Today in History:

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

Page 58 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

must necessarily be introduced, first, by the lodgment already gained on Morris Island, and, secondly, in case the whole island fell into the enemy's hands. It was decided to prepare to make the stoutest possible defense of the works, one after the other, and in every possible way prolong our possession, to gain time to surround the enemy with such a fire as to make the island of little use to him as a place of offence against Fort Sumter, and to make other modifications of our defensive works to meet conditions of attack. The contest, therefore, is now purely one of military engineering (especially since the uncommon slaughter which resulted from the two efforts - so signally foiled - to carry Battery Wagner), involving there elements essential to success: time, labor, and long-range guns, with sufficient and proper ammunition.

Well aware of the pressure on the limited resources of the War Department, both of men and material, I endeavored to employ and handle my own to the best advantage to meet and repel the attempt by way of Morris Island as soon as the point of attack was clearly revealed; for only when that discovery was made could I venture to concentrate here the small, widely scattered infantry force at my disposition. This I did; but meantime, as reported, the enemy had assailed and carried our positions south of Battery Wagner - for the want of troops to effectually oppose them; for the lack of works of proper size and strength and suitable armament, as I had always feared must be the result if that method of attack were seriously resorted to by an officer of capacity, with the immense resources of the United States at this disposition.

Charleston, it is proper to say, was assailable from three quarters: First, through James Island, via the Stono, left open by the abandonment of Cole's Island; secondly, by Morris Island, via Folly Island, also left exposed by yielding Cole's Island; thirdly, by Sullivan's, via Long Island.

The first point, being regarded as clearly vital to the defense of the harbor and city, was guarded by 1,184 infantry, 1,569 artillery, and 153 cavalry, or 2,906 men of all arms, instead of the force estimated heretofore, to wit, 11,500. the second point was occupied by 612 infantry, 289 artillerists, and 26 cavalry, or 927 men, in lieu of about 3,000 men of all arms; and the third point by 204 infantry, 726 artillerists, and 228 cavalry, or 1,158 men, instead of at least 3,500 men of all arms, while in the city of Charleston a small reserve of 870 cavalry, artillery, and infantry was maintained as a guard, and ready to be thrown, in an emergency, wheresoever the enemy might develop his point of attack, but principally to re-enforce James Island.

Leaving a force on Folly Island after the attack in April, the enemy gave only occasional evidence of any attention to resort to the Morris Island way of attack a day or two before the south end of the island was carried, and at which time the defenses on Morris island consisted of Battery Wagner - an excellent work, located by General Pemberton to play the important part it is now doing so well; that is, as a defense against an approach by land - and Battery Gregg, built as an additional defense to the mouth of the harbor and to command the george of Battery Wagner, located by my orders and erected by the lamented Captain [Langdom] Cheves. These batteries were nearly completed, lacking, however, certain heavy guns, most material to the perfection of their armaments. In addition, certain batteries and infantry epaulements, projected, but delayed from want

Page 58 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.