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BOMBARDMENT AND SURRENDER OF FORT PULASKI-COMMODORE DUPONT'S OPERA
TIONS ON THE FLORIDA COAST-FEBRUARY-APRIL, 1862.
As early as the end of November, the Roads gave to the fort full command of month of the occupation of Hilton Head, both channels of the Savannah river. General Gilmore had, under the orders There were, however, other means of of General Sherman, made a military re-approach from the ocean, by water to connoissance of Tybee Island with refer the river above the fort, by creeks, and ence to the reduction of Fort Pulaski, passages among the sea islands on the and had, on the 1st of December, re- north and south. One of these on the ported the undertaking as practicable by north had long been used for an interior batteries of mortars and rifled guns es- communication between Charleston and tablished on the island. “I would have," Savannah. It entered the Savannah by said be, "enough mortars to throw oře an artificial channel, named Wall's Cut, shell a minute into the fort, and as many from New river above, by Wright and guns as mortars.” In a communication Mud rivers on either side of Jones' Isa few days later he proposed an arma- land, which was nothing more than a ment for the batteries of twenty heavy mud marsh, covered with reeds and mortars, eight rifled guns, and eight Col-grass, with its general surface about on . umbiads. The project thus submitted the level of ordinary high tide-a mere was seconded by General Sherman and refuge for alligators and pregnant breed. approved by the War Department, where er of miasmata; utterly uninhabitable by the necessary preparations were immedi- any human being. A few spots rose a ately set on foot to carry it into effect. little higher and were covered only by Early in December, Colonel Rosa's 46th extraordinary tides. On one of these, regiment, New York volunteers, occu-called Venus Point, on the Savannah, it pied Big Tybee Island, the base of op was presently resolved to construct a erations.
battery to cut off the communication of Fort Pulaski, which was thus to be in- Savannah with Pulaski by the river. A vested and reduced, is described in the mixed land and naval force, for the opreport of General Gilmore, as a brick- erations in this quarter, was fitted out at work of five sides or faces, including the Port Royal, and assembled in January gorge ; casemated on all sides; walls at the rendezvous at Dawfuskie Island, seven and a half feet thick and twenty- at the entrance to the channels which we five feet high above high water ; mount- have described. The land force, coming one tier of guns in embrasures, and manded by Brigadier-General Egbert L. one en barbette. The main work was Viele, consisted of a detachment of the surrounded by a wet ditch forty-eight 3d Rhode Island artillery, a detachment feet wide. At the time of the siege the of volunteer engineers, a battalion of the fort contained forty-eight guns, of which 8th Maine regiment, the 6th regiment twenty bore upon the batteries on Tybee.Connecticut volunteers, the 48th New Cockspur Island, on which the fort was York volunteers, and a full supply of built, was composed wholly of marsh, heavy ordnance, and intrenching tools. about a mile long and half a mile wide. A naval force of three gunboats, coöperThe situation at the head of Tybee I ating with the military expedition, was commanded by Commander John Rogers. the battery on Venus point by landing Before anything could be undertaken on them on the island from Mud river, and the Savannah river, it was necessary first hauling them over its marshy surfaceto remove a formidable obstruction in an undertaking, it may be imagined, of the sunken hulk of a brig secured by sufficient difficulty, when a single man heavy piles, placed by the rebels in the could not readily move without sinking connecting channel of Wall's cut. To knee-deep in the oozy, slimy mud. The clear away this obstacle so as to admit low surface of the island, moreover, of the passage of gunboats and light brought any movement upon it within draught steamers, occupied, General view of the enemy, whose armed boats Viele, tells us, three weeks of uninter- were passing up and down the river ; mitting night labor in close proximity to and, consequently, whatever was to be the rebel forces. The work was accom- done could be undertaken with possible plished by Major 0. S. Beard of the 48th success only in the darkness of the New York volunteers, with the aid of a night. The guns to be located on the company of the volunteer engineers. point were of no mean weight, being The piles were sawed off below the three 30-pounder and two 20-pounder water, on a level with the bottom of Parrott rifles and an 8-inch siege howthe stream, and the hulk swung round itzer. They were embarked at the renagainst the sides of the cut. This being dezvous of the expedition in lighters, accomplished, the way appeared open which were towed by row-boats through for the passage of the gunboats, and the Mud river to a wharf constructed of erection of the batteries on the Savan- poles and sand bags on Jones' island. nah river under their protection. Whilst The guns being landed were to be transthese operations were going on, another ported a distance of some thirteen hunmixed force, the troops commanded by dred yards across the marsh to their Brigadier-General H. G. Wright, the place of destination. The only way to gunboats by Fleet-Captain Davis, were accomplish this was by fatigue parties endeavoring to enter the Savannah river dragging them over planks laid on the by its southern approaches from Warsaw surface of the morass and shifted from sound. •
