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Doc. 158.-bombardment of Fort Sumter, April 7, 1863.

off Charleston harbor, on board flag-ship New Ironsides, Wednesday, April 8, 1863.
The sun has just gone down in Charleston harbor on what it is surely on straining of terms to call tire most extraordinary contest in the annals of warfare.

Distressing though it be to write tidings which will carry pain and humiliation to the heart of the nation to read, it only remains to tell you that this fleet of iron-clads has measured its strength against Fort Sumter and the works that flank the entrance to Charleston harbor, and that it has withdrawn from the contest discomfited.

Estimated in the terms of time the trial was brief; but it was decisive. An ordeal of two hours served to prove that tire defensive powers of tire iron fleet were insufficient to withstand the terrible force of the offensive enginery of the works it had to assail, while the limitations in the offensive powers of the iron-clads took away all the advantage which might have been derived from their superior powers of resistance over the forts. The enemy, by his obstructive appliances, was able to detain the fleet — whose total armament is thirty-two guns — in the focus of fire of a circle of works mounting at least three hundred guns ; in half an hour, five out of the nine ships were wholly or partially disabled! Such is the ghastly fact in its naked proportions [503]

The following narrative will, it is hoped, afford material for a just appreciation of the events that transpired in Charleston harbor to-day during those two brief but pregnant hours. It is necessary to premise, however, that in this contest every thing is so novel and unprecedented that we must be cautious in applying the old standards of judgment to a new order of events.

Terrific though the action of to-day was, it can hardly be called a battle, for the fleet only felt the outposts of the enemy, and, owing to the obstructions, it was never even able to plate it-self where it was designed to begin operations — namely, on the north-west face of Fort Sumter. It was, in fact, though not in name, yet in reality, a reconnoissance in force. Every thing was untried. Both the work to be done, and the tools with which it was to he done, were comparatively untested. We knew but imperfectly the engines we were to use against the enemy; and we knew still more imperfectly the. engines the enemy were to use against us. It is unfortunate, no doubt, that the revolution in the means and methods of offensive and defensive warfare now dawning on the world, and the urgency of the struggle in which the nation is engaged, should have necessitated the hazarding of a great battle on elements which are all but unknown. The trial, however, had to be made. It has been made, and though we are not gainers in what is always the aim of battle — direct material success — we have at least enriched our experience with that which, if rightly profited by, will yet bring success.

It would be folly for me to conceal from you that the result of this reconnoissance produces but one conviction on the mind of unprejudiced observers, the conviction of the utter insufficiency of our iron-clad fleet to take Charleston, alone. I feel it necessary at the outset, however, to indicate to you briefly the considerations that go to create this conviction, and the more so that I readily foresee that there will be some who, simply because the whole fleet was not left at the bottom of Charleston harbor, will be disposed to assert that the trial was insufficient, and will be clamorous for a renewal of it.

The result of the engagement, as already indicated, was to put out of the fight five of the nine iron-clads. One of these the Keokuk, or Whitney battery, was so horribly riddled that though she was brought out to her old anchorage, she has sunk.

The other four, though now that they come to be examined by the engineers, fortunately prove to be not so injured but that they can be soon repaired, were yet so damaged as to be put for the time being quite hors du combat. Remember that this tremendous effect — the disabling of one half the entire fleet — was accomplished in less than half an hour. Remember, again, that this took place simply at the entrance of the Inferno of fire through which the fleet must have had to pass to reach Charleston, and that there was before it a double line of batteries stretching up for four miles before the city is gained, at each point of which the ships must have been exposed to a fire equal in intensity to that it felt under the walls of Sumter. But finally, remember that rebel artillery was not the most formidable foe our ships had to withstand; that, commencing at the point our fleet reached, directly across from Sumter, and extending all the distance up to the city, are successive lines of piles, effectually barring the progress of the vessels, and detaining them at known ranges within the focus of fire; that there are other lines of nets and ropes for the purpose of fouling the propellers, and that the whole channel is studded with submarine batteries, of proportions never before dreamed of in naval warfare.

That the entire fleet was not destroyed and left in the hands of the enemy is due to the skill of the gallant sailor commanding the expedition, and to the tact and pluck of the captains of the respective ships. That skill, tact, and pluck rendered what, in the hands of any man less able, must have been a most crushing and terrible disaster, a simple repulse, very distressing and mortifying, 'tis true, but one which leaves no blot on the fame of those engaged, and one which, rightly viewed, need abate not a jot of the heart or hope with which the nation holds to the awfully sacred work which God has given it to do.


Certainly never did a fleet bent on so great a mission, set out with so little of pomp and circumstance as marked the departure of the expedition, so long preparing, against Charleston. Those who have read the volumes of Mr. Motley will remember the magnificent description in the History of the Netherlands, of the sailing of the Spanish Armada, with its hundreds of galleons and galleasses in their high state and bravery. There is absolutely nothing of this to tell in the story of our expedition. Indeed, so quietly had the fleet been dropping away from Port Royal for a week or ten days previous to the departure of the naval and military chiefs of the expedition — now a couple of iron-clads, now a convoy of gunboats with transports — that one rubbed his eyes at the time of the official announcement of the inauguration of operations on the first of April, to see that the vast fleet, numbering over one hundred vessels, had really gone. On Thursday, the first of April, Admiral Du Pont and staff left Port Royal on the James Adger, General hunter and staff sailing on the following day in the steamer Ben Deford.

The fleet, which for a week or ten days had been dropping away from Port Royal, had been during the same time meeting in rendezvous in North Edisto River, which, you will observe, empties into the sea somewhat over half-way between Port Royal and Charleston harbor, and forms a safe and convenient entrepot for the expedition.

Arriving at Edisto on Friday afternoon, (April third,) we found the whole fleet assembled in the embouchure of the river. Tides and winds were now the only conditions that remained to control the movement of the expedition. The iron-clads [504] require all the water over the Charleston bar that the most favorable circumstances provide, and it had been made a point that we should be in full fighting trim, and as near as possible to the scene of operations by the full of the moon, (April third,) when for three days before and after that period the spring tides prevail, and the “moist star upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands” piles up the waters off this coast a foot or two higher than their normal state. The water over the Charleston bar in ordinary times is but eighteen feet. Now, the New Ironsides draws sixteen feet, and as during the spring tides we get at least nineteen feet, the advantage of this season is manifest.

Weather as well as tides, however, had to be counted with, for maugre many fine popular illusions as to the splendid sea-going qualities of the monitors, all naval men here know that they are utterly unseaworthy, and that they require the deftest and most delicate handling. Now, for several days the wind had been blowing fresh, and ruffled the sea to such an extent as to make Admiral Du Pont unwilling to leave his anchorage, and hazard the inauguration of active operations off Charleston. On the day following our arrival in Edisto, however, (Saturday, April fifth,) the wind went down with the sun, and the resplendent full moon rose on a sea calm as the Galilean lake. With early dawn of Sunday the prows were turned northward, and in the course of three hours the fleet lay to in the station occupied by the blockaders, outside of Charleston bar, half a dozen miles from Sumter. In the afternoon Capt. Rhind was sent in with his vessel, the Keokuk, assisted by C. O. Boutelle, Assistant U. S. Coast Survey, commanding the Bibb, Acting Ensign Platt, and the pilots of the squadron to buoy out the bar. The bar was crossed by the new channel, called the Pumpkin Channel, formed on the north side of the main channel in which the stone hulks were sunk last year. Strange to say, the new channel made by the action of the quicksands, is not only as good, but it is better than the old one, and gives a foot and a half more water than haas ever been known since soundings were made there. This preliminary work was performed with entire success.

On Monday morning Admiral Du Pont transferred his pennant from the James Adger, in which he had come up from Port Royal, to the Ironsides, which was to he the flag-ship i)during the engagement, and the iron fleet in battle order got under way to cross the bar on the flood-tide. This delicate task was handsomely done, and by nine o'clock the nine iron-clads had all crossed the bar, and had gained a position: in the main ship-channel, extending in file parallel with Morris Island, and within a mile of the shore.

