directed their fire principally against Sumter
, apparently with the intention of doing as much damage as possible.
Nearly the whole of the eastern scarp was demolished.
The accumulated debris served to protect the walls.’
Confederate reports show the steady destruction of Sumter
and its armament, with little loss of life, until the evacuation of Morris Island
, when its appearance from seaward was rather that of a steep, sandy island than of a fort.
On September 5th, General Ripley
wrote a confidential letter to the officer commanding Fort Wagner
, stating that it was ‘within the contingencies’ that those works would be evacuated.
He alluded to the fact that at different times they had been supplied with safety-fuse.
‘This would be examined and kept in place, and magazines would be prepared for explosion before the evacuation takes place, by causing safety-fuses, three in number, to be inserted in a barrel of gunpowder in each magazine and carefully trained, so that the explosion may not be premature.’
Elaborate instructions follow; but they were carried out so indifferently as to be inoperative when the fort was evacuated.
The commanding officer
of the fort reported on the 6th that ‘thirty-six hours severe bombardment, confining the garrison to the bombproofs, had so dispirited the garrison as to render it unsafe, in the opinion of its officers, to repel an assault.
The head of the enemy's sap was within forty yards of the salient, and he was making rapid progress, unmolested by a single gun, and with scarcely any annoyance from sharpshooters.
In an effort the previous night to repair damages a loss was sustained of from 60 to 80 men in the working parties alone.
Without having the ability to repair damages at night, from the effects of the fire of the shore batteries and the fleet, the work would be rendered untenable in two days.’