Northern correspondence — Statement of deserters.
From the Charleston
letters in the New York Herald
we make some interesting extracts.
The correspondent says of
That battery Wagner is a hard nut to crack must by this time be apparent to the people of the North
It is not yet in our possession, though foot by foot and yard by yard our brave soldiers are digging their way into it. During the bombardment of seven days not a moment has been lost in the work before Fort Wagner
With its supplies cut off, and our men wielding the pickaxe and the spade under its very parapet, the prospect of its early transfer to Federal ownership daily brightens.
The destruction of Sumter
relieves guns and batteries which may now be otherwise employed.
is destined to feel their power and yield before them is considered certain.
Charleston Shelled again.
That Gen. Gillmore
means business is evident from the fact that the "Swamp Angel
" was again trained upon the city last night, and several of her messengers waited upon the inhabitants, if any yet remain.
The guns of the James Island
batteries continued to play upon this pet piece of ours with great animation, all night, but without damage, so far as I can learn.
Think of a shell flying noiselessly through four or five miles of space, dropping suddenly among the sleepy people, exploding as it strikes, and, as it explodes, scattering a seething, liquid flame, which no water will extinguish, and you may perhaps imagine the consternation which these "errand runners" produce.
Fly on, ye winged messengers!
Search out the hiding places of traitors, and in all the nests they have builded scatter destruction and death.
The monotony of the bombardment was broken on Friday by the arrival of a party of seven deserters from the rebel force on Sullivan's Island
They had been stationed where a full view of the effect of our shot upon the easterly face of Sumter
was always before them.
Upon the side of the work which is yet hidden to us they saw the bricks go down by cartloads, the guns dismounted, the casemates revealed and then destroyed, and they know that Sumter
must fall — that, indeed, it was fast falling.
So these seven men, knowing that victory was certain to the Yankees
, tired of fighting longer for the Confederacy
, and anxious, if possible, to get back to their homes in the Old North State, procured a pass from their commander to visit Mount Pleasant
, stole a boat and rowed out in the darkness of the night to the Montank.
picked them up and sent them ashore this morning.
The sight of seven able-bodied men in the rebel uniform, as they marched down to the beach to the Provost Marshal
's office was sufficient to attract the attention of every one in camp, and by the time they reached Col. Hall
's quarters they had been subjected to a pretty thorough pumping.
The curious and inquisitive sent volleys of questions at them as they passed along, and to all these the gray backs responded with as much good nature as if they had drawn a bead or pulled a trigger upon their questioners.
In the hands of the Provost Marshal
they were put through another and more systematic course of sprouts.
"What regiment do you belong to?" asked that official."
"Eighth North Carolina."
"When did you leave your command?"
"Last night, after moon down."
"How did you get away?"
"We came in a small boat, sir, out to the Montank."
"Have you seen Fort Sumter
on the Sullivan's Island
"Well, we saw what was left of it last night."
"What effect have our shots had on it?"
"Well, sir, you've give 'em a heap o' trouble, sir. The bricks is all knocked away, and you can see daylight-right through the fort."
"Are any guns dismounted?"
"Are they repairing the damage at night?
Are they putting in sand bags so that they can stay there?"
"'Deed I don't know, sir. When we come by last night we hadn't time to stop.
They was a right smart o' hollerin' there, like as they was haulin' or liftin' somethin'."
"How came so many to desert together?
Were you not afraid to talk to each other about coming away?"
"Well, we was all of us neighbors afore the war, and we bestowed who we was talkin to. The whole brigade would desert if they could git a chace."
"How do they feel about Sumter
"Oh, the papers is full o' big talk, like they allus was, but we could see it, an' we knew 'twastwas comin' down.
They're goin' to hold it as long as they can. The soldiers over to Moultrie
feel pretty safe, but somehow they're kind o' discouraged.
Battery Bee will give you unsta beltin' though.
She's got some big rifles, an' they feel safer'n all the rest."
"How large a force is there in Charleston
"'Deed I don't know, sir. It's six weeks since we was in Charleston
So the questions were piled, and the answers returned, until every conceivable subject was exhausted.
The deserters expressed a strong desire to return to their State, which, they think, is soon to come back into the Union
They were provided with quarters, and assured that when the proper time arrived they should be permitted to go North.
Correspondents brought to Grief.
When Gen. Gillmore
's plans were first matured much mischief was made by their premature disclosure in certain prints of New York and Boston
, in which the positions of our batteries, the number and calibre of our guns, and the work they were expected to accomplish, were detailed public.
This attracted the attention of the War Department, and Gen. Gillmore
was directed to send all correspondents in the department to Hilton Head
, and there keep them in arrest until the completion of his operations here, but as a certain gentleman of the press had secured an appointment from the Post-Office Department, and been stationed by the Secretary of the Navy
on board of the flagship of the squadron, the evil could not be met by a partial banishment of the reporters.--The individual alluded to is rapidly acquiring an unenviable reputation as an author of bogus dispatches; and as his case could not be reached, and especially as Gen. Gillmore
has no desire to "punish the righteous for the sins of the unrighteous," he has so far modified the orders he had received as to permit the correspondents to remain in arrest upon the island.
We are anticipating a speedy completion of operations, and consequently a speedy release from arrest.
For my own part I can endure the ordeal with comparative composure, knowing that in all my correspondence no allusion to any movement has ever been made out of season, and that I have never written a word concerning our batteries, their position, or their guns, which Gen. Gillmore
did not with his own hand approve.
A flag of truce.
On Friday morning, at about 8 o'clock, Lieut.-Col. Jas. F. Hall
, Provost Marshal General
, and Capt. Brooks
, left Gen. Gillmore
's headquarters, bearing, under cover of a flag of truce, a sealed letter from the Union
commander to the original rebel chieftain.
It is understood that the document was a demand for the surrender of Morris Island
and Fort Sumter
To this was added a formal notice that a failure to comply would be followed by turning our guns upon the city of Charleston
, and a desire that the non-combatants, women and children, might accordingly be removed beyond the limits of the town.
After proceeding to our batteries upon the left and notifying them to cease their firing at the proper time, Col. Hall
and Capt. Brooks
rode out to their parallels upon the right, and were soon among the sappers in the trenches at the front.
Here, amid the storm of bullets and the occasional volleys of shrapnel which burst from Wagner
, they frantically waved their white handkerchiefs until a similar emblem of peace was displayed upon the parapet just before them. --Lieut.-Col. Duggin
, of the 21st S. C. Volunteers, came out to receive the communication, and met our flag about midway between our pickets and the fort.
But few words passed between the parties, whose hands did not meet during the interview.
After formally introducing himself, Col. Hall
ventured to remark that it was a warm morning, to which the rebel Colonel
gave his concurrence so stiffly as to deter any further conversation, except on matters purely official.
The parties delivered and received the documents, bade each other good morning, and returned to their lines with a dignity which, in the hot August sun, must have been peculiarly refreshing.