you acknowledge to have received my communication of the 21st instant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



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