the rear to the front of the wheels as Planting a battery on Jones' Island, progress was made. On the night of proved an undertaking of no ordinary dif- the 10th of Februrary, the guns were ficulty. It was at first proposed to carry thus dragged about three hundred yards the guns to Venus point by the river into the marsh, whilst a platform for the passage of Mud river in flats or lighters, battery at Venus point was commenced towed by a small steamer, under convoy by laying planks on a foundation of sand of the armed vessels. As Mud river, carried in bags to the spot for the purhowever, was but a foot and a half in pose. The work, concealed by a covdepth at low water, the operation could ering of reeds and grass, was left at be attempted only at high tide—nor day break to be resumed the next could it be safely undertaken with the night, when "a drenching storm added risk of interruption from the enemy's to the difficulties—the men often sinkgunboats during the day. The first ing to their waists in the marsh, and effort to enter it of a dark night failed the guns sometimes slipping from the in consequence of a furious storm, which team-ways."* · Early on the morning, severely taxed the resources of the na- however, of the 12th, the skillfully dival party, who were glad to get back to rected laborious undertaking was comtheir old anchorage in safety. It was
* General Viele's Report to Lieutenant A. B. Ely, Asthen resolved to transport the guns for sistant Adjutant General. Savannah river, April 11, 1862.
pleted, and the pieces were reported in of the fort. The former he accomplished position. The next day, the rebel steam- as far as it was practicable, by stationer Ida descending the Savannah, an ing a battery on a hulk in a creek formopportunity was afforded of trying the ing the inner boundary of Tybee island; battery. Nine shots were fired, all of though the facility of transporting boats which, but one, struck astern of the across the watery marshes of the adjavessel, which ran below to the fort. cent islands rendered it impossible altoThe afternoon of the 14th, three rebel gether to cut off the rebel intercourse with gunboats, of Commodore Tatnall's fleet, the fort. On the 21st of February, the came down the river and opened fire on first vessel with ordnance and ordnance the battery at the distance of about a stores for the siege, arrived in Tybee mile. The fire was returned, and one roads, and, from that time until the 9th of the vessels struck, when the boats of April, “all the troops on Tybee island, withdrew. On the night of the 20th, consisting of the 7th Connecticut voluna second powerful battery was towed teers, Colonel Alfred H. Terry, the 46th through Mud river, and established on New York volunteers, Colonel Rudolph Bird island, in the Savannah river, op- Rosa, two companies of the New York posite Venus point. These two bat. volunteer engineers, under command of teries effectually cut off supplies for Fort Lieutenant-Colonel James F. Hall, and, Pulaski by the river from above. To for the most of the time, two companies the work on Jones' island the name Fort 3d Rhode Island volunteer artillery, were Vulcan was given ; the other was called constantly engaged in landing and tranbattery Hamilton. “Although,” says sporting ordnance, ordnance stores, and General Viele in his report, “ the ma- battery materials, making fascines and terial of which they are composed, - roads, constructing gun and mortar batmud, highly saturated with water,-is of teries, service and depot magazines, the most unfavorable description, they splinter and bomb-proof shelters, for the are both creditable specimens of field relief of cannoniers off duty and drilling works, and evidence the great labor and at the several pieces." perseverance of the troops, under the The armament consisting of thirty-six most trying circumstances—the fatigue-pieces in all ;-twelve heavy 13-inch parties always standing in water twenty- mortars : four 10-inch siege mortars; six four hours." The readiness and ability 10-inch, and four 8-inch columbiads ; five shown by the armies of the north and 30-pounder Parrott rifled guns ; one west in various emergencies of engineer forty-eight, two sixty-four, and two ing operations, are among the most po- eighty-four James' rifled guns ; — was ticeable features of the numerous cam- distributed in eleven batteries, named, paigns. The military duties of the ser- respectively, after the secretary of war, vice were largely borne by men fre- and eminent military officers, Stanton, quently of mechanical pursuits, and by Grant, Lyon, Lincoln, Burnside, Shera larger class accustomed to subdue for- man, Halleck, Scott, Sigel, McClellan, ests, build cities, and contend success- Totten. The batteries were placed on fully with all the obstacles of nature. the northern side of the island, at points
