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Chapter 33:


In order to form a correct opinion of the precise condition of Fort Sumter after the bombardment (of which a description was given in the preceding chapter), based on Colonel Rhett's and the Engineers' reports, the following order, on the 24th of August, was forwarded to Colonel Harris:

Colonel,—General Beauregard directs that you proceed immediately to Fort Sumter (together with Colonel Gilmer, if agreeable to him), to confer with Colonel Rhett, his Chief of Artillery, and Lieutenant Johnson, Engineers, to report upon the defences of the place and the advisability of abandoning the work. In attempting to reach the fort the General desires that a proper regard should be had to your own safety. You must not undertake the trip, if too dangerous.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonels Gilmer and Harris complied with these instructions, [145] and, the next day, presented the following report to Department Headquarters:

In compliance with the above letter, a council of officers, consisting of Colonel Gilmer, C. S. Corps of Engineers; Colonel Rhett, 1st S. C. Artillery; Colonel Harris, C. S. Corps of Engineers; Captain F. H. Harleston, 1st S. C. Artillery; and Lieutenant Johnson, Corps of Engineers, met at Fort Sumter on the afternoon of the 24th of August, 1863.

Captain Harleston acted as recorder.

The first proposition proposed for consideration was— “ The present offensive condition of the fort.”

Lieutenant Johnson, Engineer Corps: “The present offensive condition of the fort is very limited: one very fine gun (11-inch), capable of being fired with advantage, two others (10-inch) at disadvantage, in consequence of shattered condition of parapet.”

Captain Harleston: Of same opinion as Lieutenant Johnson.

Major Blanding: “The offensive condition of the fort is very nearly destroyed; only one gun (11-inch) that can be used with any advantage.”

Colonel Harris: Endorses Lieutenant Johnson's opinion.

Colonel Rhett: “In action would be impracticable to use but one gun— the 11-inch—and that would soon be disabled.”

Colonel Gilmer: Of the same opinion as Lieutenant Johnson.

Second proposition.

“Can offensive power still be given to these guns by additional cover and change of location?”

Lieutenant Johnson: “Yes, by sand-bag epaulements and timber platforms.”

Captain Harleston: Considers it impracticable, on account of present shattered condition of the fort, and that sufficient time will not be allowed.

Major Blanding: Agrees with Captain Harleston.

Colonel Harris: “It can be done in present condition of fort, if time is allowed.”

Colonel Rhett: Would like to see it carried out, but considers it impracticable.

Colonel Gilmer: “It is entirely within the capacity of the Engineer to accomplish the work in the manner suggested by Lieutenant Johnson, if not under fire, at night, when the fire ceases.”

Third proposition.

“Capacity of the fort as a defensive position, in its present condition, against a barge attack, and the number of men needed.”

Lieutenant Johnson: “I think the capacity of the fort sufficient, and that it needs three hundred muskets.”

Captain Harleston: “I think the capacity of the fort sufficient, and that it needs from two hundred and fifty to three hundred muskets.”

Major Blanding: “Without outside assistance, in its present condition, five hundred muskets will be needed.” [146] Colonel Harris: Agrees with Lieutenant Johnson.

Colonel Rhett: “The navy will not be able to assist in attack from barges; the fort can be held, in its present condition, with no less force than four hundred effective men; and a large part of these should be kept under arms during the night, as barges can come within fifty yards without being seen.”

Colonel Gilmer: “The defensive capacity of the fort is sufficient, if garrisoned with three hundred effective men, giving them the assistance of splinter-proof cover and sand-bag epaulements. ”

Fourth proposition.

“Power of the fort to preserve its present defensive condition against probable attacks.”

Lieutenant Johnson: “Against the probable combined attacks of the fleet Parrott guns and mortars—thirty-six hours.”

Captain Harleston: Agrees with Lieutenant Johnson.

Major Blanding: “Against a combined vigorous attack—twelve hours.”

Colonel Harris: Cannot undertake to answer as regards time.

Colonel Rhett: “ The eastern wall is much shattered by fire of the 7th of April, and has never been repaired, except two casemates which have been rebuilt with new masonry; the wall has been reinforced in the casemates with sand-bags; it has also been seriously damaged by the fire from the land batteries on Morris Island. My opinion is that a fire from the iron fleet, from two to three hours, would destroy the integrity of the wall, if it did not bring it down.

A combined fire from land batteries on Morris Island, with a monitor attack, would most probably bring down a large part of the wall. The inner corner wall of eastern magazine is now cracked. The fort wall adjoining the pier of the upper magazine has been completely shot away; and I think a concentrated fire of two hours on the junction of the upper and lower magazines would render the magazines unsafe.

The north wall of the upper western magazine is unprotected, and is exposed to a reverse fire from the fleet, firing one or two points north of perpendicular to east face of fort. A few shots upon this wall, striking about the junction of upper and lower magazines, would render the magazines unsafe. This place is now being reinforced with eight feet of sand. The roof of the hospital is now only protected by brick arches that would be crushed through by a few shells.

Colonel Gilmer: “From the examination I have been able to make, as to the effect of the bombardment up to this time, I think the fort will remain tenable against any probable attack for many days, if the Engineer officer be supplied with the labor and material necessary to reinforce points comparatively weak.”

Alfred Rhett, Col. Comdg. Ormsby Blandino, Major, 1st S. C. Art'y. F. H. Harleston, Capt., 1st S. C. Art'y. John Johnson, 1st Lieut., Engr. Corps, P. A. C. S.


The foregoing is a correct report of what occurred at the consultation of the officers named; but we do not consider it as embodying our opinion in full as to the advisability of abandoning the work, as called for by the Commanding General, in a letter a copy of which is embraced in the foregoing proceedings.

J. F. Gilmer, Col. and Chief-Engr. of Bureau, D. B. Harris, Lieut.-Col. and Chief-Engr. of Dept.

Accompanying the foregoing report was this additional paper:

Office of Chief-Engineer, Charleston, S. C., August 25th, 1863.
General G. T. Beauregard, etc., etc.:
General,—We have the honor to report that in compliance with your instructions we visited Fort Sumter yesterday afternoon, made a careful examination of its condition, and held a consultation with a portion of its officers.

In addition to our answers to certain questions propounded at that consultation we beg leave to state that, in our opinion, it is not advisable to abandon the fort at this time. On the contrary, we think it should be held to the last extremity. How long it may hold out is now only a matter of conjecture; but there are many elements of defence within the fort, in its present shattered condition, which, if properly used, may enable a resolute garrison to hold it for many days.

The question of its abandonment, whenever it may arise, we respectfully suggest should be determined by the Commanding General, and not left to the discretion of the Commander of the fort.

