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Chapter 31:


No sooner had the enemy been foiled in his naval attack on Fort Sumter (April 7th) than the depletion of General Beauregard's active forces was begun. Cooke's and Clingman's commands were returned to North Carolina; and, early in May, two brigades of infantry, numbering more than 5000 men, with two batteries of light artillery, were sent, by order of the War Department, to reinforce General Joseph E. Johnston at Jackson, Mississippi. Again, on the 10th of May, a telegram was received from the Secretary of War, directing that 5000 more men should be hurried to the assistance of General Pemberton, at Vicksburg. This injudicious measure, the execution of which would have left General Beauregard with hardly any troops in his Department, stung him to an earnest remonstrance, as is shown by the following letter: [82]

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., May 11th, 1863.
Hon. J. A. Seddon, Secretary of War, Richmond:
Sir,—This morning, as clearly as it could be done in the space of a telegram, I sought to lay before you the military condition in which this Department would be left, after the execution of your orders of yesterday, directing me to send another division of 5000 men out of it to Lieutenant-General Pemberton.

In view, however, of the grave consequences that may follow, I deem it not only in place, but my duty, to lay before the War Department, in precise terms, my views touching the removal, at this juncture, of so large a force.

As soon as the enemy had withdrawn his ironclad ships from before this harbor, and materially reduced his land-forces in this immediate vicinity, on the requisition of the Commanding General in North Carolina, I returned Cooke's brigade of North Carolina troops to Wilmington, and sent Clingman's brigade there, in exchange for Evans's.

A week ago, under your orders, I put in motion for Jackson, Miss., two brigades, under Brigadier-Generals Gist and W. H. T. Walker, the former commanding South Carolina, and the latter Georgia, regiments-somewhat over 5000 infantry in all, and two light batteries of the best class in the Department.

Your orders have been based, apparently, on the conviction that the troops of the enemy, assembled in this Department for operations against Charleston, have been mainly withdrawn and diverted to other expeditions in North Carolina and the Valley of the Mississippi. This conviction I regret that I cannot share, as I am satisfied, from the reports of District Commanders, and from other reasons, that there has been really but little reduction of the command of Major-General Hunter.

General Walker, commanding at Pocotaligo, reports that, on yesterday, the outposts of the enemy in his front had been much increased in strength. General Hagood reports them to be occupying Seabrook's Island, with at least 2500 infantry. They are erecting fortifications at that point, as also on Folly Island, which is likewise still occupied in force.

Five of the monitors remain in the North Edisto, with some twenty gunboats and transports. With these and the transports still in the waters of Port Royal, and the forces which I am unable to doubt are still at the disposition of the enemy, he may renew the attack by land and water on Charleston at any moment. Acting on the offensive, and commanding the time of attack, he could simultaneously call troops here from North Carolina, and sooner than my command could possibly be reinforced from any quarter out of the Department.

To meet or resist any land attack there would be available, in the First Military District:

Heavy and light artillery2,905
Total effective force5,355


Line of Savannah Railroad, Second and Third Military Districts.
Heavy and light artillery772
In District of Georgia.
Heavy and light artillery2,539

That is—

Total of infantry3,929
Total effectives15,023

This force, if concentrated at either Charleston or Savannah for a certain period, could, doubtless, make a stout defence; but if kept distributed in occupation of the important points, districts, and positions now held from Georgetown, S. C., to Florida, would offer but feeble resistance to any serious attack of the enemy.

If it be the irrevocable determination of the War Department that this command shall be thus reduced, I can but make such disposition of the remnant of my forces as may appear best calculated to conceal my weakness. With my cavalry I shall make a show of occupation of the Second and Third Military Districts, and the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad; but it must not be lost sight of that my communications with Savannah can be cut by the enemy, without the use of a large force, whenever he may choose to attempt it; and when that is done he will get possession of a large extent of rich rice lands and large stores of rice, not yet brought to market, which would be a heavy loss. Furthermore, it were then but a simple and easy military operation for a column—not a large one—to penetrate to Branchville, not more than thirty-five miles distant from Pocotaligo, and thus entirely interrupt my communications with the interior, as a glance at the map will show.

The sickly season on this coast will begin in about six weeks; then a small reduction of the infantry might take place. It was so late as the 16th of June last year that the enemy made his attack at Secessionville, on James Island— so nearly successful—and which, with success, would have placed Charleston at his mercy, despite the harbor defences.

It is proper to add here that the day before your order to detach the last division was received I had organized and put in motion an expedition against the enemy, on Seabrook Island, in support of a naval operation, the object of which is to destroy the ironclads, with the torpedo-boat contrivance of Captain Lee. The naval expedition, under Lieutenant Parker, supported by some troops, will nevertheless be attempted; but I was reluctantly obliged to recall the infantry with which I hoped to effect the surprise and capture [84] of the enemy on land, in the confusion which, it was hoped, would result from the attack with torpedoes.

I must respectfully ask your attention to the paper herewith, marked “A,” exhibiting the force, of all arms, that will be left me after the execution of your orders, and that in the Department this time last year.