General Gillmore, who had superin from a mile to two miles and a half from tended in person the engineering opera- the landing place, at distances from the tions already described, was now order- fort varying froin thirty-four hundred ed to Big Tybee island, to complete the yards to sixteen hundred and fisty, the investment by stopping the water com- Parrott and James' guns being at the munication from the South, and to com- shortest range. mence operations for the bombardment. The narrative of General Gillmore, and the detailed report of Lieutenat Horace ing to the bottom. Two hundred and Porter, of the Ordnance Department, fifty men were barely sufficient to move exhibit the extraordinary toil of the a single piece, on sling carts. The men troops on the island employed in tran- were not allowed to speak above a whissporting and mounting the guns. “Ty- per, and were guided by the notes of a bee island," says General Gillmore, “is whistle. The positions selected for the mostly a mud marsh, like other marsh five most advanced batteries, were artiislands on this coast. Several ridges and ficially screened frnm view from the fort, hummocks of firm ground, however, ex- by a gradual and almost imperceptible ist upon it, and the shore of Tybee change, made little by little, every night, roads, where the batteries were located in the condition and appearance of the is partially skirted by low sand banks, brushwood and bushes in front of them. formed by the gradual and protracted No sudden alteration of the outline of action of the wind and tides. The dis- the landscape was permitted. After the tance along this, shore, from the landing concealment was once perfected to such place to the advanced batteries, is about a degree as to afford a good and safe two and a half miles. The last mile of parapet behind it, less care was taken ; this route, on which the seven most ad- and some of the work in the batteries, -vanced batteries were placed, is low and requiring mechanical skill, was done in marshy, lies in full view of Fort Pulaski, the daytime, the fatigue parties going to and is within effective range of its guns. their labor before break of day, and reThe construction of a causeway resting turning in the evening after dark.” on fascines and brushwood, over this. In addition to the batteries on Tybee swampy portion of the line ; the erec- island, it was the design of General Bention of the several batteries, with the ham, the commander of the district, to magazines, gun-platforms, and splinter- obtain, if possible, a concentric fire upon proof shelters ; the transportation of the the fort, by erecting batteries to be manheaviest ordnance in our service, by the ned by detachments from General Viele's labor of men alone ; the hauling of ord-command on Long and Turtle islands, on nance stores and engineer's supplies, and the west and north at the entrance to the the mounting of the guns and mortars on Savannah river ; but the heavy ordnance. their carriages and beds, had to be done for this purpose not arriving in time, the almost exclusively at night, alike regard- bombardment from this side was confined less of the inclemency of the weather, to one 10-inch siege mortar on Long and of the miasma from the swamps. island, served by a party of Major
“No one except an eye-witness, can Beard's 48th New York volunteers, the form any but a faint conception of the fire from which was altogether ineffectual Herculean labor by wbich mortars of eight on account of the distance. The fire of and one half tons weight, and columbiads the mortars was to be mainly aimed that but a trifle lighter, were moved in the the shells might explode over the south dead of night, over a narrow causeway, face of the work, or passing over the parbordered by swamps on either side, and apet, take the gorge and north face in liable, at any moment, to be overturned reverse. The rifled guns were to silence and buried in the mud beyond reach. the barbette guns, when a concentrated The stratum of mud is about twelve feet fire of solid shot was to be directed to deep; and, on several occasions, the effect a breach on the south-eastern face heaviest pieces, particularly the mortars, of the fort. became detached from the sling-carts, On the afternoon of the 9th of April, and were, with great difficulty, by the everything was reported ready for openuse of planks and skids, kept from sink- | ing fire on the devoted Fort Pulaski.
