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destroyed a quantity of arms and stores. , He fought an superior force of the enemy, at White Sulphur Springs, and then retreated, with a loss of about a hundred men.
In the meantime, General Gillmore had pressed steadily towards Fort Sumter. After the failure of the assault on Fort Wagner, he sat down before it, in regular siege; but, while making his slow approaches towards it, he carried out the extraordinary plan of bombarding Fort Sumter over its top. There was between Morris and James Islands a marsh, covered with sea-weed, flags and rushes, which Beauregard had regarded as wholly untenable—as it was a mere bed of soft mud, in which a man would go down over his headand so left it out, in completing the fortifications for the defense of Charleston. Yet Gillmore resolved to drive piles into this mortar-bed, and mount on - them six twohundred-pound Parrott guns, and one monster three hundredpounder. The timber for these piles had to be brought from Folly Island, a distance of ten miles, in rafts. To accomplish all this, without the enemy's knowledge, the work had all to be done in the niglit-time. The rasts were floated to their places, through the darkness, and before daylight covered with grass and sea-weed, that entirely disguised them, so that the enemy was kept in total ignorance of the work being done right under their eyes. In the night-time, also, the piles were driven into the mud. For two weeks, this strange work went on, without arousing the suspicion of the enemy. Ten thousand bags filled with sand, were carried two miles by the soldiers, to protect the guns. The monster gun broke down several trucks, before it was got into position, but by incredible labor it was finally mounted, and the “Swamp Angel,” as it was called, was ready to open its fire. By the 16th of August, thirty-seven guns were in position on the artificial foundation laid in this mud-hole, within two miles and a half of Sumter,
A FIERCE BOMBARDMENT.
and but little over four from the city of Charleston. One can imagine the consternation of the enemy when these tremendous batteries were unmasked. It was a new creation-a volcanic island risen out of the sea.
On the 17th, they opened their fire on Sumter. In the meantime, Dahlgren, with the Ironsides and Monitor fleet, moved up opposite Fort Wagner, and engaged it, to keep it from concentrating its fire on this new position and distracting the gunners in their bombardment of Sumter. The fleet behaved gallantly; but almost at the outset, Captain George W. Rodgers, of the Catskill, who had boldly carried his vessel to within three hundred yards of Wagner, was killed, and the vessel, with a flag of distress flying, retired out of the fight. All day long, the terrific bombardment of Sumter was maintained. An immense wall of sand-bags had been built up on the outside and inside of the fort, fifteen feet thick-making the whole mass thirty-five feet thick. , The sand-bags had first to be beaten down, before the wall itself could be reached; yet, so fierce was the fire, and so heavy the metal thrown, that on the second day the naked walls were exposed, and the work of demolition went on with greater rapidity. The barbette guns were soon dismounted, some of them toppling over into the sea. Day after day, the bombardment was kept up, till, at the end of the seventh day, Sumter was a heap of ruins. The rubbish, however, falling over some of the casemates, made them more invulnerable than ever, and a small garrison there still kept the rebel flag flying.
Gillmore now sent a flag of truce to Beauregard, demanding the surrender of Charleston, and threatening, in case of refusal, to shell the city. The demand and threat both seemed so preposterous, that Beauregard dismissed the officer without a reply. Gillmore then turned the “Swamp Angel” on the city, and shells were thrown into its very heart. The 222
4 FRENCH VIEW.
old “Greek fire” had been reproduced, and shells loaded with it were expected to burn the town. It, however, proved a failure. Still, the dropping of shells into the place aroused the indignation of Beauregard, who remonstrated against it as barbarous—saying that it was absurd to suppose that Charleston could be taken until the forts commanding the entrance to the harbor were in our possession.
