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Chapter 7: bombardment of Charleston.

Morris Island was ours; but no sooner had the enemy evacuated than Wagner, Gregg, and the intervening ground were daily subjected to a fire from the James and Sullivan's Island batteries. A heavy action on land and water occurred on the morning of September 8, occasioned by the grounding of the monitor Weehawken; and in the course of the day a magazine blew up in Moultrie, and the village of Moultrieville was set on fire by our shells.

Admiral Dahlgren having demanded the surrender of Sumter, which was refused, a night assault was determined upon jointly by the army and navy; but differences arose regarding the command. When the time came, Gillmore's force was detained in shallow waters by the tide. Commander T. H. Stevens, with eighteen officers and some four hundred sailors and marines, embarked in thirty boats for the enterprise. The leaders landed at Sumter after midnight on the 9th. Major Elliott was prepared for and received the assault with musketry and fragments of the epaulment. In a few minutes all was over, for the brave leaders, finding it impossible to scale the walls, were made prisoners. Our loss was ten officers and one hundred and four men captured and three men killed.

As Forts Wagner and Gregg were ordered to be turned for offensive purposes, a covered way between these two [129] works begun, and new batteries ordered to be constructed, there were heavy demands for fatigue. Besides its details at Cumming's Point, the Fifty-fourth soon began to send working parties for the ‘Bluff Battery’ in the southerly sand-hills near the beach-front. To retard our progress with the works at the front, the enemy maintained a constant cannonade. Batteries Simkins and Cheves were most active against us. On the 15th the enemy's magazine in the latter work was accidentally blown up with 1,200 pounds of powder, causing some casualties. The force of this explosion was felt all over Morris Island. Black Island, between Morris and James islands, where we had a battery,, was also frequently shelled.

First Sergeant Gray of Company C had received a Masonic charter and organized a lodge on Morris Island. The meeting-place was a dry spot in the marsh near our camp, where boards were set up to shelter the members. Furloughs for thirty days having been granted a certain proportion of the troops, the Fifty-fourth men selected departed, overjoyed at the prospect of seeing home and friends. The equinoctial storm set in about the middle of September, accompanied by high tides and wind. The dike protecting our camp was broken, and the parade overflowed, necessitating considerable labor to repair damages. With the cessation of this severe storm cooler weather came,—a most welcome relief.

In recognition of the capture of Morris Island and the demolition of Sumter, General Gillmore was promoted major-general of volunteers. To do him honor, a review of the First Division, Tenth Army Corps, took place on Morris Island September 24. Partial relief from excessive labors had permitted the troops to refit. Line was formed [130] on the beach at low tide, the division extending a distance of some two miles. The pageant was unsurpassed in the history of the department. Our colored brigade presented a fine appearance, and many compliments for the Fifty-fourth were received by Captain Emilio, commanding.

Paymaster Usher arrived in camp September 27, ready to pay the men $10 per month from enlistment, less $3 per month deducted for clothing. Upon the non-commissioned officers being assembled, they with great unanimity declined the reduced payment for themselves and their comrades. The paymaster again came on the 30th to renew his offer. It was on this date that Colonel Montgomery appeared and made the men a remarkable and characteristic address, which Sergeant Stephens of Company B has given in substance as follows:—

‘Men: the paymaster is here to pay you. You must remember you have not proved yourselves soldiers. You must take notice that the Government has virtually paid you a thousand dollars apiece for setting you free. Nor should you expect to be placed on the same footing with white men. Any one listening to your shouting and singing can see how grotesquely ignorant you are. I am your friend and the friend of the negro. I was the first person in the country to employ nigger soldiers in the United States Army. I was out in Kansas. I was short of men. I had a lot of niggers and a lot of mules; and you know a nigger and a mule go very well together. I therefore enlisted the niggers, and made teamsters of them. In refusing to take the pay offered you, and what you are only legally entitled to, you are guilty of insubordination and mutiny, and can be tried and shot by court-martial.’

