over it, whirling the sea-sand into ever-shifting hillocks and hollows, like the deserts of Arabia
, but without the attractions ascribed to those wildernesses by the poet Moore
; for down these slopes spring no ‘silvery-footed antelopes’ and nowhere does ‘the Acacia
wave her yellow hair.’
Only a few stunted shrubs grow along the western side of the island near the creek, affording a scant refuge to the little sea-birds which build their nests among the wind-tossed branches.
The only inhabitants are an oyster-gatherer and a few men who attend to the light-house.
If human vision could reach so far, one might stand on the beach and look across the intervening space to the continent of Europe
; but as this is impossible, and we can only gaze at the waste of waters, there is nothing to awaken fancy, or enlist any one's attention, and a stranger would merely consider this low island to be a hopelessly desolate and utterly insignificant part of the surface of the earth.
Yet the waves that break heavily along the shores seem to murmur the sad refrain of the prophet of old, ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?’
while the wind replies mournfully, ‘Nothing.’
Those who are unacquainted with the facts of the case will hardly realize the statement to be true, that twenty-one years ago, during the months of July and August, that parched and sterile island was the most important spot of ground in the State of South Carolina
; and was the point to which all hearts and eyes turned.
It was the out-post of Charleston
, and under the burning rays of the summer sun, our best and bravest soldiers were fighting in defense of this old city.
The first question that was asked in those days, when friends met, was, ‘What is the latest news from Morris Island
The shells could be plainly heard in town, of course, as for weeks they continually swept like a hail-storm over the Island
; while on our side the artillerists at Battery Wagner and Battery Gregg replied loudly, and the guns of Fort Sumter
joined in the awful concert, keeping up an unremitting fire, day and night, upon the enemy's camps, assaulting columns, working parties, and the fleet.
During the seige it became customary to call the different batteries, as they were constructed, by the names of officers who had been killed-thus Battery Cheves was named after Capt. Langdon Cheves
, of the Engineer Corps, who was killed at Battery Wagner; Battery Simpkins, after Major John Simpkins
, of the Regulars, who also fell at this post; Battery Haskell and Battery Kringle
, on James Island
, after Captain Charles Haskell
, of the Regulars, and Captain Robert Kringle
, besides many others, which cannot all be enumerated.