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6 Series I Volume XXVIII-I Serial 46 - Ft. Sumter - Ft. Wagner Part I

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Page 6 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

in the efficiency of the turret iron-clads (monitors) and their adaptation to such work, and who was willing to risk his reputation in the development of their new and comparatively untried powers. The operation was regarded as one in which audacity could with propriety enter as an important element.

27. I also expressed the opinion that beyond the demolition of Fort Sumter, the land forces, numbering scarcely 11,000 men of all arms available for offensive operations, could no, unless largely re-enforced, take the lead in any operations against eh interior defenses of Charleston that would involve their leaving their hold upon the narrow sea islands, where on the one hand they had the co-operation of the navy against the iron-clad rams and gunboats of the enemy, and on the other practically impassable marshes, against which the well-known superior numbers of the enemy and their facilities for concentrating troops by railroad, could be little avail and confer no special advantage.

28. A land attack upon Charleston was not even discussed at any of the interviews to which I was invited, and was certainly never contemplated by me.

29. The principal question was, to what extent the fall of Sumter or the destruction of its offensive power would exert an influence in the capture of Charleston, that, of course, being the ultimate object in view.

30. A considerable which possessed much weight in the deliberation was the great practical advantage to be derived from a blockade of Charleston Harbor in all respects thorough and complete. The capture of Morris Island, thereby allowing a portion of all the blockading fleet to lie inside the bar, even should they fair to finally occupy the waters of the inner harbor, would secure this end.

31. The naval authorities then at the seat of Government regarded Fort Sumter as the key of the position. That stronghold once demolished, or its offensive power practically destroyed, the monitors and iron-clads, they affirmed, could remove the channel obstructions, secure control of the entire harbor, and reach the city.

32. The barbette fire of Sumter was specially dreaded on account of the comparative vulnerability of the monitors' decks to a plunging fire.

33. It was, therefore, determined to attempt the destruction of Fort Sumter, unless it should become necessary, before the commencement of active operations, to detach troops from the Atlantic coast to re-enforce General Banks, then operating before Port Hudson on the Mississippi, and who could not expect assistance from General Grant, who was at that time vigorously pushing the siege of Vicksburg.

34. The following is a brief synopsis of the plan of attack agreed upon. Of the four distinct operations which it comprises, the army was to take the lead in executing the first, second, and third.

PLAN OF ATTACK.

35. First. To make a descent upon and obtain possession of the south end of Morris Island, known to be occupied by the enemy, and in progress of being strongly fortified, offensively and defensively.

36. Second. To lay siege to and reduce Fort Wagner, a heavily armed earthwork of strong plan and relief, situated near the north end of Morris Island, and distant about 2,600 yards from Fort Sumter.

With fort Wagner, the work on Cumming's Point would also fall.


Page 6 S. C. AND GA. COASTS, AND IN MID. AND E. FLA. Chapter XL.

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