And now, at this point, arose one of these complexities, which, apparently insignificant in themselves, often frustrate the greatest designs, especially when those designs depend on a delicate combination of circumstances. A slight haze or “smoke” very common along this coast during the spring months, had, since daybreak, hung over sea arid shore, and this developed with the heat of the day to such an extent as wholly to obscure the “ranges” by which the fleet was to steer. These ranges had been determined and planted by Mr. Boutelle, of the Coast Survey. They consisted of various buoys and ships at anchor, which when brought into line with certain fixed points on shore — here a clump of trees, there a church steeple in Charleston, (the rebels, of course, had destroyed all the old landmarks, and not only so, but so far as possible, levelled to the ground every standing object of sufficient altitude to give bearings,) were to serve the pilots to guide the iron-clads in the arduous navigation of the intricate channel ways — a task delicate and difficult under the most favorable circumstances, but rendered ten thousand times more so by the absence of all buoys, the impossibility, on board the iron-clads, of dropping the lead to obtain soundings, and the excessive difficulty of seeing from the narrow slits in the pilot-house. It was absolutely necessary to have three of these ranges always in sight, involving the necessity of seeing three, four, five miles. The haze rendered this absolutely impossible, and there was nothing for the fleet to do but to lie at anchor in the roadstead it had gained in the main ship channel, along the line of Morris Island, and await further developments.


'Tis the seventh “of April by the chime.” We are lying off Charleston harbor. The sea smooth as a surface of burnished steel, is beneath and around us. Sumter looms up in plain sight, a sentinel in the middle of the entrance to the harbor, and the rising sun bathes its top in golden glory; but unlike that Memnon's statue, which gave forth music to the god of day, awakes from its frowning battlements only the hoarse clamor of the daybreak gun. A gentle north wind has blown away the haze, and a diaphanous atmosphere invites to the work before us.

The plan of attack has been fully developed by Admiral Du Pont, and each captain of the iron fleet is provided with a copy of the official order for his guidance. I subjoin herewith a transcription if this document, and although, unhappily, the programme was baulked and brought to naught, it will be interesting as a clear exposition of the plans and purposes of the gallant sailor who led the fleet.

Order of battle and plan of attack upon. Charleston.

The bar will be buoyed by the Keokuk, Commander Rhind, assisted by C. O. Boutelle, Assistant United States Coast Survey, commanding the Bibb; by Acting Ensign Platt, and the pilots of the squadron. The commanding officers will, previous to crossing, make themselves acquainted with the value of the buoys.

The vessels will, on signal being made, firm in the prescribed order ahead, at intervals of one cable's length.

The squadron will pass up the main ship-channel, without returning the fire of the batteries on [505] Morris Island, unless signal should be made to commence action.

The ships will open fire on Fort Sumter when within easy range, and will take up a position to the northward and westward of that fortification, engaging its left or north-west face, at a distance of from one thousand to eight hundred yards, firing low, and aiming at the centre embrasure.

The commanding officers will instruct their officers and men to carefully avoid wasting a shot, and will enjoin upon them the necessity of precision rather than rapidity of fire.

Each ship will be prepared to render every assistance possible to vessels that may require it.

The special code of signals prepared for the iron-clad vessels, will be used in action.

After the reduction of Fort Sumter, it is probable the next point of attack will be the batteries on Morris Island.

The order of battle will be the line ahead, in the following succession:

1. Weehawken, with raft, Capt. John Rodgers.

2. Passaic, Capt. Percival Drayton.

3. Montauk, Commander John L. Worden.

4. Patapsco, Commander Daniel Ammen.

5. New Ironsides, Commodore Thos. Turner.

6. Catskill, Commander Geo. W. Rodgers.

7. Nantucket, Commander Donald McN. Fairfax.

8. Nahant, Commander John Downes.

9. Keokuk, Lieut. Commander Alex. C. Rhind.

A squadron of reserve, of which Captain J. F. Green will be senior officer, will be formed out-side the bar, and near the entrance buoy, consisting of the following vessels:

Canandaigua, Capt. Joseph H. Green.

Unadilla, Lieut. Commander S. P. Quackenbush.

Housatonic, Capt. Wm. R. Taylor.

Wissahickon, Lieut. Commander J. G. Davis.

Huron, Lieut. Commander G. A. Stevens.

And will be held in readiness to support the iron-clads when they attack the batteries on Morris Island.

S. F. Du Pont, Rear-Admiral Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Nothing now is wanting to the immediate inauguration of the plan of operations thus drawn out, save that ebb-tide shall come, as that condition of the water will afford the greatest facilities for steering. This will be at eleven o'clock; but it lacks an hour or two of that — so let us look about us, and take in the elements of the panorama that stretches out before us.

We are on board the Coast Survey steamer Bibb, which, for the purpose of obtaining the best possible view, has been carried into the Swash channel, at a point three and a quarter miles from Fort Sumter, and about two and a half from the batteries that flank the entrance to the harbor on Sullivan's and Morris Islands. We are, consequently, looking directly up into the harbor and the city, which lies in the vista beyond — its wharves and ships, houses and steeples, standing out in the background like a picture. Steeples and roofs are crowded with spectators, the neighboring shores are lined with onlookers, just as when, now two years ago, less two days, the same spectators stood on the same coignes of vantage to see, in the same harbor, another bombardment, while another flag from that which now flaunts in our eyes, floated from the walls of Sumter.

'Tis a brilliant day, with the sky and air of June; the yellow butterflies of spring flit in bright flocks, and the white-bellied sea-gulls swoop through the air, soon, alas! to be filled with other and more terrible winged things! We have before us a mounted telescope of two hundred magnifying power, which consequently brings batteries, shore and ships, within a couple of hundred yards of us, though the whole scene is perfectly visible to the unassisted eye.

We are facing Fort Sumter, and looking directly up the harbor. We have, accordingly, Sullivan's Island on our right hand, and Morris Island on our left. These two islands end each in curved points of land, and at their nearest approach, are separated by an interval of a mile, formed by the entrance to the harbor, and just on the middle of this passage, and right between the two points of land, stands Fort Sumter, built on an artificial island made in mid-channel. Both Morris and Sullivan's Islands are scarcely removed above the level of the sea, which, indeed, would probably invade and cover them, were it not that the margin of the islands on their sea-frontage, is marked by a continuous narrow strip of low sand-hills, some five or six feet in height. Behind the second ridge of the islands, are alternate salt marsh, sand, and clumps of wood of live-oak, palmetto and tangled tropical undergrowths. The whole coast of South-Carolina and Georgia, consists of a labyrinth of islands and islets of this character, round which reedy creeks and rivers wind.

With Sullivan's Island on our right, we run the eye up to its upper or north end, formed by Breach Inlet. Guarding this point, is Breach Inlet battery — a powerful sand-work, having a circular dome-like bomb-proof magazine in its centre. It is, however, three miles from the entrance of the harbor, and will not be able to molest our ships on their passage. Its chief value has been to aid blockade-runners, as it covers Maffit's Channel (the passage through which the great majority of these craft run in) from the approach of our blockaders. At present, it will serve to oppose our landing troops at Breach Inlet, should the attempt be made. Coming down along the shore of Sullivan's Island, from Breach Inlet, we next reach Fort Beauregard, a powerful sand battery, mounting very heavy guns, and situated on the turn of the island a little right of the “Moultrie House” hotel, from which it is separated only by five intervening sea-shore houses. Next, to the right of the channel up and opposite Fort Sumter, is Fort Moultrie, which has been prodigiously strengthened by the rebel engineers, both in its means of offence and of defence. Looking up the harbor, and still to the right, the eye takes in the extensive line of works, en cremaillaire, called [506] the Redan, and which has been formed by throwing up intrenchments on the line of the break-water erected some years ago by the United States Government, for the protection of that portion of the harbor. Beyond the Redan, up near the head of the harbor, on an island, appears Castle Pinckney, in the vista, looking like the Battery in New-York City as seen from the sea-entrance.

So far as the eye can see we have now exhausted the fortifications on the right hand side of the harbor. It now remains briefly to glance at those that line the left hand side. In the mean while, Fort Sumter rises up conspicuously before us in mid-chanel. We can see every brick in its walls. Two faces out of its five, and two angles only, come within sight from our point of view, namely, the south face, on which the sally-port and wharf are placed, and the eastern face. You are too familiar with the general features of this historic work to make any description necessary. It was, you know, pierced for two tiers of guns, but the lower embrasures had been filled in to strengthen it. From the top of the fort frown the barbette guns, which comprise all the heaviest portion of its armament. You can count distinctly each barbette gun-one, two, three, four, five on this; one, two, three, four on that, and so on all round, and it is easy to see that the ordnance is of the most formidable character. From a flag-staff on one of the angles of the fort, floats the confederate flag; from a flag-staff on the opposite angle floats the palmetto flag.

