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of the 31st of January, during the ob. behind the shoals. The Mercedita and scurity of a thick haze, two iron-clad Keystone State were taken to Port steam rams came out of Charleston by Royal for repairs.
the main ship channel, unno- Notwithstanding this bold attempt,
ticed by the squadron, and no practical advantage was gained by commenced an assault upon the block the rebels beyond disabling the two vesading fleet, which, just at this time, was sels above named; still, they thought mostly composed of the light class of something might be made of it by takpurchased vessels. The first onset was ing the ground that the fleet had been made
upon the steamer Mercedita, for- dispersed and the blockade raised. merly a merchant vessel, by the ram Accordingly, there was published in commanded by D. N. Ingraham, for the Richmond papers of February 2d, merly of the United States service. a dispatch stating that, in the engageAlmost immediately the Mercedita was ment near Charleston, two United rendered helpless by a large shell pass- States vessels had been sunk, four set ing diagonally through the vessel, ex. on fire, and the remainder driven away. ploding in the boiler, and blowing a Beauregard, the military, and Ingrahole some four or five feet square in its ham, the naval, commanders at Charexit on the port side. The Mercedita, leston, also issued a proclamation, which of necessity, gave up the contest, and is worth reading, as a specimen of lofty her officers and crew having surrender pretensions resting on a very small ed, were paroled by the rebels. basis: “At about five o'clock this
The other rebel ram attacked the morning, the Confederate States naval Keystone State about the same time, force on this station attacked the Unitand was joined by Ingraham's vessel ed States blockading fleet off the har. directly after disabling the Mercedita. bor of the city of Charleston, and sank, The Keystone State was actively en. dispersed, and then drove out of sight, gaged in bringing her guns to bear for a time, the entire hostile fleet; thereupon the enemy, when a shell exploded fore, we, the undersigned, commanders in her fore hold and set her on fire. respectively of the naval and land forces Having got the fire under after a time, in this quarter, do hereby formally the captain of the Keystone State bore declare the blockade by the United down, under full head of steam, upon States of the said city of Charleston, the nearest ram, intending to sink her; South Carolina, to be raised by a supebut a shot having passed through both rior force of the Confederate States, steam chests, she became virtually pow. from and after this 31st day of January, erless, and accomplished nothing. The A. D. 1863." Further efforts for the uther vessels on the station at the time, same end were put forth; the foreign not being able to cope with the rebel consuls in Charleston took a pleasant force, kept prudently aloof. Ingraham sail the same day in one of the rebel and his two rams, about half.past seven steamers, to see for themselves that no o'clock, retired into the Swash channel blockade existed; Benjamin, the rebel
PROJECTED NAVAL ATTACK.
secretary of state, gave notice of the a considerable force to aid in this imgratifying condition of affairs to his portant undertaking. He, however, for agents abroad, and it was hoped that some unexplained reason, returned to foreign nations would act accordingly, North Carolina, leaving his troops to on the faith of his word; all this, how. take part in the work now close at hand, ever, was quite useless. They paid no On the 5th of March, Hunter issued attention to Beauregard or his fellow a general order, announcing the long. rebels ; and when Dupont sent an em- expected forward movement, and promphatic refutation of the above procla ising the due rewards of bravery and mation, and set forth the real state of good conduct, and his force, consisting the case, there was no further talk of about 7,000 men, was brought to made of the glorious results attained Stono Inlet.* As their share in attackon the morning of January 31st. ing the rebels depended on the success
In order to test the capabilities of of the naval operations, they were comthe iron-clads, recently arrived, Capt. pelled to be lookers-on, and, we are Drayton was ordered, on the 3d of sorry to say, had no opportunity of reMarch, to take the Passaic, the Pataps- sponding to the appeals in Hunter's co, and the Nahant, and make a con. address to them. centrated attack upon Fort McAllister Beauregard, in command at Charles(see p. 290). Three mortar boats were ton, and not an inattentive observer of also added to the attacking force. The what was going on, had been actively latter, sheltered by a bend of the engaged for a long time in employing stream, opened fire, followed by the all his engineering skill to render Charmonitors. The firing was kept up dur- leston impregnable ; and as early as the ing the day, and by the mortar boats 18th of February, apprehending what during the night. The result was so was to come, he issued a proclamation, far decisive as fully to prove the urging all non-combatants to retire, and strength and good qualities of the appealing to “ all the able-bodied men, monitors. The sand fort, protected from the seaboard to the mountains, to from a concentrated attack by the chan- rush to arms. Be not too exacting (he: nel and obstructions, though often said) in the choice of weapons; pikes struck, resisted, without serious dam- and scythes will do for exterminating age, the mass of metal thrown upon it. your enemies, spades and shovels for The fleet of monitors, after a third trial,
* In order that the troops in the department might returned to Port Royal to prepare for be placed in active service, Hunter, at the same time, the attack on Charleston.