We have the honor to be, General, very respectfully yours,

J. F. Gilmer, Col. and Chief-Engr. of Bureau. D. B. Harris, Lieut.-Col. and Chief-Engr. of Dept.

Incomplete, though sufficient in many respects, as was this hurried examination of Sumter, it confirmed General Beauregard in his determination already taken, that the fort should not be evacuated. He therefore approved the conclusions arrived at by Colonels Gilmer and Harris, and began his arrangements accordingly. The Artillery Department, he considered, had accomplished its task in the defence of that post—the entrance-gate of Charleston Harbor—and it now devolved upon the infantry arm of the service, aided by labor, ‘the pick, spade, and shovel,’ to perform the part required of them, until, if possible, other heavy guns could be mounted, under cover, amid the ruins that still bade defiance to the combined attacks of the land and naval forces of the enemy. It was a grave responsibility to assume, but General Beauregard resolutely took it upon himself; and thus, through him and those who defended Sumter, does its record remain, from Rhett to Elliott, from Elliott to Mitchel and [148] Huguenin, and the men who fought under them, a grand story of engineering skill, soldierly daring, fortitude, and endurance. Thus, also, as was eloquently said by General B. H-. Rutledge, in an address delivered in Charleston,1 ‘While Greece has her Thermopylae, England her Waterloo, the United States her Yorktown, South Carolina has her Fort Sumter.’

As soon, therefore, as most of its heavy guns, including those which the enemy's land-batteries on Morris Island had disabled and those which were previously removed, to prevent further loss, had been transferred to the inner circle of fortifications, the following order was given to the Commander of the First Military District:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., August 27th, 1863.
Brigadier-General R. S. Ripley, etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General instructs me to direct the reduction of the garrison of Fort Sumter to a force of one company of artillery and two full companies of infantry—that is, the command not to exceed three hundred or fall below two hundred men.2

Of course you will select the companies, which must be of the best in your command of both arms; but it has been suggested that Captain Harleston's company of the First Regiment of Artillery would be suitable. The infantry should be carefully selected, and might be relieved once a week.

As the garrison will thus be so much reduced, it may be that Colonel Rhett will prefer to remove the headquarters of his regiment; in which event he will be assigned to the important command of Fort Johnson and adjacent batteries. He has the option to do this, or retain the command of Fort Sumter. In the former event, Major Stephen Elliott will be assigned to the command of Fort Sumter.

The Commanding General has witnessed with genuine pride and gratification the defence made of Fort Sumter by Colonel Rhett, his officers and .men, of the 1st Regiment of South Carolina Regular Artillery—noble fruits of the discipline, the application to their duty, and the soldierly bearing of the officers and men, and of the organization of the regiment. In the annals of war no stouter defence was ever made, and no work ever before encountered as formidable a bombardment as that under which Fort Sumter has been successfully held.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


This deserved tribute was read to the regiment at dress parade, amid the roar of shot and shell, and, coming as it did from one who could judge so well of true soldierly merit, produced a gratifying effect upon these valiant men, who had unflinchingly performed their duty. As further evidence of the estimation in which he held Colonel Rhett, General Beauregard, shortly after this occurrence, strongly recommended him for promotion; but, as was so often the case with applications of this kind, no action was taken in the matter by the Administration.

Colonel Rhett remained in command of Sumter as late as the 4th of September. When the last detachment of his artillery regiment was removed he retired, with his disciplined Regulars. From August 17th to that date his journal shows what havoc, both interior and exterior, the Federal breaching batteries and naval forces had made on the fort.3 The following details, taken from his report of September 4th, forwarded, through General Ripley, to Department Headquarters, show the work which was done at the fort and its condition at that time:

* * * Engineers engaged in preparing bomb-proofs and in opening embrasures in second tier of casemates, for the purpose of throwing out two 42-pounder rifled guns. During the night the 11-inch gun and the 32-pounder rifled gun were thrown over the parapet without injury, both guns having been previously disabled. There is now not a single gun en barbette; and there is but one (smooth-bore 32-pounder, next the sally-port on western face) that can be fired. Mr. F. Mathews,4 assisted by an officer and men of the Confederate States Navy, has done good service in removing disabled guns from the fort, having dismounted and removed one 10-inch gun and one 9-inch Dahlgren. He has also removed from the berme of the fort the Brooke gun, another 10-inch, an 8-inch, and one 32-pounder rifled gun. Lieutenant Rhett, with Company B, has dismounted the Brooke gun, two 10-inch, one 8-inch, one 42-pounder, rifled, the 11-inch, and one 32-pounder rifled gun, in the last fortnight.

The northeast and northwest terre-pleins have fallen in. The western wall has a crack in it, extending entirely through from parapet to berme. The greater portion of southern wall is down; the upper eastern magazine is penetrated; the lower eastern magazine wall is cracked. The east wall is very nearly shot away; a large portion of the wall is down, the ramparts gone, and nearly every casemate breached, and the remaining wall very thin. [150] The casemates, however, on eastern face are filled with sand, sufficient to protect the garrison from shells.

I consider it impossible to either mount or use guns on any part of the parapet; and I deem the fort in its present condition unserviceable for offensive purposes. What the Engineers may effect by rebuilding or remodelling I am unable to say. Lot of ordnance stores shipped by Etiwan last night. Lieutenant Grimball, Company E, assigned to ordnance duty, has rendered efficient service in the collection and shipping of ordnance stores. Captain J. T. Champney's Engineer Corps has reported for duty at this post. Major-General Gilmer and Lieutenant-Colonel Harris visited the fort about half-past 11 o'clock last night. Brigadier-General Ripley also came over about ten o'clock this morning. The enemy opened fire from battery on Black Island last evening.

Alfred Rhett, Colonel Commanding.

Now began that singular metamorphosis—that undertaking unheard of before—by which, out of the crumbling walls of what had once been Fort Sumter, a new and powerful earthwork was slowly but unremittingly constructed. This was done often under fire. The debris, consisting of brick, mortar, shot, and shell, was supplemented by boat-loads of sand painfully brought, by night, from the adjoining islands, after the parade-ground of the fort had furnished all the earth that could be obtained from that source. The appendices to this and the preceding chapter show at whose main suggestion and under whose special guidance this novel work was carried out and, step by step, perfected. General Beauregard's orders and instructions, which are there given, exhibit once more his forethought and unequalled method of grouping together the details of his plans and neglecting nothing. I-e was now in his favorite sphere of action, with a problem almost exclusively of engineering skill to solve; fighting his enemy ‘with sand, pick, spade, and shovel,’ and showing, as Mr. Davis himself had said, about a year before, how ‘his qualifications peculiarly fitted him’ for such a defence.5

But his attention was not confined to Fort Sumter. Battery Wagner, Fort Ripley, and Castle Pinckney, ‘the provisioning and ammunitioning of Morris, James, and Sullivan's islands,’ and of Christ Church Parish, also engrossed much of his time and thought. He again recurred, at this time, to the urgent [151] necessity of increasing the limited number of negro laborers furnished by the planters of the State. He ordered torpedoes to be placed between Forts Sumter and Moultrie, in Hog Island Channel, towards Sullivan's Island Point, in Folly Island Channel, and in the Middle Channel, east of Pinckney. He likewise gave most stringent orders to battery commanders to put a stop to all useless waste of ammunition. These measures were taken in anticipation of a renewed naval attempt by Admiral Dahlgren to remove the obstructions in the Main Channel and, afterwards, to pass into the harbor.