Passing now to the left hand side of the harbor, on James Island, we first have the Wappoo battery, near Wappoo Creek, effectually commanding the embouchure of Ashley River and the left side of the city. Next, coming down, we have Fort Johnston, and between it and Castle Pinckney, on an artificial island raised by the rebels, on the “middle ground,” is Fort Ripley. Coming down to Cumming's Point, directly opposite Moultrie, is the Cumming's Point battery, named by the rebels Battery Bee, after the general of that name; south of Battery Bee, on Morris Island, is Fort Wagner, a very extensive sand battery of the most powerful construction. Half-way down Morris Island, again, from Fort Wagner, is a new sandwork erected by the rebels since I surveyed the ground from the blockading fleet, a fortnight ago. Finally, down at Lighthouse Inlet, which divides Morris from Folly Island, is another fortification, covering an attempt at a landing at that point. Such is the formidable panorama the eye takes in, in sweeping around the harbor and its approaches, and which you can imagine pictures itself on the retina in much less time than is required for the description.


And now, before the horrible fascination of battle shall whirl all thought and feeling into a tumultuous chaos, is it possible to realize for a moment the true nature of the situation before us?

With respect both to the obstacles we are to meet, and the engines with which we are to meet them, every thing is novel and unprecedented. Comparison is simply impossible, for where there are no points of resemblance comparison is out of the question.

But can you imagine, if one were permitted to play with the elements of time and space — the shade of Nelson transferred from his gun-deck off Trafalgar, after but little over half a century, and placed on board of one of those iron craft before us; and can you imagine the sensations of that consummate master of all the elements of naval warfare as known in his day? He must be help-less as a child, and bewildered as a man in a dream. From his splendid three-decker, the Victory, carrying its hundred guns, and towering majestically on the water, which it rides like a thing of life, he finds himself imprisoned in an iron casing, the whole hull and frame of which is submerged in the water, the waves washing clean over its deck, and depending for its defensive power on a couple of guns, of a calibre that would astonish him, placed in a circular tower, rising from the deck amidships. This turret is in thick-ness eleven inches of wrought-iron, revolves on an axis by the delicate appliances of steam engineering, and contains the entire armament and fighting crew of the ship. The fire, the animation, the life of an old-time naval fight, when men gave and took, exposed to plain view — when ships fought yard-arm to yard-arm, and human nature in its intensest exaltation appeared, are here wholly out of the question, with the combatants shut up in impenetrable iron, and delivering their fire by refined process of mathematical and mechanical appliance.

Nor are the outward shapes of these craft less divergent from all that the world has hitherto seen of naval models than are their internal economy and fighting arrangements removed from all previous modes. The majesty of a first-class man-of-war, with its lines of beauty and strength, on which the aesthetic instincts of ages have been expended, is here replaced by purely geometrical combinations of iron, in which the one paramount and all-controlling consideration is the resisting power of lines, angles, and surfaces. As they stretch in horrid file before us, along the shore of Morris Island, awaiting the signal from the flag-ship to move, those nine ships, comprising the three different models represented by the Iron-sides, the Monitors, and the Keokuk, one might almost fancy that some of the pachydermous monsters which paleontology brings to view from the “dark backward and abysm of time,” had returned in an iron resurrection; and the spectacle they presented to the rebels from their posts of outlook, must have been one of portentous grandeur.

Precisely at half-past 12 o'clock the fleet begins to move on to the attack. The line of battle is formed in the order assigned to each ship in the Admiral's programme, and the position as marked on the diagram — the Keokuk, which brings up the rear of the line, lying down nearly opposite Lighthouse Inlet, and the others [507] extending on at intervals of a cable's length — the Weehawken leading the van.

The wooden gunboat fleet lies in reserve outside the bar, close by the position occupied by the blockaders.

The head of the line is some four miles from the position the fleet is to make before opening fire, and all the batteries on Morris Island — they must pass within easy range of each — have to be run.

The fleet is hardly in motion, however, when the leading vessel, the Weehawken, stops, and all the others have to stop, also. The cause of this delay, as we afterward learned, was the derangement of a raft which had been attached to the Weehawken for the purpose of exploding torpedoes and clearing away obstructions. This instrument is one of the inventions of Mr. Ericsson's fertile genius, and consists of a raft about twelve feet square, composed of transverse timbers, eighteen inches in thickness, fitting on to the prow of the vessel. From the forward part of this raft, suspended from a cable six feet in the water, was to be a large projectile, containing several thousand pounds of powder, so constructed that the line of fraction would be forward and laterally, and capable of being exploded form the turret by means of a lanyard. One of the two of these rafts which had been brought down was attached to the Weehawken, which for this reason was assigned the leading position in the line. Owing to the purely experimental character of the device, however, the projectile was not attached to the raft, but in its place a number of grappling-irons had been affixed, which it was hoped would be found of service in exploding and tearing out torpedoes. In the course of getting under way, these grapplings had become fouled in the anchor-cable, and this was the cause of the delay of the Weehawken and of the whole fleet.

It takes an hour to set this matter to rights, and at half-past 1 o'clock the fleet is once more under way.

Depend upon it, there were two parties that watched the progress of the iron fleet with an intensity of interest that words are too feeble to express-we, spectators from our vessels, and the still more interested spectators in the forts, who kept up a perpetual signalizing of its approach from point to point.

Slowly the leading vessel, followed by the other eight iron-clads, moves up the main ship-channel — the shore of Morris Island, against which from our point of view they seem to rest, forming a fixed point, by which we measure the progress of the fleet. The first battery to whose fire it will be exposed is Fort Wagner, and one fixes his eye on it and on the Weehawken, approaching nearer and nearer, for the fleet will there undergo its first fiery baptism.

Now, then, she comes within range of the fort: no fire. She passes across it: still no fire! The second ship comes up, and meets the same silent reception; and so on, one by one, till, with the Keokuk, the whole nine file by without a single shot from this seemingly formidable work.

Meantime, while the fleet is passing Wagner unmolested, the leading vessel has come up with the next rebel work--Battery Bee. The same silent reception for her; the same silent reception for the whole fleet! What is the meaning of this? The enemy is obviously holding back his fire until he can deliver it with the greatest possible effect.

The line has now passed across the front of Morris Island, and rounds to make the entrance of the harbor, coming up within the circle of the fire of Fort Sumter and the batteries on Sullivan's Island. The suspense becomes painful.

There was silence deep as death,
And the boldest held their breath
For a while.

In an instant a hollow square of smoke rises from the top of Sumter — a hollow square of flame shoots up — a crash counterfeiting “Jove's dread clamors” bursts on the ear, and a whole broadside streams down from the barbette guns. It is precisely four minutes past three in the afternoon.

While the Weehawken is receiving this fire, the others are gradually coming up to the same position; but the leading vessel, instead of passing on above Sumter, so as to place herself in the prescribed station opposite the north-west face, sheers off to the right, and hangs estopped between Sumter and Moultrie!

Heavens! what can be the matter?

From our point of view, no cause for this unlooked — for development can be perceived, but to those on the Weehawken it is only too apparent. Stretching from a point close to the north-eastern angle of Fort Sumter, completely across the channel to Fort Moultrie, is a stout hawser, floating on lager-beer casks, on which are hung nets, seines, and cables, strung with torpedoes. The vessel comes afoul of this, whisks up the nasty entanglements with its propeller, is thus deprived of all motive power, and is at the mercy of the current, to be drifted ashore into the hands of the rebels. If this fatality was not actually realized by the iron-clads, it was owing to the admirable skill of the captains of the foremost ships, who, when their vessels were just on the point of fouling, sheered off, and saved themselves and the fleet.

The right-hand channel being thus obstructed, it remains to see what can be done with the left, between Sumter and Cumming's Point. But this, too, is still more effectually blockaded by a row of piles, rising ten feet above the water, and extending across the whole width of the passage. Looking up the harbor, another row of piles discloses itself, stretching across from Fort Ripley on the middle ground to Fort Johnson. It does not stretch entirely across, however, for midway is an opening, inviting the passage of the fleet. Submerged in the water, underneath that opening, is a torpedo filled with — incredible though the statement may seem, it is an actual fact--five thousand pounds of powder! Furthermore, above this first line of piles is a second, and above the second a third--while above all, and [508] just behind the upper line of obstructions, are the three rebel iron-clads, drawn up in battle array, and vomiting huge clouds of smoke.

You can readily conceive that this unlooked — for estoppel utterly deranged the original intentions. The rebels were quite as well aware as we that the north-west face of Sumter is its weakest point; that it was, in fact, never finished, and, therefore, that it would be first attacked; and they used every means which admirable engineering skill could suggest to prevent our reaching it.

