Evacuation of Morris Islandend of the Contest for battery Wagner--Frightful bombardment — evacuation of Morris Island by our troops.
The Charleston Mercury, of Monday, furnishes us with an interesting account of the evacuation of Morris Island and the terrific bombardment preceding it.--On Friday at dawn a large United States flag was discovered flaunting from a work of the enemy within 150 yards of Wagner. About 5 o'clock the enemy opened fire from their land works and the Ironsides on the fort, and during the day advanced their parallels a short distance from their main approach. The Mercury says: ‘ At 3 o'clock on Saturday the enemy again opened upon Wagner from all their land batteries, assisted by the Ironsides, several gunboats, and an occasional shot from the monitors. This bombardment — beyond all doubt the most fierce and long continued which has taken place against Wagner since the beginning of the siege — lasted throughout Saturday and Saturday night, and did not abate until Sunday morning at 8 o'clock. Nor was this abatement of much duration. The fire was soon renewed, and was continued with little less vigor all Sunday, the Ironsides — which maintained a position between Gregg and Wagner, and kept shelling Wagner and the beach — being especially active. ’ It was on Saturday night, however, and on Sunday morning up to 8 A. M., that the bombardment raged with its greatest fury. The shots — many of them coming together, as from the broadside of a ship — were often more than sixty to the minute. Our batteries on James Island of course joined in the melee, and did their utmost to annoy the enemy's land batteries.
Attempt to assault in barges.The bombardment of Wagner was not the only event of Saturday night. About 10 o'clock the enemy displayed from the deck of a monitor off Morris Island an immense calcium light, and several monitors soon after moved up and opened on battery Gregg. Moultrie and Gregg replied with spirit. At a quarter to two a rocket was thrown up, and ere many minutes elapsed the enemy were descried approaching Morris Island at a point between Gregg and Wagner. They had come down in barges through the creek west of Morris Island, obviously with the design of assaulting Gregg in the rear. Advancing in line of battle they were permitted to come very near, when a 9 inch Dahlgren opened upon them at short range with double canister. Our howitzers then commenced a fire of shrapnel and canister, while our infantry, admirably posted, poured into them a fire of musketry. Moultrie, battery Bee, and battery Mitchell also opened upon them a rapid and most demoralizing fire. This they could not withstand, and though for a very short while they maintained a fire of musketry and grape shot from their barges, they were soon forced to withdraw, seemingly much surprised, and confused by their reception and our admirable disposition. It is said that a few gained the shore, but these soon scampered to their boats, so that no prisoners were taken. The loss inflicted upon the enemy in this baffled attempt at an assault was probably not inconsiderable, but as all who were struck fell in the boats the extent of that loss is of course unknown. Some bodies were found which floated ashore.
The scene in Charleston harbor.It is almost impossible to describe the terrible beauty of the scene in Charleston harbor as witnessed on Saturday night from the city. From Moultrie almost to Secessionville, a whole semicircle of the horizon was lit up by incessant flashes from cannon and shell. As peal on peal of artillery rolled across the waters, one could scarcely resist the belief that not less than a thousand great guns were in action. It was a grand chorus of hell, in which Moloch might have assisted and over which Soton might have presided. all this went on beneath a waning September moon, which, with its warm Southern light, mellowed by a somewhat misty atmosphere, brought out softly, yet distinctly, the most distant outlines of the harbor. The loss at Wagner during this awful bombardment was considerable. Up to 8 o'clock on Sunday it amounted to one hundred and fifty in killed and wounded. Probably many more were added to these casualties in the course of the day. At Gregg there were but eight casualties on Saturday night during the skirmish with the barges. Among them was a Captain of the 27th Georgia Volunteers. Under cover of their ceaseless fire the Yankees had approached on Sunday within forty yards of Wagner. During the bombardment of Friday last the brave and zealous Major Warley was wounded at Wagner by the fragment of a shell. He was struck on the ankle, and the wound is said not to be severe. About 9 o'clock P. M. of that day he was put into a barge — the Leo, belonging to Gen. Ripley--to be brought to the city. Of this barge, with its gallant freight, and of its crew, which was made up of white men, nothing has been heard up to the present moment. The inference is that it was captured, with all on board, by a reconnoitering party of the enemy, whose small boats nightly patrol the waters between Morris Island and Fort Johnson. Col. Rhett's boat, returning from Morris Island to Charleston Saturday night, with Lieut. Jones, passed between several of these prowlers, and was not fired on, probably on account of the contemplated attack on Gregg.
