Visit of a British officer to Fort Sumter.
--The London Times
publishes an extract from a letter of a British officer at Charleston
, dated the 16th of November, as follows:
I went yesterday evening, the 15th, to Fort Sumter
It was a most interesting expedition.
The Federals use a most powerful calcium light at Battery Gregg, with which they illuminate Sumter
to such a degree that it is impossible for steamers to go up to the wharf at night, as they used to do, and we had to land in rowboats.
They were shelling very rapidly, and it became most exciting when we neared the fort, especially when we came into the glare of the calcium light and they could see us. No accident befell us, however, as we went in, and once inside the place, and in the bomb proofs, we were perfectly safe.
The last bombardment has not injured them in the slightest degree; indeed, they are, if anything, really stronger than before, from the amount of the debris knocked down upon them.
, the commandant, was kind enough to take me out into the parapet, to show me the effects of the bombardment, a courtesy, by the by, which, considering the lively way in which shells was flying about us, was indicative of very genuine politeness.
We had not been half a minute in the area when one of the lookouts got his jaw broken with a bit of shell, and we hardly got back when another poor fellow was brought in with two-thirds of his head knocked off. Under the circumstances we did not stay long; still I had time enough to take a good look around and see all I wished.
The place is undoubtedly very much injured, indeed, it is hardly possibly to do the walls any further damage.--The sea front is almost entirely knocked into the sea, and you can now walk up from the area to the top of the walls, once faced the sea. The wall which they battered so in August is now the best one left, it retains pretty well its original height.
It is the part of the building which originally contained the officers quarters, and was made pretty solid, between April and August, by filling up every vacuum with sand.
The side towards the city has also, comparatively, suffered little.--The casualties in the fort are seldom heavy, and arise from the men exposing themselves carelessly.
The sentinels, most of whom have to be posted at night, have mostly a shelter into which they can dodge when they see a shell coming.
On our return from the port we were again pelted with all kinds of missiles, even with grape this time, and one of our boatmen got hit in the hand, and another in the back, though very slightly.