Today in History:

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

Page 61 Chapter XL. GENERAL REPORTS.

opinion that if, by a coup de main, we recovered the whole ground lost, we could nor maintain the position lost on the first day.

The number of men to be employed having been determined, the next question was the necessary arrangements for the attack.

It was stated that the present infantry force on Morris Island consisted of 1,210; leaving to be added 2,790; total, 4,000.

Any additional force must necessarily be drawn from Charleston and James island; consequently the time necessary for the movement of the men, thence via Cumming's Point, Morris Island, and thence into position in advance of Battery Wagner, was to be considered and determined.

It being assumed that the troops must be transported under cover of darkness, 8 o'clock was fixed as the earliest hour troops could begin to embark. One hour of time was assigned to the embarkation on five steamboats. These would reach landing at Cumming's Point at 10.30 p. m., debarkation completed by 12 m. Formation on beach, 1 a. m. To advance, organize in proper order in front of Battery Wagner to attempt assault, 3 a. m.

Previous to this calculation of the time by Generals Ripley and Taliaferro, it was asserted by them both, as essential to any prospect of success, that the assaulting columns should all be in position in front of Battery Wagner by 1 a. m., so as to give the front time to reach and brush away the enemy's pickets, outposts, and advanced lines, to carry the first or Craig's Hill battery, and to give time, also, for the whole column, before daylight, to push beyond the level, open, and exposed space between Battery Wagner and the sand-hills, a distance of over a mile, in which they would in daylight be exposed to a sweeping fire from the enemy's fleet, within easy range.

These calculations were re-examined by both Generals Ripley and taliaferro; could promise no reduction of the time to embark, disembark, or organize on the ground for the assault. I therefore followed that beginning to advance from the front of Battery Wagner as late as at the hour of 3 a. m. must leave exposed a large portion of the column in mass, on the open level, under a deadly fire of the enemy's monitors and gunboats; and, further, that it must be broad daylight before any part of the enemy's lines could be reached and assault. Under these circumstances (and in view of the nature if the ground and other military conditions), General Ripley pronounced any attempt on our part to recapture the ground at present held by the enemy on Morris Island as desperate, and, as he believed, impracticable.

Brigadier-General Taliaferro regarded the attempt altogether impracticable.

Brigadier-General Clingham, not having examined the ground, said that he felt bound to surrender his views, both as to the time it would take to embark at Charleston and organize before Battery Wagner for the attack, and as to the number of men which would be required. He, therefore, must agree that the projected attack should be pronounced impracticable.

The commanding general said that, to insure the least chance of success, the operation must be executed under cover of night; hence the men could not embark sooner than 8 p. m., or disembark at Cumming's Point, take position, and form for the attack before Battery Wagner possibly before 3 a. m. on the following morning, and that the attack must then be made, as it were, through a narrow defile,

Page 61 Chapter XL. GENERAL REPORTS.