You will perceive that I shall be left with 12,664 men, of all arms less than at the same period last year, when the force of the enemy was less threatening in his positions than now; that my infantry force for the same duty was 6462, leaving the lines on James Island virtually without infantry support, and open to seizure, and resulting in the inevitable fall of Charleston.

In conclusion, I must observe that the troops in the works cannot be withdrawn from their guns and concentrated for defence of any threatened point. They are already at a minimum force for the proper service of the batteries, and to withdraw them, here or at Savannah, involves the surrender of the work so abandoned, and, in ultimate effect, the failure of the whole defence.

Finally, it may as well be considered that the enemy will be speedily acquainted with the extent of these reductions, and that he will act accordingly.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

The War Department was thus fortunately checked in the suicidal course it was then about to follow; and the reduced force under General Beauregard, so evidently inadequate in view of the menacing attitude of the enemy at and around Charleston, was left to him.

General Beauregard's incessant labors did not prevent him from turning his attention to the military operations in other parts of the Confederacy, and notably in the West, where he thought that General Joseph E. Johnston, then at Jackson, Mississippi, by concentrating his own and other forces not actively engaged at the time, could inaugurate a vigorous and successful campaign into Tennessee and Kentucky. His views to that effect are contained in the following letter, which will, doubtless, be read with interest. The strategy preferred by the President was to send General Lee on his ruinous invasion of Pennsylvania:1

Headquarters, Department S. C. And Fla., Charleston, S. C., May 15th, 1863.
General Jos. E. Johnston, Comdg., etc., Jackson, Miss.:
Dear General,—I am sure you will appreciate the motives which induce me to offer for your consideration the following general views on the coming [85] summer campaign, which, if they coincide with your own, might be, if not already done, submitted by you to the War Department.

Certainly the surest way to relieve the State of Mississippi and the Valley of the Mississippi from the presence of the enemy's army is suddenly and boldly to take the offensive in Tennessee and Kentucky, for which purpose all available forces (from other commands held strictly on the defensive) should be concentrated under you, and the forces now in Tennessee, being reinforced by 25,000 or 30,000 men, at the most favorable strategic point for the offensive, Rosecrans could be suddenly attacked, and would be either totally destroyed or the remnant of his forces would be speedily driven beyond the Ohio. A force of at least 10,000 men in Tennessee, and 20,000 in Kentucky, would, doubtless, then be raised, and, with about 20,000 of the reinforcements received from Virginia and elsewhere, could be left to hold those two States. The rest of the army, say about 60,000 or 70,000 men, should cross the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, to Columbus or Fort Pillow, so as to command the Mississippi River, and thus cut off Grant's communications with the North. The latter officer (should he have delayed thus long his retreat north of these two points) would then find himself in a very critical condition—that is, compelled to fight his way through a victorious army equal to his own in strength, on its own selected battle-field, in position to be reinforced for the occasion from the forces left in Kentucky—and the result could not be doubtful for an instant. As a matter of course, advantage would be taken of the low stage of water in the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers to obstruct thoroughly their navigation and fortify their banks strongly, at the point where they come close together, known as the “Neck.” Immediately after the destruction of Grant's army, sufficient forces could be thrown from the army in Mississippi into Louisiana, in aid of Kirby Smith, and into Missouri to the assistance of Price, or from Kentucky into Virginia, to reinforce the troops left there, should they be hard-pressed; but that is not to be dreaded, considering the terrible lesson the enemy has just had at Chancellorsville, and that a large portion of his army is to be disbanded during the present month, to be replaced, if at all, by new Yankee recruits.

Meanwhile a sufficient number of Captain F. D. Lee's torpedo-rams could be constructed in England, and the navigation of the Mississippi River resumed, thereby enabling us to retake New Orleans and capture Banks's army.

Wishing you success in your Department, I remain,

Yours very truly, G. T. Beauregard.

Let this plan be contrasted with the disastrous strategy of the campaign into Pennsylvania, terminating in the fatal battle of Gettysburg. The battle of Chancellorsville had secured for some time the safety of Richmond. The people of the North were tired of the war and, until this invasion, the Northern army could not be recruited. The Governors of some States, notably Governor Seymour, of New York, had refused more troops. Longstreet, with thirty thousand men of the Army of [86] Northern Virginia, sent to the West, might have successfully aided in recovering Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Mississippi River, and in saving the Confederacy.

On the 1st of June the Chief Quartermaster was informed that all the troops in South Carolina for whom estimates of provisions should be made—that is to say, all troops present, effectives and non-effectives—amounted to ten thousand. Thus was General Beauregard stripped of all his movable forces, and he had henceforth to strengthen one point by uncovering another, whenever he wished to reinforce any position in his Department.