At about that time General Beauregard had occasion to propound to Brigadier-General Ripley a number of important interrogatories, relative to the capture of the southern end of Morris Island, and as to the causes which brought about that result. He was preparing to write his report of that untoward event, which had given rise to criticism and censure on the part of the Secretary of War. These interrogatories, and General Ripley's answers thereto, will be found in full in the appendix to this chapter. They confirm what we have already said upon the subject.

On the 3d of September, Fort Sumter being ready for the transformation it was about to undergo, and the guns of James and Sullivan's islands being trained to protect it from assault by water, General Beauregard caused the following instructions to be forwarded to Brigadier-General Ripley:

General,— In reply to your letter of this date, suggesting the reduction of the garrison in occupation of Fort Sumter, I am instructed to say that the artillery, for the reasons stated by you, will now be withdrawn and an infantry force substituted, of two hundred rifles or muskets. This will make it proper to relieve Colonel Rhett, and to place him in his proper position with his regiment and command, to which you will please assign him.

Major Stephen Elliott will be directed to report to you for assignment to the command of Fort Sumter. Inasmuch as he is at present ignorant of the localities in the fort, it will be proper to request Colonel Rhett to remain for at least twelve hours, or until he can make Major Elliott properly acquainted with the means of shelter and defence left, and with all other details the knowledge of which (with Colonel Rhett's experience) he may deem it essential that Major Elliott should know.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

General Beauregard had taken more than ordinary pains in the selection of Colonel Rhett's successor. He was solicitous that [152] none but an officer of undoubted coolness and courage should take the place of the gallant commander, whose sphere of duty, now changed, called him and his artillerists to the land batteries, whither most of Sumter's heavy guns had already been transferred and mounted. Fifty days elapsed before the second bombardment of Fort Sumter commenced.

Major Stephen Elliott, from Beaufort, South Carolina, was a relative of the Hon. R. W. Barnwell, of Bishop Stephen Elliott, and of Colonel Alfred Rhett. He was a young officer of well-earned esteem, modest, thoroughly self-possessed, and dauntless, and his family connections were influential in the State. He was, therefore, worthy of the confidence reposed in him by the Commanding General. The incident of his interview with the latter, previous to his assignment to the command of Sumter, is worthy of record.

‘You are to be sent to a fort,’ said General Beauregard, ‘deprived of all offensive capacity, and having now but one gun —a 32-pounder—with which to salute its flag, morning and evening. But that fort is Fort Sumter, the key to the entrance of this harbor. It must be held to the bitter end: not with artillery, as heretofore, but with infantry alone; and there can be no hope of reinforcements. Are you willing to take the command upon such terms?’ And, without giving Major Elliott time to formulate an answer, General Beauregard added, ‘I desire that you shall take twenty-four hours to reflect, and that meanwhile you shall examine the fort, before taking a final decision.’

A few hours later Major Elliott returned to Department Headquarters, and, being once more in the presence of the Commanding General, in his own simple, earnest manner, said,

‘I visited Sumter, and conferred with Colonel Rhett. Issue the order, General; I will obey it.’

The order was issued, and on the evening of the 4th of September Major Elliott assumed command of the ruins of Fort Sumter.

On the next day the following important communication was forwarded to the Commander of the First Military District:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 5th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—Forewarned of the enemy's purpose to attack the battery at Cummings's Point, the Commanding General hopes we may be able to foil [153] and convert it into a signal disaster, to which end he wishes you to acquaint Flag-officer Tucker of the project, and request him to take such a position with his ships as may enable him to sweep with his fire the interior face of Morris Island and the mouth of Vincent's Creek. Battery Simpkins will fire likewise so as to sweep in front of the mouth of the same creek, and, later, to the left of Cummings's Point. Battery Bee will be specially enjoined to direct her fire between Fort Sumter and Cummings's Point, so as to assist the gunboats in sweeping the interior water face of Morris Island. Some of the guns of Fort Moultrie must also be brought to bear on the same face of the island, the rest of her armament giving attention to the monitors, but being employed in strict conformity with the views of the Commanding General, hitherto expressed, on the subject of the fire of the Sullivan's Island batteries at the monitors, at ranges which can promise no material results. This, of course, is not to be construed to prevent a fire when the monitors are seeking to run past, which it is believed may be determined in time by the exercise of judgment when such an effort is really being made.

Should the attempt on Battery Gregg be discovered in time at that point, rockets should be used there to give warning to our batteries and the navy, and small fires on Cummings's Point might be carefully located so as to assist to indicate it to our batteries without giving material advantage to the enemy.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

The knowledge of the enemy's purpose had been obtained by reading a signal despatch from General Gillmore to Admiral Dahlgren, which ran thus:

Morris Island, Sept. 5th, 1863:1.50 P. M.
I shall try Cummings's Point to-night, and want the sailors again early. Will you please send in two or three monitors just before dark, to open on Moultrie as a diversion? The last time they were in they stopped reinforcements, and may do so to-night.

I don't want any fire in the rear. Please answer immediately.

The ‘key’ by which we were enabled to decipher the enemy's messages had been in our possession for several weeks. It had been obtained as follows: General Beauregard, in his anxiety to understand the enemy's movements, requested his chief signal officer, Captain Manigault, to endeavor to make out the meaning of the signals exchanged between the Federal land and naval forces. This, however, Captain Manigault was unable to do; then, at the suggestion of General Beauregard, another expedient was resorted to—namely, the capture of one of the enemy's advanced signal-pickets, in the Third Military District. This picket was brought to Charleston, and from him, through the devices of [154] Captain Pliny Bryan,6 A. A. G., the much-desired ‘key’ was finally secured. This important discovery was of incalculable advantage, and enabled the Commanding General to be ever prepared against a surprise.

The next morning (September 6th) Admiral Dahlgren asked, ‘Did you succeed last night?’ and General Gillmore answered, ‘We found the enemy prepared at Cummings's Point, and failed.’ 7

Being apprised in the same manner of the day and hour fixed for the final assault on Wagner (September 6th, at 9 P. M.), General Beauregard was able to perfect his plans for the prearranged evacuation of that work, and not only saved the garrison, but deprived the enemy of nearly—if not quite—all the fruits of his victory, as appears by the following signal despatch:

Morris Island, Sept. 7th, 1863:5.10 A. M.
Admiral Dahlgren:
The whole island is ours, but the enemy have escaped us.

