The bombardment and capture of forts Clark and Hatteras.
This exploit of the Federalists continues to occupy a large share of public attention, both North and South.
We subjoin some extracts from the narrative of an officer on board the C. S. steamer Ellis
, which started for the forts with reinforcements on the 27th of August, the day before the attack commenced:
The voyage up the Sound.
Proceeding up the Sound
, we came up with the little dispatch boat M. C. Downing
, just from Hatteras
, bringing up the intelligence that the patriotic little band of 100 men, who were at Fort Clark
, a little above Fort Hatteras, after making a desperate resistance, firing their last shot had evacuated the fort, having previously rendered the guns useless by spiking and dismounting them, and that the vandal horde of the North
, led on by a traitorous Methodist minister, had landed and taken possession of the fort, and now the ‘"Stars and Stripes. "’ were floating over the time-honored soil of the Old North State; that Fort Hatteras was still gallantly fighting, but was in need of men and munitions of war. The men we could easily supply, but the ammunition we had not. The little steamer then passed ahead after ammunition, and we with beating and anxious hearts eagerly waited the time when we should cheer our noble companions by our presence.
Just at this time we saw the steamer Winslow
approaching with a plenty of ammunition, and the following officers on board: Captain Samuel Barron
, Sharp and Murdaugh
, and Surgeon Greenhow
She came to anchor about 2½ or 3 miles from the fort.
This was indeed cheering, and our expectations knew no bounds.
All this time a severe and constant cannonade was being kept up, the fleet firing continual broadsides of shell, while we replied at intervals with shot, our shell having been expended.
The shot and shell dropped thick and fast upon the fort and island, but so far no one was hurt, except two men killed and Lieutenant Knight
wounded, while retreating from Fort Clark
In the face of this dreadful storm of iron, our Captain
, with that firmness and tranquility which ever characterizes the true officer and gentleman, ran the Confederate States
"’ hear the fort, which now of course became the prominent mark for the Yankees
, as we were not only a gunboat, but our decks were crowded with men. Protected by our Heavenly Father, though the balls whistled close and fast by us, we remained unhurt.
One thing I can vouch for is, that there is not a man upon this little steamer but who has grown familiar with that peculiar whizzing sound, which always accompanies a ball in its flight through the air. Several rifle cannon balls passed in close proximity to us, and though perhaps it was the first time that some of them had ever heard a cannon fired, yet the crew and officers stood it with the most perfect nonchalance, exhibiting throughout the whole action perfect confidence in their officers, and a reliance upon the Almighty hand.
After safely landing the troops, we again returned to the ‘"Winslow
,"’ and taking a plentiful supply of ammunition, we went alongside the schooners and took all the troops on board, and safely landed everything at the fort.
Our escape was truly miraculous.
Nobly has the ‘"Ellis
"’ performed her duty in this terrible encounter, and it is due to her that her services should be acknowledged.
Too much praise cannot be given to her commander and crew.
Preparing for the Second day's work.
The enemy, after an incessant fire of about six hours, having sounded all about, and planted buoys ready for the dreadful work of to-morrow, retired for the night, and no doubt employed themselves for the coming struggle.
Nearly all night we were employed in making the fort impreguable, as we then thought.
Much of the disaster which occurred on Thursday, may be attributed to the fact that we did not possess ourselves of Fort Clark
by the bayonet that night; but wiser and older heads than mine thought otherwise.
Certain it is, in my opinion, it was one of the causes, second only to the shameful neglect of the authorities in not properly fortifying the coast, that caused our defeat.
From these two causes we have the following result: the possession of Hatteras
, the key of the Sound
— the almost entire control of the Sound
— the road open to invasion at any moment--Captain Barron
, Lieutenant Sharp
, and about seven hundred or eight hundred gallant men prisoners, taken by the Abolition Kangaroos
, besides prolonging, in my opinion, the war for half a year.
The bombardment of Fort Hatteras by the flower of the Federal
navy was a scene which will ever no present to the minds of those who witnessed it. On that day many a fireside was made desolate; many a mother and wife made to weep over the sad fate of those who were nearest and dearest to them, and whose bloody and mangled corpses, perhaps, now lay stark and stiff upon the blood-stained beach of Hatteras
! But such scenes as these are the necessary attendants of war.
But what is that appearing on the fort?--A white flag ! Surely those who were that morning so buoyant and so full of joy and hope at the prospect of beating the Yankees
, cannot now be sucing for peace ! Yet it is so ! Such a continual stream of shell was more than the gallant little fort could stand; the bomb-proof had given away, and every shell now played sad havoc among them; so, laying aside their pride, they yielded to necessity, and to prevent any more sacrifice of life, had resigned themselves to months' imprisonment, perhaps, in the loathsome dens of the Tombs ! It was truly a humiliating sight, and one long to be remembered by both parties.
Every man within that little fort that day rendered himself a hero.
It was, without doubt, one of the greatest fights of the age. To us it was indeed sad to see men like Barron
and Sharp, of the navy, and like Martin
and Sharp, of the army, obliged to lay down their arms to a set of Northern hirelings.
I sincerely hope that every village and hamlet throughout the South
will be fully aroused to a stern sense of their duty, and immediately put forth their whole efforts to retrieve the sad reverses which we on that day suffered.