At that time the enemy, no doubt aware of the weakened condition of General Beauregard's command, began making demonstrations in the Third Military District (General Walker's), towards ‘Green Pond.’ Immediate steps were taken to foil his purpose, as may be seen by the various orders and telegrams sent to General Ripley and to the Chief Quartermaster of the Department.2 The timely and judicious dispositions made for the emergency, and the rapid transfer of troops from different parts of the First Military District to the endangered point, showed conclusively that, notwithstanding the many difficulties in his way, General Beauregard maintained serenity of mind. He knew he could count, not only upon the energy and efficiency of his subordinate commanders, but upon the discipline and indomitable spirit of the men under them; and they, too, knew how worthy he was of the confidence reposed in him.

The enemy advanced as far as the Combahee Ferry, burnt the pontoon bridge at that place and the houses on the river-side, and moved up, as if determined to march into the interior. The Federal forces employed on this expedition were mostly colored troops, drawn from General Saxton's command at Beaufort. After pillaging and burning, as they were wont to do, they carried off with them numbers of negro slaves from the adjoining plantations, but went no farther, and withdrew precipitately, without committing additional damage on their way back; nor did they interfere with or cut the line of communication between Charleston and Savannah, a little farther on.

A few days later, on the 12th of June, General Gillmore superseded General Hunter, and assumed command of ‘the [87] Department of the South.’ The Federal forces were then in possession of ‘Folly Island, north of the Stono; Seabrook Island, on the North Edisto; St. Helena Island, Port Royal Island, Hilton Head Island, Tybee Islands, Fort Pulaski, Ossabaw Island, Fort Clinch, and Amelia Island, and the city of St. Augustine.’3 It was fortunate that, shortly afterwards, the new Commanding General, in whose daring and engineering ability the North greatly relied, preferred making his attack by Morris Island, instead of on the broad and weak front of James Island, where he might have penetrated our long, attenuated lines, and taken Charleston in flank and rear. Nothing, then, could have prevented Sumter from falling, for there can be no doubt that General Gillmore would have immediately increased the armament at and around Fort Johnson, and have thus completely commanded the interior harbor. The possession of Charleston and of all the South Carolina sea-coast would have followed as a necessary sequence.

About the middle of June a full and comprehensive letter was forwarded to the War Department by General Beauregard, in answer to a communication from Richmond, dated the 10th, advising him that Northern papers reported the reduction of General Hunter's forces by sending part of them to the Gulf, in which event he was instructed to proceed to Mobile, with such troops as he could spare from his lines, and use his best endeavors to avert the threatened danger at that point. This was an additional cause of anxiety to General Beauregard, for there seemed to be no end to the determination of the Government to withdraw troops from his Department. Nay, more: just at that time General D. H. Hill, commanding in Southeastern Virginia and North Carolina, had also applied for assistance, to guard against an attack which he thought was then threatening him, via Newbern—assistance which, under the circumstances, it was necessary to deny him. We here give General Beauregard's letter. It presented the matter in so strong a light, that the War Department refrained from issuing any order to carry out its first intention:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., June 15th, 1863.
General Samuel Cooper, A. and I. Genl., Richmond, Va.:
General,—Your letter of the 10th was duly received and partially answered [88] by my telegram of the 13th instant. It is now my place to reply by mail at some length.

I am advised in the letter in question that “Northern papers report the reduction of Hunter's forces by sending troops to the Gulf” —in which event I am instructed to proceed to Mobile, “with such force as I can properly withdraw from my defensive line, to resist an attack, if one should be designed on that place;” but if the purpose of the enemy be to send his reinforcements to the Mississippi, I am to go on and “co-operate with General Johnston in that quarter.”

While I shall be glad to contribute my mite to the defence of any part of the Confederate States, and assuredly must be solicitous for the defence of Mobile and the Mississippi Valley, yet, with my view of the situation in this quarter, repeatedly expressed, I cannot now properly withdraw, without a direct order, more than a regiment of cavalry from this Department.

The troops left in this Department at this time (see Field Return of 13th inst.) are 19,863—that is, 6488 nominal infantry, 7329 heavy and light artillery, and 6046 cavalry. This force is stationed as follows: for the garrisons of the works in Charleston Harbor and the defensive lines commanding the immediate approaches to the city, 2606 infantry—of which some four or six companies are actually necessarily doing heavy artillery service in batteries on Sullivan's Island and elsewhere—3767 heavy and light artillery, and 1171 cavalry.

In the works and lines around Savannah are 1888 nominal infantry, 2295 heavy and light artillery, and 1738 cavalry, leaving 984 infantry, 847 light artillery, and 2244 cavalry to hold the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad; and 1010 infantry, 420 light artillery, and 893 cavalry in Florida— now so important for its supplies of subsistence.

Thus, it will be seen, the force in the Department is already at the minimum necessary to hold the works around Charleston and Savannah, constantly menaced by the proximity of the enemy's ironclads. The garrison of no work in the harbor can be withdrawn or diminished, as they are all necessary links in the chain of defence. Reduce the command on James Island, and the enemy may readily penetrate, by such a coup de main as was attempted last year, at the weakened point. James Island would then fall, and, despite our harbor defenses, the City of Charleston would be thrown open to bombardment. It is not safe to leave less than a regiment of infantry on Morris Island, which, if once carried by the enemy, would expose Fort Sumter to be taken in reverse and demolished.