Thus brought to a pause, it only remained for the iron-clads to take up such positions as they could. And the complication was further increased by the ill behavior of the flag-ship, the Ironsides. While steaming along up through the passage in front of Sumter, she is caught by the tideway, and veered off from her course, and her huge iron frame refusing to obey her rudder, she becomes in great part unmanageable. This embarrassed not her only, but all that portion of the fleet following her. The two monitors immediately behind (the Catskill and the Nantucket) fell foul of her, the one on one side and the other on the other, and it was full fifteen minutes before they could be got clear and pass on.

In this plight it only remained for Admiral Du Pont to signal to the fleet to disregard the movements of the flag-ship. This he did, and the ships then assumed such positions as were available and they could gain, the whole number being at the mouth of the harbor, between Cumming's Point and Sullivan's Island, and opposite the north-east and eastern face of Fort Sumter, at distances of from six hundred to a thousand yards. While the manoeuvres rapidly indicated in these paragraphs are going on, you must not suppose the enemy is inactive. The powerful work on Cumming's Point, named Battery Bee, opens, the long-range rifle-ordnance of Fort Beauregard join in, Moultrie hurls its heavy metal, the fifty guns that line the Redan swell the fire, and the tremendous armament of Sumter vomits forth its fiery hail.

There now ensues a period of not more than thirty minutes, which forms the climax and white heat of the fight; for though from the time when fire was opened on the head of the approaching line to the time when the retiring fleet passed out of the enemy's range, there was an interval of two hours and a half, (from half-past 2 till five,) yet the essence of the fight was shut in those thirty tremendous minutes.

The best resources of the descriptive art, I care not in whose hand, are feeble to paint so terrific and awful a reality. Such a fire, or any thing even approaching it, was simply never seen before. The mailed ships are in the focus of a concentric fire of the five powerful works already indicated, from which they are removed only from five to eight hundred yards, and which in all could not have mounted less than three hundred guns. And, understand, these not the lighter ordnance, such as thirty-two or forty-two-pounders, which form the ordinary armament of forts, but of the very heaviest calibre — the finest and largest guns from the spoils of the Norfolk navy-yard, the splendid and heavy ten and eleven-inch guns cast at the Tredegar Works, and the most approved English rifled guns, (Whitworth and others,) of the largest calibre made.

There was something almost pathetic in the spectacle of those little floating circular towers, exposed to the crushing weight of those tons of metal, hurled against them with the terrific force of modern projectiles, and with such charges of powder as were never before dreamed of in artillery firing. During the climax of the fire a hundred and sixty shots were counted in a single minute! Some of the commanders of the iron-clads afterward told me that the shot struck their vessels as fast as the ticking of a watch, and not less than three thousand live hundred rounds could have been fired by the rebels during the brief engagement!

It was less of the character of an ordinary artillery duel, and more of the proportions of a war of the Titans in the elder mythologies.

While the fleet is receiving the fire from the forts, what, in the mean time, are the iron-clads doing in return?

On the order being given to disregard the movements of the flag-ship, the brilliantly audacious Rhind ran his vessel, the Keokuk, up through the others and laid it seemingly under the very walls of Sumter, and within a little more than five hundred yards from it. Close behind him, within six hundred yards of the Fort, is the Catskill, commanded by George Rodgers, a soul of courage all compact; and to both of them one could not help applying the exclamation of Nelson at Trafalgar: “See how Colling-wood, that noble fellow, carries his ship into the fight!”

Close by is the Montauk, commanded by the heroic Worden ; while not far removed are the Passaic, the Patapsco, the Nahant, the Nantucket, the Weehawken, and the Ironsides.

The whole fleet is devoting itself mainly to the face of Fort Sumter presented to it, with the exception of the Ironsides, which, from its position, can do better work on Fort Moultrie, and is pouring forth its terrific broadside from its seven ten-inch guns on that work.

Could you look through the smoke, and through the flame-lit ports, into one of those revolving towers, a spectacle would meet your eye such as Vulcan's stithy might present. Here are the two huge guns which form the armament of each monitor — the one eleven and the other fifteen inches in diameter of bore. The gunners, begrimed with powder and stripped to the waist, are loading the gun. The charge of powder--thirty-five pounds to each charge — is passed up rapidly from below; the shot, weighing four hundred and twenty pounds, is hoisted up by mechanical appliances to the muzzle of the gun, and rammed home; the gun is run out to the port, and tightly “compressed ;” the port is open for an instant, the captain of the gun stands behind, lanyard in hand--“Ready, fire!” and the [509] enormous projectile rushes through its huge para-bola, with the weight of ten thousand tons, home to its mark.

That mark is the face of Sumter, which already flying displays palpable proofs of the horrid impact. Half — a dozen ugly pock-marks show conspicuous, and a huge crater is formed in the parapet near the eastern angle. We look with interest at these effects, and look forward with good hope to seeing a breach at length effected, if only the iron-clads can remain long enough under fire to batter away.

If only they could have remained!

But what craft, pray, could remain under such a hurricane of fire? And what is this coining down out of the fight? It is the Keokuk; we know her by her double turret. She has defied Sumter under its very walls, and now comes out to report to the flag-ship that she has received her death-blow, and is in a sinking condition! The flag-ship herself has had one of her port-shutters shot away, thus exposing her gun-deck, and red-hot shot has penetrated her wooden bows. In addition, three others showed signs of disablement, and there was little more than sufficient daylight left for the fleet to gain its old anchorage. At five o'clock the Admiral makes signal to retire.


Beyond the fact that half the fleet was disabled, neither those who were engaged, nor we who were spectators, had any means of ascertaining the nature of the damage our iron-clads had sustained until the fleet had retired and resumed its old anchorage off the shore of Morris Island. At the conclusion of the fight, however, I obtained the use of a steam-tug, and was thus enabled to pass from vessel to vessel. I spent the entire night in this work, and have thus the means to report definitely of the amount and nature of the damage they received. From the nature of the circumstances, however, the indications can be purely of a descriptive character, without any claim to scientific precision.

The Nahant received in all thirty wounds, several of them bad fractures of the deck and sides, below and above the water-line. The most fatal blow, however, was given by a heavy rifled shot, which struck the pilot-house, and dislodged several of the bolts, one of which, driven violently inward, wounded all of the three inmates of the pilot-house — the Captain, (Captain Downs, Massachusetts,) the Pilot, (Isaac Sofield, New-Jersey,) and the Quartermaster, (Edward Cobb, Massachusetts.) The Quartermaster had been struck by the bolt on the back of the skull, which received a compound comminuted fracture. When I saw the poor fellow, late at night, he was in a state of coma, his life ebbing away. He died this morning. The pilot's wound was a severe contusion of the neck and shoulder, and he is doing well. The Captain received merely a slight contusion of the foot. Other bolts were driven in, in the turret also, and the following were wounded: John McAlister, seaman, (Canada,) concussion of brain; John Jackson, seaman, (Massachusetts ;) Roland Martin, seaman, (Massachusetts ;) and James Murry, seaman, (Massachusetts,) slightly hurt by bolts in the turret.

The Passaic also received twenty-five or thirty wounds. The most extraordinary shot was from a large ten-inch rifled projectile, which struck the top of the turret, scooping out a huge portion of the iron, breaking all of the eleven plates of an inch thickness each, and spending its force on the pilot-house, (which is placed on the top of the turret,) in which it made a crater three inches deep, and producing such a shock on the pilot-house as to start its top and raise it up three inches! Had not the force of the impact been broken on the turret, there can be little doubt that this shot would have gone clean through the pilot-house. Another shot hit the turret, forcing the place struck inward, and producing a big swell on the interior. The same shock disabled the carriage of the eleven-inch gun, while portions of the interior iron-casing fell down, and, lodging in the groove of the turret, stopped its revolution.

The Nantucket, besides receiving a number of wounds, had her turret so jarred that the cover of the port could not be opened, and consequently the fifteen-inch gun could not be used.

These three are all of the monitor type.

In addition, the other monitors each received shots more or less, though not disabling them. Thus the Catskill was hit twenty times. The worst wound was from a rifled shot, which broke the deck-plating forward, going through it, breaking a beam beneath, and spending its force on an iron stanchion, which it settled half an inch.

The Ironsides was frequently struck. One of the shots broke off and carried away one of her port shutters, and her wooden bows were penetrated by shell, though they were prevented from doing the damage they otherwise must have done, by Commodore Turner's precaution of protecting the exposed part of the vessel with sand-bags.

