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44 Series I Volume I- Serial 1 - Charleston

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Page 44 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

12th, and Saturday, 13th instant, so far as the above-named batteries and corps were engaged.

An unavoidable delay in obtaining these reports has prevented me from earlier reporting to you. From the day on which supplies were cut off from Fort Sumter, on Sunday, 7th April, instant, the vigilance which had watched over the channel unceasingly was, if possible, increased, in order to prevent re-enforcement of men or supplies to the beleaguered fortress. On the afternoon of Thursday, 11th April, instant, I was notified that at a given signal the bombardment would commence, and that the signal might be looked for about 8 p.m. Shortly before that time the Trapier, Iron, and Point batteries were manned, the magazines opened, and the signal awaited.

After keeping the men at the batteries until nearly 10 p.m. they were dismissed to their respective quarters, but warned to turn out immediately upon the signal being given. At 4.30 a.m. of Friday, 12th April, instant, the signal being given, the batteries were promptly manned, and agreeably to the instructions furnished me for the firing of the mortars, the fire was opened on Fort Sumter from the Trapier battery and succeeded by the Point battery. The fire from this post was commenced at 4.48 a.m. and continued from the mortar batteries at the prescribed intervals until past 2 p.m., when, under orders from Headquarters Provisional Forces, the intervals were doubled. Shortly after 5 a.m., and when the early dawn enabled the guns to be properly worked, the fire was commenced from the three 8-inch columbiads in the Iron battery and the two 42-pounders in the Point battery. From the embrasures of the latter the masks had been removed during the night of Thursday, and also from the rifled cannon in position in the Point battery.

Under my instructions the fire from the columbiads and 42-pounders was at the rate of four shot from each gun per hour. This interval was taken with the purpose of not overheating the guns, of not overfatiguing the men, and that the firing, being conducted with great deliberation, should be accurate. The desired purpose was, I believe attained. The guns were chiefly directed to driving the men from the barbette guns of Fort Sumter and to dismount as many guns as possible, and also to drive the men from the casemate guns bearing upon this post. Shortly after 7 a.m. of Friday, the 12th instant, the fire from Fort Sumter was opened on this post, and for a considerable time was more directed here than to any other point around the harbor. One hundred and twenty-four shot were fired at the Iron battery, thirteen of which struck it. I am unable to report the number fired at the Point and Trapier batteries, or at the island and cantonments generally, but for a space of over two hours on Friday a duel was kept up between the Point battery and Fort Sumter, gun answering gun during that time. The fire from the guns was continued until dark. The mortar fire was continued both day and night.

On Saturday morning, 13th April instant, a little before 7 a.m., the tour of the mortars at this post having come round, the mortars were discharged at the appointed intervals, and shortly afterwards smoke was seen issuing from the officers' quarters at Fort Sumter. The smoke increased until about 8 a.m., when the flames burst forth. I believe the fire was communicated from a shell thrown either by the right mortar in the Trapier battery, or the left mortar in the Point battery; the shells from these two mortars fell at or about the same place on the roof of the officers' quarters, and at that time the smoke was first observed from this post. Upon the flames bursting out the rapidity of the fire was increased, in order to spread the flames. Shortly before 10 a.m. Captain


Page 44 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

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