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The Defence of Battery Wagner. An address delivered before the Confederate Sur-Vivors' Association in Augusta, Georgia, on the occasion of its Fourteenth annual reunion on memorial day, April 26th, 1892.

By Hon. Lieutenant-Colonel H. D. D. Twiggs.
Mr. President and Comrades

My theme for this occasion is the defence of Battery Wagner, in Charleston harbor, South Carolina, against the combined attack of the land and naval forces of the United States, which occurred on [167] the 18th of July, 1863. The defence of Charleston harbor and of Fort Sumter, which commanded the channel approach to that city, is familiar to the civilized world. The memories of that heroic struggle have been preserved by history, and embalmed in story and in song; and while incidental reference will be made to these defences during a long and memorable siege, my remarks will be confined chiefly to the military operations against Wagner on the 18th July. The almost unexampled magnitude of the war, involving during its four years of incessant strife an enormous sacrifice of men and material on both sides, tended to obscure and obliterate the details and incidents of any particular military event—yet the heroic defence of this outpost battery located upon an isolated island, against the powerful military and naval forces which assailed it, ‘is worthy in itself of the dignity of a great epic’ even in the drama which in its gigantic proportions required a continent for its theatre of action. History fails to furnish example more heroic, conflict more sanguinary, tenacity and endurance more determined and courageous than were displayed in the defence of this historic little stronghold. From the time of its construction to the 18th July, 1863, it was known and designated as ‘Battery Wagner;’ after that memorable day, the enemy called it ‘Fort Wagner.’ A brave and appreciative foe thus christened it in a baptism of blood, but that earlier name was known only to the heroic dead who fell defending it upon its ramparts, and my unhallowed hand shall not disturb it. Twenty years and more have elapsed since that bloody day, but the lesson then enforced is as important as ever, and no richer inheritance of emprise and valor will ever be transmitted to posterity. In speaking of the defence of Charleston a prominent writer in ‘the French Journal of Military Science’ states, that prodigies of talent, audacity, intrepidity and peserverance are exhibited in the attack as in the defence of this city which will assign to the siege of Charleston an exceptional place in military annals. Viscount Wolseley, AdjutantGene-ral of the British army, in reviewing some of the military records of the war in the ‘North American Review’ of November, 1889, uses the following language: ‘Were I bound to select out of all four volumes the set of papers which appears of most importance at the present moment not only from an American, but also from an European point of view, I should certainly name those which describe the operations around Charleston.’ For the instruction of those who are unfamiliar with the topography of Charleston and surroundings, [168] I shall give a short introductory description of the harbor defences of this city in order to convey a better appreciation of the location and relative importance of ‘Battery Wagner.’ Charleston, as you know, is situated on a narrow peninsula at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers These rivers in flowing together form a broad, picturesque and beautiful bay, lying to the southeast of the city, which has for its northern boundary the mainland, and for its southern, James island. Fort Sumter is constructed upon its own little island of artificial rock, and is situated within the entrance to the harbor. It is nearly equi-distant between James and Sullivan's islands, and is three and a half miles from East Bay battery of the city. Fort Johnston on James island is situated to the right of Sumter as you look from the battery towards the sea, and is one mile and a quarter from the Fort. Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's island, is to the left of Sumter and about one mile distant from it. Morris island, upon which Battery Wagner was built, is a long, low, sandy sea island, denuded of growth, save here and there a solitary palmetto, and was considered practically the key to Charleston. Its northern end nearest the city, known as Cumming's Point, is the seaward limit of the harbor on the south, as Sullivan's island is the seaward limit on the North, and these two points determine the entrance to the harbor, and are about twenty-seven hundred yards apart. Morris island is separated from James island by wide and impenetrable marshes. On ‘Cumming's Point’ was ‘Battery Gregg,’ named in honor of Brigadier-General Maxcy Gregg, of South Carolina, killed at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Nearly a mile south of Gregg, on the island was located ‘Battery Wagner.’ This famous work was erected to prevent the Federal occupation of the island, and the erection of batteries for the destruction of Fort Sumter, which disputed the passage of the enemy's fleet to the city. Battery Wagner was one and a half miles from Sumter and five miles from Charleston. Between Sumter and the shores of Morris and James islands is only shallow water, unfit for navigation. The main channel which is very deep between Sumter and Sullivan's island, takes an abrupt turn to the south about one thousand yards east of Sumter, and flows in a southerly direction along the shores of Morris island, so that a fleet before entering the harbor would be compelled to run the gauntlet of Battery Wagner and Gregg before reaching Sumter and the city. The importance therefore of these auxiliary defences against naval attack [169] will be readily appreciated, and the necessity for their reduction by the Federal is equally manifest. Situated to the south of ‘Morris Island’ is ‘Folly Island,’ separated from it by ‘Light House Inlet,’ about five hundred yards wide. After the memorable repulse of the iron clad fleet, under Rear-Admiral DuPont, by Fort Sumter on the 7th of April, 1863, the enemy changed his plan of attack, and the Union Commander, General Q. A. Gilmore, who had relieved Major-General Hunter, concentrated upon ‘Folly Island,’ ten thousand infantry, three hundred and fifty artillery, and six hundred engineer troops. In the meantime. Rear-Admiral DuPont had been relieved and Rear-Admiral Dahlgren placed in command of the naval squadron. Concealed from the view of the Confederates by dense brushwood, the Federal commander with remarkable skill and celerity had erected formidable batteries within easy range of the weak and imperfect works of the Confederates on the southern end of the island. The presence of these works, armed with guns of heavy calibre, was unknown to the Confederates and was a complete surprise to them. On the morning of the 10th of July these batteries were unmasked and a furious cannonade, supplemented by the guns of the fleet in Light House Inlet, was opened upon the Confederate batteries, and under cover of this bombardment the Federal troops succeeded in effecting a landing and lodgment on Morris island. They were gallantly met by the Confederate troops under Colonel Robert Graham of the First South Carolina regiment; but, after a sharp and severe engagement, they were forced to yield to the superior numbers of the enemy, and being rapidly driven back sought shelter and refuge in ‘Battery Wagner.’ Following up rapidly this success, and anticipating an easy capture of the latter; which now alone seriously disputed their full occupation of the island, on July the 11th they made their first assault upon it. During the night, however, ‘Wagner’ had been reinforced by five hundred and fifty Georgia troops under Colonel Charles H. Olmstead (the distinguished and heroic defender of Fort Pulaski) and Nelson's South Carolina battalion. This assault lasted less than half an hour and resulted in a complete repulse of the assailants who retired to the Sand hills of the island, out of the range of the Confederate battery. General Gilmore then commenced the erection of heavy batteries on the island, varying in distance from about thirteen hundred to nineteen hundred yards in front of ‘Wagner,’ and thus were commenced the formidable preparations for the great attack [170] upon it by land and sea on the 18th July, 1863, which is the subject of this address.