But the poor Keokuk —— she, of all others, was the most fearfully maltreated. This vessel was struck ninety times, and she had nineteen holes above and below the water-line, some of a size through which a boy might crawl. Her turrets (five and three quarter inches of iron in thick-ness) were fairly riddled and came out of the contest mere sieves. During the action twelve of her men were wounded, among whom was her commander, the gallant Rhind. The others are as follows:

Alexander McIntosh, Acting Ensign, dangerously wounded; Charles McLaughlin, seaman, dangerously wounded ; James Ryan, seaman, severely; William McDonald, seaman, severely; Richard Nicholson, Quartermaster, slightly; David Chaplin, seaman, slightly; C. B. Mott, landsman, slightly ; J. W. Abbott, seaman, slightly; J. O'Connor, landsman, slightly; George Wilson, seaman, slightly; J. Brown, seaman, slightly; Henry Swords, seaman, slightly.

During the night her pumps were kept at work, to throw out the leaks she was making. The sea [510] had become somewhat rough, however, and was washing in through the holes in her bows. By daylight it became obvious that she must sink. I had remained on board the Catskill during the night, and at six o'clock word was brought down that the Keokuk, which was hard by us, had made a signal of distress. Passing up on deck, we saw she was rapidly settling forward. At her signal boats and tugs had come to her assistance, and were busy removing her wounded men. Barely time enough was afforded to get off them and her crew, for she had settled so much that the water was pouring into her turrets. Two or three of the men, indeed, had to jump into the sea, and were hauled into the small-boats. Suddenly she gives a lurch to one side, and a lurch to the other, and plunges under. She went down at eight o'clock at the spot of her original anchorage, near Lighthouse Inlet, and all that is visible of her is the upper portion of her smoke-stack.

Thus ended the brief and glorious career of this interesting vessel — the first iron-clad ever sunk in battle. Her story must firm a most important chapter in the history of these new engines of naval warfare, and her fate presents an astounding example of the frightful power of modern projectiles.

Of course, it is impossible to leave the corpse there to be resurrected by the rebels, and it has been determined to blow her up to-morrow morning with the torpedo exploder; so that, by a grim kind of satire this instrument will he first tested in blowing up one of our own ships!


Such were the results of these thirty minutes fire which presented themselves to the naval chiefs, when the reports came in the day after the battle.

There was but one conviction in the minds of all who were made acquainted with these facts, whether among the naval people engaged or intelligent outside observers — the fight could not be renewed. And yet it was fully expected, on the night of the battle, that another trial would be made in the morning. I saw many of the captains of the iron-clads during that night. All were ready to resume the battle, though each man felt that he was going to an inevitable sacri-fice. I confess I prayed that the fiery cup might pass from them, and that no impetuosity might prompt our leader to throw the fleet again into that frightful fire.

The grand old sailor, the noble Du Pont, who is loved with singular devotion by all under his command, combines in his character that fiery impetuosity which marked Dundonald, with a rare intellectual coolness and consummate mental poise. No man could possibly feel with greater intensity all the instincts and motives that prompted a renewal of the battle; and yet no man could possibly see with more clearness the blind madness of such an attempt. He dared to be wise.

Admiral Du Pont calls no councils of war; but on his own motion decided that the contest must end here. This afternoon, there was an informal gathering of the captains of the iron-clads on board of the flag-ship. Rarely was ever a fleet so commanded. These men are the very flower of the navy. The lips must refuse their office to one who would breathe a whisper of suspicion against their courage or their devotion. Now there was but one opinion shared in common by all these men — the fruitlessness of renewing the attack at present. Let us see on what considerations their opinion is founded.

Viewed strategically, Charleston harbor forms a cul de suc, four miles in length from its entrance at Fort Sumter up to the city. This blind passage varies in width from one to three miles, and is capable of bearing defensive works on each side and on shoal places in mid-channel.

On these, natural advantages have been brought to bear time finest engineering skill in the Confederacy (and it was the flower of the genius of the country) during a period of two years. Lee, Beauregard, and Ripley in succession have exhausted their professional efforts to make it impregnable. Every thing that the most improved modern artillery and unlimited resources of labor can do has been done to make the passage of a fleet impossible. And it is impregnable. Sebastopol was as nothing to it.

Our fleet got but to the entrance of the harbor. It never got within it. Had the iron-clads succeeded in passing the obstructions, they would still have found those miles of batteries to run. They would have entered an Inferno which, like the portals of Dante's hell, might well bear the flaming legend: “Who enters here leaves hope behind.” Not a point at which they would not have found themselves.

'Mid upper, nether and surrounding fires.

They pass out of the focus of fire of Forts Sumter, Moultrie, Beauregard, and Bee, and they find themselves arrested under the ranges of Sumter, the Redan, Johnston, and Ripley. They get beyond this, and a concentric fire from Ripley, Pinckney, the Wappoo battery and the guns of the city falls upon them! Merely to run by batteries, as was done at the forts below New-Orleans, is not a very difficult thing, even for vessels not iron-clad; but to be anchored as it were under such fires as these, is what no ships were ever called upon to suffer.

I think I am justified in saying that the Admiral and his staff and the captains commanding the iron fleet have all along well understood the task that was given them to do, and that they entertained no illusions regarding it. But both the navy department and the public have — illusions as to the nature of the work to be done and delusion as to the instruments with which it was to be done. They saw all the weaknesses of the monitors as well as their strength. They knew that their working depended on nice mechanical combinations easily deranged. They knew that their powers had never been tested.

But with the usual liberal logic that characterizes them, our people took every thing for granted. [511] Here was a universal panacea for all our ills. Here was a key to unlock all riddles. Take these iron-clads, says the Navy Department, knock Sumter into a brick-pile and sail proudly up to demand the surrender of Charleston.

Indeed, so preposterously did the Government regard tile matter, that it was not even thought necessary to have a cooperating land expedition. It will astound the country to learn that the whole force which General Hunter could spare from his limited command was under seven thousand men! Of course he could do nothing against the force ready to oppose him. From information I received from the Spanish Consul, who came out from that city a few weeks ago, the rebel troops for the defence of Charleston numbered at the time fifty-five thousand men, and their railroad facilities would easily enable them, in twenty-four hours, to bring the force up to a hundred thousand. General Hunter frankly told Admiral Du Pont that he could do nothing to aid him. He could garner in what the navy reaped, but he could do nothing in the heat and labor of the field. The military force, indeed, never got any further up than Stono Inlet, a dozen miles from Charleston harbor, where it was to effect a landing on Folly Island for the purpose of making a diversion. I can make no report of what was done, if any thing, but it had no direct bearing on the business in hand. Thus left alone, the naval chief had eleven hundred men, (the whole force of the iron fleet,) with which to take and hold a dozen forts! Could the ecstasy of folly further go?

These intimations, however, will overshoot the mark if they convey the impression that Admiral Du Pont lacked faith in the enterprise, or that he entered upon it unwillingly. It was, in fact, no case for either a blind faith or an unreasoning skepticism. Too little was known, as well of the real character of the rebel defences as of the true merits of the iron-clad vessels, to justify the one attitude or the other. It was absolutely necessary to try certain experiments as the basis of any definitive plan of siege — for it was never thought it would be less than a ten days affair. The operations of yesterday, therefore, may be regarded in the light of a reconnoissance. The reconnoissance resulted in a repulse, though not a disaster. That it was not so is due to the admirable skill of our naval leaders. In the process we have learnt valuable lessons. And now it remains true to-day as ever, that Charleston may still be successfully assailed. But that will begin to be possible for us when, casting off childish illusions as to special arms, an adequate expedition shall be sent, military as well as naval, and in which the navy shall only be required to play its legitimate part.


As one of the leading actions of the great rebellion, the battle of Charleston harbor passes into history and takes its place there. As a contribution to the world's experience in the art of iron-clad warfare, it passes into science and opens an epoch there.

So far as the public are concerned, it might be well to postpone conclusions; but people will draw them, and perhaps hastily and unjustly. It would be quite in the natural order of those violent oscillations to which public temper is subject, that the disposition to see in iron-clads every imaginable virtue, should give place to a disposition to see in them every imaginable vice. And yet both judgments would be equally unjust. In the mean time, it is a compensation to believe that the inventive heads that have already been engaged in the construction of iron-clads, may find, in tile results gained by this experiment, material for more perfect realizations in the new naval architecture.

There is one induction at least which our yesterday's experience in Charleston harbor authorizes us to draw. It is that the true way to fight iron-clads is by obstructions rather than by artillery; or perhaps we should say by obstructions affording concentration, continuity, and terrific accuracy and effect to the force of artillery.

