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Letters from Fort Sumter.

By Lieutenant Iredell Jones, of First Regiment South Carolina Regulars.

Fort Sumter, August 17, 1863.
My Dear Father,—We have been pretty severely pelted and shelled to-day. The enemy opened at daybreak this morning with their monitors and land batteries on Wagner and Sumter, and the bombardment continued with unabated fury until dark. It is now 8 o'clock P. M., and the land batteries are firing slowly on Sumter. For some reason our fort did not reply this morning until 11:30 o'clock, when we opened a brisk fire on the monitors and gunboats, and in the course of an hour succeeded in driving all of them off. The land batteries, however, we could not silence, and they have given us bricks all day long. The casualties are one man killed and fifteen [213] privates and three officers wounded. In all the enemy fired 910 shots at the fort, out of which 600 struck. The fort is badly used up—four guns dismounted, though all unimportant. Our battery has not been hurt so far. We expect a renewal of the attack tomorrow. Batteries Wagner and Gregg are uninjured. At the former the casualties were seven killed and twenty-eight wounded; at the latter one killed and five wounded. * * *

Fort Sumter, August 19, 1863.
My Dear Father,—The bombardment still continues hot and heavy, and we are holding out as well as possible under the circumstances. It is useless longer to conceal the fact—the fort is terribly knocked to pieces. Though there is no reason at present to abandon it, its fall is only a question of time. Many guns have been dismounted, and all the guns on the gorge face are unserviceable on account of the parapet's being knocked away. The enemy throw 200-pound Parrotts at us at the rate of one thousand per day. They ceased firing last night, the first intermission since day before yesterday morning. The fort has not replied since day before yesterday, though our main battery is still in good condition. I cannot imagine the reason, and the policy is condemned by every officer of the garrison. It may not, it would not, alter the state of affairs to open fire, but the honor of our country, the honor of ourselves, and the reputation of the gallant old fort demands it. I trust we will remain and fight the fort to the very last extremity. If she falls, let her and her devoted defenders fall together and gloriously.

The Brooke gun was disabled yesterday by reason of part of her carriage being shot away. We took advantage of the intermission last night, however, to replace it with another carriage, and the gun is all right again.

It is now 12 o'clock M., and while I write the shells are bursting all over us and the bricks are flying wildly. Yesterday 895 shots were fired at us, but we had but few casualties. Only three men slightly wounded. To-day we have not been so fortunate. Already one man has been killed and five wounded. George [a colored servant] behaves like a man. I gave him his choice to go to town or not, as he wished. He replied that he would not leave me.


Fort Sumter, August 20, 1863.
My Dear Mother,—At last we have a little rest from the incessant fire which we have been compelled to endure since daybreak Monday morning. For four days the enemy has been pouring in his two-hundred-pound shot and shell from the land batteries, assisted by fifteen-inch shell from the monitors, and we have been forced to shrink our shoulders and take all this iron hail without the gratification of replying. But, however humiliating this may appear, it is probably the wisest policy. We have but one battery left, and we had best not expose the guns of this, to be dismounted, like all the others, when by using them, however much, we could not change the condition of things. The fact is, we all know now, what we all thought before, that the fort can't stand against land batteries. I wish not to create alarm, but if I give you any information at all I must tell the truth. I wish not to make others despondent—and, if I ever spoke truth, I am not so myself. That the fort may, and is likely to be abandoned, I think very probable in the course of time, but that time has not arrived. It may be weeks or months before that event takes place. It is true that one-half of the fort is laid in ruins, but we have the two strongest faces left almost unhurt, which, on account of their positions, will be ten times more difficult to knock down. We will rest quiet until the ironclads come in, when I trust we will be able again to reflect credit on the glorious old fortification. Besides, on the face of the gorge, the bricks falling down on the sand which we had placed outside, have accumulated until they have built up of themselves a complete breastwork, behind which we can take refuge. No one that has not been here to witness the effect of the enemy's ordnance can have the least conception of what has been done in four days. Who, on Sunday last, would have thought that even the weakest face of this fort could have been knocked down by guns at distances ranging between two miles and three miles? I expected them to knock it down when Wagner fell, but I admit my surprise when I saw them open on us from such distances. The enemy seems to have abandoned the attack on Wagner for the present, and concluded, justly, that they were unable to take it, but at the same time knowing that the only way to make it fall was to reduce this place, and we may expect all their hatred to be raised to its highest pitch towards us until they accomplish their object. * * As yet we are all in fine spirits. Like [215] others under similar circumstances, we have become accustomed to the shelling, and there is always some one to crack a joke. We slip in any corner that we can find—every one for himself—while we know not when we may be slapped side the head with a brickbat. Nearly every officer has been struck, more or less, with these little affairs. I have been struck several times—once on the arm with a fragment of a shell, which stung me slightly, but did not even break the skin. On one occasion I was so unlucky as to get a brick side my head, though some say it was in my hat.

There were no casualties to day. Captain Gaillard was slightly wounded in the ankle. I am afraid it will prove more painful than it is even now. I see him on crutches this evening. We have a good many negroes in the garrison for the purpose of rebuilding what the enemy tears down, and several of them were wounded, though not seriously.

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