Battery Wagner

was named after Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas M. Wagner, of the First regiment of South Carolina Regular Artillery, who was killed by the bursting of a gun at Fort Moultrie in July, 1863. It was a large bastioned earth-work enclosed on all sides, and was situated at a very narrow neck of the island extending across its full width at that point from the sea on one side to Vincent creek on the other, so that its flanks were protected by these natural barriers from assault. Its sea line, which faced the ship channel, was three hundred feet long, and its land faces extended about two hundred and fifty yards across the island. Its magazine was protected by a roofing of heavy timbers, which were compactly covered over with ten feet of sodded earth. It was also provided with a bomb-proof, similarly constructed for the protection of the troops, thirty feet wide by one hundred feet long. There was also a gallery of a similar character about twelve feet wide by thirty feet long through which the bomb-proof was entered from the parade of the fort. The work was constructed with heavy traverces, and its gorge on the north face provided with a parapet for infantry fire. The embrasures were revetted with palmetto logs and turf, and around the work was a wide, deep, but dry ditch. In the parade of the fort on its west side was a row of wooden tenements, roughly built for officers' quarters and medical stores. Brigadier-General Taliaferro, who had been stationed with his command on James island, was ordered by General Beauregard to take command of ‘Battery Wagner,’ and on the morning of the 14th of July, he relieved Colonel Robert Graham of that charge. This gallant officer, who was a native of Virginia, and who is still living and practicing law in that State, had served with the immortal Stonewall Jackson in many of his brilliant campaigns in the valley. While at home in Georgia, convalescing from a wound received while serving with my regiment in Virginia, I was ordered to report to General Beauregard, at Charleston, and was assigned to duty with General Taliaferro, who placed me temporarily on his personal staff as assistant inspector-general. I trust that you will pardon this reference to myself. I make it because I claim for this narrative some degree of accuracy acquired largely from personal observation in the drama afterwards enacted. Between the 12th and 18th of July the enemy was steadily [171] and rapidly constructing and equipping his batteries designed to cooperate with the fleet in the bombardment which followed.

The Monitors.

