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river on a reconnoissance, went seven miles above Legaréville without getting sight or sound of an enemy; but, when 6 miles on her way back, was opened upon in a bend by three masked batteries, which had not been observed before, and thereby speedily crippled and captured. The Com. McDonough went to her assistance; but arrived too late, and could do nothing. Several months thereafter, the Rebels attempted to run the Isaac Smith out of Charleston harbor; when she was sunk” by the gunboat Wissahickon. The morning after their capture of the Smith was signalized by the Charleston Rebels by a far bolder and more significant exploit. At 4 A. M., favored by a thick haze, their iron-clads Palmetto State, Capt. D. N. Ingraham, and Chicora, Com'r Tucker, with three steamboats as tenders, stole upon our blockading fleet, lying off the bar, while the Powhatan and the Canandaigua, our two largest men of war, were at Port Royal, coaling; and, first nearing the Mercedita, Capt. Stellwagen, the Palmetto State ran into her amidships with full force, and fired into her side at close range a 7-inch shell, which passed through her condenser and steam-drum, blowing a hole through her farther side, scalding several of her men, and completely disabling her. Stellwagen, unable either to fight or fly, surrendered. The Palmetto, leaving her to sink
if she would, forthwith attacked the Keystone State, Capt. Leroy; lodging a shell in her forehold, which set her on fire. Leroy sheered off, until the fire was got under; when, having a full head of steam, he attempted to run his assailant down; but, as he approached at full speed, another shot was sped through both his vessel's steam-chests, utterly disabling her; ten rifled shells striking her, and two of them bursting on her quarter-deck. By this time, it was growing light, and our fleet had been thoroughly aroused. The Augusta, Quaker City, Memphis, and IIousatonic, went in; the Memphis taking in tow the Keystone State—which had one-fourth of her crew disabled, mainly by scalding—and drawing her out of the enemy’s fire; when the Rebel gunboats turned homeward, and took refuge behind the shoals in the Swash channel; thence making their way back to Charleston, and issuing there a bulletin declaring the blockade raised and the port open;” the British consul at Charleston and the commander of II. B. M. ship Petrel corroborating the statement; and the foreign consuls in the Confederacy were officially notified of the alleged fact in a circular from J. P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State, “for the information of such vessels of your nation as may choose to carry on commerce with the now open port of Charleston.” The “vessels” thus
* June 7. *7 “HEADQ'RS LAND AND NAVAL FORCES, “CHARLESTON, S. C., Jan. 31. “At about 5 o'clock this morning, the Confederate States naval force on this station attacked the United States blockading fleet off the harbor of the city of Charleston, and sunk, dispersed, or drove off and out of sight for the time, the entire hostile fleet. • ‘Therefore, we, the undersigned commanders
respectively of the Confederate States naval and
invited did not attempt to profit by the opportunity thus afforded them, but continued to steal into and out of that harbor during the darkest nights and in the most clandestine, insidious manner. None of our vessels were sunk or lost—the Mercedita having been deserted by her captors, who never put a man on board—being clearly no prize. She had but 3 men killed and 4 wounded; the Reystone had 20 killed—mainly by scalding—and 20 wounded.
Gen. Foster, commanding the 18th corps in North Carolina, having been ordered to South Carolina, to cooperate with Com. Dupont in an attack on Charleston, steamed” from Beaufort, N. C., with 12,000 excellent troops, landing them at Hilton Head; whence—finding Com. Dupont not yet ready—he ran up to Fortress Monroe in quest of siege-guns. Gen. Hunter—to whom Foster's advent had been a complete surprise—thereupon took command of Foster's men, broke up his corps organization, and —this exercise of authority being demurred to-ordered Foster's staff out of his department. Foster thereupon obtained authority from Gen. Halleck to return to his own department, leaving his 12,000 men to serve as a reenforcement to Gen. Hunter; under whose auspices, in conjunction with Com. Dupont, the contemplated attack was now to be made. Halleck's sending of Foster into Hunter's department without notice to the latter has not been explained.