The engineering skill displayed by Gillmore, and thu tremendous range of his guns, astonished the civilized world. The idea of bombarding a city almost as far as it could be seen, was a novel one in carrying out siege operations. The French Journal des Sciences Militaire had a long article on uit, which the United States Service Magazine published. It commences thus : " Prodigies of talent, audacity, intrepidity and perseverance are exhibited in the attack, as in the defense of this city, which will assign to the siege of Charleston an exceptional place in military annals. It is a duel to the death,' in which science calls to its aid, and puts in operation, all the modern discoveries to develop upon a gigantic scale the means of destruction and extermination. One is struck with amazement in reading, in the journals and letters from America, the details of this contest, in which the two adversaries ought to feel a mutual astonishment, as they rightfully astonish the entire world, by their daily proofs of superhuman heroism." * * * “Such a position,” the writer adds, after describing Charleston Harbor, “defended by an engineer of transcendent merit-by soldiers who fear neither fatigue, suffering nor death-would seem to have been impregnable; and yet the besiegers, conducting their enterprise with incredible energy, make, day by day, slow progress, but with almost certain chances of ultimate success. It is the land ürtillery which plays the grand part in these brilliant and terrible operations. But what artillery, and what projectiles !-solid shot and shells, of two and three
SIEGE OF WAGNER,
hundred pounds, describing trajectories of six and eight thousand metres, striking the mark with such precision and efficacy that they penetrate the earth-work to the distance of ten metres, and break in fragments works of brick and stone six and ten metres in thickness. It is a General, unknown one year ago, who directs this combat of artillery, which has no precedent hitherto in the history of sieges. Mahomet II, it is true, employed cannon of a monstrous caliber, which terrified the defenders of Byzantium, and finished the destruction of the Greek Empire; but the ‘Balistique' of the Mohammedans produced only a soothing effect, in comparison with that of the Americans.” He then goes on to describe the bombardment and assault of Fort Wagner.
The Journal containing this chapter, which thus places the siege of Charleston above all other siege operations in the history of the world, is the highest military authority throughout Europe.
By thus occupying a distant stand-point, and viewing Gillmore's engineering skill through the military mind of the Old World, we get some correct idea of the stupendous nature of the work done before Charleston. The want of success depreciated it in the popular mind, but it stands alone and without a parallel in military annals.
On the 1st of September, another engagement took place between our iron-clads and the forts, but, like the former, was barren of results. In it, Fleet Captain Oscar C. Badger the successor of Rodgers—was wounded by a shell.
In the meantime, Gillmore pressed steadily towards Fort Wagner. If that could be taken, Fort Gregg, on the point opposite Sumter, must also fall, and then he could plant his batteries in point-blank range of the hated structure. He, however, had no intention of trying another assault. The spade and shovel, that had risen from their formerly despised position, were to do the work. “Day after day
MORRIS ISLAND OURS.
our patient boys creep up, on hands and knees, to their dangerous toil, with shovel and gun rolling slowly in advance—for protection, the “sap roller,' a round wickerwork filled with sticks. Gradually approaching parallels are thrown up, and each succeeding day brings our engineers nearer to the fort. They are digging their
They are digging their way, in spite of shot and shell, into Wagner. Although the distance from the first parallel to Fort Wagner is but six hundred yards, yet if the whole number dug were laid out in a straight line, they would reach ten miles.” Through the long, hot Summer months, the troops worked, under the broiling sun, with unflagging courage, until the parallels were at last pushed so near to the fort, that, with a single bound, the assailants could be inside the ramparts. The preparations were all made for a final assault, when the enemy suddenly evacuated it, and streamed forward towards Fort Gregg. Our exultant troops followed after, and this also was evacuated, and we had Morris Island, for which we had struggled so long. Twenty-one guns were left in our possession. We were now in fair range of Fort Sumter, and its speedy fall was eagerly looked for. Fort Moultrie was also bombarded, and though Sumter soon became a still greater heap of ruins, and Gillmore pushed his operations with a skill and energy that deserved success, it soon became apparent that we were no nearer Charleston than ever.
Here, it is worthy of notice, that though both Forts Wagner and Gregg were reduced, and Sumter so demolished as to be able to mount but a few guns, Dahlgren never attempted to carry the iron-clads past it up to Charleston. The brave Du Pont was removed because, with all these forts in the enemy's possession, and thoroughly mounted with the most formidable cannon, he failed to make a second attempt to pass or destroy it; and yet Dahlgren, with but half the fire to encounter, did not even. risk a trial. This