Page images
PDF
EPUB

ASSAULT ON FORT WAGNER.

209

11-inch shells, and the land batteries, opened simultaneously upon the parapet. The garrison soon abandoned their cannon, and took refuge in the bomb-proof, upon which, for nearly forty hours, the great guns thundered without any

sensible effect. When the guns of Fort Wagner were silenced, Gillmore's sappers pushed rapidly forward, under the direction of Captain Walker, until Battery Simkins and its fellows on James's Island could annoy them no more, without danger of hurting the garrison. The men now worked without danger, and early in the evening of the 6th,“ the sap was carried by the south

• Sept., 1863. face of the fort, leaving it to the left; the counter-scarp of the ditch was crowned near the flank of the east, or sea-front, by which all the guns in the work were masked, excepting in that flank; a line of palisades, which there protected it, were pulled up, and the trenches were widened and deepened so as to hold the assaulting troops.

The business of assault was intrusted to General Terry. He was directed to move upon the fort at nine o'clock (time of low tide), on the morning of

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

the 7th, with about three thousand men, in three columns, composed of the brigades of General Stevenson and Colonel Davis, and the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania and Third New Hampshire. The last two regiments were to form the storming party, and a regiment of colored troops, under Colonel Montgomery, was to be held in reserve near the Beacon House. The One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania (Davis's own) was to carry intrenching tools. In accordance with this arrangement, these troops were in readiness at two o'clock in the morning, near the Beacon House, when General Terry announced to them that the fort was evacuated. The Confederates had

VOL. III.-92

210

A REPULSE AT FORT SUMTER.

begun to leave it and Battery Gregg before midnight, and had fled from Cummings's Point in boats so precipitately that all but seventy escaped. During forty hours no less than one hundred and twenty-two thousand pounds of iron, in the form of balls and shells, each weighing not less than one hundred pounds, had been rained upon the fort, and yet its bomb-proof, capable of sheltering eighteen hundred men,' was but little injured. The symmetry of the fort was destroyed, but it was soon put into proper shape. An apparatus for blowing up the magazine when the victors should enter the fort, was happily discovered and destroyed. The nineteen heavy guns left in Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg, with others, were speedily turned on the harbor defenses and the city of Charleston. The captured forts were strengthened and heavily armed, and other works were soon erected. These were all a mile nearer the city than the “Swamp Angel,” and commanded its wharves and full one half of the town. Blockade running was effectually stopped, and Charleston, properly called “the Cradle of Secession,” was made a desolation in the world of business. “You now hold in undisputed possession the whole of Morris Island," said Gillmore, in a congratulatory address to his troops on the 15th, "and the city and harbor of Charleston lie at the mercy of your artillery from the very spot where the first shot was fired at your country's flag, and the rebellion itself was inangurated.

Gillmore expected the iron-clad squadron to force its way past Fort Sumiter into the inner harbor and up to the city, as soon as that fortress was effectually silenced, but Dahlgren did not think it prudent to do so, chiefly because he believed the channels to be swarming with torpedoes. But immediately after the capture of Fort Wagner, a portion of the men of the squadron attempted the important enterprise of surprising and capturing Fort Sumter without Gillmore's knowledge. For this purpose about thirty row-boats, filled with armed men, were towed close to Fort Sumter on the

night of the 8th," where they were cast off, and made their way Sept., 1862

to the base of the shattered walls. The expedition was in charge of Commander Stephens, of the Patapsco, and when the boats reached the fort, the crews of three of them, led by Commander Williams, Lieutenant Renny, and Ensign Porter, scaled the steep ruin, with the belief that the garrison was sleeping. It was wide awake, for the vigilant Major S. Elliott“ was in command ; and at the moment when the bold adventurers were expecting to win victory and renown, they were greeted with musket-balls and hand grenades, and the fire of neighboring batteries, a gun-boat and a ram, which made havoc among the men and boats. Two hundred of the assailants were killed, wounded, or captured, with four boats and three colors, and the remainder escaped.

i Fort Wagner was garrisoned by about 1.400 effective men, and Battery Gregg by about 150 men.

In his annual report to Congress, in December, 1863, the Secretary of the Navy, in summning up the operstions of that arm of the service on the Southern coast, said: "Not a blockade runner has succeeded in reaching the city for months, and the traffic which had been to some extent, and with large profits, previously carried on, is extinguished. As a commercial mart, Charleston has no existence; her wealth, her trade, has departed. In a military or strategic view, the place is of little consequence; and whether the rebels are able, by great sacrifice and exhaustion, to hold out a few weeks, more or less, is of no importance."

3 From Battery Gregg, on Cummings's Point, Edmund Ruffin, it will be remembered, fred the first shot on Fort Sumter, on the 12th of April, 1861. See page 320, volume I.