While, in the course of this narrative, we have been led to refer again to Battery Wagner, whose illustrious record so fully appears in General Beauregard's report of the defence of Morris Island,8 it is also appropriate, we think, to give here the remarkable history of the only two heavy guns of that work (10-inch columbiads) bearing on the outer harbor of Charleston. They had been cast at the Tredegar Works, in Richmond. Both were surrounded with massive traverses and merlons, forming a perfect ‘well,’ or chamber, for each, and an open embrasure, which was filled up with sand-bags (always kept close at hand) whenever— and this was of frequent occurrence—the fire of the fleet was concentrated on these guns.

These two guns were repeatedly dismounted by the enemy's [155] heavy shells falling into their chambers. One of them was soon disabled, but the other remained uninjured to the last, though its chassis and carriage had, more than once, to be renewed. It had become necessary also to ‘rebush’ it, or, in other words, change and repair its vent, which had been much enlarged by the heavy charges used in firing it, a fact which materially affected its accuracy and range.

The artillerists serving at the two pieces were occasionally compelled to take shelter in the bomb-proofs, after temporarily filling up the embrasures with sand-bags, as already explained. Hence the smallness of our loss. ‘In the history of no siege, except that of Fort Sumter,’ writes General Beauregard, ‘do we find such coolness, perseverance, and bravery as shown by these gallant officers and men, who belonged to the 1st South Carolina Regulars, forming the garrison of Fort Sumter. All honor to that regiment, whose heroism will forever stand pre-eminent in the annals of this war.’

It was the opinion of General Beauregard—and he had so expressed himself on the night of the evacuation of Morris Island —that Admiral Dahlgren would soon attempt some movement of his own, if only to keep pace with the success of the land-forces under General Gillmore; and that in such an event Fort Sumter, now apparently harmless, would probably be the object of his attack. This had become much the more likely because the Admiral—emboldened, no doubt, by his coadjutor's recent achievement—had, as early as 6.35 A. M., on the morning of the 7th, demanded, by flag of truce, the surrender of Fort Sumter. ‘If not complied with,’ he telegraphed to General Gillmore, ‘I will move up with all the ironclads and engage it.’9 Major Elliott had declined the request; and having referred the matter to Department Headquarters, immediately received this significant reply: ‘Tell Admiral Dahlgren to come and take it.’10

Previous to this, and in view of a probable assault on the ruins of Sumter, General Beauregard had ordered the nearest harbor batteries bearing on the fort to practise daily on the foot of its outside debris, to obtain the exact range and length of fuses required, marking the carriages, chassis, and traverse circles, so that [156] the firing of each piece might be almost as accurate at night as in the daytime. He had also arranged a system of signals for opening fire, in case of need, and for its cessation at the proper moment. The Commander of Fort Sumter had been specially enjoined to be vigilant, and the commanders of the batteries to have detachments all night at each trained gun, so as to be able, instantly, to open fire on the water approach, whenever the signal to do so should be given from Fort Sumter.

Admiral Dahlgren did not carry out his threat of attacking with all his ironclads, but fixed upon the night of the 8th to make an assault on Sumter, and so informed General Gillmore, who, by a singular coincidence, had also organized an assaulting party for the same night, composed of ‘two small regiments,’ while the Admiral, it seems, had ‘assembled five hundred men’ for the purpose.11 But there was, evidently, no concert of action between them. Both claimed the right of conducting the expedition, and neither would yield to the wish of the other. General Gillmore thought that ‘an operation of this kind’ should ‘be under command of the senior officer’—meaning the officer to be sent with the land forces—and Admiral Dahlgren would not ‘consent to let the commander be other than a naval officer.’12

The result was the complete failure of the assault, as appears by the following extract from Major Elliott's journal, dated Sumter, September 9th:

* * * At 1 A. M. this morning I saw a fleet of barges approaching from the eastward. I ordered the fire to be reserved until they should arrive within a few yards of the fort. The enemy attempted to land on the southeastern and southern faces; he was received by a well-directed fire of musketry and by hand-grenades, which were very effective in demoralizing him; fragments of the epaulement were also thrown down upon him. The crews near the shore sought refuge in the recesses of the foot of scarp, those further off in flight. The repulse was decided, and the assault was not renewed. His force is reported to have been four hundred men, but it is believed to have been much larger.13 His loss is four men killed, two officers and ninety-two men [157] captured. We secured five stand of colors and five barges; others were disabled and drifted off. One gunboat and Fort Johnson and the Sullivan's Island batteries enfiladed our faces, and contributed to prevent the renewal of the assault. Many of the shots struck the fort. The garrison, consisting of the Charleston Battalion, behaved admirably; all praise is due to Major Blake, his officers and men, for the promptness and gallantry displayed in the defence.

September 9th, 4.20 A. M.—Additional two officers captured are First Lieutenant Charles H. Bradford, U. S. Marines, wounded; E. G. Dayton, executive officer, Wissahickon.

One of our gunboats assisted during the fight—unable to communicate with it afterwards.

‘4.45.—Enemy attacked me in barges. We have captured thirteen officers, one hundred and two (102) men, four boats, and three colors. Not one of my men hurt.’

The fire of our guns from James and Sullivan's islands had surprised and demoralized the assaulting forces. Many of the boats at once put back. The troops in those that were foremost sought refuge on the berme of the fort, and held up their hands in token of surrender. Had our batteries remained silent until the whole Federal detachment had left the barges, it is probable that the 500 or 450 ‘picked men’ alluded to by Admiral Dahlgren would have fallen into our hands. But though our success could have been more complete, it was, nevertheless, highly satisfactory, and brought forth the following congratulatory letter from General Beauregard:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 9th, 1863.
Major Stephen Elliott, Comdg. Fort Sumter, etc., etc.:
Major,—The Commanding General directs me to compliment you and your garrison on the brilliant success of this morning. He hopes that all future attempts of the enemy to take Sumter will meet with the same result. The General will endeavor to have the prisoners removed in the course of the day or to-night. Should, meanwhile, the enemy bombard Sumter, and you have not enough cover for your command, you will expose the prisoners, instead of your troops, to the enemy's fire.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

The events succeeding those we have just related—but which are, relatively, of minor importance—are sufficiently explained by the following letters and instructions of General Beauregard to his subordinate officers, to the War Department, and to generals and citizens of note in South Carolina and elsewhere: [158]

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 10th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—I am instructed to inform you of the arrival from Richmond of a party of one hundred and thirty officers and men, under the command of Lieutenant Rochelle, C. S. N. These men were ordered here for harbor service, and have been directed to report to Captain Tucker.

The Commanding General desires you to confer with Captain Tucker, and determine what arrangement may be best to carry on and protect our communications with Sumter and Sullivan's Island. He thinks that two or more launches, with howitzers, the torpedo-ram, and Juno, should be used exclusively for that purpose.

Captain Haskell's launch, the one captured by the Juno, and others, might be fitted up at once for the police of the harbor, and to protect Captain Gray in putting down torpedoes in the outside channel.

