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[165] there were constant additions to the list of our losses. The wounded (and the wounds were mostly of a terrible character), were all brought in among the men, and the surgical operations were performed in the midst of the crowd, by the light of candles, that dimly burned in the heavy air from which all vitality had been drawn. The cries of these poor sufferers, the unceasing roar of artillery above and around, the loss of rest, the want of pure air, and the baking heat of a Southern summer, all combined to render the position almost unbearable. The enemy's dead from the two assaults had been buried immediately in front of the moat; those from our garrison just back of the fort. From the description of the island it will be understood that shallow graves only could be given—graves from which a high wind would blow the light, sandy soil, or which a bursting shell would rend, exposing the bodies to the sunshine. The whole air was tainted with corruption, and finally the little wells, from which our supply of water was drawn, became so foul, from the same cause, that their use was abandoned, and thenceforward drinking water was sent from the city of Charleston.

Now began a most remarkable feature of the siege, and one that has marked a new era in the science of attack and imposed new and startling problems upon the military engineer charged with the construction of permanent fortifications. I allude, of course, to the battering down of the walls of Fort Sumter from a distance of two and a half miles. The power of rifled guns against masonry had been conclusively demonstrated during the previous year at Fort Pulaski. There, however, the breaching batteries were distant about one mile, but there were few who could believe that at more than twice that range Sumter was seriously endangered. It had been thought that the grand old fort was safe so long as Wagner held out. But one morning a new battery opened; the shot and shell went high above our heads, and were hurled with irresistible power against the walls of Sumter. Great masses of masonry from the outer wall fell as each shot struck, and ere many days it seemed as though nought but a pile of ruins would mark the spot. Here, however, General Beauregard gave splendid evidence of his readiness to meet emergencies, and of his skill as an engineer.

As soon as it became evident that the fort must yield to the power of the heavy artillery brought to bear upon it, he rapidly withdrew all the guns that could be utilized for defensive purposes at other points, and from the very ruins of Sumter, constructed, as it were, a new fortification, fully adequate to the purpose of commanding the


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