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[132] which was forwarded to the officer commanding Battery Wagner, pointing out that it might be necessary to evacuate Morris Island. The Brigadier-General in the letter gave full instructions, as directed by me, for destroying the magazine and rendering the guns useless in the event of abandoning the island.

Early on the morning of the 6th of September a despatch was received from Colonel L. M. Keitt, commanding Battery Wagner, to the following effect:

* * * The parapet of salient is badly breached; the whole fort is much weakened; a repetition to-morrow of to-day's fire (alluding to the 5th inst.) will make the work almost a ruin. The mortar fire is still very heavy and fatal, and no important work can be done. Is it desirable to sacrifice the garrison? To continue to hold it is to do so. Captain Lee, the Engineer, has read this, and agrees.

The casualties in Battery Wagner on the 5th of September were about 100 out of 900.

Another despatch was received from Colonel Keitt, dated 8.45 A. M.

Incessant fire from Yankee mortars and Parrott battery; can't work negroes; better look after them promptly. Had thirty or forty soldiers wounded in an attempt to work. Will do all I can, but fear the garrison will be destroyed, without injuring the enemy. The fleet is opening, but I hope that we may stand till to-night.

Again, at 10.30 A. M., Colonel Keitt signalled, “Boats must be at Cummings's Point early to-night without fail.”

During the day a letter was received from the same officer as follows:

The enemy will to-night advance their parallel to the moat of this battery (Wagner). The garrison must be taken away immediately after dark, or it will be destroyed or captured. It is idle to deny that the heavy Parrott shells have breached the walls and are knocking away the bomb-proofs. Pray have boats immediately after dark at Cummings's Point to take away the men. I say deliberately that this must be done, or the garrison will be sacrificed. I am sending the wounded and sick now to Cummings's Point, and will continue to do so, if possible, until all are gone. I have not in the garrison 400 effective men, excluding artillery. The Engineers agree in opinion with me, or rather shape my opinion. I shall say no more.* * *

Colonel Keitt's last telegram was as follows:

The enemy's sap has reached the moat, and his bombardment has shattered large parts of the parapet. The retention of the post after to-night involves the sacrifice of the garrison. If the necessities of the service make this advisable the men will cheerfully make it, and I will cheerfully lead them. I prefer to assault the enemy to awaiting an assault, and I will at four o'clock in the morning assail his works.

Things being in this condition, it became evident that an attempt still to retain possession of Batteries Wagner and Gregg must of necessity involve the loss of their garrisons.

But before giving the final orders for the evacuation I directed Colonel D. B. Harris, my Chief-Engineer, to proceed to Morris Island and examine into and report on the condition of affairs. His opinion was as follows:

* * * I visited our works on Morris Island to-day, and, in consideration of their condition, of our inability to repair damages at Battery Wagner, as heretofore, of the dispirited state of the garrison, and of the progress of the enemy's sap, am reluctantly


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