Today in History:

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

Page 24 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

resumed on the approaches to Fort Wagner, by debouching with the full sap from the left of the third parallel. The spring tides, aided by a powerful northeast storm, had submerged the trenches to a depth of 2 feet in many places, and washed down the parapets. At the second parallel the Surf Battery had barely escaped entire destruction, about one-third of it having been carried away by the sea. Its armament had been temporarily removed to await the issue of the storm. The progress of the sap was hotly opposed by the enemy.

At one point in particular, about 200 yards in front of Wagner, there was a ridge affording good cover, from which we received an unceasing fire of small-arms, while the guns and sharpshooters in Wagner opened vigorously at every lull in the fire directed upon it from our batteries and the gunboats. The firing from the distant James Island batteries was steady and accurate.

One attempt on the 21st to obtain possession of the ridge with infantry having failed, it was determined to establish another parallel.

Fourth Parallel.

136. On the night of August 21, the fourth parallel was opened about 100 yards from the ridge above mentioned, partly with the flying and partly with the full sap. At the place selected for it the island is about 160 yards in width above high water.

It was now determined to try and dislodge the enemy from the ridge with light mortars and navy howitzers in the fourth parallel and other mortars in rear firing over those in front. The attempt was made on the afternoon of August 25, but did not succeed.

Fifth Parallel.

137. Brigadier-General Terry was ordered, on the 26th of August, to carry the ridge at the point of the bayonet, and hold it. This was accomplished, and the fifth parallel established thee on the evening of the same day. This brought us to within 240 yards of Fort Wagner. The intervening space comprised the narrowest and shallowest part of Morris Island. It was simply a flat ridge of sand, scarcely 25 yards in width, over which the sea, in rough weather, swept entirely across to the marsh on our left.

Approaches by the flying sap wee at once commenced from the right of the fifth parallel, and certain means of defense in the parallel itself were ordered. It was soon ascertained that we had now reached the point where the really formidable defensive arrangements of the enemy commenced. An elaborate and ingenious system of torpedo mines, to be exploded by the read of persons walking over them, was encountered, and we were informed by the prisoners taken on the ridge that the entire area of firm ground between us and the fort, as well as the glacis of the latter on its south and east fronts was thickly filled with these torpedoes. This knowledge brought to us a sense of security from sorties, for the mines were a defense to us as well as to the enemy.

By daybreak on the 27th, our sappers had reached with an unfinished trench to within 100 yards of Fort Wagner.

138. The dark and gloomy days of the siege were now upon us. Our daily hopes were on the increase, while our progress became discouragingly slow and even fearfully uncertain. The converging fire

Page 24 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.