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[378] the fall of the tide rendered more accessible for an assaulting column. As fast as the day advanced the Federal workmen, encouraged by the absolute silence of the enemy and the precision of their own pieces, became more and more bold. After having timidly shown their heads, they soon worked without any shelter, and even went to reconnoitre the fort on the glacis, avoiding with rare adroitness the torpedoes with which it was strewn. This situation, so new and so strange, coming after long days of slow and perilous labors, stimulated their ardor, and the flag advanced all the time. The distant fire from James Island was even no longer to be apprehended by them, for they were so near the place that the pieces on that island could no longer fire upon them without danger to the garrison, and were obliged to direct their shots more to the rear on the siege-batteries.

The situation of the garrison in Fort Wagner was becoming every hour more perilous. The calcium lights rendered very difficult the communications with Charleston in the night, which for a long time had been impossible during the day. The Federals had attempted to land, from some launches, in front of Battery Gregg, to capture it by surprise: they had retired at the first alarm, it is true, but they were evidently preparing for an assault the issue of which was not doubtful. In fine, although the fire of the Parrott guns had been rather irregular, they had at last seriously broken through the blindage, and it was easy to foresee that if this fire continued the shelter would be opened before the 8th. The head of the enemy's sap was going to reach beyond the south front of the work, and thus mask the artillery of the fort. The garrison, exhausted by long vigils, the confined air of the shelters protected by blinds, could not therefore count any more on the support of this artillery. The enemy could reach the crest of the parapet sooner than the garrison, and make them prisoners ere they had emerged from underneath the ground. There was not a moment to lose to avoid this disaster. Beauregard decided in the afternoon of the 6th of September to evacuate Battery Gregg and Fort Wagner: his instructions were full and precise. The operation, a very delicate one, was to commence at sunset. He had estimated, with rare accuracy, the extreme limit of resistance of these works. In fact, the besiegers, having

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James Island (South Carolina, United States) (1)
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R. T. Beauregard (1)
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