The defective lines of defence adopted and constructed on James Island, after the unfortunate abandonment, last year, of Cole's Island, have made a force of about 11,000 men essential to guard and hold that island against a serious land attack; whereas, had Cole's Island (at the mouth of the Stono) been held, 2500 men would not only have defended James Island, but the enemy would have been excluded from the Stono, and unable to occupy and fortify Folly Island and threaten Morris Island, as is now the case.

Late Northern papers say Admiral Dupont has been relieved in command of the fleet on this coast by Admiral Foote, an officer whose operations in the West evinced much activity and an enterprising spirit. And, even were [89] considerable reductions made in the enemy's forces, the valuable coast districts would still be left a prey to such destructive raids as devastated the Combahee some days ago. Thus far, however, I can see no evidences of reduction. General Hunter was at Hilton Head on the 8th instant; his troops hold the same positions as heretofore, and apparently in the same force—a brigade on Folly, one on Seabrook's Island, and the balance on the islands about Port Royal. One of the monitors is at Hilton Head, and five are still in the North Edisto. Nor has the number of their gunboats or transports diminished, or at any time recently been increased, as must have been the case had a material removal of troops taken place.

While, therefore, I would not on my own responsibility further deplete the force in this Department, of course I shall promptly carry out any orders which the War Department may deem proper to give. As for myself, my earnest desire is to be useful to the utmost extent of my capacities, in any position or command to which it may please the President to assign me; but if left to my own personal preferences, I would desire service in the field, for which I consider myself best fitted by my taste and studies.

I shall observe closely the movements of the enemy at Hilton Head, with a view to ascertaining whether any material reduction of his force has taken or is taking place, which will be promptly reported for the information of the War Department.

I shall also ask General Maury (at Mobile) to keep me advised of the movements of the enemy in his front, and of the means of defence at his disposition, and shall communicate with General Johnston.

I beg to inquire whether, if I go to Mobile, it will form a part of my present Department, or will I be relieved from this command and fall under the orders of General Johnston?

I repeat it, my chief desire is to be useful, and if desired by the War Department, I will cheerfully repair at once, temporarily, to Mobile, examine the works and means of defence there, and advise with General Maury touching them.

I have the honor to be, General, your obdt. servt.,

To this no reply cane from Richmond; but General Beauregard was not sent to Mobile, nor were additional troops withdrawn just then from his lines, to reinforce other parts of the Confederacy. The fact is, the apprehension of the Government as to a threatened movement on Mobile or on the Mississippi River (we refer to June 10th, 1863) was justified by no trustworthy information, and only exemplified once more the injudicious interference of the Administration with generals in the field or at the head of Departments upon matters about which it could have no positive knowledge. General Maury, who had been written to by General Beauregard concerning the fears entertained about his command, in his answer of the 20th said: [90]

I have taken the best means in my power to procure early information of the enemy's movements, with reinforcements, up the Mississippi. I cannot hear of any. I am satisfied none have gone in that river, unless within the past two or three days. I can perceive no indications of an attack from any forces near here.

‘I believe that for two weeks New Orleans has been left entirely without means of defence, and is so now.’

The defective lines of James Island had always been a matter of great concern to General Beauregard; especially was this the case now that his forces were so much reduced by the drafts made on him for the assistance of Generals Johnston and Pemberton, in Mississippi. It was about this time (June 23d) that a communication from Colonel Simonton, commanding part of the lines on James Island, recommending a ten-gun battery at Dr. Thomas Grimball's, on the Stono, was received at Department Headquarters. It had been approved and forwarded by the Commander of the First Military District. General Beauregard felt compelled, nevertheless, to decline acceding to the suggestion made, as will be shown by the official answer sent to General Ripley, and through him to Colonel Simonton:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., June 23d, 1863.
General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—I am instructed to communicate for your information the following indorsement of the Commanding General on the communication of Colonel Simonton of the 9th, and of Captain F. D. Blake of the 6th instant:

“The project of a small battery, armed with ten guns, at Grimball's, on the Stono,” cannot be approved for these reasons:

1st. It would not prevent the passage up the river of monitors by day, and of gunboats and even transports by night.

2d. It would not prevent the landing of troops at Battery Island and at Legare's, via Folly River Creek, which could then take in rear the isolated battery at Grimball's.

3d. It could then be silenced in a few hours by batteries on the opposite shore of the Stono, assisted by monitors and gunboats in the river.

I have had for some time in contemplation a dispersive line from Legare's to Grimball's, with a strong work at the latter, a battery at the former, and a system of lines in rear of Battery Island. I would have, also, at the latter point an outwork for infantry, to prevent its occupation by the enemy; but the want of labor and the hope of regaining possession of Coles Island have delayed the execution of that project.

