Today in History:

16 Series I Volume XXVIII-I Serial 46 - Ft. Sumter - Ft. Wagner Part I

Page 16 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

to that moment, had remained safely ensconced in the bomb-proof shelter.

91. The troops went gallantly on, however, and although the leading regiment was soon thrown into a state of disorder, which reacted disadvantageously upon those which followed, and rendered it necessary to send in the supporting brigade, the southeast bastion was gained, and held by us for nearly three hours. The advantage which the darkness and the perfect knowledge of the interior arrangements of the work gave the enemy rendered it necessary to relinquish it.

92. Our loss was very severe, especially in valuable officers of rank. Among the latter who were either killed upon the spot or Strong and Cols. John L. Chatfield, Haldimand S. Putman, and R. G. Shaw.


93. The formidable strength of Fort Wagner, considered with regard to its position, trace, and interior arrangements, as developed in the unsuccessful assault of the 18th of July, induced a modification of the plan of operations, or rather a change in the order previously determined upon.

94. The demolition of Fort Sumter was the object in view as preliminary to the entrance of the iron-clads. Neither Fort Wagner nor Battery Gregg possessed any special importance as a defense against the passage of the iron-clad fleet. They were simple outposts of Fort Sumter. Fort Wagner was especially designed to prevent the erection of breaching batteries against that work, and was valueless to the enemy if it failed to accomplish that end. To save valuable time, it was determined to attempt the demolition of Sumter from ground already in our possession, so that the iron-clads could enter upon the execution of their part of the programme.

95. Should the fleet fail of success in the inner harbor, the possession of all of Morris Island would then be of value to us, a means of securing a more perfect blockade of the port. Arrangements to press the siege of Fort Wagner by regular approaches were, therefore, also made, although the obstacles to be removed and the difficulties to overcome appeared most formidable. The work was inclosed, and occupied the entire breadth of the island, extending from high-water mark on the east to Vincent's Creek and the impassable marshes on the west, presenting to us a front of over three times the average development that could, by taking advantage of all the firm ground, be given to the head of our approaches, while as we neared the work this ratio reached as high as ten to one. Its faces were mutually defensive, and were completely and thoroughly flanked. It had and excellent command, a bold relief, and was provided with a sluice-gate for tightening the high tides in the ditch. It was constructed of compact sand, upon which the heavies projectiles produced but little effect, and in which damages can be easily and speedily repaired. It was known to contain a secure and capacious bomb-proof shelter beach of scarcely half a company front in width in many places, subject to frequent overflow by the tides, and swept by the guns of not only Fort Wagner itself but of Battery Gregg,

Page 16 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.