a Trip down the harbor — Graphic description of Fort Sumter--Morris' Island — Scenes in the city, &c.
[special Correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Charleston, April 15.
For a "special correspondent," who arrives on the scene twenty hours after the "special" occasion is ended, there remain only a few scraps of intelligence to communicate, and they are not new. This morning a boat from the city went down to Fort Sumter
, and the excursionists on board had a very good opportunity of viewing the scene of the late fight.
As you leave the city you find Castle Pinkney
on your left — a low, circular fortification, painted a bright yellow.
On the narrow ledge around it are seen several awkward squads drilling, their officers trotting them around at a rapid rate.
Those soldiers sent to this fort are chiefly recruits who are drilled for the lower points in the harbor.
But a few moments elapse before you have a good view of Fort Sumter
; but how changed.
All the chimneys that rose above the walls of the fort are shattered, and there is not a square yard, hardly a square foot, in the wall, that has not the impression of a cannon ball.
At one point a spot four feet square has nine
balls in it. In some cases the balls have buried themselves in the bricks, in others a large spot is chipped off, and the iron missile lies buried in the water into which it rebounded.
On the western side of the fort the greatest damage is done, and every ball from the "rifle" cannon, presented by a South Carolinian in England
to his State, has told with wonderful effect.
The slight breach was probably much aided by this piece of artillery.
The parapet protection erected by Major Anderson
in the corner of the fort fronting Morris' Island
is completely blown to pieces, and could have afforded but a brief covering for the soldiers.
It was about four feet high, composed of stakes enclosing sand tightly packed, and affording what would seem, but proved not to be, a very efficient protection.
This seems to have been marked out particularly by the gunners on the other side; and about two feet to the left of it there is a clear breach in the wall, about two feet wide, and extending down the same depth from the parapet.
The appearance of the inside can hardly be described.
The officers' quarters are burnt up, and the whole area within the walls looks as if a "fire of hell" (as the French
said at the Crimea) had blackened and blasted it. The ground is strewn with balls, bursted shells, fragments of brick and mortar, broken timber, dismounted cannon, and a sprinkling of old cartridge boxes, &c., and presents a fair picture of the results of a fierce and persistent bombardment.
On the boat was a lady — not an old looking one, either — who had three sons on duty in the harbor.
One of them is now in the Fort
, and sent his mother a very excellent collection of the curiosities within, and the messenger, a very handsome young soldier, was the centre of attraction with the ladies on the boat while he remained.
The curiosities consisted of pieces of bombshell, splinters of the flag-staff, &c. While we were lying off Fort Sumter
a number of little boats were plying to and fro, the oars being pulled by men who looked as if they had never had much to do with as rough work before.
In the sterns were seated the officers, who were being carried from point to point with orders.
A daguerreotypist was in the fort taking views of the interior, and in the mean time favoring the "boys" in there with copies of their faces to send to their friends.
you see Morris' Island
, which to-day presented an unusually animated spectacle.
A large Charleston
steamer was lying a short distance off the Island
, landing a battery of flying artillery, besides other troops, and additional supplies of fresh provisions.
A few minutes after landing, the artillery could be seen wending its way along the sand beach to Stono
, where the U. S.
, vessels are expected to land troops.
A large number of troops are being sent to that point, and every preparation is being made to give the invaders a warm welcome.
is the farthest point towards the sea which commands the entrance to the harbor, and as you look along the beach between that and Morris
' Island, you see it dotted with flags, each one indicating that at that point is located a battery, varying in strength, I am told, from two to six cannons.
As the boat returned we passed quite near to Moultrie
, and with a glass could see plainly the manner in which the port-holes are battered around the edges.
paid particular attention to this point, and the firing from Sumter
seems to have been very accurate.
The Floating Battery, which lies on the other side of the Bay
, looks in front like a little one-story house painted black, with four unusually large windows.
There is a hole through the roof.
Looking to sea ward from Fort Sumter
, you can plainly see the war steamers and chartered transports which Maj. Anderson
so earnestly signaled to come to his relief.
We ran out in about a mile of them.
They are lying close together about six miles from Sumter
The South Carolinian speak of the commanders as great cowards for not attempting to assist their companions in distress.
As we passed the Mercury
office this afternoon, we saw a company of about one hundred men, from Lancaster county, S. C.
, marching down the street to embark for one of the posts in the harbor.
They were strong, firm-looking fellows, dressed in grey, and carrying satchels instead of knapsacks, tin cups, canteens, &c. Their marching was rather awkward, but all that will be taken out of them before they have been many days behind the sand bags.
They gave three rousing cheers for the Mercury.
's Proclamation was published here this morning.
Nobody seems to care for it; indeed, nobody seems to care for anything that may be done by the Administration and its Northern backers.
The people seem to expect war, are ready for war, and would be, I had nearly said, disagreeably disappointed if they don't have war. If Lincoln
's Proclamation is bluster, and gotten up for effect, it will have no effect here or elsewhere in the Confederacy
I heard some Virginians
to-day laughing heartily at one of the telegrams to the effect that a requisition was to be made on Virginia
for 8,000 men to aid in coercion.
Examining the baggage is one of the new institutions that has come in with the new Confederacy, and as I was too late for the combat, you must take a description of this in place of more interesting matter.
It does not occur directly upon your crossing the line between North Carolina
and South Carolina
--You are allowed to go on until you reach Florence, S. C.
, which is the inspection point.
The cars run up to a tall pole, bearing the flag of the Confederate States
Then comes the revenue inspector, a good looking, polite young fellow, who calls out for passengers to hand over the keys of their baggage.
Each trunk is taken out of the baggage car, and its owner furnishes the key and aids the inspector in turning up the contents, and satisfies him that there is nothing contraband in them.
There is no getting off from this, and no feigned loss of keys, nor bogus pretence of rusty lock, can save you. After one trunk is looked through, the owner and sufferer waits to witness the same operation on his fellow travelers, and a modest man is inexpressibly pained at the exposure of his inexpressible and other delicate articles of clothing.
The little private bottles of "spirits" exposed would astonish you, and the quantity is only equalled by the agility of the owners in jerking a vest or coat over them.
Of course the crowd don't laugh, nor jeer, nor the victim's face don't turn red; of course not. (This, as A. Ward
would say, is ironical.)
As we passed Goldsboro', N. C.
, coming down, the news of the surrender of Fort Sumter
had just reached there, and the town was ablaze with tar barrels.
Every man that had a gun was out and firing it, and this deponent firmly believes that if any man had been insane enough then and there to cheer for the Northern Confederacy
, he would have had only five minutes between him and a Confederacy so very far South that the process of acclimation therein is so extremely warm as to be highly disagreeable.
may be asleep on the great question, but I venture to say that there is not a town in the Confederate States
more true to Southern rights than Goldsboro
is not very much excited, and a stranger is surprised to find such coolness in a city which, for two days past, has been in hearing of a bombardment.
Business goes on as usual, and around the Courier
boards I haven't seen a crowd to-day one-fifth as large as you have around the Dispatch
bulletin board when so light a matter as election news is expected.
So much has been written about Charleston
since the commencement of the crests, that any description of it would be tiresome.
I can only say that it is the quaintest, queerest, prettiest city I ever saw.