Firing on a flag of truce.On Sunday Commander A. F. Warley went down in the Juno, under a flag of truce, to carry certain dispatches, and also with the purpose of discovering the fate of the missing officer. He was fired on fourteen times, but came to anchor under fire, and was met by Ensign Porter. This officer replied to the Commander's inquiries "that he had been away" on Friday night, and that though he had heard that there had been a capture he was not aware whether Major Warley was among the prisoners or not. He added that he would inquire, and if Major Warley was a captive he would inform the Commander when the dispatches were answered. No reply has yet been received. It will scarcely be believed (though what would not one believe of a Yankee?) that the shore batteries fired for some time on the Juno, utterly regardless of her flag of truce. Eight shots were directed at her, even after she had come to an anchor, with the white ensign of peace at her fore. Nor did they fire badly. Several shots passed through her rigging, a few dashed the spray into the faces of the crew, and not one passed more than five steps from the ship.
Evacuation of Morris Island.To sum up the events through which we have just passed, battery Wagner has been subjected during the last three days and nights to the most terrific fire that any earthwork has undergone in all the annals of warfare. The immense descending force of the enormous Parrott and mortar shells of the enemy had nearly laid the wood work of the bombproof entirely bare, and had displaced the sand to so great a degree that the sally-ports are almost entirely blocked up. The parallels of the enemy yesterday afternoon had been pushed up to the very month of battery Wagner, and it was no longer possible to distinguish our fire from that of the enemy. During the entire afternoon the enemy shelled the sand hills in the rear of battery Wagner (where our wounded lay) very vigorously. Under these circumstances, and in view of the difficulties of communication with Cumming's Point, the impossibility of longer holding Morris Island became apparent, and it was determined that strenuous efforts should be made at once to release the brave garrison of the Island, who seemed to be almost within the enemy's grasp. This desirable result was accomplished with the most commendable promptitude and success. At about 6 o'clock yesterday afternoon the orders for the evacuation were delivered to Col. Keith, commanding our forces on the island. Everything was at once made ready for the abandonment of batteries Wagner and Gregg. The dead were buried, and at nightfall the wounded were carefully removed in barges to Fort Johnson. The guns, which, for so many weeks had held the foe at bay, were double shotted, fired, and spiked; the heavier pieces were dismounted, and the carriages rendered worthless. The preliminary preparations being thus completed, the work of embarkation was noiselessly begun, and the brave men of the garrison, in forty barges, were soon gliding from the beach they had held so stoutly and so long. The evacuation was conducted by Col. Keith, assisted by Major Bryan, A. A. G., and the success with which what has always been considered one of the most difficult feats of warfare has been performed, is worthy of the highest praise. Batteries Gregg and Wagner had both been carefully mined, with a view to blowing them up. It was about one o'clock this morning when the last three boats — containing Col. Keith and a number of his officers — left the island. The slow match was lighted by Capt. Huguenin at Wagner, and by Capt. Lesesne at Gregg; but, owing to some defect in the fuses, no explosion took place at either fort. During the evacuation the enemy was not idle. A constant fire of shell was kept up against Wagner, and his howitzer barges were busily plying about this side of Morris Island to prevent the retreat of our men.--But fortunately the night was murky, and all our barges, with the exception of one, containing about twelve or fifteen men, passed in safety. A little before three o'clock this morning the following was received from Major Elliott, commanding Fort Sumter:
Fort Sumter, Sept. 7--2.40 A. M.All the garrison of Morris Island who came here have been shipped. Lieut. Haskell's boat, from the Chicora, was captured by a Yankee barge. Two of the crew came to Fort Sumter and reported that all our troops had left the Island.