When Coles Island was abandoned the work at Battery Island should [91] have been strengthened, and its armament increased in quantity and quality; obstructions should also have been put in the river under the guns of the work, and a battery at Legare's should have been located to guard the approach via Folly River Creek. This short line of works would have dispensed entirely with the long, weak, and expensive system adopted for the defence of James Island.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

On the 27th General Beauregard again called on the War Department for heavy guns, and asked leave to borrow two Brooke 32-pounders, intended for Vicksburg, and lying idle on the wharf at Mobile. From the fact that General Gillmore was then in command of the Federal troops around Charleston he inferred that another and a more serious attack would soon be made. A force of some six regiments, he stated, was in possession of Folly Island, under Brigadier-General Vogdes, an officer of the old service, of known ability, who had been stationed at Fort; Moultrie before the war, and had already figured against General Bragg at Pensacola in its beginning.

On the 4th of July a long and elaborate communication, relative to the laws of civilized warfare, was addressed by General Beauregard to General Gillmore, with a view to prevent the useless destruction of the property of non-combatants, which had seemed to be the practice of his predecessor.

The paper we here refer to4 produced very little effect on General Gillmore. He continued the system of depredations denounced by his adversary, which subsequently called from the latter a telegram to Colonel William Porcher Miles, Chairman of the Military Committee in the Lower House of Congress, suggesting that henceforth no quarter should be given to such depredators, erroneously called ‘prisoners of war.’ This telegram created a sensation when first published, after the war. Its real purport was evidently misunderstood. It contained no explanation of the reasons governing General Beauregard, nor did it show that, on more than one occasion previously, the subject had been thoroughly discussed between himself and Colonel Miles. And it is but just to remark, that General Beauregard's treatment of prisoners throughout the war showed how kindly disposed he was [92] towards them, especially as regards surgeons and ministers of the Gospel, whom he refused, both at Manassas and Shiloh, to keep as prisoners. We must say, however, that his views in that respect were never reciprocated by the Federal commanders opposed to him, and he was therefore compelled, though reluctantly, to treat Federal surgeons and Federal ministers as ours were treated by the enemy—in other words, to look upon them in the light of ordinary prisoners of war.

The following incidents corroborate what is here alleged of General Beauregard's feelings in regard to prisoners:

1. After the capture of part of the Federal naval party which attacked Fort Sumter on the night of September 8th, the officers and men who fell into our hands on that occasion—one hundred and seventeen—made petition to the Commanding General for clothing, blankets, and shoes. Their application was sent, under flag of truce,5 to Admiral Dahlgren, with a message informing him and likewise General Gillmore (for some few of the latter's troops were also held as prisoners) that General Beauregard would gladly distribute to all of them any supplies that might be forwarded from the enemy's lines. Admiral Dahlgren took advantage at once of the privilege thus afforded him to help his men; but not so with General Gillmore, who abstained from even acknowledging the courtesy extended to him.

2. The other incident referred to is explained by the following letter of General Beauregard to Colonel Branch, dated Charleston, July 18th, 1863:

Colonel,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 16th inst., proposing that the portion of Morris Island now occupied by the enemy, after it shall have been retaken, might be held and fortified by exposing our prisoners to the enemy's fire.

In reply the Commanding General directs me to say, that it is not considered in accordance with the usages of war to use prisoners as a means of defence or protection.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

We now submit a letter to the Hon. Charles Macbeth, the Mayor of Charleston, dated July 9th, which needs no comment:

Sir,—The papers herewith will show you that an attack is impending on the Morris Island outworks, so necessary to the defence of the city. An [93] indispensable battery, in case of an attack by land on that island, remains unfinished, adequate labor not having been supplied by the State authorities. Cannot labor be furnished in the emergency from the class of free negroes in this city, as on occasion in Virginia, and also from the slaves of the vicinage? Material results may be achieved, even at this late hour, by the application of a sufficient labor force, energetically handled.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th of July considerable activity prevailed among the Federal forces on Folly Island. The foregoing letter shows that General Beauregard was aware of it. Captain Charles Haskell, on the night of the 8th, had gone over to the island with a party of scouts, and had ascertained the presence, near the creeks leading to it, of a number of the enemy's barges which had been collected there. During that same night the chopping of wood on Folly Island had been distinctly heard by our men, and the next morning revealed to them the existence of several light works, heretofore screened by the trees and underbrush just cut in their immediate front. General Beauregard had full knowledge of the erection of these works. As early as May the 10th, in a telegram forwarded to the War Department, he said:

‘Enemy in force on Folly Island, actively erecting batteries yesterday.’6

These evidences of an immediate attack induced General Beauregard to have all the infantry forces on the south end of Morris Island kept under arms during the whole night of the 9th. He also caused the following orders to be issued:


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 9th, 1863.
Lieut.-Colonel D. B. Harris, Chief-Engineer, etc., etc.:
Colonel,— The Commanding General directs me to call your attention to the urgent necessity for immediately obstructing this harbor, to every possible extent, with rope contrivances for that purpose, as already directed, both verbally and in writing. He wishes Major Echols and yourself to give your special attention to this work, and to the multiplication of this style of obstructions by every possible means.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.



Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., June 9th, 1863.
Major Hutson Lee, Chief Quartermaster, etc., etc.:
Major,—The Commanding General directs that you have held in readiness, at Pocotaligo and Adams Run, transportation to bring six hundred men from the former and five hundred from the latter place to this city at once. The trains will be furnished the Commanding Officers of the Second and Third Districts with as little delay as possible.

I have the honor to be, Major, very respectfully, your obdt. servant,

Jno. F. O'Brien, A. A. G.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 9th, 1863.
Colonel A. J. Gonzales, Chief of Artillery, etc., etc.:
Colonel,—The Commanding General directs that you hold the siege-train in readiness to move at a moment's notice.

I have the honor to be, Colonel, very respectfully, your obdt. servant,


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 10th, 1863.
Colonel A. J. Gonzales, Chief of Artillery, etc., etc.:
Colonel,—You will repair forthwith to inspect the heavy batteries on James Island, commencing with Fort Pemberton, to determine, on consultation with their Commanding Officers, what are their most pressing wants; and if they can be supplied, you will inform these Headquarters by courier.

You will determine, also, whether in any conflict of the enemy's gunboats with the works on James Island the siege-train, or any part thereof, can be used to advantage.

Meanwhile, the siege-train should be sent to the most available position on James Island.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 10th, 1863.
Major Hutson Lee, Chief Quartermaster, etc., etc.:
Major,—A brigade (Clingman's) is to be sent here from Wilmington. Make every possible exertion to provide for its rapid transportation. Leave nothing undone in your power to accelerate the movement, both from Wilmington to Florence, and thence here. Time is incalculably precious.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 11th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Commanding First Military Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—I am instructed to inform you of the expected arrival of ten companies from Savannah and one brigade from Wilmington, N. C., and to [95] direct that the necessary arrangements shall be made for their reception and disposition. A despatch from General Mercer, just received, states that seventy-five artillerists and one 10-inch mortar, complete, left Savannah last night. The other four mortars, will soon follow. These five mortars should be distributed between Sumter, Batteries Gregg (Cummings's Point) and Wagner, as you may think best, informing these Headquarters of the disposition you may make of them.

The Commanding General further directs the obstruction of the little creek on the flank of Battery Wagner, about one hundred yards above, to prevent boat expeditions from turning that point at night.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

The foregoing orders and instructions, and others of a similar nature, which it is unnecessary to mention here, show General Beauregard's continued preparations for the attack of the enemy, which took place on the 10th of July, on the south end of Morris Island. It was renewed the next day on Battery Wagner, and was signally repulsed, with a heavy loss to the Federals. They again advanced on the 18th, with ample preparations and a much greater force, but were once more terribly defeated, as will appear hereafter in General Beauregard's official report. Colonel Rhett, in accordance with instructions, had opened fire with all the available guns of Sumter, the shot and shell passing over Battery Wagner, and falling into the attacking column, especially the reserves; thus harassing their advance and preventing them from rendering any material assistance.

Encouraged by the failure of these repeated assaults upon Wagner, but fearing the eventual reduction of that work and the result which must ensue for Battery Gregg and Fort Sumter, General Beauregard determined to modify and increase his inner circle of fire on Sullivan's and James Islands, and to erect a work on Shell PointJames Island—wherewith to sweep the front of Battery Wagner, and assist in checking the further progress of the enemy on Morris Island.

To this end he gave specific instructions to General Ripley and to Colonel Harris, his Chief-Engineer,7 and again applied to Governor Bonham for slave-labor to carry out his plans. His letter on the subject read as follows: [96]

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 13th, 1863.
To his Excellency M. L. Bonham, etc., etc.:
Sir,—You are aware of the inability of the State authorities, under the operation of the law, to meet my requisitions for slave-labor, and you can readily trace some of the consequences in the events of the past week. However, is there no course by which the defects of the law can, to some extent, be repaired, even at this late day?

Believing that there must be a remedy in the patriotism and intelligence of the planters of South Carolina, I shall invoke your executive proclamation to them, in this exigent hour, to send their negroes, with spades and shovels, to this city, without an instant of delay or hesitation, to the extent of three thousand effective laborers. This can be but an inappreciable subtraction from the labor resources of the people at this or any time. Each negro should be provided with at least three days subsistence. The people of each district or neighborhood should select some overseer or manager for their negroes, who shall go and remain with them while they are employed.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 14th General Ripley received the following instructions, which were carried out without delay. They show the extreme vigilance exercised by the General Commanding, and how careful he was to prepare against any new movement of the enemy:

The General Commanding is of the belief that some of the mortars now in Fort Sumter may be transferred with advantage to Sullivan's Island, and wishes you to consider and give your views upon the matter.

A covered way should be made between Fort Moultrie and Battery Bee, carefully secured from enfilade from the sand-hills on east end of Sullivan's Island.

The gate-way in gorge of Fort Sumter must be closed, and an outlet arranged through one of the casemates in the southwest face.