While this work was in progress, the monitors of the fleet would daily leave their anchorage and engage in a desultory shelling of the fort. The huge projectiles, fired from their fifteen-inch guns, weighing four hundred and forty pounds and visible at ever point of their trajectories, made it very uncomfortable for the garrison. They practiced firing ricochet shots, which would skip and bound upon the water, each impingement making sounds similar to the discharge of the gun itself. Indeed, until this curious phenomenon was noted the multiplication of detotations was regarded as separate discharges of different guns. Some of these enormous shells would roll into the fort, bury themselves in the earth, and, with deafening explosion, would make huge craters in the sand, lifting it in great columns, which, falling in showers like the scoriae and ashes from a volcanic eruption, would fill the eyes, ears, and clothing, mingling the dirt of the fort with the original dust from which we sprung. Some would burst in the air, others passing over the fort with a rush and roar, which has aptly been likened to the noise of an express train, would explode in the marsh beyond. Of course our guns replied, but they were so inferior in calibre compared to those of the monitors that they did little harm at such long range to the iron armor of their turrets, eleven inches in thickness.

The armament of Wagner consisted of one ten-inch Columbiad, one thirty-two pound rifle, one forty-two pounder Carronade, two thirty-two pounder Carronade, two navel shell guns, one eight-inch sea coast howitzer, four smooth bore thirty-two pounders, and one ten-inch sea coast mortar; in all thirteen guns, besides one light battery. Of these only the ten-inch Columbiad, which carried a projectile weighing one hundred and twenty-eight pounds, was of much effect against the monitors.

The staff of General Taliaferro consisted of W. T. Taliaferro, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenants Henry C. Cunningham and Mazyck, ordnance [172] officers; Captain Burke, quartermaster; Lieutenants Meade and Stoney, aides; Dr. J. C. Habersham, surgeon-in-chief; and Captain H. D. D. Twiggs, inspector-general.

The garrison was composed of the Fifty-first North Carolina, Colonel H. Mc-Kethan; the Thirty-first North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles W. Knight; the Charleston battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel P. C. Gaillard; the artillery companies of Captains J. T. Buckner and W. J Dixon, of the Sixty-third Georgia regiment, and two field howitzer details of Lieutenant T. D. Waties, of the First South Carolina Regular Artillery. All the artillery was under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Simkins, of the First South Carolina Regular Infantry. Let it be borne in mind that the entire garrison, according to official reports, numbered on the 18th of July thirteen hundred men only. These troops had relieved a few days before Olmstead's Georgia regiment, Capers', Hanvey's and Basinger's Georgia battalions, Nelson's South Carolina battalion, and the artillery companies of Mathews' and Chichester under Lieutenant-Colonel Yates, of South Carolina. They had participated gallantly in repelling the assault of the 11th of July, and needed relief from the heavy work and details to which they had constantly been subjected.

The force of the enemy opposed to this artillery and infantry force of ‘Wagner’ consisted of four heavy batteries on the island, mounting forty-two siege guns of heavy calibre, and the naval squadron of iron-clads and gun-boats carrying an armament of twenty-three of the most formidable guns ever before used in the reduction of a fortification, making an aggregate of sixty-four guns. In addition there were six thousand veteran infantry within the batteries on the island, ready for the assault. To say that the outlook to the garrison of ‘Wagner’ was appalling, but feebly expresses the situation.

The bombardment begins.

