Today in History:

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

Page 90 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

constrained to recommend an immediate evacuation of both Batteries Wagner and Gregg.

* * * * * * *

In consequence of the accuracy of fire from his (enemy's) land batteries, which are now in close proximity to Battery Wagner (say from 500 to 800 yards), aided by a reverse fire from his fleet, it is impossible, in the opinion of the officer of the fort, to keep up a fire of either artillery or small-arms, and the enemy is thus left free to work in the trenches, which he is pushing rapidly forward, the head of the sap being within 40 yards of the salient, which is so severely damaged by a battery of Parrott guns kept constantly playing upon it as to render it untenable.* * * The covering to the bomb-proof and magazine also need repair. We have been thus far able not only to repair damages at night, but to add from day to day to the strength of the battery; but now that the enemy's sap is in such close proximity to the battery and he has contrived to throw a calcium light upon the parapets at night, it is impossible to do so without a heavy loss of men. In efforts last night to repair damages, the commanding officer of the fort reports a loss in killed and wounded of 60 to 80 of the working party alone. Without our ability to repair damages at night, the battery would become, under the incessant fire of the enemy's land batteries and fleet, uneatable, say, in two days. It is view of these facts that I have thought it my duty to make the recommendation at the commencement of this report.

"The gradual approaches of the enemy" (I quote now from Colonel Keitt's report) "had passed the front of the battery, and the termination of their sap was not over 50 yards from the parapet of the sea face, enabling them to throw a mass of troops upon this flank when our men were mostly in the bomb-proofs, where I was forced to keep them by the unceasing fore of mortars and rifled guns on land, with an enfilanding fire from the fleet during most of the day. The salient on the left of the battery had been swept by such a terrible cross-fire as to breach the parapet and throw it into irregular shapes, rendering the ascent from the meat easy, and, moreover, men could not be kept there during this cross-fire without the certainly of most of them being wounded or stunned."

Under these circumstances, I concluded that the period had arrived when it would be judicious to evacuate Morris Island, and in the following special order* detailed the manner on which I desired the movement to be accomplished.

The evacuation began at 9 o'clock on the morning of September 6. According to instructions, a guard of 35 men, under command of Captain T. A. Huguenin, had been left to bring up the extreme rear, and to fire the only magazine which contained powder. The necessary arrangements being completed, and Colonel Keiott having been informed that the transportation was ready, the embarkation commenced, and was continued with the utmost quietness and dispatch. The wounded were first embarked, and were followed by the remnants of the infantry garrison. Captain [C. E.] Kanapaux, commanding light artillery, was then ordered to spike his howitzers and embark his command. Captain [H. R.] Lesesne, commanding at Battery Gregg, spiked the guns of that battery, and followed his command, and rear guard from Wagner coming up at this time, in pursuance of orders from Colonel Keitt, the safety fuses communicating with the magazines were lighted - that at Wagner by Captain Huhuenin and that at Gregg by Major [E. L.] Holcombe, commissary of subsistence - and the remainder of the command was safely and expeditiously embarked. Owing to defects in the fuses themselves, they failed of accomplishing the purpose designed, though their lighting was superintended by careful and reliable officers. The magazines, therefore, were not destroyed. The guns in the batteries were spiked as far as their condition allowed, and the implements generally destroyed and equipments carried off.

The evacuation was concluded at about 1.30 a. m. of the 7th instant.


* See Inclosure D, to Addenda Numbers 3, p. 104.


Page 90 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.