And there is another truth which it teaches, and which cannot be better formulated than it is in a statement of Sir Howard Douglas--one of the last opinions put on record by that great naval authority: “There is no telling what gun-powder can do.” The rebel artillery practice certainly drew on its resources to an extent hitherto unparalleled in warfare.

The presence in the fight of three distinct types of iron-clads, represented by the monitors, the Keokuk, and the Ironsides, affords an interesting means of comparing the relative merits of the different models.

The test is, however, hardly a fair one, as some of the vessels were much more exposed to fire than others. It would have been interesting, for example, to have seen how the Ironsides would have behaved under the amount of fire received by the Keokuk, and under the same range at which she was placed. This would also have afforded the means of testing the relative strength of continuous and of laminated armor — the plating of the Ironsides being one single four and a half inch mass of wrought-iron, and that of the monitors in series of one-inch plates. So far as one may be justified in drawing an induction from a limited range of facts, the advantage would seem to incline to the continuous thick plating. The exposed, overhanging port-covers, employed both on the Ironsides and Keokuk, and which in the case of both ships were in several instances shot away, appears to be an undeniable weakness.

The riddling of the armor of the Keokuk's turrets, which consist of five and three fourths inches of iron, presents a striking proof of the penetrating power of the improved modern pro-jectiles; and the effect produced by the square-headed and steel-pointed shot would seem to justify all that has been anticipating of their power.

As to the monitors, there can be little doubt [512] that the results of this great test will suggest many improvements to the fertile genius of their inventor. It is fair to believe Mr. Ericsson will readily find the means of securing the bolts from being forced into the turret and pilot-house by shocks from the outside — an effect so disastrously illustrated in the case of the Nahant. If he cannot at the same time succeed in removing the liability of the turret to stoppage of revolution, by fouling and otherwise, it will always remain a fatal defect. And, indeed, it seems as though the dependence of the working of the monitors on nice mechanical contrivances and combinations, must seriously interfere with obtaining the best results from them.

W. S.

--New-York Times.

Correspondence between Major-General Hunter and Admiral Du Pont.

Headquarters Department of the South, United States transport Ben Deford, April 8, 1863.
Admiral S. F. Du Pont, Flag-Ship New Ironsides, off Fort Sumter:
Admiral: Not knowing what have been the results of your attack of yesterday, so far as Fort Sumter is concerned, I cannot but congratulate you upon the magnificent manner in which the vessels under your command fought.

A mere spectator, I could do nothing but pray for you, which, believe me, I did most heartily, for you and all the gallant men under your command, who sailed so calmly and fearlessly into and under and through a concentric fire which has never heretofore had a parallel in the history of warfare.

That you are uninjured, and so many of your command fit for service, is a cause of deep gratitude to Almighty God. I confess, when the Weehawken first ran under Sumter's guns, receiving the casemate and barbette broadsides from that work simultaneously with the similar broadsides from Fort Moultrie and all the other works within range, I fairly held my breath until the smoke had cleared away, not expecting to see a vestige of the little vessel which had provoked such an attack. With each of the others the same scene was reenacted, my interest in the fate of the Ironsides being, perhaps, the keenest, from my knowledge of her vulnerability, and of the deep loss the country would sustain if any thing was to happen to you.

Thank God for the results as far as they go. May he have you in his keeping through whatever chances are yet before you. No country can ever fail that has men capable of suffering what your iron-clads had yesterday to endure. God bless you and keep you safe, Admiral, and believe me, with the highest esteem,

D. Hunter, Major-General.

flag-ship Ironsides, Charleston harbor, S. C., April 8, 1863.
General: I am this moment in receipt of your most gratifying letter of this date. I did not, however, require this to satisfy me of your deep sympathy in our operation of yesterday, intensified by the fact that circumstances beyond your control prevented that which of all things you would most have desired, an immediate and active cooperation.

I shall have your letter read in every iron-clad of the fleet, so that every man under my command shall know, what has long been familiar to me, the heartfelt sympathy of the Commanding-General of the army of the Department of the South.

I am, General, with the highest respect, your most obedient servant,

S. F. Du Pont, Rear-Admiral Commanding South-Atlantic Squadron. To Major-General Hunter, Commanding Department of the South, off Charleston.

Charleston Mercury account.

Charleston, April 11.
At two o'clock, P. M., just as the officers had seated themselves for dinner, the first advance of the iron-clad fleet was announced to the commandant of the post. Their anchorage had been within the bar of Ship Channel, off the southern end of Morris Island, some four or five miles from Sumter. Upon inspection, it was judged that good time would be allowed for the conclusion of the meal, and, after communicating the movement by telegraph to headquarters in Charleston, dinner was comfortably despatched. At half-past 2 o'clock, after examination of the approaching armament from the terreplein, the order for the “long-roll” was issued. The whole garrison knew that the hour of trial was at hand, and the greatest enthusiasm and alacrity prevailed. The men rushed to their guns with shouting and yells of exultation. The regimental hand was ordered to the rampart. The garrison flag (the confederate States) was already flying defiantly from the staff at the northern apex of the pentagonal fortress. The blue and white banner of the Palmetto State was given to the wind on the south-west corner of the work, and the elegant black and white color of the First regiment South-Carolina artillery (regulars) was run up at the south-east angle, in the face of the coming foe. A salute of thirteen unshotted guns was fired, and the band broke forth with the stirring strains of “Dixie.”

It was determined to permit the fleet to come well within range before opening fire. Lieut-Col. Joseph A. Yates, who that morning reported for duty, was assigned to the special command of the barbette batteries. Major Ormsby Blanding was assigned the special command of the casemate batteries. They were both at their posts, with officers, men and guns ready, and awaiting the order to begin the engagement. Colonel Alfred Rhett, the commandant of the post, stood on the parapet, watching the progress of the doughty iron-clad dogs of war. Every heart beat high. Every face was flushed with calm excitement, properly incident to such a moment. On they came, steaming slowly north-eastward--seven monitors, their hulls sunk down to the water level, showing only a black line on the surface, and a projecting turret and smoke-stack each — the Ironsides, looming up from the sea a formidable looking monster, and the Keokuk, her hull more distinctly visible than the monitors, and [513] with two turrets, the most dreaded of all the nine.

In front, a monitor, supposed to be the Passaic, commanded by Drayton, pushed forward a long raft, forked and fitting her bow, intended to catch, by suspended grappling-irons, any entanglements, or to explode any torpedoes which might lie in the path of their hostile advance. Next followed, in approximate echelon, another monitor, bearing a pennon, and conjectured to be the flag-ship of the commanding officer of the fleet. This was succeeded, in the same order, by two others of a similar kind, only distinguishable by slight differences in the adornments of red and white paint upon their generally black turrets and smoke-stacks. These formed the first line or division. After an interval of space, came the Ironsides, of much larger proportions, her sleek and glistening black sides rising high and frowning above the water. She occupied a central position, and was followed at some distance by the three remaining monitors, and the Keokuk in the rear. These four formed the other line or division of battle.

At three o'clock, when the leading gunboat had got east-south-east of Sumter, at a distance of about one thousand four hundred yards, Fort Moultrie fired the first gun. The band was hushed at Sumter, the musicians were despatched to their pieces, and the order was given to open fire, carefully and by battery.

At three minutes past three the guns belched forth their fierce thunders upon the foremost monster. Within two minutes there was a response. His shots were directed against Sumter, and the strife was inaugurated. The east and north-east batteries, en barbette and in casemate, were those only engaged, together with a mortar-battery on one of the ramparts, which fired for a short time. It may be improper to publish, at this juncture, the garrison of the Fort, but we may mention that the east barbette battery was officered, as we understand, by Capt. D. Fleming, Lieut. F. D. Blake, Lieut. Jones, and Lieut. Julius Rhett, (a volunteer absent from Preston's battery light artillery on sick leave.) The north-east barbette battery was officered by Captain Harleston, Lieut. McM. King and Lieut. W. S. Simkins. The mortar battery was for a time manned and officered by Capt. Macbeth and Lieut. Julius Alston, who were subsequently transferred to one of the case-mate batteries engaged. The other, the largest casemate battery engaged, was commanded by Captain W. H. Peronneau and Lieut. Fickling, while a third small battery was in charge of Lieut. Grimball.

For thirty minutes the guns of Fort Sumter were concentrated on the leading vessel, irrespective of the answering cannon of the others. The garrison fought with eagerness and impetuosity. They had to be restrained, and after trial, firing by battery, it was found that, from the small size of the object at a distance of one thousand one hundred to one thousand four hundred yards, and its constant and alternate moving and stopping, it was difficult to keep the guns trained to shot simultaneously with accuracy. The method was changed, with apparent advantage, during the course of the engagement. The gunboats fired deliberately, at intervals. The smoke-stack of the pioneer boat was riddled with balls. The turret was repeatedly struck and impressions distinctly visible. At twenty-five minutes past three a flat-headed bolt of chilled iron projected from a Brooke gun, (rifled and banded seven-inch,) struck with manifest damage. A volume of steam was seen to issue from the creature, and it turned off on a curve toward the east and south-east, steaming out of range and out of the fight. Meantime, the three other monitors of the first line had bestowed their attention upon the Fort with impunity. They now, after the retirement of the supposed Passaic received each, for a brief season, sundry acknowledgments. That bearing the pennon, at thirty-seven minutes past three had its emblem of command cut down by a well-directed shot. Its turret and hull were indented. Several shot were visible, driven and sticking in the iron. The smoke-stack was repeatedly pierced through. And at forty-five minutes past three this invulnerable man-of-war also drew off followed by the two that had accompanied it.

The Ironsides seemed shy of the contest. She fired a few shots at a distance of not less than one thousand five hundred yards, and perhaps as much as one thousand eight hundred. Three balls were seen to strike her in return. She soon headed off out of range, and was counted out.

The monitors of the second line were under a concentrated fire, each a few minutes. All were hit, but apparently with no special injury. The longer the fight continued the more accurate the firing proved with the gunners of that gallant and admirably trained corps.

The Keokuk now boldly advanced, bow on, to eight hundred and fifty yards of the east side of Fort Sumter. This was the shortest distance attained by any of the fleet, no other venturing so near. Col. Rhett now requested Lieut.-Colonel Yates to take charge of a Brooks gun for a few shots, and to sight it carefully himself. The first shot entered the open port-hole of the foremost turret, apparently silencing the boat.

The next ball was a centre shot upon the turret. The third penetrating the bow some ten feet from the stem, making a large opening at the water-line, and a fourth also struck the hull. During this time a concentric fire was poured into the monster from all the guns that could be brought to bear. The fire of the Fort had been reduced by order to one gun front each battery every five minutes, and was exceedingly precise and effective. For many minutes the boat drifted lifelessly with the tide, under a terrific hail, being torn in different places, and having shot plainly imbedded in the iron armor. It was strongly hoped that it would be so disabled as to surrender, falling into our hands by capture. But, after being under punishment forty minutes, it managed to crawl feebly off and escape, giving a parting salute as it was getting out of range, to show that the will was there to fight. The following morning it settled down some five hundred yards [514] to sea from the beach, toward the south part of Morris Island.

This was the end of the fight. After a short engagement of two hours and twenty-five minutes, an unprotected brick fort, by the use of its cannon, assisted by Fort Moultrie and the guns of one or two sand batteries, employing a few guns, repulsed a fleet of nine of the boasted iron-clad gunboats. The Keokuk was sunk. The Passaic had disappeared from view, probably sent or towed to Port Royal for repairs. And the flag-boat has been undergoing the mending process in plain sight. The prestige of their invulnerability is gone. The question is reduced to the relative powers of destruction of the fort and the assailing fleet. It is a question of pluck and survivor-ship in a square stand — up fight for victory. Iron-clad fleets can be destroyed as well as forts. Fort Sumter, although somewhat pitted, to-day is, we believe, as strong as it was when this fight begun. We deem that, if the attack is renewed as before, (and there is good reason to believe it will be,) the six monitors left and the Ironsides will come out the defeated party, with worse results than those obtained in the first attempt. Nous verrons.

The enemy fired about eighty shots, mostly fifteen-inch and steel-pointed shells, at Fort Sumter. This estimate was made from Sullivan's Island. Forty only struck the work. One ten-inch gun was temporarily disabled by a shot. One columbiad of old pattern burst. One seven-inch rifled gun dismounted by recoil, and one gun was disabled for a few moments by fracture of the elevating screw through recoil.

Not a person was killed in Fort Sumter from any cause. Sergeant Faulkner and privates Chaplin, Minnix, and Penn, company B, were injured by a shower of bricks thrown from a traverse on the rampart by a large shot of the enemy. A drummer-boy, Ahrens, was struck on the head by the explosion of a shell over the parade. A negro laborer was also wounded. All, we learn, are doing well and there is no danger of losing a life or a limb. The wounded were dressed by Surgeon Moore, of the post, and sent out of the way to a hospital in the city, where they now remain.

The regimental ensign was pierced near the centre by a ball. The confederate flag was also perforated.

The batteries on Sullivan's Island.

Fort Moultrie opened the engagement. At three o'clock the head of the grim procession of monitors having come within reason-range, the word was given, and the first shot of the batteries went whizzing at the iron fleet. In a very few minutes the batteries of Sumter, with the earthworks of Morris and Sullivan's Islands were mingling their deep voices in the chorus of the fray. During the entire fight, the batteries of Fort Moultrie maintained a well-directed fire against the monitors that happened to be nearest, and the frequency with which the Yankees turned from the main effort against Fort Sumter to give a spiteful shot to Fort Moultrie, showed how effectively and accurately the men at the latter post were hurling their metal on the foe.

There was but one casualty at Fort Moultrie. A shot from one of the monitors cut away the flag-staff, a few feet above the parapet, and the staff fell upon private Lusby, company F, First South-Carolina (regular) infantry, inflicting injuries from the effect of which he soon died.

The garrison of Fort Moultrie it would not be proper to enumerate. It consists of the First South-Carolina (regular) infantry. The commandant of the post is Col. William Butler, of the same regiment, and the companies during the action were severally commanded by Captain T. A. Huguenin, Captain S. Burnet, Captain Constantine Rivers, First Lieutenant E. A. Erwin, and Captain R. Preston Smith, the last-named officer having special charge of the mortar battery. The closest range into which the enemy ventured was estimated by the officers of the Fort at about one thousand two hundred yards. The flag-staff has been replaced, and as no other portion of the Fort sustained any damage whatever during the engagement, the post is in excellent condition to join in another trial of strength with the turreted armada.

Battery Bee, on Sullivan's Island, just opposite Fort Sumter, was commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Simkins, of tile First South-Carolina (regular) infantry, and manned by companies of that regiment. The captains commanding the companies at this post engaged were Robert de Treville, Warren Adams, and W. T. Tatum. The battery was the recipient of occasional shots from the enemy, but was not in any way injured, nor were there any casualties among the men. During the fight General Ripley was present at Battery Bee. Whenever the enemy may choose to renew the attack, if his object should be to dash into the harbor, Battery Bee will have a far more important part to play.

The Beauregard battery, with three of its guns, also took part in the general melee of heavy artillery, and twice received a broadside from the enemy. This battery, commanded by Captain J. A. Sitgreaves, First regiment South-Carolina (regular) artillery, is situated on the Sullivan's Island beach, north-east of Fort Moultrie, a little beyond the Moultrie House, and is manned from the First regiment South-Carolina (regular) artillery, First Lieut. Erwin commanding, and company B, First regiment South-Carolina (regular) infantry, Capt. Warley commanding. The battery was in no respect damaged, although many of the Yankee round shot fell upon the sand in the immediate neighborhood.

The forces on Sullivan's Island (which is a portion of the sub-division commanded by Brig.-Gen. Trapier) were under the immediate command of Colonel D. M. Keitt, of the Twentieth regiment South-Carolina volunteers. Both General Trapier and Col. Keitt were on the island at the time of action, and during the firing were moving from battery to battery.


General Beauregard to the troops.

headquarters Department of South-Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, Charleston, S. C., April 10.
General orders, no. 55.

The Commanding General is gratified to have to announce to the troops the following joint resolutions unanimously adopted by the Legislature of the State of South-Carolina:

Resolved, That the General Assembly reposes unbounded confidence in the ability and skill of the Commanding General of this department, and the courage and patriotism of his brave soldiers, with the blessing of God, to defend our beloved city and to beat back our vindictive foes.”

Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be instructed to communicate this resolution to General Beauregard.”

Soldiers! the eyes of your countrymen are now turned upon you on the eve of the second anniversary of the thirteenth of April, 1861, when the sovereignty of the State of South-Carolina was triumphantly vindicated within the harbor which we are now to defend. The happy issue of the action on the seventh instant--the stranded, riddled wreck of the iron-mailed Keokuk, her baffled coadjutors forced to retire behind the range of our guns, have inspired confidence in the country that our ultimate success will be complete. An inestimably precious charge has been confided to your keeping, with every reliance on your manhood and enduring patriotism.