On the morning of the 18th I was invited to breakfast with Dr. Harford Cumming, of Augusta, Georgia, as assistant-surgeon in the fort. Our repast consisted of some hard crackers and a tin bucket of fresh butter, sent the doctor from home; a most tempting meal [173] in those times of gastronomic privation. We were sitting in the little medical dispensary over which the doctor presided, by the side of an open window which looked out upon the parade, with a small table between us upon which our breakfast was laid. Just as we had begun our meal, a two hundred pounder Parrot shell was heard screaming through the air above us, and descending it buried itself in the earth just outside the window. It exploded with terrific report, shattering into fragments the glass, and filling our bucket, about half full of butter, with sand to the very top. The frail tenement reeled with the shock. This shell was followed by another and another in rapid succession, which exploded in the parade of fort and were fired from the land batteries of the enemy. This was the beginning of the bombardment long anticipated, and our first intimation of it. We no longer felt the pangs of hunger, and hurriedly left the building for a safer place. Upon reaching the open air the shot and shell began to fall by scores, and we saw the infantry streaming to the bomb-proof. For a considerable time the firing of the enemy was conducted by the land batteries alone. Finally the enemy's entire squadron, iron-clads and gunboats, left their moorings and bore down steadily and majestically upon the fort. The heavy artillerists sprang to their guns and, with anxious but resolute faces, awaited coolly the terrible onset. It was now apparent that the entire force of the enemy, land and naval, was about to be hurled against ‘Wagner’ alone, but the dauntless little garrison, lifting their hearts to the God of battles in this hour of fearful peril, with their flag floating defiantly above them, resolved to die if need be for their altars, their firesides and their homes. The day broke bright and beautiful. A gentle breeze toyed with the folds of the garrison flag as it streamed forth with undulating grace, or lazily curved about the tall staff. The God of day rising in the splendor of his mid-summer glory, flung his red flame upon the swelling sea, and again performed the miracle of turning the water into wine. Rising still higher he bathed the earth and sea in his own radiant and voluptuous light, and burnished with purple and gold the tall spires of the beleaguered and devoted old city. What a strange contrast between the profound calm of nature and the gathering tempest of war, whose consuming lightnings and thunders were so soon to burst forth with a fury unsurpassed! On came the fleet, straight for the fort; Admiral Dahlgren's flag ship, the Monitor Montauk, Commander Fairfax, in the lead. It was followed by the new Ironsides, Captain Rowan; the Monitors, [174] Catskill, Commander Rogers; Patapsco, Lieutenant-Commander Badger; Nantucket, Commander Beaumont and Weekawken, Commander Calhoun. There were, besides five gunboats, the Paul Jones, Commander Rhind; Ottowa, Commander Whiting; the Seneca, Commander Gibson; the Chippewa, Commander Harris, and the Wissahickon, Commander Davis. Swiftly and noiselessly approached, the white spray breaking from their sharp prows, their long dark hull lines scarcely showing above the water, and the coal black drum-like turrets glistening in the morning's sun. Approaching still nearer they formed the arc of a circle around ‘Wagner,’ the nearest being about three hundred yards distant from it. With deliberate precision they halted and waited the word of command to sweep the embrasures of the fort where our intrepid cannoneers stood coolly by their guns. As the flagship Montauk wheeled into action at close quarters, a long puff of white smoke rolled from the mouth of the ten inch Columbiad on the sea face of the fort, and the iron plated turret of the Monitor reeled and quivered beneath the crashing blow. Then the pent up thunders of the brewing storm of death burst forth in all their fury, and poured upon the undaunted ‘Wagner’ a remorseless stream of nine, eleven and fifteen inch shells. Monitor after monitor, ship after ship, battery after battery, and then, altogether hurled a tempest of iron hail upon the fort. About seventy guns were now concentrating a terrific fire upon it, while the guns of ‘Wagner,’ aided at long range by the batteries of Sumter and Gregg, and those on Sullivan's and James islands, replied. Words fail to convey an adequate idea of the fury of this bombardment. ‘It transcended all exhibitions of like character encountered during the war.’ It seemed impossible that anything could withstand it. More than one hundred guns of the heaviest calibre were roaring, flashing and thundering together. Before the Federal batteries had gotten the exact range of the work, the smoke of the bursting shells, brightened by the sun, was converted into smoke wreathes and spirals which curved and eddyed in every direction; then as the fire was delivered with greater precision, the scene was appalling and awe inspiring beyond expression, and the spectacle to the lookers on was one of surpassing sublimity and grandeur. In the language of General Gilmore, ‘the whole island smoked like a furnace and shook as from an earthquake.’ For eleven long hours the air was filled with every description of shot and shell that the magazines of war could supply. The light of day was almost [175] obscured by the now darkening and sulphurous smoke which hung over the island like a funeral pall. Still later in the afternoon as the darkness gathered and deepened did the lightnings of war increase in the vividness of their lurid and intolerable crimson which flashed through the rolling clouds of smoke and illumined the fort from bastion to bastion with a scorching glare; clouds of sand were constantly blown into the air from bursting shells; the waters of the sea were lashed into white foam and thrown upwards in glistening columns by exploding bombs, while wide sheets of spray inundated the parapet, and ‘Wagner,’ dripping with salt water, shook like a ship in the grasp of the storm. By this time all the heavy guns were dismounted, disabled or silenced, and only a few gun detachments were at their posts. Passive endurance now only remained for the garrison while the storm lasted. The troops generally sheltered themselves, as best they could, in the bomb-proofs and behind the traverses. But for such protection as was thus afforded, the loss of life would have been appalling, and the garrison practically annihilated. There was one command only which preferred the open air to the almost insufferable heat of the bomb-proof, and sheltered itself only under the parapet and traverses on the land face of the fort during that frightful day. Not one member of that heroic band, officer or man, sought other shelter. In all the flight of time and the records of valor, no example ever transcended their splendid heroism. All honor to the glorious name and deathless fame of ‘Gaillard's Charleston Battalion.’ A little after two o'clock, two deeds of heroism were enacted which will never be forgotten by the lookers on. The halliards were cut by a shot or shell, and the large garrison flag released from the lofty staff fell into the parade. Instantly, and without hesitation, there were a score of men racing for the prostrate colors. Out into the open area they rushed, regardless of the storm of death falling around them. Major Ramsey, Sergeant Shelton and private Flynn of the Charleston battalion, and and Lieutenant Reddick of the Sixty-Third Georgia regiment, bore it back in triumph to the staff, and deliberately adjusted it Up it went again, and amid the cheers of the garrison the Confederate banner again floated defiantly in the smoke of battle. Some little delay occurred in adjusting the flag, and some few moments elapsed during which Wagner showed no colors to the enemy. Supposing that the fort had struck its flag in token of surrender, exultant cheers burst forth from the crew of the ironsides. At that moment [176] Captain Robert Barnwell of the engineers, seized a regimental battle flag, and recklessly leaping upon the exposed ramparts, he drove its staff into the sand, and held it there until the garrison flag had been hoisted in its place. There was one Jasper at Moultrie. There were a score of them at Wagner. In the meantime the city of Charleston was aflame with excitement; the battery, house-tops and steeples were crowded with anxious spectators. Hundreds of fair women were there with hands clasped in silent prayer for the success of their gallant defenders; strong men looked on with throbbing hearts and broke forth into exclamations which expressed their hopes and fears. How can the fort hold out much longer? It has ceased firing altogether! Its battery has been silenced! Yes but see the colors streaming still amid the battle smoke! Suddenly the flag is seen to droop, then rapidly descend. Oh God! was the agonized cry, Wagner has at last struck her colors, and surrendered. Oh! the unspeakable suspense of that moment. Then tumultuous cheers arose from an hundred throats, amid the waiving of snowy handkerchiefs. No! no! they shouted, look! look! it has gone up again, and its crimson cross flashes once more amid shot and shell and battle smoke. What a wonderful power there is in the flag of one's country. How mysterious the influence by which it sways and moves the hearts of men. A distinguished general in the Confederate army, who had been an officer in the old army, was so strongly imbued with the power of this influence over the will of men that he expressed the belief that if the Confederate Government had adhered to the stars and stripes, thousands in the North, who, early in the war were southern sympathizers, would have rallied around it, and thousands, who were actually arrayed against us, would have refused to fire upon it. The colors of an army have carried more strongholds than the bayonet, and battered down more fortresses than artillery. Even in Holy Writ we find the expression ‘As terrible as an army with banners.’ 'Twas the flag that floated again over Wagner which restored confidence in Charleston, and the exultant cry which broke from the lips of these lookers on, was the echo of that hoarser shout in the battle-scarred fort in the midst of the roar of cannon. The banner of the stars and stripes is again the flag of our united country, and long may it wave over the land and the sea, for it is the symbol and emblem of a union never again to be sundered. The Southern heart is true and loyal to that flag, but base is the soul and craven is the heart of him who marched and fought [177] beneath the starry cross of Dixie which will cease to love and honor it. It waived its conquering folds in the smoke of battle at Manassas and Shiloh. It stirred the souls of men with thrilling power in the wild assault upon Cemetery Hill. It floated triumphant amid the roar of cannon at Spottsylvania's bloody salient, and was borne resistless at the head of conquering hosts upon an hundred bloody fields. Though furled forever and no longer existing as an emblem of a brave and heroic people, still we salute thee with love and reverence, oh! phantom banner of that great army underground, which died beneath thy crimson cross.