It should be determined whether the gorge-wall of Fort Sumter may not be materially strengthened, by means of bales of cotton, with sand packed in the intervals, and all kept wet and incombustible by means of tubes and hose from the terre-plein.

Two 10-inch columbiads have been ordered here from Savannah.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

The reader is referred to the Appendix for other orders and instructions relating to this period of the defence of Charleston, which must be omitted from the text, notwithstanding their importance. Among them are— [97]

1. The order reducing the force on Morris Island to one strictly sufficient ‘for the defence,’ so as not to expose, needlessly, too many of our men to the enemy's batteries, then in process of construction on the island; and also as to relieving the command at least once in forty-eight hours by fresh troops.

2. The order that rice-casks and other casks should be furnished the troops on Morris Island, for the construction of ‘rat-holes;’ and that hulks, as well as other obstructions, should be sunk in the creeks west of the same island, and north of Sullivan's.

3. The order increasing the batteries on James Island and bearing on Black Island, by at least twenty guns, on siege-carriages. The work to be pushed forward, night and day, as also the work at Shell Point, ‘so soon as the force of negro labor may be sufficient.’

4. The order requiring Colonel Rhett, at Sumter, to keep several of his guns loaded and carefully trained at night, so as to command the creeks near Battery Wagner, and Marsh and Shell Point Batteries. A part of this order was the following command addressed to the Commanders of Fort Sumter and Batteries Gregg and Wagner: ‘Should events oblige us to abandon these works, not one heavy gun must be left in serviceable condition, to be turned against our own works.’

5. The order increasing the garrison on Sullivan's Island, to prevent the possibility of a night attack; relieving the troops at Battery Wagner every three days, instead of every forty-eight hours, as heretofore; sending an 8-inch columbiad or a rifled 32-pounder, to replace the gun exploded at Wagner; the injunction being to mount it that very night, ‘on account of its moral effect on the garrison.’

We now ask attention to a communication sent by General Beauregard to Captain Tucker, commanding ‘Confederate States naval forces afloat,’ at Charleston, and asking his active coopera-tion in the defence of Fort Sumter and Morris Island. It bore date July 18th, and was in these terms:

Captain,—I believe it my duty to acquaint you with the fact that I consider it of the utmost importance to the defence of the works at the entrance of the harbor that some effort should be made to sink either the Ironsides or one of the monitors now attacking the works on Morris Island, not only because of the diminution thus effected in the enemy's means of offence, but because of the great moral effect that would inevitably result from such an occurrence. [98]

The stake is manifestly a great one, worthy of a small risk. For its accomplishment, one vessel, such as the Juno, provided with the spar-torpedo, with two or three officers and a few men, it is believed, would be as effective, at night, for the end in view as a flotilla of vessels, so arranged, of the same class.

If, however, the results of your experiments are sufficiently adverse to the prospect of success with the contrivance, I must beg to be advised of the fact, to the end that I may not permit the expectation of assistance to enter further into my plans of defence; but if, on the other hand, the experiments remain satisfactory, permit me to say, the time is rapidly passing away when that assistance can be of any avail or value.

One monitor destroyed now will have greater moral and material effect, I believe, than two sunk at a later stage in our defence.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

This urgent appeal would have met with a ready response from the commander to whom it was made, for he was not only willing but anxious to take an active part in the contest about to be renewed with increased vigor by the two opposing forces. He was compelled to remain passive, however, and to admit his impotency to be of any assistance, owing to the excessive draught of his ironclads, their want of motive power, and consequently of speed, and the short range of their guns, which could not be sufficiently elevated, on account of the small size of the portholes. This was the substance of Commander Tucker's answer. It left General Beauregard entirely powerless to contend against the enemy's turreted fleet, and led him to consider the possible necessity, erelong, of withdrawing our forces from Morris Island. He therefore instructed General Ripley to prepare suitable means of transportation, by boats, barges, and flats, to be collected with as little delay as possible, and held in readiness in the immediate vicinity of Fort Johnson.

The following orders to the Commander of the First Military District, and many others already produced, show the minuteness of the instructions given him by the Commanding General, who planned and caused to be erected most if not all the works adopted for the protection of the city and harbor of Charleston:


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 18th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, etc., etc., etc.:
General,—The General Commanding desires that the Shell Point Battery shall be occupied to-night, and placed, as far as practicable, in condition for [99] work, with the exact range of Battery Wagner established for the emergency of an assault to-night, for which you must be prepared.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 19th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, etc., etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General desires the following re-arrangement of certain guns on James Island, to provide for the armament of the new batteries in the direction of Secessionville from Legare's Point. Transfer to Legare's Point, with all their implements and ammunition, one 12-pounder rifled gun, and one 8-inch sea-coast howitzer, now at Royal's; one 20 and one 10 pounder Parrott gun of the Georgia Siege Train; one 12-pounder rifled bronze gun of Company A, S. C. Siege Train; one 24-pounder smooth-bore, now on eastern lines, and mounted on a siege-carriage; and one 24-pounder rifled siege gun, and one 4-inch Blakely, both of which are at present in the hands of the Chief of Ordnance.