Our preparations for this attack were made, so far as possible, at Hilton Head: the iron-clads, so fast as ready, slipping quietly, one by one,
to their appointed rendezvous in the mouth of the North Edisto river, half way to Charleston harbor; where they were all finally assembled,” awaiting the conditions of wind and tide deemed most favorable. A calm, clear night,” following a full moon, proffered the awaited conjuncture; and Com. Dupont steamed" in full force up to the harbor bar; shifting there his pennant from the gunboat James Adger to the stately, mailed ‘Ironsides,’ in which he proposed to direct and share in the bombardment. By 9 A. M. next day, his fleet had all crossed the bar, and was in line along the east shore of Morris island, heading toward the most formidable array of rifled great guns that had ever yet tested the defensive resources of naval warfare. The iron-clads thus pitted against the tremendous ordnance of Fort Sumter and her satellites were the following: ... Weehawken, Capt. John Rodgers; . Passaic, Capt. Percival Drayton; . Montauk, Com'r John L. Worden; . Patapsco, Com'r Daniel Ammen; . New Ironsides, Com'r Thos. Turner; . Catskill, Com'r Geo. W. Rodgers; . Nantucket, Com'r Donald M. Fairfax; . Nahant, Com'r John Downes; . Keokuk, Lt.-Com'r Alex. C. Rhind; with the gunboats Canandaigua, Unadilla, Housatonic, Wissahickon, and IIuron in reserve, below the bar, ready to support the iron-clads should they attack the batteries on Morris island. The day was bright, bland, and warm—like one of the finest of the later days of a Northern May—the air of midday flashing with the wings of countless butterflies—though a slight haze or smoke in the morning so obscured remoter objects that the landmarks relied on to give bearings
** Feb. 2, * April 3.
in the difficult navigation (for vessels of heavy draft) of these intricate channels were indistinguishable, and the advance thereby postponed till a gentle northern breeze cleared the sky. But, as ebb-tide came at 11 A. M., and—the bar being safely passed—that was deemed the stage of water best fitted to the steering of those clumsy alligators—it is not probable that our plans were seriously deranged by this circumstance. Let us improve this pause to glance at the scene, as it imprinted itself on the mind of an observer,” scanning it through a powerful field
glass from the Coast Survey steamboat Bibb, lying in the Swash channel, three miles below Sumter:
“We are, this moment, looking directly up into the harbor and the city, which lies in the vista beyond—its wharves and ships, houses and steeples, standing out in the . background like a picture. Steeples and roofs are crowded with spectators; the neighboring shores are lined with onlookers, just as when, now two years ago, less two days, the same spectators stood on the same coignes of vantage to see, in the same harbor, another bombardment, while another flag from that which now flaunts in our eyes, floated from the walls of Sumter.
“We are facing Fort Sumter, and looking directly up the harbor. We have, accordingly, Sullivan's island on our right, and Morris island on our left. These two islands end each in curved points of land, and,
at their nearest approach, are separated by an interval of a mile, formed by the entrance to the harbor; and, just in the middle of this passage, and right between the two points of land, stands Fort Sumter, built on an artificial island made in midchannel. Both Morris and Sullivan's islands are scarcely removed above the level of the sea; which, indeed, would probably invade and cover them, were it not that the margin of the islands on their sea-frontage is marked by a continuous, narrow strip of low sand-hills, some five or six feet in height. Behind the second ridge of the islands, are alternate salt marsh, sand, and clumps of wood of live-oak, palmetto, and tangled tropical undergrowths. The whole coast of South Carolina and Georgia consists of a labyrinth of islands and islets of this character, round which reedy creeks and rivers wind. “With Sullivan's island on our right, we run the eye up to its upper or north end, formed by Breach inlet. Guarding this point, is Breach inlet battery—a powerful sand-work, having a circular, dome-like, bomb-proof magazine in its center. It is, however, three miles from the entrance of the harbor, and will not be able to molest our ships on their passage. Its chief value has been to aid blockade-runners; as it covers Maffit's channel (the passage through which the great majority of these craft run in) from the approach of our blockaders. At present, it will serve to oppose our landing troops at Breach inlet, should the attempt be made. Coming down along the shore of Sullivan's island, from Breach inlet, we next reach Fort Beauregard, a powerful sand battery, mounting very heavy guns, and situated on the turn of the island a little right of the ‘Moultrie IIouse' hotel, from which it is separated only by five intervening sea-shore houses. Next, to the right of the channel, up and opposite Fort Sumter, is Fort Moultrie, which has been prodigiously strengthened by the Rebel engineers, both in its means of offense and of defense. Looking up the harbor and still to the right, the eye takes in the extensive line of works, en crémaillaire, called the Redan, and which has been formed by throwing up intrenchments on the line of the breakwater erected some years ago by the United States Government, for the protection of that portion of the harbor. Beyond the Redan, up near the head of the harbor, on an island, appears Castle Pinckney, in the vista, looking like the Battery in New York City as seen from the seaentrance. “So far as the eye can see, we have now exhausted the fortifications on the right hand side of the harbor. It now remains briefly
to glance at those that line the left-hand side. In the mean while, Fort Sumter rises up conspicuously before us in midchannel. We can see every brick in its walls. Two faces out of its five, and two angles only, come within sight from our point of view: namely, the south face, on which the sally-port and wharf are placed, and the eastern face. You are too familiar with the general features of this historic work to make any description necessary. It was, you know, pierced for two tiers of guns; but the lower embrasures had been filled in to strengthen it. From the top of the fort frown the barbette guns, which comprise all the heaviest portion of its armament. You can count distinctly each barbette gun—one, two, three, four, five on this; one, two, three, four on that; and so on all around; and it is easy to see that the ordnance is of the most formidable character. From a flagstaff on one of the angles of the fort, floats the Confederate flag; from a flag-staff on the opposite angle, floats the Palmetto flag.