Montgomery besides made some gross and invidious insinuations and reflections because the Fifty-fourth men [131] were so light-colored, which it would be improper to repeat. The colonel seemed to be unaware that his remarks were insulting, and most of the men he addressed born free.

Sergt. Henry Stewart, of Company E, a faithful soldier who had actively engaged in recruiting the regiment, died of disease September 27, and was buried with proper honors. His and other deaths, with an increased sick list, called for sanitary measures about this time. No radical change of camp was possible, as the ground available for such purposes was limited; but tents were struck so that the air and sun could reach the ground beneath, and a daily inspection of streets, sinks, and the cooked food instituted.

The Sanitary Commission furnished ice, raspberry vinegar, pickles, and other needed supplies; but there was a lack of fresh vegetables. Early in October, however, Mr. Reuben Tomlinson brought a large supply for the Fifty-fourth,—a present from the contrabands about Beaufort; and similar welcome gifts followed from the same source from time to time. Tobacco, dried apples, lime-juice, writing-paper, brushes, etc., were purchased with the company funds, as the men had no money.

To replace the State color lost on July 18, Governor Andrew caused a new one to be forwarded to the Fifty-fourth. Its receipt on October 2 was attended with great enthusiasm, the rousing cheers of the men being heard for a mile around.

It was noticeable about the 1st of October that our fire was stronger than for several weeks upon Sumter, Johnson, and Moultrie. Two monitors were doing picket duty near the island.

The monotony of daily events was broken at 10 A. M., [132] October 5, by the sound of the long-roll. Shots had been heard among the naval vessels. Our regiment took position in the old Confederate rifle trenches near Oyster Point on the inlet. This alarm was caused by the attempt of Lieut. William T. Glassell, C. S. N., to blow up the ‘Ironsides.’ With a small boat—the ‘David’—he exploded a spar torpedo near our iron-clad without serious damage to that vessel; but the ‘David’ was swamped. Glassell and one of his men were captured. The other two men righted their craft and returned to the city by midnight. This enterprise was one of the boldest undertakings of the war, and nearly successful.

Henry N. Hooper, formerly captain, Thirty-second Massachusetts Infantry, commissioned major of the Fifty-fourth, arrived October 16, and relieved Captain Emilio of the command. It was his fortune to lead the regiment for a longer period and in more actions than any other officer, owing to the assignment of Colonel Hallowell to higher command. On all occasions he proved an able and courageous soldier. Colonel Hallowell, promoted during his absence, returned the day after Major Hooper's arrival, and was waited upon by the officers, who expressed their pleasure at his recovery and return. A stanch friend of the Fifty-fourth was a visitor in camp about this time, in the person of Albert G. Browne, Esq., the special agent of the Treasury Department, whose headquarters were at Beaufort. His son, Col. Albert G. Browne, Jr., was the military secretary of Governor Andrew, and also one of the regiment's early and tried friends.

There had been several promotions in consequence of the action of July 18. Lieutenant Smith was made captain of Company G, but was still North; Lieutenant Walton, [133] captain of Company B, vice Willard, resigned. Second Lieutenants T. L. Appleton, Tucker, Howard, Pratt, and Littlefield were made first lieutenants. These officers were all present except Lieutenant Pratt, who never re-joined. Captain Bridge and Lieutenant Emerson had returned from sick leave. Lieutenants E. G. Tomlinson and Charles G. Chipman, appointed to the regiment, had joined. A number of the wounded had returned from hospital, and the first lot of furloughed men came back, and with them Capt. J. W. M. Appleton. By these accessions the Fifty-fourth had more officers and men present toward the last of October than at any time after it left St. Helena Island.

Our new and old works being in readiness at Cumming's Point, what General Gillmore calls the ‘second bombardment of Sumter’ was begun October 26. Its purpose was to prevent guns being mounted there, and to cut down the southeast face, that the casemates of the channel face be taken in reverse. General Seymour had returned and assumed command of the island on the 18th. Under his direction our batteries opened from seven heavy rifles (including a three-hundred-pounder) in Wagner, and four in Gregg and from two mortars. Some fire was directed against Fort Johnson also, the enemy replying briskly. The next day the cannonade was renewed with one gun in Gregg turned upon the city. Our range against Sumter being less than was the case during Wagner's siege, rendered the force of our shot much greater. Sharpshooters in Sumter armed with the long-range Whitworth rifles were trying to disable our gunners in Gregg, without success.

After four days bombardment, a breach was disclosed in the southeast face of Sumter, extending half its length, on [134] which our land and sea fire was concentrated. For about a week longer our bombardment was kept up with great vigor, during which time the enemy suffered many casualties, and Sumter was pounded into a mound of debris covering the lower casemates, in which the garrison found safe refuge. Through the centre of the Morris Island face of Sumter the terre-plein could be seen. Major Elliott apprehended another assault and prepared for it.

In honor of some of the officers who had fallen during the operations, Gregg was renamed Fort Putnam; Wagner, Fort Strong; the Bluff Battery, Fort Shaw; the new work near Gregg, Battery Chatfield; a work on Lighthouse Inlet, Battery Purviance; and another opposite the last, on Folly Island, Fort Green. By the same order General Gillmore announced that medals of honor, his personal gift, would be furnished to three per cent of the enlisted men who had borne part in the engagements and siege. This medal, however, was not received for some months. In the case of the Fifty-fourth it was awarded to the four men specially mentioned in Colonel Hallowell's report of the assault of July 18, previously printed herein. There arrived for the regiment a present from Mrs. Colonel Shaw of one thousand small copies of the Gospels, neatly bound in morocco of various colors, which were distributed.

Fine weather continued to prevail, although the month of October was drawing to a close. Early each morning a dense fog swept in from the eastward, covering land and sea until dispelled by the rising sun. Then came warm fall days, followed by cooler night hours.

Our gunners at the front were firing from Chatfield and Gregg with mortars and the heavy rifles mainly at night, besides using field-pieces in Gregg for accurate practice [135] against the enemy's sharpshooters lodged in the ruins. Their shots caused small daily casualties in Sumter, swelling out to nineteen in number October 31, when a falling wall killed many, and fifteen on November 6, when a mortar-shell exploded in front of a bombproof. Capt. T. C. Ferris, Independent New York Battalion (Les Enfans Perdus), made a daring reconnoissance of the fort at night, November 2. He landed, and with one man scaled the wall until discovered and fired upon. Then they retired safely to their comrade in the boat, bringing some bricks away as trophies.

There was a gala day in Charleston on November 2 when Jefferson Davis arrived on his return from a visit to General Bragg at Dalton. General Beauregard extended to him all official courtesy; but their private relations were strained. Davis found the troops and works in good condition. Beauregard was apprehensive of attack at some point on his long lines at this period, and thought an attack on Sullivan's Island or another assault on Sumter not improbable.

Colonel Hallowell on his return used every means to have the many detached and detailed men returned to the colors, as heavy working parties of from one hundred to two hundred men were still called for to labor on the new works. Our first instalment of furloughed men having returned, the second left for Hilton Head on November 12. Lieutenant Howard relieved Lieutenant Littlefield as acting adjutant. Sergeant Swails of Company F was made acting sergeant-major and Sergeant Vogelsang of Company H quartermaster-sergeant.

News was received the last of November that the matter of pay had come up in a new form. Governor Andrew in [136] his message recommended the provisions of an Act which passed the Massachusetts Legislature November 16 in words as follows: ‘An Act to make up the Deficiencies in the Monthly Pay of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Regiments,’ etc., and Section I. of this Act read as follows:—

‘There shall be paid out of the Treasury of the Commonwealth to the non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth regiments of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to those who have been honorably discharged from the service, and to the legal representatives of those who have died in the service, such sums of money as, added to the amounts paid them by the United States, shall render their monthly pay and allowances from the time of their being mustered into the service of the United States equal to that of the other non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates in the volunteer or regular military service of the United States.’

