Today in History:

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

Page 94 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

ADDENDA Numbers 1. CONFIDENTIAL.] CHARLESTON, S. C., August 28, 1863.

Brigadier General R. S. Ripley,

Commanding First Military District:

GENERAL: I am informed, to my utter surprise, that the honorable Secretary of War is of the following opinion relative to the attack of the enemy on Morris Island on the 10th ultimo:

I have no disposition to criticism military operations, or point out errors and omissions which can no longer be avoided or remedied, but you compel me, in self-defense, to advert to the true cause of the lodgment made by the enemy on Morris Island. According to my conception, it was not the want of infantry force at the command of that department, but, as I had before supposed was universally admitted, the want of adequate work of defense at the lower end of the island, known long to be the external gate of the city, and the establishment by the enemy, with out the knowledge of the military authorities, of powerful land batteries on Folly Island, screened and concealed until fully prepared to open upon or with all the effect of a surprise, by the woods, which had been allowed to remain unfilled on that island.

That these, and not the want of men, were the true causes of the possession effected by the enemy, is shown by their inability to improve their success by the capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg.

It is no pleasure to me to refer to these causes of disaster, but under the implications of your letter I could not say less.

You will please make to these headquarters, at your earliest convenience, a full and detailed report on the subject, referring especially to the following points:

1st. Was not the presence of the enemy in force on Folly and Little Folly Islands known, and to what extent were his movements ascertained?

2nd. What measures had been adopted, ordered, or contemplated for the protection of the south end of Morris Island, including flanking batteries on Black Island, commanding crossing of Light-House Inlet, and at Marsh Point, to flank Morris Island in front of Wagner?

3rd. Why were not all those works constructed; and, if constructed could they have been armed?

4th. Even with works on the south end of Morris Island, and the small force then available for its defense, could not the enemy have landed, with the assistance of their gunboats and iron-clad fleet, a strong force on the beach north of Craig's Hill during the night, cut off the retreat of the troops south of it, and then crossed, almost unmolested, Little Folly Inlet?

5th. What works did the enemy construct on Little Folly Island, up to July 10? What caliber and number of pieces did he put in position?

6th. How long did it take him from the time he broke ground until he opened fire?

7th. What was about his force then on Little Folly and Folly Islands, and on board of transport?

8th. What were your forces of infantry in the district, and how distributed?

9th. Could a better disposition have been made of them?

10th. What should have been the full force at each point for the proper defense of Morris, James, and Sullivan's Islands?

11th. Do our means of transportation, and other circumstances of

Page 94 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.