You will please give your immediate attention to the organization of the water transportation and harbor police, and ascertain from Captain Tucker how far he may be able to assist, or whether he would prefer superintending the organization himself. Of course the two—transportation and harbor police—should be under the control of the same head.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 14th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—I am instructed by the Commanding General to ask you the following questions, and direct the execution of the following orders:

1st. Are the roads and bridges from Fort Pemberton, along the Stono, to the upper batteries near the “Overflow” in good condition? If not, they should at once be so made. All those batteries and those in rear of the “Overflow” must be connected, as soon as practicable, by a good wagon-road, passing not far in their rear along the shortest lines.

2d. Have you yet made arrangements about employing those officers and sailors from Richmond for guarding the harbor at night, and for communicating with Sullivan's Island, in case of necessity?

3d. Has that picket been maintained or re-established at Marsh Battery, north of Vincent's Creek? It was doubtless through that creek that the boats of the enemy passed which captured ours at Cummings's Point. You will please explain why the orders relative to said picket were neglected.

4th. It is reported by Major Elliott that the ordnance artificer sent to Fort Sumter to collect old iron, etc., remained there but one day. You will please have another sent, with orders to remain as long as necessary.

5th. Can the 10-inch columbiad still remaining in Fort Sumter be removed to the city? If practicable, request Mr. Lacoste to do so at once.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 15th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—I am instructed to communicate to you the following orders of the Commanding General:

1st. That the treble-banded Brooke gun which burst on Sullivan's Island be brought to the city as soon as practicable.

2d. That, if not already done, the other Brooke gun which arrived from Richmond be forthwith sent to Sullivan's Island. This was ordered several days ago.

3d. That you will please inform these Headquarters whether the order in reference to the picket at Monk's Corner has yet been complied with, and any deserters arrested.

4th. That you turn over, temporarily, to Lieutenant Rochelle, C. S. N., for army transportation and guard purposes in the harbor, all row-boats, barges, etc., not required for your current wants, taking proper receipts.

5th. That, as soon as possible, you have removed from Fort Sumter all the lead, copper, good carriages, and chassis, etc., especially the carriage and chassis of the 11-inch gun now required in the city.

6th. That you have reconstructed the observatory at Secessionville, and also erect one near Battery Cheves or Haskell.

7th. That the commanding officer at Fort Johnson be directed to employ actively the troops there in constructing bomb-proofs and rifle-pits.

8th. That Colonel Butler, at Moultrie, be directed to employ actively as many of his regiment as practicable in removing the debris from the interior, to throw over the parapet into the ditch of the water-face, under the direction of the Engineer Department, to form a chemise to the scarp.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 19th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General instructs me to communicate the following orders:

1st. That the batteries about Redoubt No. 1 fire occasionally on vessels in Light-house Creek, if their guns can reach that far without too great danger of bursting.

2d. That Sumter and the surrounding batteries be supplied with a sure and well-understood signal for opening fire in case of another attack by barges.

3d. That Fort Sumter be kept always fully supplied with at least one month's provisions for the garrison. You will please, in this connection, report the supply now on hand in that fort.

I am also directed to inform you that the enemy is constructing a battery in rear of the middle of Black Island.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 23d, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General instructs me to inquire if Fort Sumter is amply provided with water.

He also directs that, in the daytime, our batteries only fire on Morris Island when they see the enemy actively at work, and at night they should fire only at irregular intervals. We must economize our ammunition and guns as much as possible for a long siege.

It is the wish of the Commanding General that Fort Sumter be furnished with disinfectants, and that one company of the garrison be changed weekly.

He further directs that you send a detachment of Earle's battery, under Captain Earle, with the larger Foote gun, to Buckingham Ferry, for the purpose of annoying the enemy's communication between Fort Pulaski and Hilton Head.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 23d, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,--It is the wish of the Commanding General that you call on Generals Hagood, Colquitt, and Taliaferro, and Colonels Keitt and Harrison, to furnish the names of such officers and men who have specially distinguished themselves for zeal and gallantry in the discharge of their duties on Morris Island during the turns of duty of those commanding officers on that island; also on Colonel Rhett and Major Elliott for the same in reference to the defence of Fort Sumter.

You will also please carry out the following orders:

Moultrie House, Sullivan's Island, not to be destroyed by our troops unless too close to our batteries. It serves as a good object to draw the enemy's fire.

The 8-inch rifled and banded gun heretofore ordered to the foot of Laurens Street (where a 10-inch gun has been put) will be sent to Fort Moultrie; Colonels Butler and Harris to determine its position.

The 11-inch gun on Sullivan's Island will have to be transferred to the eastern chamber of Battery Bee, designated by Commanding General to Engineer officer, to a position east of an 8-inch columbiad.

The old 32-pounder rifled gun (No. 27) in Moultrie should be sent to the city for re-rifling, and a proper mechanic to Moultrie, to bush another 32-pounder, rifled, in position there.

The sand-bags of embrasures to be kept wet during action. The Yates traversing arrangements in Moultrie and the outside batteries appear to be all out of order, which was not the case in Fort Sumter. Order an ordnance officer to see to this at once. If Colonel Yates be available, order him to make an investigation forthwith.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. Fielden, Capt. and A. A. G.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 25th, 1863.
Lieut.-Col. D. B. Harris, Chief-Engineer, etc., etc.:
Colonel,—I am instructed to say in this way what has already been communicated to you verbally by the Commanding General—that he approves of every measure practicable to give Fort Sumter means for contributing to the general defence of the entrance of the harbor; and, therefore, he desires certain casemates in northeast face, which Major-General Gilmer14 has designated in his communication of the 23d instant, to be put in condition to receive two 10-inch columbiads, one 42-pounder, and one 32-pounder, rifled and banded; these pieces to be thoroughly protected from a rear and vertical fire of the enemy's batteries.

Respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 29th, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—The Commanding General instructs me to inquire whether the traversing arrangements of the guns on Sullivan's Island have been put in order. They needed repairs last week. He desires also that you will send an artificer to Fort Ripley to remedy the defects in the traversing arrangements of the guns at that point, as they are represented as being out of order.

The General also directs that Fort Ripley be supplied with one hundred and fifty to two hundred rounds of shot to the gun. There are now only one hundred and twenty-eight. Finally, the General directs me to say that there is too much powder at Fort Ripley. The surplus will be removed to Castle Pinckney, if required there for its three guns, one of which will be added to its present arrangement.

Very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

Clifton H. Smith, Asst. Adjt.-Genl.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Sept. 30th, 1863.
General Samuel Cooper, Adjt. and Insp.-General, Richmond, Va.:
General,—The published report of Brigadier-General Gillmore, of the 7th instant, to his government, relative to his acquisition of Batteries Wagner and Gregg, contains several errors, which I feel called upon to correct.