ordered that the able-bodied male negroes between the
ages of eighteen and fifty, within the military lines of In view of the projected naval attack, the department, be drafted to serve for garrison pur. and in order to increase the strength poses. As a matter of general interest, in this connecof the military arm in the department to Florida, in March, did excellent service, and sustain
tion, we may mention here, that the negro troops sent of the South, Gen. Foster, in command ed the opinion of those who hold that with proper of the North Carolina department, was drilling and with fair opportunity, they would show
themselves capable of becoming good and reliable sent with a large siege equipage, and soldiers
protecting your firesides. To arms, hawken, Capt. Jno. Rodgers; 2. Pasfellow-citizens! Come to share with us saic, Capt. Drayton; 3. Montauk, Com. our danger, our brilliant success, our mander Worden; 4. Patapsco, Comglorious death.”
mander Ammen; 5. New Ironsides, During the month of March the pre- Commodore Turner; 6. Catskill, Comliminary preparations for the attack mander G. W. Rodgers; 7. Nantucket, having been completed, the vessels of Commander Fairfax; 8. Nahant, Comthe fleet and transports were forwarded mander Downes; 9. Keokuk, Lieut.to the place of rendezvous on North Commander A. C. Rhind. The flag Edisto River. As it was important for ship, Naw Ironsides, was a formidable crossing the bar with the iron-clads, to iron-covered battery, mounted eighteen secure the advantage of the high spring guns; sixteen 11-inch and two 200tides at the beginning of April, Du- pounder Parrots; the rest were pont watched carefully the opportune of the monitor class, and had moment. On the 5th of April, after each two guns, mostly an 11-inch and several days of high wind, the sea 15-inch gun in a single turret, with the being very smooth and the tides favor- exception of the Keokuk, which had able, the fleet left its anchorage, and two turrets with an 11-inch gun in early in the forenoon arrived at the each. The Canandaigua, and four blockading station off Charleston har- other gunboats of the squadron, consti. bor. Here, Commander Boutelle, of tuted a reserve outside the bar, and the Coast Survey, assisted in sounding were to support the iron-clads, when and marking out the channel, a new Fort Sumter being reduced, they should one, formed by the sinking of the be ready to attack the batteries on Mor“ stone fleet,” which was found of a ris Island. greater depth of water than the old. The preparations made by Beaure These and other matters occupied gard and his fellow laborers for the the day. Early on the following defence of Charleston were of the most morning, the 6th, the iron-clad fleet extensive and formidable character. crossed the bar and was ranged oppo- Beginning with the northern or eastern site Morris Island, at the southern en entrance by way of Maffit's Channel, trance of the harbor, within a mile of there were, on Sullivan's Island, beside the shore; but that day was lost for Fort Moultrie, two large and powerful active operations by a thick haze which sand batteries guarding the channel ; prevented any observations of the there was Fort Sumter, built on an artishore. At noon, on the 7th of April, ficial island in the middle of the chan. signal was given by the Admiral from nel near the entrance of the inner har. his flag ship, the New Ironsides, for the bor, a mile and a half west of Fort vessels to weigh anchor. According Moultrie, and strengthened to the very to the plan of attack, they were to take highest degree; there was Battery Bee, position in the following order, at inter. Mount Pleasant battery on the main vals of one cable's length, viz.: 1. Wee land, and Castle Pinckney built on ap
BOMBARDMENT IN CHARLESTON HARBOR.
island, about a mile from the city,—the others, moved onward, expecting all on the northerly side of the harbor. the batteries on Morris Island to de On the other side of the harbor were liver their fire; but the rebels allowed Wappoo battery, on James Island, near them to pass in entire silence. Ere Charleston, and Fort Johnson; be- long the iron-clads reached the entween this latter and Castle Pinckney trance to the inner harbor, and about. was Fort Ripley, built on an artificial three P.M. came within range of Fort island in what is called the middle Sumter and the batteries on Sullivan's ground.” On Cumming's Point, Mor- Island. Directly the guns of 'Fort ris Islet, opposite Fort Moultrie, was Moultrie opened on the Weehawken, Battery Gregg, and a mile south of and were speedily followed by those this Fort Wagner, and a fort at Light of Fort Sumter, and the several treHouse Island covering the landing at mendous batteries on Sullivan's and that place. Several hundred guns were Morris Islands. The plan was, to pass mounted on these numerous works; round and assault Fort Sumter on the and in addition, the channel between northwest face, as the weakest and Fort Sumter and Sullivan's Island was most assailable part of the fort; but obstructed by rows of floating casks, Capt. Rodgers found, almost immedisupporting torpedoes and other subma- ately, that he could not force the Weerine obstacles; there were also, in the hawken through the obstructions in channel between Sumter and Cum- her path. Some confusion followed, ming's Point, no less than four rows of on Capt. Rodgers turning his ship to get piles extending nearly up to Charleston. a better position, for the channel was
At half past twelve o'clock on Sat- narrow and the tide strong. The flag urday, April 7th, the fleet began to ship, too, was caught by the tideway, move. The line of battle was formed and became in measure unmanageable; in the order assigned to each ship in while, to add to the annoyance, the the admiral's programme, the Keokuk, Catskill and Nantucket fell foul the
which brought up the rear of Ironsides, and it took time and labor
the line, lying down nearly op. to get them clear and allow them to posite Lighthouse Inlet, and the Wee- pass on. hawken leading the van.
The head of In this state of affairs, Dupont made the line was some four miles from the signal to the fleet to disregard the position designated for the fleet to oc- movements of the flag ship and assume cupy before opening fire, and the bat- such positions as were deemed most teries on Morris Island were meanwhile available. This was at once done, and to be passed. Soon after starting, an a little before four o'clock, the eight hour's delay occurred, in consequence iron-clads were ranged opposite the of a raft attached to the Weehawken, eastern and north-eastern front of Fort for exploding torpedoes and clearing Sumter, at distances of from 550 to away obstacles, having got deranged. 800 yards. Of course, the rebels were Slowly the leading vessel, followed by not idle or inactive in the meanwhile;
on the contrary, they poured forth lence the vast works on every band, from their vast batteries both shells the admiral expressed his conviction and shot in immense profusion, and that it was utterly impracticable to with a rapidity almost beyond concep- take the city of Charleston, as matters tion. During the climax of the fire, as a now stood. The entire fleet had been looker-on declares, 160 shots were count- able to fire only 139 shots against Sumed in a single minute. Some of the ter, with comparatively small injury to officers of the iron-clads affirmed that the fort; while the rebels had hurled the shots struck their vessels as fast as against the iron-clads thousands of the ticking of a watch. It was esti- shells
, shots and steel-pointed bolts, mated that 3,500 rounds were fired by and had inflicted upon them serious the rebels during the brief engagement. damage. Although the admiral's opin
In the midst of this terrible fire, en. ion as to the inefficiency of iron-clads veloping, as it were, the iron-clads, they of the monitor class was not shared by nevertheless devoted themselves to all,* yet, at his order, the several vestheir especial work, the assault on Fort sels were taken to Port Royal for reSumter. The gallant Rhind pushed pairs, except the New Ironsides, which his vessel up to within 500 yards of anchored outside Charleston bar. The the fort, and became a special target casualties were very few, considering for the rebels; the captains of the other the fierceness of the rebel fire; one vessels followed his daring lead; and man died of injuries received, and to the extent of their ability strove to about twenty-five were wounded, chiefly accomplish the great object in view. on the Keokuk and Nahant. But it was impossible to endure long Gen. Hunter and his men at Stono the rebel hurricane of fire. The Keo. Inlet were waiting for an opportunity kuk received her death blow within of joining in the attack; but the ill half an hour ; she was struck ninety success of the fleet prevented their times, and bad nineteen holes above doing so. Hunter wrote a letter to and below the water line, and got away Dupont, lauding very highly the galjust in time to sink out of sight by lantry of the fleet.
lantry of the fleet. “A mere spectator evening. Others of the iron-clads be (he said) I could do nothing but pray gan to show signs of disablement, and for you, which, believe me, I did most it became evident that the contest was heartily, for you and all the gallant too unequal to render it expedient to men under your command, who sailed continue it; Dupont, therefore, about so calmly and fearlessly into and under five o'clock, gave the signal to with- and through a concentric fire which draw from action, intending to resume has never heretofore had a parallel in the attack next morning. On ascer- the history of warfare.
Thank taining, however, the injuries received
* For an interesting sketch of the opinions and by the several vessels, and estimating views of officers in the navy respecting the value and his force as quite unable to overcome efficiency of iron-clad vessels of the Monitor class, sog the obstructions in the har'oor and si
Appleton's " Annual Cyclopædia" for 1863, pp. 664