* See page 122, volume II.

EVENTS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI.

211

« October 6,

1863.

October 26.

For some time after this disastrous meddling with the slumbering but yet powerful monster guarding Charleston harbor, very few stirring events broke the monotony of camp life on Morris Island, or the tedious blockading service, excepting an occasional visit to the squadron of some prowler of the harbor on a deadly errand; the battering of Fort Sumter now and then by Gillmore's guns, to keep the garrison from doing mischief, or the sad destruction of the Weeharoken in a heavy December gale.' Gillmore continually strengthened his new position, and the Ironsides lay not far off, watching the main ship channel. Finally, on a dark night in October," a small vessel of cigar shape, having a heavy torpedo hanging from its bow, went silently down to blow the Ironsides into fragments. The sum of its exploit was the explosion of the mine by the side of the vessel, making her shiver a little, and casting up a huge column of water high in air. A little later, when Gillmore was told that the Confederates were mounting guns on the southeast face of Sumter, to command Fort Wagner, he opened upon that face of the fort his heavy rifled cannon, and speedily reduced it to ruins, making a sloping heap of rubbish from the parapet to the water. From that time until near the close of the year he kept up a slow and irregular fire upon the fort and Charleston, when, seeing no prospect of the passage of the squadron into the inner harbor, he kept silence.

Let us now change our field of observation from the sea-coast to the region beyond the Mississippi, a thousand miles farther westward, and see what of importance, not already considered, occurred there down to the beginning of 1864. Our record of military events in that part of the Republic closed with the Battle of Prairie Grove, in Arkansas, early in December, 1862;: the recapture of Galveston' and the reoccupation of all Texas, by the Confederates, at the beginning of 1863;s Banks's triumphant march through the interior of Louisiana to the Red River, in April and May, 1863, and the Battle of Helena, in July following."

Turning to Missouri and Arkansas, in which the Unionists were the majority and the political power was held by loyal men, especially in the former State, we see those commonwealths, after brief repose, again convulsed in 1863 by the machinations of disloyal resident citizens, and the contests of hostile forces in arms. One of the worst enemies of Missouri (the rebel Governor Jackson) had died in exile at Little Rock,' in Arkansas, but Sterling Price, Marmaduke, Cabell, Reynolds (the former lieutenant-governor), and other rebel chiefs, were yet active and mischievous.

Early in January, 1863, Marmaduke, with about four thousand men, mostly mounted, burst suddenly out of Northern Arkansas, and fell upon Springfield, in Missouri, then fairly fortified by five earth-works, and defended

• Dec. 6,

1862.

1 The Weehawken lay at anchor in the outer harbor off Morris Island when the gale came on, and, in con. sequence of her hatches being left open, she foundered on the 6th of December, carrying down with her thirty of her crew.

. See on page 331, volume I., a picture of Fort Sumter in ruins, as it appeared from Fort Wagner, at the close of 1863.

3 See pages 535 and 536, volume II. 4 See page 594, volume II. . See page 595, volume II. • See pages from 505 to 600 inclusive, volume II. : See page 148. $ See page 201, volume I.

212

EVENTS IN MISSOURI AND ARKANSAS.

by a small force, under General E. B. Brown, of the Missouri militia. The attack was sharp and heavy, but General Brown gallantly fought the assailants with his little band from ten o'clock in the morning until dark, when Marmaduke withdrew, with a loss of two hundred men, and a gain of one cannon, which he carried away.' Brown lost one hundred and sixty-four men, of whom fourteen were killed. The general himself was severely wounded, and lost the use of his right arm. From Springfield Marmaduke marched eastward, and at dawn on the

10th, his advance encountered, at Wood's Fork, near Hartsville, « Jan., 1863.

in Wright County, the Twenty-first Iowa, Colonel Merrell, whom General Fitz-Henry Warren had ordered to Springfield. After a skirmish, the Unionists were flanked, and Marmaduke's whole force pushed on toward Hartsville. But Merrell was there before him, re-enforced by the Ninetyninth Illinois, and portions of the Third Iowa and Third Missouri Cavalry, supported by a battery commanded by Lieutenant Wald Schmidt. A sharp engagement ensued, when Marmaduke was repulsed, with a loss of about three hundred men, including a brigadier-general (McDonald) and thrie colonels, killed. Merrell's loss was seventy-one men, seven of them killesi. His ammunition was running low, so he fell back on Lebanon, while Marm.2duke, having no spirit for further fighting in Missouri, fled swiftly soutlıward that night, and escaped into Arkansas. With a part of his force

he took post at Batesville, on the White River, where he was

attacked by the Fourth Missouri Cavalry, Colonel G. E. Waring, and driven across the stream, with the loss of a colonel and several men made prisoners. At about the same time a small force, under Major