1st. Seventy-five men were not taken on Morris Island, for only two boats' crews—about 19 men and 27 sailors, or about 46 men in all—were captured by the enemy's armed barges between Cummings's Point and Fort Sumter.

2d. Colonel Keitt's captured despatches could not have shown that the garrison of Wagner and Gregg amounted to “between 1500 and 1600 effective men on the day of the evacuation (6th inst.),” for Colonel Keitt reported that morning 900 men, all told, only about two-thirds of whom could be considered “effectives;” the others being wounded, or more or less disabled from exposure for so long a period to the weather and the incessant fire, day and [162] night, of the enemy's land and naval batteries. The forces holding these works and the north end of Morris Island, during the fifty-eight days siege, varied from 1000 to 1200 men, seldom exceeding the latter number when it could be avoided.

3d. Battery Wagner was not “a work of the most formidable kind,” but an ordinary field-work, with thick parapets, but with ditches of little depth. The sand thrown up by the enemy's shells and drifted by the wind, during so long a siege, had nearly filled up the ditches in many places, and had partially covered up the explosive shells, spiked planks, and pikes placed in the ditch for its defence.15

4th. The bomb-proof of Wagner could not contain 1800 men, or more than 600; the garrison of the work being about 800 men.

5th. “Nineteen pieces of artillery and a large supply of excellent ammunition were captured.” The pieces of heavy and light artillery left in Wagner and Gregg were more or less damaged, and all with their vents not too much enlarged were spiked. The carriages, chassis, etc., were more or less disabled by the enemy's shots and shells. Only 1800 pounds of ammunition (200 in Wagner and 1000 in Gregg) were left to explode the magazines and bomb-proofs; but, unfortunately, through some accident, the fuses left burning did not ignite the powder.

6th. The city of Charleston may be completely covered by General Gillmore's guns on Morris Island, but at the distance of four miles from his advanced battery to the nearest point of the city.

I will conclude by stating that, strange as it may appear, the total loss in killed and wounded on Morris Island, from July 10th to September 7th, 1863, was only 641 men; and, deducting the killed and wounded due to the landing on the 10th of July, and to the assaults of the 11th and 18th of July, the killed and wounded due to the terrible bombardment, which lasted almost uninterruptedly, night and day, during fifty-eight days, only amounted to 296 men, many of whom were only slightly wounded. It is still more remarkable that during the same period of time, when the enemy fired 6202 shots and shells at Fort Sumter, varying in weight from 30 pounds to 300 pounds, only 3 men were killed and 14 wounded. Indeed, the hand of the Almighty would seem to have protected the heroic garrison of that historic work.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 7th, 1863.
General Braxton Bragg, Commanding near Chattanooga, Tenn.:
Dear General,—I have just been informed from Richmond that the Army of Virginia is about to take the offensive again, to prevent Meade from reinforcing Rosecrans, thus repeating, to a certain extent, the campaign of last [163] July into Pennsylvania, which did not save Middle Tennessee and the Mississippi Valley. You must, no doubt, recollect what I wrote on the subject to General Johnston, on the 15th of May16 last, to endeavor to prevent that offensive campaign, which, I thought, would not effect the object in view.

I now address you my views on the reported intentions of General Lee or the War Department, to see if our small available means cannot be used to a better purpose.

It is evident to my mind that, admitting Lee's movement can prevent Meade from reinforcing Rosecrans and drive the former across the Potomac, Lee cannot prevent Rosecrans from being reinforced by about 40,000 or 50,000 men from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and the Mississippi Valley, in about one month's time; hence, admitting that Rosecrans has now about your own supposed effective force—say 60,000 men of all arms—he will then have about 110,000 men against 60,000.

War being a contest of “masses against fractions,” all other things being equal, you would certainly be defeated; then, either you must be reinforced from Johnston's or Lee's army, or Middle Georgia would be lost, and the Confederacy, now cut in two, would then be cut in three. Meanwhile, Meade, having been reinforced by the new levies of the enemy, and taking his time to organize and discipline them, would retake the offensive, and Lee would be driven back towards Richmond, admitting that his supplies would enable him to maintain his army that long on the south side of the Potomac; or a large army might be concentrated here, and, having taken this place and marched into the interior, towards Augusta, the Confederacy would again be subdivided; or, should the enemy find it impossible or too tedious to take Charleston, he might concentrate again his forces on the coast of North Carolina, and, marching to Raleigh or Weldon, would cut off all our present communications with Virginia.

The question now arises, can these calamities be avoided, and in what way? If my opinion for once could be listened to, I would say again, act entirely on the defensive in Virginia, send you immediately 25,000 men from Lee's army, 5000 or 10,000 more from Johnston's forces, to enable you to take the offensive forthwith, and cross the Tennessee to crush Rosecrans before he can be reinforced to any large extent from any quarter. Then you could attack and defeat the enemy's reinforcements in detail, before they could be concentrated into a strong army.

In the mean time, Lee, if necessary, could fall back within the lines around Richmond until a part of your army could be sent to his relief. I fear any other plan will, sooner or later, end in our final destruction in detail.

Should you approve of this plan, can you not address it as your own to the War Department, in the hope of its being adopted? What I desire is our success. I care not who gets the credit for it. Our resources are fast getting exhausted; our people, I fear, are getting disheartened; for they can see no bright spot in the horizon to revive their drooping hopes after the patriotic sacrifices they have made in this terrible contest. Let us, then, unite [164] all our efforts in a last deadly struggle, and, with God's help, we shall yet triumph.

I regret I have not time to pay you a short visit, to present you my views more fully, and to discuss with you our future operations.

Wishing you ample success, I remain, sincerely your friend,

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 8th, 1863.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—It is the wish of the Commanding General that you should at once have inquiries made where the fault lies in Evans's brigade not being properly supplied with ammunition.

With the exception of the 22d South Carolina Volunteers, now on Sullivan's Island, none of the regiments are completely supplied with the regulation number of forty rounds.

The 23d Regiment, stationed some seven miles from Brigade Headquarters, is extremely deficient, and has no immediate means of replacing any necessary consumption, as all ordnance wagons and ordnance sergeants are attached to Brigade Headquarters, and not with their respective regiments.

Those regiments that are armed with rifles of 54 calibre say that the ordnance officer of the brigade cannot supply the required ammunition.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. Fielden, Capt., and Asst. Adjt.-General.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 28th, 1863.
Major-General J. F. Gilmer, Second in Command, etc., Savannah, Ga.:
General,—On examination I find that General Mercer has now thirty-four companies in his command, on duty as heavy artillery, while the number of companies here, for manning all the batteries around Charleston, does not exceed thirty-eight. Of course, to man all his batteries on the most efficient footing, he has not too many—indeed, not as many as it would be desirable for him to have—but, relatively, it would appear that his force of heavy artillery is too large, and may be reduced without material detriment, when we consider the demands of the service elsewhere in the Department, and the chances for operations, or the risk of any serious movement for the reduction of Savannah, at least without some notice. Accordingly, Company E, 12th Battalion Georgia Volunteers, has been ordered here to join the rest of the battalion, and it will be well to see that it is replaced by a company of Olmstead's regiment (1st Georgia Volunteers), as there is one company of that regiment already there, and it is desirable to have homogeneity in the composition of these garrisons.