Upon the receipt of a copy of the Governor's address and the Act, Colonel Hallowell, on November 23, wrote to Governor Andrew, that notwithstanding the generous action of the State authorities, the men of the Fifty-fourth had enlisted as other soldiers from Massachusetts, and that they would serve without pay until mustered out, rather than accept from the United States less than the amount paid other soldiers. Enlisted men were not less prompt to write to their friends expressing their disapprobation. Theodore Tilton, in a communication to the Boston Journal, dated New York, Dec. 12, 1863, quotes from a letter received by him ‘from a Massachusetts soldier in the Fifty-fourth’:—

A strange misapprehension exists as to the matter of pay, and it pains us deeply. We came forward at the call of Governor Andrew, in which call he distinctly told us that we were to be [137] subsisted, clothed, paid, and treated in all respects the same as other Massachusetts soldiers. Again, on the presentation of flags to the regiment at Camp Meigs, the Governor reiterated this promise, on the strength of which we marched through Boston, holding our heads high as men and as soldiers. Nor did we grumble because we were not paid the portion of United States bounty paid to other volunteer regiments in advance. Now that we have gained some reputation, we claim the right to be heard.

Three times have we been mustered in for pay. Twice have we swallowed the insult offered us by the United States paymaster, contenting ourselves with a simple refusal to acknowledge ourselves different from other Massachusetts soldiers. Once, in the face of insult and intimidation such as no body of men and soldiers were ever subjected to before, we quietly refused and continued to do our duty. For four months we have been steadily working night and day under fire. And such work! Up to our knees in mud half the time, causing the tearing and wearing out of more than the volunteer's yearly allowance of clothing, denied time to repair and wash (what we might by that means have saved), denied time to drill and perfect ourselves in soldierly qualities, denied the privilege of burying our dead decently. All this we've borne patiently, waiting for justice.

Imagine our surprise and disappointment on the receipt by the last mail of the Governor's address to the General Court, to find him making a proposition to them to pay this regiment the difference between what the United States Government offers us and what they are legally bound to pay us, which, in effect, advertises us to the world as holding out for money and not from principle, —that we sink our manhood in consideration of a few more dollars. How has this come about? What false friend has been misrepresenting us to the Governor, to make him think that our necessities outweigh our self-respect? I am sure no representation of ours ever impelled him to that action.


To the letter Theodore Tilton added some forcible sentences. Among other things he wrote,—

They are not willing that the Federal Government should throw mud upon them, even though Massachusetts stands ready to wipe it off. And perhaps it is not unsoldierly in a soldier, white or black, to object to being insulted by a government which he heroically serves. The regiment whose bayonets pricked the name of Colonel Shaw into the roll of immortal honor can afford to be cheated out of their money, but not out of their manhood.

Our brigade number was changed from ‘Fourth’ to ‘Third’ on November 23. Its colored regiments were still required to perform an undue proportion of fatigue work, and but few details for grand guards came for them. After this discrimination had long been borne, General Gillmore in an order said,—

‘Colored troops will not be required to perform any labor which is not shared by the white troops, but will receive in all respects the same treatment, and be allowed the same opportunities for drill and instruction.’

During the third week of November several events of interest occurred. On the 15th the Moultrie House on Sullivan's Island, which had long flown a hospital flag, was torn down, disclosing a powerful battery, which opened a terrible fire on us in unison with two other works. This, occurring at 10 P. M., it was thought might cover a boat attack, so our troops were called into line, where they remained until firing ceased. Meanwhile from Gregg and the ‘Ironsides’ our calcium lights swept the waters about the harbor to discover any force approaching. Our monitor Lehigh grounded the next morning. Under a fierce cannonade a [139] hawser was carried from the ‘Nahant,’ and by it and the rising tide she was floated at 11 A. M.

From Gregg and Chatfield our guns, mounted for the purpose, began to fire on the city at 10 A. M. on the 17th, throwing twenty-one shells. We could see the smoke from the explosions as the shells struck about the wharves, in the ‘burnt district,’ or well up among the houses. This bombardment of Charleston was from this time maintained with more or less vigor each day and night. Against Sumter, from November 1 to the 20th, we fired an average of five hundred shots daily. Our new work nearest Gregg was named Battery Seymour, and was armed with ten-inch mortars; another still farther south was called Battery Barton.

