Today in History:

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

Page 20 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

122. The Marsh Battery consisted of a sand-bag epaulement, supported by a grillage composed of round timbers crossing each other at right angles, in two layers, and resting on the surface of the marsh. In this greylag, in rear of the epaulement, there was a rectangular opening large enough to receive the platform of the gun, and surrounded by sheathing piles which reached through the mud into the solid substratum of sand. Within this rectangular space layers of marsh grass, canvas, and sand were placed, on which rested a closely fitting sub-platform of plank. On these planks the gun platform was placed. The epaulement and gun were therefore so far independent of each other that the subsidence or displacement of the one would not necessarily involve that of the other. This battery was completed and in readiness to open fire on the 21st of August.

123. August 9. On the 9th of August Major Brooks was directed to establish the third parallel with the flying sap, about 330 yards in advance of the right of the second parallel, and to commence the approaches between the two parallels by the same method.

124. From this period forward the fire from James Island, Wagner, Gregg, and Sumter, and from the enemy's sharpshooters in Fort Wagner, was severe and almost unceasing. Indeed, on the 10th, our advance was stopped entirely from this cause, and it became a question of grave doubt whether we could push forward our trenches much farther with the advantages so entirely on the side of the enemy. Meanwhile the garrison of Fort Sumter was industriously engaged in strengthening its passive means of defense. Sand-bags were piled up against the gorge walls from its junction with the northwest face to the sally-port so as to protect the magazine near that angle. The sand-bag filling of the gorge casemates was greatly added to, and the traverses on the terre-plein were enlarged.

125. At this period of the siege it was not supposed that it would be necessary to sap entirely up to Fort Wagner, in order to insure its capture, for on the presumption that Fort Sumter would be demolished from positions which we then held, it was considered probable that a complete investment of Morris Island at night could be established and maintained by picket-boats. Our batteries stopped the communication by day.

126. An attempt to illuminate the waters near Cumming's Point with calcium light placed in the left batteries, was but partially successful, as the distance-over 3,000 yards-was too great for the apparatus which we had. The idea was to throw a cone of light upon the water approach, and station the guard-boats in the obscurity just outside the lateral limits of the cone. The plan, I am convinced, was entirely practicable, and with powerful reflectors and an efficient picket-boat organization would have given decisive results.

127. It was decided not to push the sap toward Fort Wagner beyond the third parallel until the fire upon Fort Sumter had been opened.

128. My communication to the General-in-Chief, of August 10, is as follows:

Morris Island, S. C., August 10, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: I have the acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 28th ultimo, in answer to my request for re-enforcements. The unexpected reduction of my effective force by sickness was, at the time I wrote, quite alarming. I admit that I had not taken into consideration the probable effect of the resumption of active

Page 20 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.