Major-General Hunter, who had recently quarters on Tybee Island, the order was assumed command of the Department of given to open fire, commencing with the the South, and Brigadier-General Ben- mortar batteries, according to the instrucham, commanding the northern district tions of General Gillmore. The first shot of the department, were present super- was fired at a quarter past eight o'clock, intending the operations. General Gill- from battery Halleck. The other mortar more now issued his orders for the bom- batteries opened in succession, followed bardment. Carefully estimating the by the guns and batteries along the whole strength of the several batteries, and line, 2,550 yards in length. Within an parcelling out the work of destruction in hour all the batteries were in operation. the walls and area of the fort, minute The range was soon obtained, and the directions were given, and with scientific firing was kept up vigorously during the accuracy, to adjust the time of firing, day, over three thousand projectiles, vacharge of powder, and length of fuse, to rying in size from the thirteen-inch morproduce particular effects.
tar shell to the thirty-pound Parrot shot, These last preparations having been being discharged at the fort. It was obmade, at sunrise on the morning of the served that the mortar firing was less 10th, General Hunter sent to the fort the successful than bad been expected, “not following demand for its surrender : "To one-tenth of the shells thrown appearing the Commanding Officer, Fort Pulaski : to fall within the work;" but that the Sir : I hereby demand of you the imme- rified projectiles had done excellent serdiate surrender and restoration of Fort vice, as had been designed, penetrated Pulaski to the authority and possession deeply, and honeycombed the fort on its of the United States. This demand is sonth-eastern face. The object of effectmade with a view to avoiding, if possi- ing a breach in this quarter was to take ble, the effusion of blood, which must re- in reverse the powder magazine located sult from the bombardment and attack within the opposite angle of the work. now in readiness to be opened. The num-An active fire directed against the barber, calibre, and completeness of the bat-bette guns of the fort, had disabled two teries surrounding you, leave no doubt of them, and three of the casemate guns as to what must result in case of refusal ; had been silenced. The fire of the eneand as the defence, however obstinate, my's guns is described by General Benmust eventually succumb to the assailing ham, as “efficient and accurate, directed force at my disposal, it is hoped you will with great precision not only at our batsee fit to avert the useless waste of life. teries, but even at the individual persons This communication will be carried to passing between them, or otherwise exyou under flag of truce, by Lieutenant posed.” Owing, however, to the excelJ. H. Wilson, United States army, who lent precautions in the construction of is authorized to wait any period not ex- the works, and the solicitous superintenceeding thirty minutes from delivery, for dence of the commanding officers, no inyour answer. I have the honor to be, jury was inflicted, either on the men or sir, your most obedient servant, David the matériel. During the night a firing Hunter, Major - General commanding.” was kept up from three of the mortars To this, Colonel Charles H. Olmstead, and one of the Parrott guns, at intervals Colonel ist volunteer regiment of Geor- of fifteen or twenty minutes for each gia, commanding the post, briefly an- piece, for the purpose of fatiguing the swered “In reply, I can only say that I garrison. During the first half of the am here to defend the fort, not to sur- night, to afford General Gillmore necesrender it."
sary rest, after his active exertions of On the receipt of this answer at head- the day, General Benham, having dis