The fight lasted for a day and a half, out of which time there were 14 hours of incessant firing, during which time they threw some 4 or 5,000 shot and shell.
After finding the fort had surrendered, and that we could be of no possible use, we left for Ocracoke to take on board the sad and weeping wives of the officers now prisoners.
The cannonade Renewed.
The next morning, August 29th, a day ever memorable to those who witnessed or participated in this sublime but terrible contest, rose calm and beautiful.
This was just what the Yankees
wished. * * * * *
At 8½ A. M., the frigate Wabash
steamed up, and as she passed Fort Clark
, the ‘"Stars and Stripes"’ were waved three times to her from the parapet of the fort, which she acknowledged by dipping her colors.
She then rounded to, dropped anchor, and opened fire upon the fort.
She was immediately joined by the Susquehanna
in an incessant fire of shell, which dropped thick and fast around and in the fort.
The fort replied at intervals, and the Susquchanna was evidently damaged, as she withdrew from the range of the fort, and only fired two more shots during the engagement, her place being supplied by the Roanoke
now also opened on Fort Hatteras, together with several other land batteries, which they had created on shore, one of these, consisting of rifle cannon, seemed to pay particular attention to us, and as they gradually got our range, they came near hitting us several times, so that we changed our position, and the guns were then turned on the fort.
All eyes were now turned on that gallant little fort, fighting against such desperate odds.
One continual stream of shell fell upon it, but still it does not fire ! What can be the matter ! Look, there goes the fort ! again ! again ! but alas ! all fall far short.
The reason is now evident; they cannot reach the vessels, while every shot almost from them tells upon the fort.
Amid a perfect hail-storm of iron the boat leaves the fort ! What can it want?
My God ! they are bringing the wounded to the steamer ! What a terrible scene ! Never shall I forget it. They approach.
Surely that blackened face, that body almost covered with blood, cannot be the noble and chivalrous Lieut. Murdaugh
! Alas ! it is. He had fallen, manfully battling against them by the side of his gun, with words of encouragement upon his lips.
After firing three or four very effective shots, which crippled the Susquehanna
, and finding they were out of range of our guns, he remarked to his men, ‘"Well, boys, we will wait till they come up, when we will give it to them again."’ But he had hardly uttered these words ere an 11-inch shell, exploding close by, sent two or three fragments of shell through his left arm, completely shattering it to pieces, causing great pain, exhaustion, and loss of blood.
The Raleigh Standard, of Saturday last, has the following:
The affair does not alarm us. We do not go into spasms because the Yankees
have taken Hatteras
It is sheer nonsense for our people to take fright and conclude that the Yankees
, having got possession of Hatteras
, can control Eastern Carolina
, and that by consequence it is lost to us, at least for a time.
To talk of Hatteras
being made the base of a great strategic plan for the subjugation of North Carolina
and of the South
, betrays consummate ignorance both of geography and strategy.
Give the Yankees
control of Hatteras
, Beacon Island
, and Oregon Inlet, and then they can do nothing, except to interfere with our privateers, and to harass our people who live on the banks and on the sounds, unless we stand still and do nothing.
The Standard argues to show that Hatteras
ought not to have been surrendered, and that it would not had there not been ‘"something rotten in Denmark
."’ The Standard concludes:
We have no charges of corruption or collusion to make.
We would not do injustice to any living man. But we cannot resist the conclusion which the facts published in our paper to-day force upon us, that Com. Barron
yielded too much to his fears, or something else, when he proposed to surrender.
It is unfortunate, at the present juncture, that the Raleigh
papers are at variance in reference to the management of the coast defences.
' Tribune thus timely remarks :
When facts are stated, grounded on the record of past events, no controversy is necessary for any honest or useful purposes.
Let the patriot press confine itself to the duty of spreading truth before the people, with such comments as may be necessary to illustrate that truth; nor yield to the temptation of resentments that magnify the little and give apparent consequence to the base and selfish.
The Wilmington Journal says:
Hatteras Inlet appears by the coast survey map to be about 11 or 12 miles south of Cape Hatteras
, and 15 or 16 north of Ocracoke.--There is a pretty good harbor with deep water extending in about half a mile.
There is, however, a shoal between this and the deep water of the Sound
, over which eight feet may be carried at extreme high water.
With Hatteras Inlet on the south and Oregon Inlet on the north of the dreaded Cape, chartered blockade steamers may be able to hover around during the winter.
Without them they could not, and privateers cannot.
There is no use trying to gainsay the fact that this capture is a matter of serious importance, for it is one of those incidents that may be looked for at any time in the progress of a war, and which instead of dispiriting us, ought only to stimulate to renewed exertion.
Fort Hatteras was on the North
side of the Inlet
— a mere earthwork, with no guns of sufficient range to reach the Yankee
fleet, which stood off and shelled the men with perfect impunity.
was another and smaller work, of the same character, some two miles North of Fort Hatteras, as we have always heard, although the Federal
account puts it down at only 700 yards, which we must think is an error.
is in latitude 35 degrees 12 minutes North; 30 minutes East of Washington
It is about 30 miles from the nearest accessible landing on the mainland.