Today in History:

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


missary house near to the beach, and just above Battery Bee. After the firing had commenced, he saw a light on Fort Sumter and asked what it meant. He did not find out it was our boat until the next morning.

4. Private Corbett states that he is detailed in the quartermaster department; that on the night in question he was sitting on the piazza (that his eye-sight is not very good), and saw what appeared to him to be a monitor, stationary after the firing had commenced; he saw a light upon her but heard no sounds. He was just in rear of Captain Rivers' battery, but that the cry of distress was distinctly heard by many who were lower down on the island, and farther from the batteries. Others were sitting with me, and no doubt was expressed as to its being a monitor. The boat was flat in front and rear, and to moonlight falling upon it, gave it the appearance of a turret and smoke-stack in front of it.

5. Private [Nathan] Porter states that he sleeps in a room adjoining the signal corps. Fifteen minutes before the firing commenced he heard the sentinel trying to rouse up some members of the corps, and after the firing had commenced still heard him making the effort; he heard him ringing the bell, and calling out loudly, and heard some one go in the house in the effort to rouse them up. He and others with him say that "no member of the signal corps roused up or came out until after the firing had ceased."

6. Corporal [J. F.] North states that he was awake half an hour before the firing commenced, and about fifteen minutes before it the ringing of the bell and sentinel calling up the signal corps; that the ringing of the bell and calling out continued while the firing lasted, and when it was over they were not up. He heard the sentinel call to them that there was a light on the Point and a light on Sumter. After the firing was over, he heard one of the signal men curse the sentinel, and ask him what the hall he was ringing that bell for. He could see the boat they were firing at, cut could not tell what king of boat she was; he saw no light upon her, nor heard any south from her; until after doing into his house he thought he heard men hallowing; he saw light on Cumming's Point, and upon Fort Sumter, shortly after the firing commenced; he heard the sentinel call out that the light was on the point before the firing commenced.

This concludes all the testimony which I could learn of. Much of this is irrelevant to the main question. The testimony in behalf of the steamboat and those upon it has been taken by yourself, with the exception of that of Lieutenant-Colonel Dantzler and Lieutenant Barton, taken by me.

Taking the statements from Sullivan's Island, and in the main they agree, I can see no just foundation to attach criminality to the firing into the Sumter, under all the circumstances. It seems to have been a sad result, wrought out by a combination of circumstances, and where the motives of all parties were pure and beyond question. The night, though not dark, was moonlight obscured by clouds. The boat approached from a direction from which the enemy were expected, and from its peculiar make, in the dim haze, presented the appearance of a monitor. No system of signals prevailed in the harbor. The expectation of the enemy's fleet, and the orders for vigilance, had aroused a degree of natural excitement. Perhaps in a time of less excitement, when more calm deliberation would have prevailed, some suspicion might have been aroused as to the charac-