Page images
PDF
EPUB

The forts and batteries in the possession of the Confederate forces at this time may be briefly described as follows:

FORT MOULTRIE.

Fort Moultrie, which first opened its batteries upon Major Anderson and his command, is one of the sentinels that guard the principal entrance of Charleston harbor. It is opposite to and distant from Fort Sumter about one and a half miles. Its armament consists of eleven guns of heavy calibre and several mortars. The outer and inner walls are of brick, capped with stone and filled with earth, making a solid wall fifteen or sixteen feet in thickness.

THE IRON FLOATING BATTERY.

This novel war machine,- designed for harbor operations, was anchored near Sullivan's Island, commanding the barbette guns of Fort Sumter. It was constructed of Palmetto logs, sheathed with plate iron, and snpposed to be impregnable, against shot. It was embrasured for and mounted four guns of heavy calibre, requiring Sixty men to operate it.. The outer or gun side was covered with six plates of iron—two of them of the T railroad pattern, placed horizontally, and the other four bolted one over the other, in the strongest manner, and running vertically. The wall of the gun side was full four feet thick, constructed of that peculiar palmetto wood so full of fibrous material that sixty-four pounders cannot pierce it. The main deck was wide and roomy, and kept in place by four heavy wedges, driven down by a species of ram, which held it fast, preventing any swaying around by the tide.

CUMIIINGS' POINT IRON BATTERY.

The nearest point of land to Fort Sumter is Cummings Point, distant 1,150 yards. On this point was the celebrated railroad iron battery, having a heavy framework of yellow pine logs. The roof was of the same material, over which dovetailed bars of railroad iron of the T pattern were laid from top to bottom—all of which was riv -ited down in the most secure manner. On the front it presented an angle of about thirty degrees. There were three portholes, which opened and closed with iron shutters of the heaviest description. When open, the muzzles of the columbiads filled up the space completely. The recoil of the gun enabled the shutters to be closed instantly. The columbiad guns, with which this novel battery was equipped bore on the south wall of Sumter, the line of fire being at an angle of about thirty five degrees.

The Fort Johnson batteries consist of two large sand works, containing mortar and siege-gun batteries.

CASTLE PINCKNEY.

Castle Pinckney is a small work, situated on the southern extremity of "Shute's Folly Island," between the Hog and Folly channels. Though in itself not a very considerable military work, yet, from its position, commanding as it does the whole line of the eastern wharves, it becomes of the utmost importance. The height of the rampart is twenty, and the width thirty-two feet. The width of the outer wall and of the parapet is six feet; the depth of the casemates is twenty feet, height ten; the diameter (east and west) of the castle is one hundred and seventy feet. The entrance is on the northern side, on either side of which are the officers and privates' quarters, mess-room, &c. The armament of this castle consists of about twenty-five pieces, 24 and 32-pounders, a few sea-coast mortars and six columbiads.

BOMBAEDMENT OP PORT SUMTER

Major Anderson made good use of the hour awarded to him, that one solemn hour which stood between a peaceful, happy country, so blessed that it had forgotten to be grateful, and the most terrible war that ever, without cause, deluged a free soil with the blood of its own sons. Were ever sixty minutes, since the creation of time, so portentous with fate?

But that little band of men had no time for such thoughts. Xo sooner had the deputation withdrawn than each officer and soldier was at his post. They had two flags at the fort, a large garrison flag, which Major Anderson raised when he took up his quarters at Sumter, and a smaller one, called the storm-flag; the former had a slight rip in it, and he ordered the storm-flag to be raised in its stead.

Sentinels were immediately removed from the parapets of Fort Sumter, the posterns closed, the flag drawn up, and an order sent to the troops not to leave the bomb-proofs, »n any account, until summoned by the drum. At 4.30 A. M. one bombshell was thrown at Sumter, bursting immediately over the fort.

This was the first gun of the rebellion. How awfully its reverberations havp thundered through the land! How little did the prompters of that attack upon the old flag dream of the horrors that were to follow!

After the pause of a few moments the firing became general on the part of the batteries of the secessionists, doing the greatest credit to the artillerists. Battery after battery joined in the murderous attack. The Major took it very calmly—divided his men into companies to relieve each other—had their scanty breakfast prepared, which they partook of in silence, while the iron hail was crashing against their walls—prepared additional cartridges by tearing up the flannel shirts of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic]

the men, their bed-clothes, etc.,—got out a supply of powder from the magazinp—and after nearly four hours' silence, the fort at last opened most vigorously on their assailants. Hot coffee was kept in the boiler in the cook room for the men to partake of whenever they pleased, and they worked the guns with a will. They fired but few shells, for the only guns for that kind of ammunition were the barbette guns on the open rampart, many of which were dismounted by the continuous fire of the enemy, and the serving of which, from the lack of casemate protection, would have rapidly thinned out the Major's little band.

As the number of men was so small, and the garrison so nearly exhausted by the several months of siege which they had gone through, it was necessary to husband their strength. The command was therefore divided into three reliefs, or equal parties, who were to work the different batteries by turns, each four hours.

The first relief opened upon the iron batteries at Cummings Point, at a distance of 1,600 yards, the iron floating battery, distant 1,800 or 2,000 yards at the end of Sullivan's Island, the enfilading battery on Sullivan's Island, and Fort Moultrie. This was at 1 o'clock in the morning, Captain Doubleday firing the first gun, and all the points named above being opened upon simultaneously. For the first four hours the firing was kept up with great rapidity; the enthusiasm of the men, indeed, was so spirited that the second and third reliefs could not be kept from the guns. This accounts for the fact that double the number of guns were at work during the first four hours than at any other time.

Shells burst with the greatest rapidity in every portion of the work, hurling the loose brick and stone in all directions, breaking the windows, and setting fire to whatever woodwork they burst against. The solid shot firing of the enemy's batteries, and particularly of Fort Moultrie, were directed at the barbette guns of Fort Sumter, disabling one teninch columbiad, (they had but two,) one eight-inch columbiad, ono forty-two pounder, and two eight-inch sea-coast howitzers, and also tearing a large portion of the parapet away. The firing from the batteries on Cammings Point was scattered over the whole of the gorge, or rear, of the fort, riddling it like a sieve. The explosion of shells, and the quantity of deadly missiles that were hurled in every direction and at every instant of time, made it almost certain death to go out of the lower tier of casemates, and also made the working of the barbette, or upper uncovered guns, which contained all of our heaviest metals, and by which alone we could throw shells, quite impossible. During the first day there was hardly an instant of time that there was a cessation of the whizzing of balls, which were sometimes coming half a dozen at once. There was not a portion of the work which was not seen in reverse (that is, exposed by the rear) from mortars.

« PreviousContinue »