In this way the most important and famous of all these earthworks, Battery Wagner, was called after Major Tom Wagner
, of the Regulars, who was killed at Fort Hamilton
by the bursting of a gun. This excellent and valued officer was much regretted, and his name has been handed down to history by the heroic defence of this noted battery.
The fighting for Charleston
, which was to continue without cessation until the evacuation of the city, almost at the close of the war, began at the southern point of Morris Island, July 10th, 1863, where Captain John C. Mitchel
, with a handful of men, held the enemy in check and prevented their landing for many hours, until our soldiers were largely outnumbered, while our position was enfiladed by the fleet.
When they at length retreated, poor John Bee
, a Lieutenant in the First artillery, was one of those who were left dead behind them.
He was a good officer and a fine fellow, with generous, chivalric feelings.
How little did those who knew him as a light-hearted boy dream that he would fall on that ocean washed shore and sleep there so soundly that the loudest cannon could never more awaken him to the turmoil of this mortal life.
Battery Wagner was assaulted that very night, and the weary but brave-hearted artillerists, who had fought through all the heat of the day, were called upon to stand to their guns again and help to repel the efforts which were vainly made to capture this work.
I have heard an amusing account of a little incident that occurred on this occasion.
Two brothers—one a Captain of a company, and the other a private—were standing side by side, awaiting the charge of the foe, who had already been beaten back.
Suddenly the younger one (quite a boy) was struck by a bullet, and, falling down, exclaimed: ‘Oh, T,—— I am killed!
I am killed!’
turned his head anxiously towards him, but perceived at once that in the excitement of the moment he had overestimated the extent of his injuries, and replied sternly: ‘You are not, sir. Get up and shoot your gun.’
‘Well, T——,’ said the junior, meekly, ‘I thought I was killed; but I'll try to get up.’
With that he scrambled to his feet and manfully met the oncoming attack, standing at his post until it was defeated, and only going to the hospital to have his wound dressed when all immediate danger was over.
On the night of the 18th of July, Battery Wagner was again furiously assaulted, and although one angle of the fort was carried by the assailants, they were at last driven off and obliged to give up the idea and abandon the hope of ever capturing this work by force