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Letters from Fort Sumter.

By Lieutenant Iredell Jones, of First Regiment, S. C Regulars.

Fort Sumter, August 29, 1863.
My Dearest Mother,—I am happy to inform you that we have been spared the disagreeable whiz of 200 and 300-pound Parrots for the past few days. The enemy have not fired on us since the 26th instant, the reason whereof we are not able to tell for certain; but, as usual, have various conjectures and surmises. Some say they are out of ammunition; others that they have accomplished all they expected of their land batteries, and others, still, that they are only waiting to get their mortars in position. I think the first supposition is the most reasonable, for they could have had no conception that it would have required so much ammunition to reduce us, the more so as their General publicly asserted that the fort would be knocked to pieces in six hours after he opened on it. I think the quiet means more than many suppose, and I would not be surprised if the next attempt is in combined attack between their monitors and land batteries with redoubled fury. But whatever their mode, or whenever they see fit to make another attack, I hope and trust that our fortifications in the harbor will be sufficient to repel it. As to ourselves in the poor old fort, I hope we will give them the best we have got. To-night Captain Harleston's company leaves the fort, so that our company is the only one of the regiment now left here to guard the honor of the fallen fortress.

We have three barbette guns to fight, but of these one has its trunnion cracked, and the other two have the parapet knocked away from in front of them. After the fight on the night of the 26th in front of Wagner, in which the enemy took our rifle-pits and captured [544] nearly the whole of our picket, the detested monitors came sneaking close up to the fort, and it would have made the blood boil in the coldest hearted coward to have seen the men rush to battery to man their disabled guns. The night was very dark and foggy, and before we could see them to open, they sneaked out again and left us to surmise, as usual, as to their object. I know not what is the ultimate intention of the authorities, but you may rest assured that the fort is to be held for the present, at least until the guns are gotten out, at which we are now working hard, though only two as yet have been sent to the city. The enemy's launches come up every night to try to cut off our communication with Morris Island, but they have not succeeded yet.

The two big guns, which Mrs. Gaillard spoke of, are two Blakely (rifled) guns, imported by John Frazer & Co., one of which is meant expressly for the defense of the city of Charleston, and both of which are to be placed on the battery in the city, under charge respectively of Captains Harleston and Lesesne. They are truly two wonders, weighing each twenty-two tons, and carrying a projectile weighing seven hundred and eighty pounds. It takes a whole company to manoeuvre one gun. We know very little about them, having been shut out from the scientific world for the last two and a half years, but I hope they will prove a success.

The enemy are within three hundred yards of Wagner, but if our men act properly, I have no idea that they will take the Fort, as the remaining portion is a low, flat, wet plain, thoroughly flanked, and commanded.

Sunday Morning.—A bright Sunday morning as this is, I had hoped we would enjoy in peace, but the scoundrels are giving us bricks in reality as I write. They opened at daylight, and from appearances are likely to continue it all day. You must not judge from the tremendous blot or smear that I have just made that I am scared, though, if you should think so, probably you will not be very far wrong. How I would like to enjoy now some of the cool water, deicious breezes, and butter-milk, with which you in one of your late letters were pleased to taunt me! You and Pa seem to like to talk of the telegraph very much, but, through the goodness of your hearts, I will accuse you of making a blunder. You forgot that there was a third person concerned, and you must have thought that I was to be, or was likely to be wounded or hurt in some way. Banish any such idea from your mind, for, I assure you, you never were more mistaken. I am as well and as happy as possible. George is a [545] little unwell today. I am sorry to inform you that Lieutenant Erwin had his foot shot off at Wagner. I believe I told you of it in my dispatch two nights ago to my father. He is from York, and brother of John Erwin, whom Pa knows. I am now Acting Adjutant to the Colonel, Lieutenant Boyleston having gone home in consequence of his wound.

Charleston, S. C., September 7, 1863.
My Dear Mother.—you will observe, I am now stationed in the city, where Colonel Rhett has his headquarters for the present. I had the pleasure of being among the very last to leave the Old Fort on the morning of the 5th instant, which event, I assure you, was characterized by the deepest feelings of regret and sadness on my part. And now I will speak of the progress of events since that time, and particularly as I myself am concerned with those events, as you get from the daily journals the general history of affairs. All day Friday and Saturday Morris's Island was subjected to a terrible and trying ordeal, which resulted, at Wagner, with the loss of one hundred and fifty killed and wounded, together with considerable damage to the work itself; while at Gregg the loss was proportionately great. On the evening of the 5th, I had the honor to be the bearer of dispatches from General Ripley to Colonel Keitt to say that the dispatches of the enemy had been intercepted, which informed us that there would be an assault on the rear of Gregg by means of barges during the night. When I reached Gregg and delivered the dispatches, everything seemed to be in such a bad condition, and knowing that all the assistance possible was needed, I thought it my duty to remain for the fight, and accordingly I reported, with my boat's crew, to Captain Lesesne, commanding Battery Gregg, who gave me command of thirty-four men in one of the most important positions. Our force was very small—not more than two hundred men. After everything was ready, we waited quietly until about half-past 1 o'clock Sunday morning, when we saw the barges approaching the battery slowly in a semi-circular line. They were about twelve in number, and carrying not less than fifty men each. They reached about one hundred and fifty yards from the battery, when we opened on them ‘like a thousand of bricks,’ on a small scale. The rascals cried out: ‘Don't shoot! We are friends!’ But we piled it on the better. The barges then replied rapidly with boat howitzers and [546] rifles, and the little fight became general; for Moultrie, Battery Bee and Simkins had all by this time joined in to help us.

The shooting on all hands was good, and must have had considerable effect; but it was dark, and we were unable to tell correctly. There soon appeared considerable confusion. Everybody seemed to be giving command. We heard the command ‘Forward!’ distinctly, but they scon ‘forwarded backwards.’ The fight lasted about twenty-five minutes, and the loss on our side was eight men wounded. About fifty men succeeded in landing, but a few well-directed shots made them take the water again. The truth is the enemy were so surprised that we should have been prepared for them that all their efforts were paralyzed When I first took command of my little squad, I thought it best to have a sword; but when I saw the rascals coming I threw down sword and all, put on my ac coutrements, took a rifle and went to work regularly with the men. I could not miss the chance to take revenge for ‘Sumter,’ and I hope I laid some fellow low.

Last night, as you will have heard, the whole Island was successfully evacuated, but you must not imagine that affairs are in a bad condition in consequence. We are in a stronger position now than we ever have been before. When Sumter fell Morris's Island was of no value, and it was only held to give us time to complete the battery at Fort Johnson, which has now been accomplished. Wagner really was nothing more than an outwork to Sumter, and should have been abandoned as soon as the latter fell, had we been prepared for it. This morning our batteries opened on the Island and scattered the ‘Yanks,’ who were prying around into every nook and corner. Before leaving last night the guns were all rendered unfit for service again and preparations made to blow the works up, but on account of some imperfection in the slow match we failed to do so.

The enemy are now (7 o'clock P. M.) firing on Moultrie and the batteries on Sullivan's Island from monitors and iron-sides, while the batteries are replying with spirit. It is fine fun to stand on the battery here and look on from afar off at the fight. The ‘big gun’ is mounted and ready for action. You will not appreciate a description. Suffice it to say that it is huge. The other gun, mate to this, will be here from Wilmington in a day or two, which is to be placed on the battery also.

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