Reeder, broke up a band of guerrillas at Mingo Swamp, and killed

their leader, McGee; and, on the 28th of the same month, Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, scouting from Fayetteville (the National outpost in Northwestern Arkansas), with one hundred and thirty cavalry, captured,

near Van Buren, on the Arkansas River, a Confederate steamer,

with about three hundred prisoners. A month later, the steamer Sam Gaty, on the Missouri River, was captured at Sibley's Landing by a gang of guerrillas, led by George Todd, who committed great atrocities. They robbed the boat and all persons on board, and then murdered several of the white passengers, and about twenty negroes, who, with sixty others (who escaped), were flying from bondage. An attempt to gain freedom wiis a heinous crime in the eyes of the ruffians, and the poor fugitives were placed in a row alongside of the boat, and one after another was shot through tle head.

In the spring of 1863, Fayetteville was occupied by some Union cavalı y and infantry, under Colonel M. L. Harrison, and, on the 18th of April, they were attacked by nearly two thousand mounted Confederates and two guns, led by General W. L. Cabell. He had marched rapidly over the Boston mountains from Ozark, with the intention of surprising Harrison at dawn,

6 Feb. 4.

. Feb. 3.

March 28.

· His force consisted of about 1,200 State militia, the One Hundred and Eighteenth and One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Iowa, under Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Cook, and 300 convalescents, who re-enforced the garrison just as Marmaduke was approaching.

% In this engagement eld suffered much. Houses were riddled and set on fire by the shells. One exploded in a room occupied by four women and two children, who lay upon the floor under feather-beds, and thus escaped injury.

MARMADUKE'S RAID INTO MISSOURI.

213

• 1963,

but he did not arrive until after sunrise. About five hundred of the Unionists kept up a spirited fight with the assailants until about noon, when the latter were repulsed, and returned over the mountains as swiftly as they came. Harrison, for lack of horses, could not pursue. His foe had inflicted on him a loss of seventy-one men (four killed), and he had received in exchange fifty-five prisoners, fifty horses, and a hundred shot-guns.

Meanwhile Marmaduke had gone to Little Rock, and there, with the chief Conspirators and military leaders in Arkansas, he planned a raid into Missouri, having for its chief objective the capture or destruction of a large depot of National stores at Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi River. With a force of about eight thousand men, in four brigades, known as “Price's First Corps of the Trans-Mississippi Department,” he pushed rapidly into Missouri, and following the general line of the St. Francis River, reached Fredericton, between Pilot Knob and Cape Girardeau, on the 22d of April. There he turned quickly to the southeast, and marched on Cape Girardeau ; but General John McNeil, who, at Bloomfield, in Stoddard County, had heard of the raid and divined its object, beat him in a race for that point, and, with his twelve hundred followers, reached Cape Girardeau two days before Marmaduke's arrival." McNeil found

April 25. there about five hundred men, mostly of the First Nebraska, under Lieutenant-Colonel Baumer, with four guns rudely mounted. The works were immediately strengthened, a greater portion of the stores were sent away in steamboats, and when Marmaduke appeared and demanded a surrender of the place, giving McNeil only thirty minutes to consider an answer, the latter was well prepared to fight, and told the Confederate leader so. Early the next morning Marmaduke shelled his adversary for awhile, and then again demanded a surrender. McNeil answered with his guns, when the assailant, seeing some armed vessels in the Mississippi coming to the aid of the besieged, beat a retreat across the St. Francis

• April 26. River, and hurried on toward Arkansas, burning the bridges behind him. McNeil was now ranked by General Vandever, who was of a different temperament, and the pursuit was made so cautiously under his orders, that Marmaduke escaped, after his rear-guard had skirmished several times with McNeil's pursuing column.'

On the 20th of May," Fort Blunt, not far from Fort Gibson, in the Cherokee country west of Arkansas, was menaced by about three thousand Confederates, under Colonel Coffey. The fort was cominanded by Colonel William A. Phillips, and garrisoned by about eight hundred white men and a regiment of Creek Indians, some of the latter being employed as scouts. These were treacherous, and failed to give notice of the approach of the foe. Coffey found Phillips too strongly posted to warrant an attack, so he crossed the river (Arkansas), and seized cattle grazing there, belonging to the garrison. The Indian regiment refused to join in a charge for the recovery of the animals, and only a part were saved. Coffey encamped in a strong position, about five miles from the fort, where Phillips attacked him with energy. The Confederates fled across the river with their

# 1863.

1 Marmaduke took with him his fourteen pieces of artillery, and full as many prisoners as had been taken from him. His loss in killed and wounded was much greater than that of the Nationals.

« PreviousContinue »