Today in History:

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

Page 688 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

Island, the night of the 30th of August last, I have been led to the following conclusions, viz:

1. The steamer Sumter was employed on the 30th of August, 1863, by Major Motte A. Pringle, quartermaster in charge of transportation, to convey troops from the city of Charleston to Morris Island and to bring others from that island to the city.

2. The troops were landed directly from the steamer near Cumming's Point, because the naval boats could not be had as usual, in consequence of an expected attack from the enemy's fleet that night.

3. The evening of the 30th of August, a dispatch was sent from the headquarters of the First Military District of this department ot the commander at Sullivan's Island, enjoining unusual vigilance against any attempt on the part of the enemy to run by the batteries. In consequence, officers and men were required to sleep at their guns.

4. The command was thus on the alert, looking for the advance of the enemy's fleet, which might be expected at any moment. At half past 1 o'clock in the morning, August 31, a vessel or boat was seen approaching from the direction of the enemy and in the track followed by the monitors in previous attacks.

5. when the troops that were to be brought from Morris Island the night of the 30th ultimo were on board the Sumter, the tide had fallen so low that the steamer could not return to the city by the direct track she had followed in going to the island. In consequence, the officer in charge of transportation decided to return by passing around the Morris Island buoy and up the ship-channel.

6. No notice or warning of this decision was given to the officers commanding at Fort Sumter and on Sullivan's Island, nor was any light provided to be exhibited on board the steamer, as had been the custom when friendly vessels were to go in or out of this harbor.

7. The vigilant garrison on Sullivan's Island opened fire on the vessels they saw approaching along the ship-channel from the direction of the enemy. The vessel proved to be the Sumter.

8. An effort was made on board the Sumter to exhibit a light after the first 3 or 4 shots had been fired, but nothing better than a common tallow candle could be found for the purpose. After burning this for a short time it was put out, by order of Lieutenant Colonel O. M. Dantzler, commanding Twentieth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, as he feared it only served as a mark for the batteries, without accomplishing the purpose of letting them know that the boat was a friendly one. It was lighted again, but the boat was now in sinking condition.

9. No blame should attach to the officers commanding the batteries.

10. To the failure to give prior notice of the intention to bring the steamer Sumter into harbor around the Morris Island buoy and up the ship-channel, or to exhibit a distinct light on board as she approached, must be attributed the loss of the steamer. Unfortunately, with the Sumter were lost the lives of several brave men who had served nobly in defense of our common cause.

11. the officer whose duty it was to give notice to the batteries of the intention to bring the steamer Sumter, with the troops on board, into harbor along the ship-channel, should be held to a strict responsibility for the disaster.

12. Does this responsibility rest on the officer in charge of the transportation of troops, or on some one else? If the statements on theirs point be not conclusive, further investigation ought to be insti-

Page 688 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.