Today in History:

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

Page 698 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

[Inclosure Numbers 6.]

Statement of J. R. Riley, captain of steamer Sumter.


Charleston, S. C., September 3, 1863.

James R. riley, captain of the steamer Sumter, sunk during the night of August 30, 1863, by the firing of Fort Moultrie, makes the following statement:

It was low tide when he left Morris Island with the troops that had been relieved. The steamer could not come back from point to point, but had to go round the channel way, which is at Cumming's Point buoy. As eh rounded that buoy, and at about 50 yards from it, Fort Moultrie opened fire upon the steamer. The first shot fell short, the second went over the steamer, and the third struck her hull under the starboard water wheel. The fourth shot killed 2 men; he does not know how many were wounded. After the third shot, he steered his boat ashore on the east end of fort reef. He then lowered his small boat and went to Fort Moultrie, to stop the firing. The fort kept firing until he landed ont he beach. when he did so he begged the officers to stop their firing; that the steamer ahead was the Sumter, one of our harbor transports. A light, called bull's-eye light, was shown on the steamer after the first shot was fired. It was held in front, on the upper deck, and on the starboard side of the pilot-house, by Major Pringle in person. That light was so held even after he got on the Moultrie shore, and was very distinct from that point. Besides the light, the whistle was blown also, immediately after the first shot. It was blown in the usual way, three blasts in succession, as when signals are made to Fort Sumter. He had never received orders on that or any other occasion to use signals for Fort Moultrie. After speaking to the officers of Fort Moultrie, he went back to the steamer and sent a small boat to Fort Sumter in charge of Mr. Benjamin Hernandez, with orders to telegraph immediately to Charleston for assistance.

When he reached his steamer after having been at Moultrie, as stated above, he found most of the troops still on board. Some, however, had jumped overboard, and were standing in the water about 2 feet deep. Small boats, nine or ten in all, and one of them from Sullivan's Island, in charge of Captain Pinckney, came to assist the troops. It was about 5 a. m. Several trips were made from the steamer to Fort Sumter, and as the enemy's batteries had begun to open on the front, the troops rescued from the steamer where transferred from Fort Sumter to Sullivan's Island. Lieutenant-Colonel Dantzler, Major Pringle, and he-the captain of the steamer-left only when all the troops were moved. It was then about 8 a. m. The steamer was a perfect wreck, with about 4 feet water on the lower deck.


[Inclosure Numbers 7.]

Statement of John A. Wilson, adjutant.


Sullivan's Island, September 2, 1863.

This is to certify that before leaving Cumming's Point, on the steamer Sumter, on the night of August 30, 1863, I heard Major M. A. Pringle, quartermaster, remark that he wished Lieutenant-Colonel

Page 698 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.