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[214]

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


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Tom Wagner (2)
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August 20th, 1863 AD (1)
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