Today in History:

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

Page 692 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

circumstances connected with the firing into, and sinking, the transport steamer Sumter, by our batteries on that island. I sought out parties, and invited fulls statements from all who could shed any light upon the subject, and believe I have gathered every material fact within reach. I submit statements of officers, marked, respectively, as Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, and P, being from the commanding officers, officers of batteries, and others who had full opportunities of observation. I also add statements of a few parties, taken down by me.

1. Lieutenant B. H. Barton, Company B, Twentieth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, states that he was on the steamer, which left Cumming's Point about 2 a. m. on Monday, 31st ultimo. The boat was crowded, and he was ordered by Major Pringle to take his company upon the upper deck, which he did. The boat started and steered out past the sand-bar from Sumter, and was proceeding up the ship-channel when he heard some one cry out that we were being fired upon. He soon heard the ball, and saw it splash upon the water; he then heard some one call, "Blow the whistle." He was standing near the whistle. No one that he could see came to do so, and a sergeant of his company blew the whistle. After the second shot had been fired, which also, he thinks, missed the boat, the sergenat blew the whistle very rapidly, evidently showing that he was unacquainted with it or its use. He ordered him to stop and let the negro pilot, who knew how, come and blow it; the negro came and blew it a little; said something about its being out of order, and left. During this time, several shots had been fired, the boat struck,a nd one man killed. Major Pringle had come out with a lantern, with a candle in it, for a few seconds. Another shot was fired, and he saw him put it down and leave; a private of his company took it up and held it up as high as he could, and at times waved it. He heard an officer call out the boat was sinking, and saw him wading from the boat; he could not swim, but jumped off and made his way as best he could Fort Sumter. He thinks the boat was from 800 to 1,000 yards from Fort Sumter when first struck, and also thinks the boat stopped at the first fire, but does not recollect that she let off steam. After jumping off he was a light on Fort Sumter.

2. Private Brock states that he is detailed in the commissary department; that on Sunday night, August 31, he came out when the second gun was fired. Corporal Bigby can called him, saying he heard a noise like a monitor coming in; he saw a light from the boat. Bigby said he thought they were signaling the other boats to come up; the light was a common one, held high up, and he heard something like a steam whistle blown, and thought he could hear men hallowing; he was no light from Sumter; he could see an object, but could not make it out; thought it was a boat, but could not tell what kind. He did not leave the commissary house.

3. Corporal Bigby states that he was up most of the night in question on duty, and saw the boat before she was fired into; he looked at it for some time, but did not know what to make of it; it was light enough to see it was a boat, but too dark to discover its description. It seemed to be coming across toward Fort Moultrie. Very soon it was fired on, and he called Mr. Brock. After the first shot, he saw a small light waving on the boat, and heard a great deal of hallowing; he saw a shot strike and seem to go through the boat, and thought somebody was hurt; he thought it was an enemy's boat, as it made a noise like a monitor when it blew its whistle. He was at the com-

Page 692 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.