Major Conyngham, Fifty-second Pennsylvania, with two hundred and fifty men from his regiment, the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania, and the Third New Hampshire, made a boat reconnoissance of Sumter at night, November 19. Our expedition approached to within three hundred yards of the fort, was discovered, and after an engagement of fifteen minutes withdrew with three men wounded. In this affair a portion of Sumter's garrison acted badly, and three officers were censured. Capt. F. H. Harleston, First South Carolina Artillery, a most gallant and able officer, while examining the defences of the fort on November 24 was struck by a Parrott-shell, and died in a few hours.

Thanksgiving Day, November 26, by general orders, was observed by the suspension of all unnecessary labor. At 1.30 P. M. the Fifty-fourth formed with side-arms only, and marched to the beach in front of the Third Brigade headquarters. There, with all the other troops on the island, [140] they joined in religious services. It was a glorious day, well fitted for the thorough enjoyment of the feast and sports which followed. In response to a call of the ‘Black’ Committee the friends of the regiment had contributed for Thanksgiving dinner many luxuries. From this source, the company funds, and the efforts of the officers and company cooks, a most abundant and unusual feast was provided. In the afternoon there was much amusement and sport indulged in by the men. A greased pole some twenty feet high was erected, and at the top was suspended a pair of trousers the pockets of which contained $13. After four hours of ludicrously unsuccessful trials on the part of a number of men, Butler of Company K secured the ‘full pay’ and the trousers. Wheelbarrow and sack races closed the games.

December came in, cold and rainy, for the winter weather had set in. The day, however, was a happy and memorable one, for news was received of General Grant's great victory at Missionary Ridge, and every fort fired a salute, causing spiteful replies from the enemy. A high wind prevailed on the 6th, and those who were upon the bluff or beach witnessed a terrible disaster to the fleet. At 2 P. M. the monitor Weehawken, off the island, foundered, carrying to their death, imprisoned below, four officers and twentyseven men.

There was much heavy weather about the first ten days of December. After it subsided, the beach of Morris Island was strewn with logs some thirty feet long and eighteen inches through, a number of which were bolted together with iron. Others were found floating with the tide. A wooden affair, some fifty by thirty feet, double planked, looking like a floating battery, was washed ashore [141] on Folly Island about the same time. The enemy had been loosing a part of the harbor obstructions.

We were now firing an average of twenty shells each day into Charleston. The time of firing was purposely varied throughout the day and night, that the Confederates might not be prepared to reply. From ‘Mother Johnson,’ Simkins, and Moultrie we received an average of two hundred shots per day, most of which failed to strike our works. But few casualties were sustained, the warning cry of the lookouts sending all to cover.

Against Sumter our firing was light after November. But on December 11 some two hundred and twenty shots were hurled at that work. While we were firing slowly at 9.30 A. M., the southwest magazine there exploded. Timbers, bricks, and debris, as well as the flag, were shot up into the air, while below arose a black cloud of smoke which streamed out over the harbor. A fire broke out later. The garrison lost on this day eleven men killed and forty-one wounded.

By reference to his official correspondence, it is found that about the middle of December General Gillmore entertained the project of attacking Savannah, and then, with a portion of his force, operating in Florida. He thought that to move with the fleet against Charleston's inner defences, now bristling with guns, either by way of the Stono or Bull's Bay, he should be reinforced with ten thousand or twelve thousand men. He urged that the War Department adopt measures which would enable him to go to work at once.

Calls for fatigue were now lighter and better borne, for seventy-three conscripts arrived for the Fifty-fourth on November 28, and twenty-two recruits on December 4. [142] Battalion and brigade drills were resumed. We were furnishing heavier details for grand guard, composed usually of several officers and two hundred and fifty men. They went out every third or fourth day during our further stay on the island. For the diversion of the officers the ‘Christy Minstrels’ gave their first performance December 5 in Dr. Bridgham's hospital tent, enlarged by a wall tent on one side. Songs were sung and jokes cracked in genuine minstrel style.

To carry out the provisions of the Act for the relief of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry, Maj. James Sturgis, accompanied by Mr. E. W. Kinsley, a public-spirited citizen, arrived at our camp December 12. They had previously visited the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, when Colonel Hartwell informed Major Sturgis that neither regiment would receive the relief. Upon meeting Colonel Hallowell the same information was given. At Major Sturgis's request the officers and first sergeants were then assembled, when the matter was freely discussed. Both gentlemen explained fully the purpose of the Governor and the legislation securing it. Some of the officers and non-commissioned officers replied by a recital of the reasons for refusal hereinbefore set forth. Finally the noncommissioned officers on behalf of the men positively refused the State aid. At their conclusion cheers were given for Governor Andrew, to whom they were grateful for the proffered help. The result of his unsuccessful mission was reported in writing by Major Sturgis to the Governor under date of December 13. In his report he says,—

‘I deem it proper to say here, that among the many regiments that I saw at Hilton Head, St. Helena Island, Beaufort, Folly, and Morris Island, white and colored, there are none, to [143] my inexperienced eye, that equalled the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth, unless it was the Fortieth Massachusetts, while none surpassed them in any respect.’

Late in the afternoon of December 17 the Fifty-fourth with all the troops was formed to see a deserter shot. The unfortunate man was Joseph Lane, a drafted soldier of the Third New Hampshire. On November 28 he started from Morris Island toward James. At last, despairing of crossing the water ways, he turned back to our lines, representing himself as a Rebel deserter. Taken to the post guard-house, he was recognized by some of his own company, whereupon he was tried and sentenced to death. General Stevenson commanded the division, by reason of General Terry's illness. After forming, the column moved slowly up the beach followed by a wagon, in which, seated upon his coffin, rode Lane. When the troops halted, the wagon passed along the line to the lower beach. There the coffin was unloaded, the deserter knelt upon it, and at a signal, in full view of all the troops, the blindfolded man received the musket-shots of the firing party, falling forward on his face a quivering corpse.

Christmas day was cold and windy. The only noteworthy event in camp was the arrival of a mail. Besides fatigue parties a detail for grand guard of two hundred and fifty men went out under Captain Pope. Our rifles had sounded their fearful Christmas chimes by throwing shells into the city for three hours after one o'clock that morning. About 3 A. M. a fire broke out in Charleston which illumined the whole sky and destroyed twelve buildings before it was subdued, the falling walls injuring many firemen. Chatfield joined Gregg in the bombardment directed upon the fire. The enemy opened rapidly for [144] a time and then gradually ceased, but our guns continued to fire with more or less vigor all day. On their part the Confederates prepared a Christmas surprise for the gunboat Marblehead lying in the Stono near Legareville. At 6 A. M. some pieces on John's Island, brought there at night, opened on the gunboat, but were soon driven away with loss of men and guns.

New Year's Day being the first anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the non-commissioned officers arranged for a celebration. The men formed and proceeded to the parade-ground, where a dry-goods box covered with a rubber blanket was placed, to serve as a speaker's stand. Chaplain Harrison offered a prayer and then introduced the orator of the day, Sergeant Barquet of Company H. Barquet was in high spirits, and began with the quotation, ‘What means this sea of upturned faces,’ etc. The speaker had hardly warmed up to his work, when in the midst of a most impassioned harangue the dry-goods box caved in, carrying him down. Barquet, in no way disconcerted, from the wreck shouted out the appropriate but well-worn gag: ‘Gentlemen, I admire your principles, but damn your platform!’ After the hilarity resulting from the discomfiture of the chief speaker had subsided, others addressed the meeting with more or less effect. In the evening the non-commissioned officers had a supper in the large tent used to cover quartermaster's stores. Among the good things provided were baked beans and Indian pudding.