For though conquered, we adore it,
Love the cold dead hands that bore it.

But I return to the raging battle at Wagner. All day did the furious bombardment continue without intermission. The long midsummer day seemed endless, and the fierce July sun seemed commanded by another Joshua to stand still—would it never set? The wooden tenements in the fort were literally torn into splinters, and the ground bore little trace of where they stood. The fort itself was pounded into an almost shapeless mass; the parapet, traverses, scarp and counter scarp were well nigh obliterated, and the ditch was filled with sand. The covering of the bomb-proof had, to a large extent been torn away, and now the magazine, containing a large quantity of powder, was in imminent danger of being breached by the heavy projectiles hurled incessantly against it, and the immense shells from the Cohorn mortars which, thrown to an incredible altitude, would descend with terrific force now almost upon the yielding and dislocated timbers. The magazine once pierced, Wagner would have been blown to atoms, with not a man surviving to tell the story of its demolition. The reports constantly made to the commanding officer by the ordnance sergeant in charge justified the gravest fears of such a catastrophe. Once, after a report of its condition had been made, this stern old veteran, addressing a member of his staff sitting beside him, quietly asked him if he was a married man. Upon being answered in the affirmative, he shrugged his shoulders and said with a grim smile, ‘I'm sorry, sir, for we shall soon be blown into the marsh.’ Indeed, this result was but the question of a little time, when suddenly, to the infinite relief of the harassed and weary garrison, the blazing circle of the enemy's fleet and batteries ceased to glow with flame. In the language of General [178] Taliaferro, ‘the omnious pause was understood—the supreme moment of that awful day had come.’ Wagner, which could not be conquered by shot and shell, must now be carried by assault. Anticipating that the smaller guns and the light battery would be destroyed or disabled by the bombardment, General Taliaferro had directed them to be dismounted from their carriages and covered with sand-bags, and the sequel proved the wisdom and foresight which suggested it. Again, in order to avoid delay, particular sections of the parapet had been assigned to the respective commands so that they could assemble there, without first forming in the parade of the fort, and thus ensure prompt resistance to the rush upon it which was expected. The enemy believing Wagner to be practically demolished, and its garrison too crippled and demoralized to make other than a feeble resistance, were rapidly forming to-make their grand assault. As soon as the firing had ceased, the buried guns were hastily exhumed and remounted. The Charleston battalion, which had all day nestled under the parapet, were already in their places, and when the order was given to man the ramparts, one regiment alone failed to respond. The bombardment of eleven hours had served to utterly demoralize the Thirty-first North Carolina regiment, and all the efforts of General Taliaferro and his staff to persuade or drive this command from the shelter of the bomb-proofs was unavailing, therefore the southeast bastion and sea front to which it had been assigned was left unguarded. While a faithful narration of facts requires me to note this incident, it gives me pleasure to state that this regiment fully redeemed itself the following year by gallant conduct on the field of battle in Virginia. When the order to man the ramparts rang like a bugle from the stern lips of General Taliaferro all the other commands, officers and men leaped to their feet and rushed out into the parade of the fort. Seeing the dark masses of the Federal infantry rapidly advancing, these veteran Confederates, still undaunted by the experience of that dreadful day, defiantly rending the air with enthusiastic cheers, sprang to their places on the parapet. The Roncevalle's Pass, where fell before the opposing lance the harnessed chivalry of Spain, looked not upon a braver, a better, or a truer band. It was a sight once seen never forgotten. Dropping on their knees, crouching low, their keen eyes glancing along the barrels of their levelled rifles, the whole face of the fort was suddenly transformed into a line of bristling steel, upon which the sinister red glow of the setting sun was falling. The Federal columns, [179] six thousand strong, under the immediate command of Brigadier-General Truman Seymour, were steadily approaching the fort manned by a little more than one thousand three hundred troops. This division of the enemy consisted of three fine brigades. The first, commanded by Brigadier-General Strong, was composed of the Forty eighth New York, the Sixty-sixth Pennsylvania, the Third New Hampshire, the Sixth Connecticut, the Ninth Maine, and the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. The second brigade, commanded by Colonel Putnam, consisted of the Seventh New Hampshire, the One hundredth New York, and the Sixty-second and Sixty-seventh Ohio. The third brigade, led by Brigadier-General Stevenson, consisted of four excellent regiments. These troops were from the Tenth and Thirteenth Army Corps, and were the very flower of the Federal army. The first brigade, commanded by General Strong, led the assault in column of regiments, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, negro regiment recruited in that State, leading the brigade. On they came with a steady tramp until within easy rifle shot of the fort; they had been instructed to use the bayonet only. Not a single shot had yet been fired from the parapet of Wagner, and only the mournful cadence of the waves was heard breaking upon the beach. The stillness was ominous and oppressive. Then came a few stirring words, addressed by the Federal officers to the troops; they responded with loud and prolonged huzzar, and, breaking into a full run, they rushed gallantly upon the fort. Wagner, which up to that moment seemed to the Federals to be almost without life, was suddenly lit up with a sheet of flame from bastion to bastion. The deepening twilight was illumined by the irruptive flashes of the small arms, and the dark parapet of Wagner was decorated by a glowing fringe of fire. The rattle and crash of thirteen hundred rifles was deafening, and the guns of the gallant Simkins, the light battery of De Pass on the left, and a howitzer outside and on the right flank of the fort added to the roar and clamor. These guns, heavily charged with canister and grape, poured at short range a withering and destructive fire upon the crowded masses of the enemy. The carnage was frightful; yet with unsurpassed gallantry, splendid to behold, the intrepid assailants, breasting the storm, rushed on to the glacis of the fort like the waves of the sea which broke upon the shore. Oh! the sickening harvest of death then reaped. Like the ripe grain that falls beneath the sickle, the Federal infantry reeled and sank to the earth by hundreds, yet the survivors pressed on over the dead and [180] dying. Many crossed the ditch, and some leaping upon the parapet met death at the very muzzles of the Confederate rifles. The Federal commander either did not remember the existence of the creek upon the right flank of the fort, or did not estimate the short distance between it and the sea at this point; therefore, as the assaulting columns pressed forward, they became crowded into masses which created confusion and greatly augmented the loss of life. Human courage could no longer withstand the frightful blasts of the artillery, which, handled by Simkins with consummate skill and rapidity, well nigh blew them to pieces. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, leaving half their number killed and wounded on the field, broke and fled in confusion, and falling upon and forcing their way through the ranks of the advancing column threw it into confusion, and the entire brigade rushed to the rear completely routed. The loss of life was terrible; the brigade commander, General Strong and Colonel Chatfield, of the Sixth Connecticut, were mortally wounded; Colonel Shaw, of the Fifty-fourth Masachusetts, was killed outright, besides large numbers of other officers killed and wounded. In the meantime the Confederate fire was incessant and destructive, and a general repulse seemed so imminent that General Seymour saw the necessity of immediate support, and he accordingly dispatched Major Plympton of his staff to order up Putnam with his supporting brigade. To his amazement Putnam positively refused to advance, claiming that he had been directed by General Gilmore to remain where he was. Finally, after a disastrous delay, and without orders, says General Seymour, this gallant young officer, who could not stand idly by and see his class mates and intimate friends cut to pieces, led forward his brigade and fiercely assaulted the southeast angle of the fort. He was received with a galling fire for the first brigade having been repulsed, his approach was enfiladed by the centre and both flanks of the fort, which swept the glacis and ditch in front of that angle with terrible effect. It will be remembered that this southeast bastion had been left unguarded by the failure of the Thirty-first North Carolina to man the ramparts there. Notwithstanding the withering fire with which he was received, this intrepid officer crossed the ditch, which had become filled with sand, and several hundred of his brigade poured into the southeast bastion. Heavily traversed on three sides this salient secured to these troops a safe lodgement for a time. Seeing the advantage gained by Putnam, General Seymour had just sent an order to General Stevenson [181] to advance with his brigade to his support, when he also was shot down. While being carried from the field he repeated the order to General Stevenson, but for some reason it was not obeyed. Meanwhile Colonel Putnam had leaped upon the parapet, and, surrounded by his chief officers, Colonel Dandy, of the One hundredth New York; Captain Klein, of the Sixth Connecticut and others, was waving his sword and urging his men to hold their ground, as they would soon be re-inforced, when he was shot dead upon the parapet. In the language of his division commander, ‘There fell as brave a soldier, as courteous a gentleman, as true a man as ever walked beneath the stars and stripes.’ An officer of his staff, Lieutenant Cate, of the Seventh New Hampshire, seeing his chief fall, sprang to his side to aid him, when a bullet pierced his heart and he too fell dead across his prostrate body. Putnam's brigade now having also been repulsed with great slaughter, the enemy abandoned all further effort to carry the fort, and thus ended this memorable bombardment and bloody assault. The enemy's columns, shattered and torn, retreated as rapidly as possible until they gained the shelter of their works. There was no cessation, however, of the Confederate fire during this rush to the rear, and Sumter and Gregg also threw their shells over Wagner into the crowded masses of the discomfited enemy. In the meantime the Federal troops in the southeast bastion of the fort were hopelessly cut off from retreat. In the language of General Taliaferro, ‘it was certain death to pass the line of concentrated fire which still swept the faces of the work behind them, and they did not attempt it. Still these resolute men would no surrender and poured a concentrated fire into the Confederate ranks. Volunteers were called for to dislodge them, and this summons was responded to by Major McDonald, of the Fifty-First North Carolina Captain Rion, of the Charleston battalion, and Captain Tatem, of the First South Carolina, followed by many of their men.’ Rion and Tatem were shot dead by these desperate refugees, who seemed to invite immolation. Being securely sheltered in the bastion of the fort by heavy traverses, the effort to dislodge them failed, and for hours they held their position. Finally, Brigadier-General Johnson Hagood, of South Carolina, late Governor of that State, and one of the most heroic soldiers that she ever sent to battle, landed at Cumming's Point at the head of Harrison's splendid regiment, the Thirty-second Georgia, for the purpose of reinforcing the garrison. [182] Hurrying to the fort he found the assault repulsed, but he arrived at an opportune moment to compel the surrender of the obstinate men in the salient, who, seeing themselves outnumbered, and with no hope of escape, laid down their arms. The engagement had ended in a bloody and disastrous repulse to the assailants, and the ground in front of Wagner was literally strewn with the dead and dying. The cries of anguish and the piteous calls for water will never be forgotten by those who heard them. The Federal loss, considering the numbers engaged, was almost unprecedented. General Beauregard, in his official report, estimates it at three thousand, as eight hundred dead bodies were buried by the Confederates in front of Wagner the following morning. If this is a correct estimate, it will be seen that the Federals lost twice as many men as there were troops in the Confederate garrison. Among their killed were Colonel R. G. Shaw of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, Colonel H. S. Putnam and Lieutenant-Colonel Greene, of the Seventh New Hampshire. Brigadier-General G. C. Strong and Colonel J. L. Chatfield, of the Sixth Connecticut, were mortally wounded; BrigadierGene-ral Seymour, commanding, Colonels W. B. Barton, A. C. Voris, J. H. Jackson and S. Emory, were among the wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Bedell, Third New Hampshire, and Major Filler, Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, were among the prisoners. The Confederate loss in killed and wounded was only one hundred and seventy-four, but the loss on both sides was unusually heavy in commissioned officers. Among the Confederate officers killed were Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Simkins, First South Carolina infantry, Captain W. H. Rion, Charleston battalion, Captain W. T. Tatem, First South Carolina infantry, and Lieutenant G. W. Thomson, Fifty—First North Carolina. The gallant Major Ramsey, of the Charleston battalion, was mortally wounded. Among the wounded were Captains De Pass, Twiggs and Lieutenant Stoney of the staff. It is said that ‘the bravest are the gentlest and the loving are the daring.’ This was eminently true of that accomplished gentleman and splendid soldier, Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Simkins, of Edgefield, South Carolina. As chief of artillery, he had directed its operations with conspicuous skill and coolness, and he frequently mounted the parapet during the assault to encourage the infantry. He fell pierced through the right lung with a Minie ball, and died by my side with his hand clasped in mine. To me he gave his dying message to his wife, and long afterwards [183] I found an opportunity to discharge this sad duty in person. Mrs. Simkins was the accomplished daughter of Judge Wardlaw, of South Carolina, and not long since she joined her heroic husband in rest eternal beyond the stars. The limit of this address would be far exceeded to give any account of the operations which for forty-eight days were incessantly prosecuted for the reduction of this indomitable battery. Suffice it to say, that it was never reduced by artillery or captured by assault, and was finally evacuated on the night of the 6th of September, 1863, after the Federals, resorting to the science of engineering, had pushed their sap to its counterscarp and were about to blow up the work with gunpowder. In alluding to the defence of Charleston the Rev. John Johnson, of that city, who was a gallant officer and the distinguished chief of engineers at Fort Sumter, in the conclusion of his admirable work entitled ‘The Defence of Charleston Harbor,’ from which I have drawn much valuable data in the preparation of this address, says: ‘It did not end in triumph, but it has left behind a setting glory as of the western skies, a blazonry of heroism, where gold and purple serve to tell of valor and endurance, and the crimson hue is emblem of self-sacrifice in a cause believed to be just.’