Captain Gregory, Corps of Engineers, after consultation with the Chief of Artillery, will designate the location of these guns.

The 12-pounder rifle and 8-inch sea-coast howitzer at Royal's will be replaced by two 24-pounders (smooth-bore) siege guns, now in charge of Colonel Waddy.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 20th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, etc., etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General has been advised that the enemy opened fire to-day from behind Black Island on the workmen engaged on the Legare Point batteries, and succeeded in interrupting the labor thereon.

In view of this, it is his wish that the guns intended for those works should be placed in position immediately, and fire opened from the batteries as soon as practicable.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., July 20th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, etc., etc., etc.:
General,—The batteries from Shell Point to Fort Johnson being nearly completed, and some of the guns in position, it becomes necessary to guard them strongly at night with infantry. The same must be done with regard to the new line of batteries from Legare's Point towards the extremity of the eastern lines on James Island. Everything must be put in readiness for all those batteries to open at a moment's notice.

The accumulation last night of the enemy's barges, with armed men, among [100] the fleet would seem to indicate one of two things: either to reinforce his troops on Morris Island, for another attack, by landing a strong party between Battery Wagner and Gregg, or to make an attempt on Sullivan's Island. The renewal of the shelling to-day with such vigor would incline me to believe that the first will be attempted; but prudence commands that we should guard against both; hence, I beg that you should adopt all the necessary measures to further these designs.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Meanwhile, the Secretary of War, the Hon. Mr. Seddon, through whose agency chiefly the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida had been so materially weakened by successive transfers of its troops to other points of the Confederacy, was now apparently in a state of great trepidation about the enemy's lodgment on the southern end of Morris Island. A letter of ‘searching inquiry’ was forwarded by him to General Beauregard, about that time, requesting immediate information on the subject. Its tone was unfriendly. It exhibited a determination on the part of its author to blame, and even to condemn, before being officially informed of the facts of the case.

General Beauregard was too much absorbed by the occupations of the moment to write out a full statement of these stirring events; and, furthermore, none of his subordinate commanders had had time to send in their respective reports. He merely gave a brief account of the descent of the Federal forces on Morris Island, and of the reasons of its success. From his answer we quote the following passage:

‘A full report will be made as soon as subordinate officers shall have placed these Headquarters in official possession of the facts connected with their operations, and until then I must ask the patience of the Department, especially since the service and thoughts of all here are really necessary for the effectual discharge of the momentous duties intrusted to us.’8

We close the present chapter with General Beauregard's instructions to Colonel Harris, dated July 20th, 1863:

Colonel,—The Commanding General directs me to inform you that he wishes the rope obstructions to go on, and desires that they be laid between Castle Pinckney and Fort Ripley.

He also wishes you to make an inspection of Fort Moultrie, to see if the glacis does not require to be raised, for the better protection of the brick [101] scarp-wall. You will likewise see if Shell Point Battery does not require to be embrasured, and if it is necessary to make a covered way thence to Fort Johnson.

The General wishes to know if mining wires cannot be established from Battery Gregg to Fort Sumter, and from the latter to Fort Moultrie, or if safety-fuses may not be prepared.

Finally, he directs that you make a report on the Raine's torpedoes, which have been placed in front of Battery Wagner.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jno. F. O'Brien, Major and A. A. G.

The nature of the subject, and the desire to do full justice to it, have induced repetitions of orders and telegrams in this and the following chapter. The interest of the narrative will not be impaired, however, by such a course. For those who are desirous of obtaining a correct knowledge of these events details of evidence are essential

1 At a Lee memorial meeting, held at Richmond, November 3d, 1870, Mr. Davis assumed the responsibility for that campaign and relieved General Lee.

2 See Appendix.

3 ‘Engineer and Artillery Preparations against Charleston,’ by General Q. A. Gillmore, p. 18.

4 See Appendix.

5 See, in Appendix, extract from Major Elliott's journal at Fort Sumter.

6 See General Beauregard's Report of the Defence of Morris Island, which forms the subject of the next chapter.

7 See Appendix.

8 See Appendix.

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James Island (South Carolina, United States) (18)
Florida (Florida, United States) (18)
Morris Island (South Carolina, United States) (17)
Headquarters (Washington, United States) (15)
Charleston (South Carolina, United States) (15)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (14)
Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (10)
Savannah (Georgia, United States) (9)
Folly Island, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (8)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (7)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (7)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (6)
Sullivan's Island (South Carolina, United States) (6)
Wilmington, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (4)
Three Trees (South Carolina, United States) (4)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (4)
Snake Island (South Carolina, United States) (4)
Seabrook Island (South Carolina, United States) (4)
Mississippi (United States) (4)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (4)
Pocotaligo (South Carolina, United States) (3)
Hilton Head (South Carolina, United States) (3)
Fort Moultrie (South Carolina, United States) (3)
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