By command of

General Beauregard. Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.
Official : John M. Otey, A. A.G.

Mobile Register account.

Charleston, April 8.
A visit to Fort Sumter to-day enables me to present to your readers a more correct account of the late engagement in front of Charleston than the one already sent to you, and which was prepared the night succeeding the attack, when but few of the facts had been definitely ascertained. In order to give a full understanding of the affair, it may be necessary to begin the narrative with the first appearance of the Federal armada in this vicinity.

At half-past 10 o'clock, Sunday morning, the fifth instant, it was reported at Fort Sumter that twenty-seven vessels were visible just outside the bar, one of which was the Ironsides, and four were monitors or turreted iron-clads. On the morning of the sixteenth, (Monday,) as the fog lifted, it was discovered that the Ironsides, eight monitors, and a large number of other vessels were in sight, the Ironsides having already crossed the bar and come to anchor off Morris Island. An infantry force, variously estimated at from three thousand to six thousand, was landed on Coles's Island, off the mouth of Stono River, during Sunday night.

But before proceeding further, it may be well to restate the names of the torts and batteries that participated in the fight. They are Fort Sumter in the harbor, Fort Wagner and Cumming's Point Battery on Morris Island, the first looking seaward, and the second across the harbor; and Fort Moultrie, Battery Bee, and Battery Beau-regard, on Sullivan's Island. Looking out to sea from Charleston, Morris Island is on the extreme right, and Sullivan's Island on the extreme left.

After various changes of position, the whole iron-clad fleet advanced to the attack at two o'clock Tuesday afternoon, the seventh, in the following order: The first line consisted of four monitors, the Passaic supposed to be in the lead, with the so-called “Devil” (a nondescript machine for removing torpedoes) attached to her prow. The second line also consisted of four monitors, the double-turret Keokuk lying on the right. The Ironsides, with Admiral Du Pont on board, held position about equidistant between the two lines and near the centre. The wooden vessels outside moved closer in, and during the action remained silent spectators of the conflict.

At half-past 2 o'clock the long-roll was beat in Sumter. The garrison answered promptly with a shout, and rushed immediately to battery. The garrison, palmetto, and regimental flags were now hoisted, and saluted by order of Col. Rhett with thirteen guns-thus announcing to the enemy, that though the Fort might be battered down, the confederate colors would be kept flying as long as a gun was left standing and there was a man to fire it. Admiral Du Pont had said that he would reduce the Fort in three hours, and this defiance was hurled in his teeth in answer to his unseemly boasts.

About three o'clock the fight was opened by Fort Moultrie firing a shot. Three minutes later the barbette guns on the cast face of Sumter, commanded by Captain D. G. Fleming, were fired by battery, with a report that brought all Charleston to the promenade-battery and to the house-tops to witness the imposing spectacle. Two minutes later the Passaic returned the compliment with two guns fired almost simultaneously. The fight thus opened soon became general. The Passaic swept around in an elliptic course in front of the east face of the Fort, delivering her fire as she passed — the closest range into which she came being estimated at seven hundred yards. Her turret and hull were struck several times, and with damaging effect. After receiving the concentrated fire of the Fort for thirty minutes, she rounded off and fired but few shot afterward, and soon moved out of range.

The three other vessels of the first line came up successively, and after remaining under fire about the same length of time, rounded off also at nearly the same point as the Passaic, and took but little part in the action afterward. The Passaic being armed with the nondescript machine for the removal of torpedoes supposed to have been sunk by the confederates, she was put forward and required to make the fiery passage first, whilst the other vessels followed as nearly in her track as possible. After passing round, they took up their positions at a distance of from one thousand one hundred to one thousand five hundred yards, where they kept up their fire until the whole fleet withdrew. [516]

The monitors in the first line having delivered their fire, the Ironsides now moved up and became the object of attention. She is a huge monster, carrying twelve heavy guns, and protected by an iron mail, but having no turrets. She first delivered a broadside of six guns, and afterward fired single guns only. Three square bolts fired from Sumter were seen to enter her side, (above the short ribs,) while one from Fort Wagner penetrated her stern, when she immediately steamed off to a distance of one thousand eight hundred yards, from which point she kept up an irregular fire until half-past 4, at which hour she moved off out of range, considerably injured.

As soon as the Ironsides had turned off, the second line advanced, and, passing under the stern of the Ironsides, came into action. The Keokuk steamed up gallantly in the track of the first line, and coming bow on, engaged our batteries at about nine hundred yards. She is provided with two stationary turrets, each turret having three port-holes. It was manifest from the manner of her advance, that her officer felt confident of her power, and expected to accomplish great things. Seeing this, Colonel Rhett requested Lieut.-Colonel Yates, an accomplished artillerist, to take charge of one of the Brooke guns, and pay his respects to the saucy iron-clad. This gun — the invention of a gallant officer in our navy, from whom it takes its name — is ribbed, and carries a square-headed bolt weighing one hundred and nineteen pounds. Colonel Yates's first shot entered a port of the turret, and doubtless knocked over the gun. The second shot struck just above the port-hole, and passed through the turret. The third shot smashed in the pilot-house, which is just above the turret; and the fourth hit her hull, abaft of midships, tearing up the iron-plated deck, and making an ugly hole. The Keokuk was struck repeatedly afterward by other guns, one of which carried away her bow, while her smoke-stack and hull were completely riddled. She fired but one shot after Colonel Yates opened upon her. She managed to get away after being under our concentrated fire for nearly forty minutes, and now lies a perfect wreck off Morris Island, where her smoke-stack and one of her turrets are still visible. Portions of her furniture, including a bureau, spy-glass and other articles, have washed ashore on the beach and been secured. The firing of Colonel Yates, who is as modest as he is brave, was superb.

The other monitors of the same line had, meanwhile, come into action. They delivered their fire and rounded off at the same point as those of the first line, and finally the whole fleet ceased firing and retired badly beaten, at half-past 5 o'clock.

Our fire was concentrated upon the leading vessel (the Passaic) about thirty minutes. Her smoke-stack received seven shots, and several severe impressions were made upon the turret. A bolt from a Brooke gun struck her forward deck, ripping up the armor and making an opening through which the steam was seen to issue in great volumes. She immediately retired, and in her haste left behind the Yankee “Devil” attached to her prow, which now lies stranded on Morris Island beach, to be seen by all men. As Monsieur Du Pont could not send our brave boys to the devil in three hours, as he threatened to do, he compromised the matter, I suppose, by sending the devil to them.

The second vessel had a pennon flying — probably the Commodore's. She did not remain under fire as long as the first; yet her pennon was shot away, her smoke-stack riddled, and her turret and hull badly marked. Several round-shot were seen to strike and lodge in the iron plating of the hull.

She drew off at forty-five minutes after three o'clock. The other monitors did not appear to be so badly injured, except the Keokuk, though all of them received more or less damage. None of them remained longer under fire than from fifteen to twenty minutes; it was too hot for them. The smoke-stacks of all of them are vulnerable.

The east face of Fort Sumter was struck about forty times by fifteen-inch shell and eleven-inch solid shot, at a distance of from nine hundred to one thousand eight hundred yards, and yet it is in quite as good condition as before the attack. One gun was dismounted and one bursted, and five men were wounded, all of whom are doing well. Lieut.-Colonel Yates having reported for duty the morning of the battle, was assigned to the special command of the parapet batteries. Major O. Blunding was assigned to the special command of the casemate batteries. All officers and men in Sumter as well as in the other forts and batteries behaved with great gallantry. It was a proud day for Charleston and the Carolinians. It was a remarkable coincidence that General Beauregard and General Ripley, and other officers and men, who conducted the assault which resulted in the destruction of Fort Sumter--nearly two years ago, should now be present aiding and assisting in its successful defence.

I have been unable to obtain the details of the part taken by tile other forts and batteries which participated in the action. Let it suffice for the present to say, that they all did well, and aided materially in the repulse of the enemy's attack, which was directed chiefly against Sumter.

There are now only six iron-clads and the Iron-sides in sight at sunset this evening. A renewal of the attack is looked for at an early day, perhaps to-morrow.

A confederate vessel passed right through the blockading fleet last night, and went to sea. The Federals were too much occupied with their bruises, and dilapidated condition generally, to notice a mere blockade-runner.

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