No sting is left in the soldier heart of the South for the brave men who fought us. The great Captain and Lord of Hosts, who guides the destiny of men and nations, directed the result of the struggle, and made the Union of the North and South indissoluble. Thus united, this great country which, in its marvelous development of progress, power and wealth, has startled the world, is yet destined to compass inconceivable possibilities of achievement in its onward march in the race of nations. Let us, therefore, accept, like a brave and patriotic people, the result of this great war between the States. Let us bow with reverence to that Divinity which shaped it. Let us rejoice in the peace and prosperity which has followed it. Let us give our hands and hearts in cordial friendship and greeting to the gallant boys who once wore the blue. Let us forgive them more freely, because time has made them like ourselves at last—the wearers of the gray. But comrades, let us never cease to honor and revere the martyred heroes who died in a cause they believed to be just.

Forgive and forget? Yes, be it so
     From the hills to the broad sea waves;
But mournful and low are the winds that blow
     By the slopes of a thousand graves.

[184] We may scourge from the spirit all thought of ill
     In the midnight of grief held fast,
And yet, oh Brothers, be loyal still
     To the sacred and stainless Past.

She is glancing now from the vapor and cloud,
     From the waning mansion of Mars,
And the pride of her beauty is wanly bowed,
     And her eyes are misted stars.

And she speaks in a voice that is sad as death,
     “There is duty still to be done,
Thoa the trumpet of onset has spent its breath,
     And the battle been lost and won.”

And she points with a trembling hand below,
     To the wasted and worn array
Of the heroes who strove in the morning glow
     For the grandeur that crowned “the Grey.”

Oh God! they come not as once they came
     In the magical years of yore;
For the trenchant sword and soul of flame
     Shall quiver and flash no more.

Alas! for the broken and battered hosts:
     Frail wrecks from a gory sea;
Though pale as a band in the realm of ghosts,
     Salute them. They fought with Lee.

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