previous next

The siege of Charleston — a Hopeless Yankee account of it.

The New York Times has a long editorial upon the siege of Charleston which is exceedingly cheerful reading to the Confederate public. We copy it entire:

‘ For several months the advices from the vicinity of Charleston have uniformly been to the effect that we should soon have the gratification of announcing its fall; that Fort Sumter was battered to pieces, and must surrender without delay; and the public heart has been made sick with deferred hope, until now it has ceased to believe any predictions of the capture or demolition of Charleston.

Fort Sumter, we will venture to say, will not be taken by the present line of approach and mode of operation. And what military object is to be gained by its capture? We already perfectly command the entrance to the harbor, so that blockade-running has entirely ceased; we could command it no better were Sumter in our possession. Nor, if captured, would it be practicable to put there the heavy guns that would be needed to operate upon Charleston; for they could not well be transported to the ruin and mounted, under the fire of the numerous rebel batteries that line Sullivan's Island and Fort Johnson. Even if guns were successfully placed in position, we should be but five hundred yards nigher the city than now; and Parrott rifles throw into it with perfect ease from Cummings's Point, where they are already established. Nor does it seem that Sumter can be so easily taken as some have thought.--Not only are Port Johnson and the works on Sullivan's Island armed with very heavy batteries, but the shores of the city and even its wharves are mounted with the heaviest guns in possession of the Confederates. Against these the army has no power whatever to act. One assault has already been made upon the ruin with very unsatisfactory results — the whole party fell into a decided trap, and any other would probably share the same fate. Although harmless for the offence, it still has resistive power of a very strong character. The lower tier of casemates cannot be destroyed; for the rubbish of the upper tiers of the work have so covered them that even the heaviest shell have no power to penetrate to them. A few men, comparatively, can still so shelter themselves that no assailing party can find cover from their deadly, because close, fire, and artillery fire added to this would make the ruins of Sumter but little safer than the crater of a volcano. Success in an assault is therefore very doubtful, and it would be folly to run the exceeding risk of a failure when success can give no decided military advantage. We may chafe and fret because our flag is not hoisted over those battered walls; but disaster would annoy and damage us more, and assuredly the dictates of public opinion and feeling should not be followed when likely to lead to grief.

The further progress of operations in the harbor is now, as before, a question for the monitors. It was intended that they should pass these batteries — If they have not done so, certainly no fault can be found with Gen. Gillmore for the failure.--And we do not believe that the monitors will undertake this task. The delays that have ensued since Sumter was deprived of its teeth seem to indicate that the future gives no promise of better fruition than the past. Let it be repeated — we doubt whether the monitors will attempt to run the gauntlet into Charleston harbor. All they can accomplish will be to burn Charleston; they cannot destroy the batteries that defend it, but they can burn the city — and Gen. Gillmore can certainly do that from Cummings's Point, without exposing our Iron-clads to the prospect of loss. In fact, the blockade of Charleston harbor being perfect, any other game is not worth the powder, and the public may as well cease to expect any news of any such success as it has been led to hope for.

And why should Charleston be burned? What military advantage would we gain by burning that abominable rebel city? Unless we can take possession of the ground on which it stands, we achieve or acquire nothing by its destruction. For assuredly in no case could we be guilty of any such atrocity as that recently perpetrated by the English against the unprojected Japanese city of Kagosima — where, merely to glut a wild and lavage lust for vengeance, they suddenly opened their artillery upon, and battered or burned to the ground, a city of 150,000 inhabitants. Charleston is now probably about deserted of its population, and were a bombardment necessary it would result in a very limited loss of life; but even as regards property we shall to the end carry on this was with a forbearance and magnanimity unparalleled in the annals of the world's wars.

When the batteries that surround it are destroyed then Charleston will be surrendered; but to expect that the harbor and all the strong works around it, and the command of the indispensable railroads that centre at Charleston, will be given up to save the city, or will be yielded less readily after its destruction, is an idle and unfounded expectation.--When a part of the great military advantages now held by the Confederates shall have been won by and transferred to us, then the safety of Charleston may be bartered for the remainder. Until then let us wait patiently, particularly as there is no reasonable prospect of our impatience hastening the end for which we have so long and so vainly looked.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Gillmore (2)
Sullivan (1)
Cummings (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: