Page images
PDF
EPUB

put out the fire; but, on account of the rapidity with which hot shot were being thrown into the fort, it was found impossible to check the conflagration.

As many of the garrison as could be spared were set to work to remove the powder from the magazines. This was desperate work, as they had to roll the barrels of powder through the fire. Ninety barrels were thus got out, when the heat became so great as to make it impossible to get out any more.

The doors were then closed and locked, and the fire spread and became general. The wind so directed the smoke as to fill the fort so full that the men could not see each other, and were nearly suffocated with lot air. Soon they were obliged to cover their faces with wet cloths, in order to get along at all, so dense was the smoke and so scorching the heat.

After the barracks were well on fire, the Rebel batteries increased the rapidity of their cannonading upon Fort Sumter. About this time, the shells and ammunition in the upper service magazines exploded, scattering the towers and upper portions of the building in every direction.

The crash of the beams, the roar of the flames, the rapid explosion of the shells, and the shower of fragments of the fort, with the blackness of the smoke, made the scene indescribably terrific and grand.

This continued for several hours. Meanwhile, the main gates were burned down, the chassis of the barbette guns were burned away on the gorge, and the upper portions of the towers had been demolished by shells.

The fire spread to the men's quarters, on the right hand and on the left, and endangered the powder which had been taken out of the magazines. The men went through the fire and covered the barrels with wet cloths; but the danger of the fort's blowing up became so imminent, that they were obliged to throw the barrels out through the embrasures. All but four barrels were thus disposed of, and those four remaining were wrapped in wet blankets. But three cartridges were left, and those were in the guns. While this was being done, all the guns of Moultrie and the batteries were worked with increased vigor.

The flag-staff of Fort Sumter was now shot down, some fifty feet from the truck, being the ninth time it had been struck by shot. The men cried out “The flag is down! it has been shot away!” and in an instant Lieutenant Hall rushed forward and brought the flag away. It was then nailed to the staff and planted upon the ramparts, while batteries in every direction were playing upon them.

Ex-Senator Wigfall now appeared at an embrasure, with a white handkerchief upon the end of a sword, and begged admittance. He asked to see Major Anderson, and was told that he was at the main gate; but he crawled in through the embrasure, paying no attention to what had been told him.

He was met by Captain Foster, Lieutenant Mead and Lieutenant Davis, to whom he said: “I wish to see Major Anderson. I am General Wigfall, and come from General Beauregard;" adding in an excited manner, “Let us stop this firing. You are on fire and your flag is down. Let us quit.”

Lieutenant Davis replied: "No, sir, our flag is not down. Step out here and you will see it waving over the ramparts."

“Let us quit this,” said Wigfall. “Here's a white flag; will anybody wave it out of the embrasure ?”

One of the officers replied: "That is for you to do, if you choose."

Wigfall responded : “If there is no one else to do it, I will;" and jumping into the embrasure, waved it toward Moultrie.

The firing still continued from Moultrie and the batteries of Sullivan's Island. In answer to Wigfall's request that one of our men might hold the flag, Corporal Binghurst jumped into the embrasure: but, the shot continuing to strike all around him, after waving the flag a few moments, he jumped down again, saying: “Damn it, they don't respect this flag; they are firing at it."

Wigfall replied: “They fired at me two or three times, and I should think that you might stand it once."

Wigfall then said: “If you will show a white flag from your ramparts, they will cease firing.”

Lieutenant Davis replied : “If you request that a flag shall be shown there, while you hold a conference with Major Anderson, and for that purpose only, it may be done."

At this point, the Major came up. Wigfall said: “I am General Wigfall, and come from General Beauregard, who wishes to stop this."

Major Anderson replied: “Well, sir ?”

“Major Anderson," said Wigfall, "you have defended your flag nobly, sir. You have done all that it was possible for men to do; and General Beauregard wishes to stop the fight. On what terms, Major Anderson, will you evacuate this fort ?”

[ocr errors]

Major Anderson replied : “General Beauregard knows my only terms.”

“Do I understand that you will evacuate upon the terms proposed the other day?"

“Yes, sir, and on those conditions only;" was the reply of the Major.

“Then, sir," said Wigfall, “I understand, Major, that the fort is to be ours?"

“On those conditions only, I repeat."
“Very well,” said Wigfall, and retired.

Shortly after his departure, the Staff of General Beauregard approached the fort with a white flag, saying that they came from General Beauregard, who had observed that the flag had been down and raised again soon afterward, and had sent over, desiring to · know if he could render any assistance, as he had observed that the fort was on fire.

Major Anderson, in replying, requested them to thank General Beauregard, on his behalf, for his offer, but it was too late, as he had just agreed with General Beauregard for an evacuation. The gentlemen were surprised, and asked with whom? Major Anderson, observing that something was wrong, remarked that General Wigfall, who had just left, had represented himself as the aid of General Beauregard, and that he had come to make the proposition. They replied that Wigfall had not been with General Beauregard for two days. Major Anderson then stated that General Wigfall's offer, and its acceptance, had placed him in a peculiar position. They then requested him to put in writing what Wigfall had said to him, and they would lay it before Beauregard.

Before this reached Beauregard, he sent his AdjutantGeneral to say that the terms had been accepted, and that he would send the Isabel, or any other vessel at his command, to convey Major Anderson and the troops to any port in the United States that he might elect.

The evacuation took place on Sunday afternoon, April 14th, after the burial, with military honors, of private Hough, who had been killed by the bursting of a gun.

It was a painful sight to all, to see the stars and stripes finally hauled down; but we felt that we had done our duty and must submit. The fort was not surrendered, but evacuated, almost on our own terms, with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private property, and saluting our flag with fifty guns.

Major Anderson and his brave band shipped on board the Baltic, Captain Fletcher, for New York, where they arrived on the Thursday following. Thus ended the second act in the Great Rebellion Drama.

O star-spangled banner, the flag of our pride!
Though tempted by traitors, and basely defied,
Fling out to the glad winds your red, white and blue,
For the heart of the North-land is beating for you!

SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND MEN CALLED FOR.

The news of the bombardment and fall of Sumter, occasioned intense excitement and indignation throughout the Free States. The echoes of the cannon fired at Sumter had barely reached the hills and valleys of the

« PreviousContinue »