Today in History:

SEARCH THE OFFICIAL RECORD

22 Series I Volume I- Serial 1 - Charleston

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 
Page 22 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

daylight, and continued it with rapidity. The aim of the enemy's gunners was better than yesterday. One shot from the rifled gun in the battery on Cummings Point struck the check of an embrasure in the right gorge angle, and sent a large number of fragments inside, wounding a sergeant and three men. The spent ball also came in with the fragments. An engineer employe, Mr. John Swearer, from Baltimore, Md., was severely wounded by pieces of a shell which burst inside the fort close to the casemates. One or two balls also penetrated the filling of the embrasure openings of the second tier, but fell entirely spent inside-one of them setting a man's bed on fire.

It soon became evident that they were firing hot shot from a large number of their guns, especially from those in Fort Moultrie, and at nine o'clock I saw volumes of smoke issuing from the roof of the officers' quarters, where a shot had just penetrated. From the exposed position it was utterly impossible to extinguish the flames, and I therefore immediately notified the commanding officer of the fact, and obtained his permission to remove as much powder from the magazine as was possible before the flames, which were only one set of quarters distant, should encircle the magazine and make it necessary to close it. All the men and officers not engaged at the guns worked rapidly and zealously at this, but so rapid was the spread of the flames that only fifty barrels of powder could be taken out and distributed around in the casemates before the fire and heat made it necessary to close the magazine doors and pack earth against them. The men when withdrew to the casemates on the faces of the fort. As soon as the flames and smoke burst from the roof of the quarters the enemy's batteries redoubled the rapidity of their fire, firing red-hot shot for most of their guns. The whole range of officers' quarters was soon in flames. The wing being from the southward, communicated fire to the roof of the barks, and this being aided by the hot shot constantly lodging there, spread to the entire roofs of both barracks, so that by twelve o'clock all the woodwork of quarters and of upper storey of barracks was in flames. Although the floors of the barracks were fire-proof, the utmost exertions of the officers and men were often required to prevent the fire communicating down the stairways, and from the exterior, to the doors, window frames, and other woodwork of the east barrack, in which the officers and men had taken their quarters. All the woodwork in the west barrack was burned. The clouds of smoke and cinders which were sent into the casemates by the wind set on fire many boxes, beds, and other articles belonging to the men, and made it dangerous to retain the powder which had been save from the magazine. The commanding officer accordingly gave orders to have all but five barrels thrown out of the embrasures into the water, which was done.

The small stock of cartridges now only allowed a gun to be fired at intervals of ten minutes. The flagstaff was struck by shot seven times during the day, and a fragment of shell cut the lanyard of the flag. The part thus cut was so connected that the flag must have come down by the run had not the flag been, as it was, twisted around both parts of the lanyard. During the night I endeavored to remedy this by lowering the topmast so as to reeve a new halyard, but failed in consequence of the sticking of the mast, which was swollen by the rain. The most that could be done was to reeve the uncut part of the lanyard through a block attached to the topmast, as high up as a man could climb, so that if the flag untwisted and came down it could be immediately rehoisted as high as this block.

As the fire reached the magazines of grenades that were arranged in


Page 22 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

Please login to post a comment. You may create an account using the form available to the right.

 

Major Battles of the Civil War

 

Banner