There are, moreover, three companies (F, H, and I) of the 54th Regiment (Way's) Georgia Volunteers in the District of Georgia—two at Rosedew, and one at Beaulieu—on heavy artillery duty, which, I have suggested to the General, ought to be brought here for James Island and consolidated with the [165] other six companies for infantry service. Therefore the General Commanding instructs me to lay the matter before you, to investigate whether these companies may not be replaced either from Gordon's or Olmstead's regiment, and ordered here, without material risk of exposing Savannah to fall by a coup de main.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 29th, 1863.
Colonel D. B. Harris, Chief-Engineer, etc.:
Colonel,—The Commanding General directs that you will repair tonight to Fort Sumter, and give the necessary instructions for repairs to that fort.

You will also determine, upon consultation with the commanding officer and local Engineer, what is the minimum garrison and force of laborers that should be kept at that post.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Clifton H. Smith, Asst. Adjt.-Genl.

Headquarters, Department S, C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 30th, 1863.
Colonel Alfred Rhett, Comdg. Fifth Mil. Dist., etc., etc.;
Colonel,—Major Elliott must arrange, through you, with Generals Ripley and Hagood and Flag-officer Tucker, of the navy, some definite signal, upon the giving of which by him the batteries on Sullivan's and James islands, and the ironclads of our navy bearing on the several faces of that work, shall open fire so as to sweep every point of approach.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 30th, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. Johnson Hagood, Comdg., etc., James Island, S. C.:
General,—In reply to your letter of the 29th instant I am directed by the Commanding General to inform you that the Engineer Department has been ordered to alter the embrasure of one of the guns at Battery Simkins, so as to allow it to be brought to bear upon and against Fort Sumter if necessary.

The right-hand gun of this battery cannot be thus altered without exposing it too much to the fire of the enemy from Gregg and Wagner.

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

P. S.—The Commanding General further directs that you instruct the Engineer to close the embrasure at Battery Simkins every morning before daylight, as otherwise the gun may be dismounted by a fire from Battery Gregg.

Respectfully, C. H. S., A. A. G.


Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Oct. 30th, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—As a boat attack may be anticipated on Fort Sumter, after the heavy bombardment which that work has been undergoing for some days, the Commanding General directs that all the batteries bearing on it shall be held ready at night to sweep its exterior faces, at a concerted signal from Major Elliott, or whensoever the approach of hostile boats shall be evident. Concert of action, however, is most desirable.17

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Nov. 1st, 1863.
His Excellency M. L. Bonham, Governor of South Carolina, etc., etc.:
Governor,—Your letter of the 24th inst. enclosing one from Colonel Waddy Thompson, and another from Messrs. Pullian and Patten, has been received. I have ordered a light battery to report at once to Colonel Williams, at Greenville, S. C. I regret as much as you do my inability to send mounted troops for the defence of that part of the State.

It is not prudent to withdraw, at this critical moment, from my already too small forces a regiment of old troops from the defence of Charleston. So soon as it can be done with safety I will gladly send all the assistance in my power to Governor Vance.

I remain, very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Nov. 4th, 1863.
Brig.-Genl. R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., etc., etc.:
General,—Enclosed is a telegram 18 received from Major Norris, Chief of Signal Corps, Richmond.

The Commanding General wishes you to make all necessary arrangements for the contingency, and with a view to the rapid reinforcement of the command on Sullivan's Island from the troops in Christ Church, which portion of your district, however, should not be left uncovered until the decisive moment.

He suggests, also, that the 20th Regiment S. C. V. (Keitt's), alternating with some other good regiment, should take post for the present on Sullivan's Island at night, returning to their encampments just before daylight, to escape observation.

Very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.


A copy of the telegram referred to was, on the same day, forwarded to General Taliaferro, commanding the Seventh Military District. He was directed ‘to hold his troops prepared at night for the emergency,’ and ‘to look particularly to the east lines exposed to approach from Morris Island, giving due regard, however, to the proper protection of the new lines.’ BrigadierGen-eral Wise, commanding Sixth Military District, St. Andrew's Parish, was also instructed as to what course to follow, should he be called to the assistance of General Taliaferro.

The incident now about to be related is deserving of note. It produced a feeling of disappointment among some of the warmest friends of Mr. Davis.

About the middle of October, 1863, President Davis visited General Bragg at his headquarters near Dalton, to settle a difficulty then existing between that officer and his subordinate commanders, and to suggest Longstreet's assault on Knoxville. While returning to Richmond he stopped a day or two in Savannah and Charleston, and made it a point to inspect some of their defensive works and the gallant troops manning them.

Unable to go in person to welcome the President upon his arrival in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, General Beauregard sent several members of his staff—among whom were Colonel Roman and Lieutenant Chisolm—to perform that duty and accompany the distinguished visitor to Charleston. He reached there on the 2d of November, at about 1 P. M., and found General Beauregard awaiting him at the depot, or what served as such, with an imposing military escort. There was also a deputation of citizens, appointed by the civil authorities, to offer him the hospitalities of the city. But he declined their invitation, having already promised a personal friend—ex-Governor Aiken— to repair to his residence and make of it his headquarters during his short sojourn in Charleston.

The President was escorted with all due honor to the City Hall, where he gave a public reception, after delivering an eloquent and patriotic address. He spoke of almost every topic of the war, except one. The defence of Charleston at that time had lasted more than seven months, and, in face of the dreadful reverses of Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the general gloom resulting from them, it alone kept up the hope and spirits of the South. The officers and men had signally distinguished themselves during that [168] desperate and glorious siege. Several of them had been justly recommended for promotion. Yet he found but a single one to praise—Major Stephen D. Elliott, the recently chosen commander of Sumter, placed there after the first bombardment was over and the regular artillery withdrawn. Not one word of General Beauregard, who stood at his elbow while he spoke; not one word of Generals Taliaferro, Hagood, Colquitt, and Ripley, of Colonels Rhett, Butler, Harris, Keitt, and Harrison, or of the brave men who fought with and under them, was said by Mr. Davis, the Commander-in-chief of the land and naval forces of the Confederate States. The President was speaking to Carolinians, in the heart of their devoted city. Such was his justice to those whose genius, courage, and unsurpassed fortitude had attracted the admiration of Europe and the respect of their enemies.

When the reception was over Governor Aiken invited the Mayor, some of the leading citizens, and the ranking officers present, to dine at his house with the President. Some accepted; General Beauregard did not. He thought that, after the singular manner in which he and his subordinate commanders had just been treated, he could without impropriety free himself from all but official courtesies towards Mr. Davis. He therefore contented himself with accompanying the latter on his tour of inspection around James and Sullivan's islands, and with explaining to him all that had been done, since the destruction of Sumter, to perfect the interior harbor defenses and lines in and about Charleston.

