Today in History:

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

Page 88 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

of the 6th; that the fleet should prevent the landing of re-enforcements at Cumming's Point; that Battery Wagner should be shelled fiercely by the iron-clads, and on the morning of the 6th, on a given signal, the assault on Battery Wagner was to take place. This plan was frustrated, however, by the repulse of the attacking party of Battery Gregg.

About 1.30 o'clock on the morning of the 6th, they were seen approaching in from fifteen to twenty barges by the passages leading from Vincent's and Schooner Creeks, that lie between James and morris Islands. The garrison at Cumming's Point was on the alert, and received them with a brisk fire of grape and musketry. the enemy was evidently greatly disconcerted, and, after discharging their boat howitzers, retired.

On September 4, 1863, I had convened a meeting of general officers and the chief engineer of the department, to assist me in determining how much longer the Confederate forces should attempt to hold Batteries Wagner and Gregg and the north end of Morris Island. The rapid advance of the enemy's trenches to Battery Wagner having made it evident that before many days that work must become untenable, the following questions were propounded at the council:

1. How long do you think Fort Wagner can be without regard to safety of garrison?

2. How long can the fort be held with a fair prospect of saving its garrison with the means of transportation at our command and circumstances relative thereto, as heretofore indicated by actual experience?

3. How long after the loss or evacuation of Wagner could Fort Gregg be held?

4. Can the heavy guns (two in Wagner and three in Gregg) in those two works be removed before their evacuation without endangering the safety of the works and their garrisons?

5. Can we take the offensive suddenly, with a fair prospect of success, by throwing during the night 3,000 men on north end of Morris Island, making in all 4,000 men available, bearing in mind that no re-enforcements could be sent there until night, and perhaps none for several nights, according to the movements of the enemy's iron-clads and the fire of the land batteries?

These questions were thoroughly discussed, as well as the probable plan of attack by the enemy, our means of defense, of transportation, and reasons for prolonging our possession of the north end of Morris Island. It was agreed that the holding of Morris Island as long as possible was most important to the safety and free use of the harbor of Charleston and our ability to keep up easy communication with the works on Sullivan's and James Islands,* in view of which I deemed it proper to renew application by telegraph to the Secretaries of War and navy Department for some 200 sailors for oarsmen. It was further decided that the five heavy guns on Morris Island were necessary, mortally and physically, for the defense of the positions to the last extremity, and such being the difficulties - if not, indeed, the insurmountable obstacles in the way of their removal at this time - that no effort should be made to save them, and consequently that they should be ultimately destroyed, with as much of the works as practicable, when further defense was abandoned. The result was, my determination to hold Morris island as long as communication


* See Addenda Numbers 3, to this report, p. 100.


Page 88 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.