- General Beauregard desires the Engineers' reports of the condition of Fort Sumter. -- conference between Colonel Rhett, the Engineer officers, and Captain Harleston on the 24th of August. -- additional report of Colonels Gilmer and Harris. -- General Beauregard resolves not to evacuate the Fort, but to withdraw the Artillery from it, and make it, for the time being, an infantry post. -- his instructions to General Ripley.-he Recommends Colonel Rhett for promotion. -- work done by the garrison of Sumter. -- Gradual transformation of the Fort. -- Colonel Rhett withdrawn, with the Artillery Regulars, and Major Elliott placed in command, with infantry guard. -- instructions given to General Ripley. -- knowledge of the enemy's purpose to attack Cummings's Point. -- how the ‘Key’ to his signals was procured. -- enemy foiled. -- history of the two heavy guns at Battery Wagner. -- Admiral Dahlgren demands the surrender of Sumter. -- General Beauregard's answer. -- combined Federal attack on Sumter. -- its failure. -- Major Elliott's journal. -- important letters and instructions of General Beauregard. -- President Davis visits Savannah and Charleston. -- cordial reception tendered him in Charleston.-his address. -- his omission to mention or praise the officers in command of the works, of the Military Districts and of the Department. -- slight reference made in his book to the defence of Charleston. -- errors in his account of the evacuation of Sumter. -- Partial After—correction.
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:
Colonels Gilmer and Harris complied with these instructions,  and, the next day, presented the following report to Department Headquarters:
Accompanying the foregoing report was this additional paper:
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  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:
 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:
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  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 Beauregard had taken more than ordinary pains in the selection of Colonel Rhett's successor. He was solicitous that  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:
The knowledge of the enemy's purpose had been obtained by reading a signal despatch from General Gillmore to Admiral Dahlgren, which ran thus:
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  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:
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  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  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  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:
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:  167] 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  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.’19Who 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.