From General Hagood's narrative of the defence of James and Morris islands, from July, 1863, to the early part of 1864, we take the following passage:

‘In November, President Davis visited James Island. General Taliaferro was absent on leave, and General Hagood in command. Mr. Davis inspected the works closely, going at a rapid gallop, with his cortege, from battery to battery, and stopping long enough to receive a salute and ride around the regiments which were drawn up along his route, each at its post. He seemed in good spirits. The troops betrayed much enthusiasm, but he acknowledged their cheers for “Mr. President” by simply raising his hat. General Hagood rode with him, as commander of the island, and necessarily had much conversation with him. This, and on the field of battle at Drury's Bluff, when General Beauregard was pleased to present him again, with a compliment, to the President, were the only times when he was ever in conversation with this distinguished man.’


When the President left Charleston, General Beauregard escorted him once more, and was among the last to take leave of him at the Northeastern Railroad Depot.

In the ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government’—unless we are mistaken—Mr. Davis makes no mention of his visit to Charleston. If there is any reference to it in that work it is in such an incidental manner that we have not been able to discover the passage. And again, in that book, as in his address of the 2d of November, 1863, already referred to, he gives the merest passing notice to a period including fully nineteen months of the war; thus omitting to enlighten the student of history, and compelling him to look elsewhere for the evidence of facts which Mr. Davis apparently considered too insignificant to deserve particular mention. He says:

‘The brave and invincible defence of Fort Sumter gave to the City of Charleston, South Carolina, additional lustre. For four years that fort, located in its harbor, defied the army and navy of the United States.’19

Who commanded the Department? Who planned that ‘invincible defence?’ Who executed it? What troops were there, and under what officers did they fight? These are questions as to which complete silence is preserved; and from what follows the reader is led to believe that the Commanding General was General Hardee, and that Fort Sumter was never under any officer except Colonel Stephen D. Elliott. We quote:

‘When the city was about to be abandoned to the army of General Sherman the forts defending the harbor were embraced in General Hardee's plan of evacuation. The gallant commander of Fort Sumter, Colonel Stephen Elliott, Jr., with unyielding fortitude refused to be relieved, after being under incessant bombardment, day and night, for weeks. It was supposed he must be exhausted, and he was invited to withdraw for rest; but, on receiving the general order of retreat, he assembled his brave force on the rugged and shellcrushed parade-ground, read his instructions, and, in a voice that trembled with emotion, addressed his men in the glowing language of patriotism and unswerving devotion to the Confederate cause. The cheers which responded to the utterances of their colonel came from manly and chivalric throats. Yielding to the inevitable, they claimed for the Stars and Bars a salute of one hundred guns. As it was fired from Sumter it was re-echoed by all the Confederate batteries, and startled the outside blockaders with the idea that a great victory had been won by the Confederacy.’20


That such a statement should have been inserted in a work purporting to be a true exposition of Confederate history is beyond comprehension. The facts are these:

Colonel Elliott, who had been promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General, was relieved, on the 4th of May, 1864, from the command of Fort Sumter, and sent to Virginia, to take charge of Walker's brigade, of South Carolina. The successor of General Elliott at the fort was Captain John C. Mitchel, of the 1st South Carolina Artillery (Regulars). He remained in command until the 20th of July, 1864, when, during the third regular bombardment of Sumter, he was killed by a mortar-shell. Captain Mitchel was a son of the distinguished Irish patriot, and a highly accomplished and daring officer. On his death Captain T. A. Huguenin, of the South Carolina Infantry (Regulars), was appointed in his place, and held command of Sumter until its evacuation, on the 17th of February, 1865—nearly eight months after General Elliott had been relieved. The evacuation of Sumter was effected at night, in silence, without a speech from any one, without a cheer from the garrison, without the firing of a gun. In order to keep the enemy in ignorance of the movement then in course of execution, the withdrawal was proceeded with as secretly and noiselessly as possible. And yet the ex-President of the Confederate States and ex-Commander-in-chief of its armies published to the world in his work (seventeen years in preparation) this extravagant fiction. The enormity being pointed out to him by friends, he has, in a second publication of the first edition of his book, resorted to another and different version, but one which is also erroneous in several particulars. We shall again refer to this matter when treating of the evacuation of Charleston.

1 November 30th, 1882, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Confederate monument in Charleston.

2 One hundred and fifty men and four officers of Colquitt's brigade, of Georgians, were the first detail of infantry introduced into Sumter, under Captain Worthen.

3 See Appendix.

4 General Beauregard refers to this patriotic citizen in his Morris Island report. See preceding chapter.

5 Words used by Mr. Davis, September 13, 1862, in his interview with a committee of Congressmen, on the subject of General Beauregard's transfer to the Army of the West. See Chapter XXV.

6 Captain Pliny Bryan, of Maryland, was a member of the Legislature of that State at the beginning of the war. He reported to General Beauregard, at Manassas, and was, shortly afterwards, appointed in the Adjutant-General's Department. He was active, intelligent, zealous, and did good service during the siege of Charleston. He died in the summer of 1864, from exposure to the sun while in the performance of his duties.

7 ‘Engineer and Artillery Operations against Charleston,’ by General Gillmore, p. 335. See also p. 337.

8 T See preceding chapter.

9 General Gillmore's book, p. 335.

10 General Hagood's narrative of the defence of Morris Island.

11 See, in General Gillmore's book, pp. 338, 339, signal despatches between Admiral Dahlgren and General Gillmore.

12 Ibid., p. 339.

13 In his despatch of September 8th to General Gillmore, Admiral Dahlgren spoke of his assaulting party as being composed of 500 men. In a subsequent paper, referred to by Mr. Charles Cowley in ‘Leaves from a Lawyer's Life, Afloat and Ashore,’ p. 108, Admiral Dahlgren alludes to the same party as being ‘a fine naval column of 450 picked men.’

14 Promoted, about the 15th of September, 1863.

15 See also General Gillmore's book, p. 74, § 168, where the same incorrect statements are made.

16 See Chapter XXXI.

17 This order was also sent to Brigadier-General Hagood.

18 This telegram, like many others from the same source, proved to be erroneous.

19 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II., p. 204, first edition.

20 Ibid.

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Fort Moultrie (South Carolina, United States) (2)
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (1)
Weldon, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Waterloo (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Secessionville (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (1)
Raleigh (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Ohio (Ohio, United States) (1)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Knoxville (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Indiana (Indiana, United States) (1)
Hilton Head (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Greenwood (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Greenville (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Europe (1)
England (United Kingdom) (1)
Dalton, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Chattanooga (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Charleston Harbor (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Beaufort, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Augusta (Georgia, United States) (1)

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