From November 1 to January 8 the following changes took place among the officers,—Major Hooper was promoted lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. J. W. M. Appleton, major; Lieutenant Grace, captain of Company A; Lieut. [145] R. H. L. Jewett, captain of Company K; and Lieutenant Higginson, captain of Company H; Second Lieutenants David Reid, Emerson, and Tomlinson became first lieutenants; Lieutenants A. W. Leonard, Lewis Reed, Alfred H. Knowles, Robert R. Newell, and Chas. M. Duren, newly appointed, reported. Captains Jones and Pope and Assistant-Surgeon Pease re-joined. Surgeon Stone went North, and was then appointed surgeon, United States Volunteers. Lieutenant Higginson was promoted while absent sick, and was afterward transferred to the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry as captain. Lieutenant Johnston was discharged. A change in the line formation was necessary after these promotions, which was ordered as follows, Company D being on the left:— D B A E H F K C G I

Greek fire was used from our ‘city guns’ experimentally in twenty shells on January 3. Previous firings with this compound had not been satisfactory in result. The charges on this day seemed more effective, apparently causing a fire in Charleston. It is stated on Confederate authority that the whole number of our shells fired into the city from August 21 to January 5 was 472, of which twenty-eight fell short. They are said to have killed five persons. Our opening thereupon from Cumming's Point was the occasion of great dismay and confusion. A hegira to the country took place, by railroad and every kind of vehicle laden with household effects. Those who remained became somewhat accustomed to our shelling. The collection of old iron after each explosion was a regular business. Non-exploded shells were purchased by the authorities. From the ‘Battery’ up to Wentworth Street, about [146] the middle of the city, nearly all the houses had been penetrated.

Wagner having been thoroughly prepared for our purposes and armed, on the 12th a distinguished company assembled therein to witness the raising of the stars and stripes on the high flag-staff erected. Captain Strahan, Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, was made commandant of the work. General Gillmore removed his headquarters from Folly Island to Hilton Head about this time. General Terry was given command of the Northern District from Charleston to St. Helena. Col. W. W. H. Davis, One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania, assumed control of Morris Island. His force was composed of one colored brigade and two white brigades, besides artillerymen and engineers.

During the time the Fifty-fourth had served with white troops a few officers and men manifested their dislike to the black regiment in various ways. Sometimes white sentinels would pretend not to see the approach of our officers, to avoid rendering the proper salute. Occasionally officers in charge of armed parties failed to give the marching salute to similar parties of the Fifty-fourth. In all such cases reports were made of the discourtesy. The following instance, of preference given white troops, when on joint duty with blacks, occurred. Captain Emilio, with two hundred and fifty men and several officers, reported for grandguard duty, and as the first on the ground, was entitled to the right of all others. This position, despite protest, was denied him by Maj. Michael Schmitt, Independent New York Battalion. When the tour of duty was completed, a report was made of the affair and forwarded to post headquarters. The discrimination did not occur again. By [147] persistent and firm assertion of the rights of the men on the part of all the Fifty-fourth officers, a discontinuance of these and other discourtesies was at last obtained.

There arrived from Long Island, Mass., on the 20th, some one hundred and twelve recruits for the regiment, which served to fill the ranks nearly to the maximum. With a single exception they were all volunteers. By this date the Fifty-fourth was well clothed, fully equipped, and prepared for any service. The colder weather, although it brought some discomfort, served to lessen the number of sick. Food was better and more varied. Quartermaster Ritchie, assisted by Sergeant Barquet and Private King, secured bricks from the old lighthouse and constructed an oven which furnished soft bread. It had a capacity of two hundred loaves each baking.

Troops had been moving from various posts to Hilton Head during January, and on the 27th our brigade was ordered to embark as soon as transportation was provided. During the afternoon of the 28th everything but the tents was loaded upon two steamers assigned to the Fifty-fourth. As darkness fell, camp was struck; but as the vessels could not leave until the next forenoon, the regiment through the early part of the night remained on shore, gathered about small camp-fires.

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