“Passing now to the left-hand side of the harbor, on James island, we first have the Wappoo battery, near Wappoo creek, effectually commanding the embouchure of Ashley river and the left side of the city. Next, coming down, we have Fort Johnson; and, between it and Castle Pinckney, on an artificial island raised by the Rebels, on the ‘middle ground,” is Fort Ripley. Coming down to Cumming's Point, directly opposite Moultrie, is the Cumming's Point battery, named by the Rebels Battery Bee, after the General of that name; south of Battery Bee, on Morris island, is Fort Wagner, a very extensive sand battery of the most powerful construction. Half-way down Morris island, again, from Fort Wagner, is a new sand-work erected by the Rebels since I surveyed the ground from the blockading fleet, a fortnight ago. Finally, down at Lighthouse inlet, which divides Morris from Folly island, is another fortification, guarding against an attempt at a landing at that point. Such is the formidable panorama the eye takes in, in sweeping around the harbor and its approaches.”
And now let the same observer depict for us the low, iron-backed turtles about to crawl up and try conclusions with these yawning craters of brick and stone and iron, so soon to burst into fierce and scathing eruption:
“With respect both to the obstacles we are to meet, and the engines with which we are to meet them, every thing is novel and unprecedented. Comparison is simply impossible; for, where there are no points of resemblance, comparison is out of the question.
“But can you imagine—if one were permitted to play with the elements of time and space—the shade of Nelson transferred from his gun-deck off Trafalgar, after but little over half a century, and placed on board of one of those iron craft before us? and can you imagine the sensations of that consummate master of all the elements of naval warfare as known in his day? He must be helpless as a child, and bewildered as a man in a dream. From his splendid three-decker, the Victory, carrying its hundred guns, and towering majestically on the water, which it rides like a thing of life, he finds himself imprisoned in an iron casing, the whole hull and frame of which is submerged in the water, the waves washing clean over its deck, and depending for its defensive power on a couple of guns of a caliber that would astonish him, placed in a circular tower, rising from the deck amidships. This turret is in thickness 11 inches of wrought iron, revolves on an axis by the delicate appliances of steam engineering, and contains the entire armament and fighting crew of the ship. The fire, the animation, the life, of an old-time naval fight, when men gave and took, exposed to plain view—when ships fought yard-arm to yard-arm, and human nature in its intensest exaltation appeared— are here wholly out of the question, with the combatants shut up in impenetrable iron, and delivering their fire by refined process of mathematical and mechanical appliances.
“Nor are the outward shapes of these craft less divergent from all that the world has hitherto seen of naval models than are their internal economy and fighting arrangements removed from all previous modes. The majesty of a first-class man-of-war, with its lines of beauty and strength, on which the aesthetic instincts of ages have been expended, is here replaced by purely geometrical combinations of iron, in which the one paramount and all-controlling consideration is the resisting power of lines, angles, and surfaces. As they stretch in horrid file before us, along the shore of Morris island, awaiting the signal from the flag-ship to move, those nine ships, comprising the three different models represented by the Ironsides, the Monitors, and the Keokuk, one might almost fancy that some of the pachydermous monsters which palaeontology brings to view from the “dark backward and abysm of time' had returned in an iron resurrection; and the spectacle they
presented to the Rebels from their posts of
“The squadron will pass up the main ship channel without returning the fire of the batteries on Morris island, unless signal should be made to commence action.
“The ships will open fire on Fort Sumter when within easy range, and will take up a position to the northward and westward of that fortification, engaging its left or northwest face, at a distance of from 1,000 to 800 yards; firing low, and aiming at the center embrasure.”
But there were other plans than ours to be taken into account. The