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Vol. VI., p.
in which General T. W. Sherman was and is to bear a conspicuous part, is in no wise Lincoln to to be abandoned, but must be ready to move by 1861. W.R. the first or very early in October. Let all prepara
forward accordingly.” Instead of the first, it was the end of October before the expedition got off. On the 29th, a fleet of fifty sail, including transports, went to sea from Fort Monroe, the naval force under command of Captain Du Pont. The following day brought a severe storm, in which two or three transports with supplies were lost, and others put back for safety. The main fleet, however, assembled on the 4th of November before Port Royal Sound, and on the 7th, fourteen war steamers, carrying a total armament of 130 guns, stood in to the attack of the rebel forts at the Port Royal entrance. To the north, on Bay Point, stood Fort Beauregard, mounting twenty guns. To the south, on Hilton Head, stood Fort Walker, a much stronger work, mounting twenty-three guns. A broad sheet of water, two miles in width, spread between the two forts. Both were formidable earthworks, scientifically constructed, and armed with ordnance of no mean power. Fort Walker had a garrison of about 250 men, and the plan of attack marked this out as the principal obstacle to overcome.
Everything being ready, and the weather fine, in the early forenoon of the 7th nine of the principal war steamers, with a total of 112 guns, formed in a line following each other at a distance of little more than a ship’s length, with Du Pont leading in the flag-ship Wabash of forty-four guns. Moving
slowly and taking continual soundings as they proceeded, the line steamed by the mid-channel into the entrance between the two forts, firing to the right against Fort Beauregard in the distance, and to the left against Fort Walker at close range. When the Wabash had passed perhaps two miles beyond the forts, she made a short circuit to the south and led the line outward through the entrance and as near Fort Walker as the depth of water permitted, the ships successively delivering their fire at a distance of six hundred yards. When the proper point was reached the Wabash again turned and led the line inward, repeating the circular manoeuvre. Meanwhile a flanking column of five ships with thirty guns had also passed in and stationed itself at a convenient distance where it could at the same time bombard Fort Walker and watch the little rebel fleet which hovered up the sound beyond range.
A description of such a manoeuvre may be read in a minute, but it took more than an hour to execute each circuit of the ships. During this time the Confederate garrison of Fort Walker was defending its station with courage and persistence. Amid shot and sholl which plowed up their embankments, buried them in showers of sand, dismounted their guns, and swept off the gunners, they replied to the fire of the ships, though the damage they inflicted was trifling and mainly to the rigging, showing their wild aim and the disturbance and difficulty under which they fought. When near one o'clock the Wabash turned and for the third time led the line inward past the forts the battle was decided. Fort Walker gave no re
VOL. V. -2
sponse. Commander John Rodgers—who was in the Wabash as volunteer aide to the flag-officer, wrote:
Shell fell in it, not twenty-eight in a minute, but as fast as a horse's feet beat the ground in a gallop. The resistance was heroic- but what could flesh and blood do against such a fire? ... The Wabash was a destroying angel-hugging the shore ; calling the soundings with cold indifference; slowing the engine, so as only to give steerage way; signaling to the vessels their various evolutions; and at the same time raining shells, as with target-practice, too fast to count. Commodore Du Pont had kindly made me his aide. I stood by him, and I did little things which I suppose gained me credit. So when a boat was sent on shore to ask whether they had surrendered, I was sent. I carried the stars and stripes. I found the ramparts utterly desolate, and I planted the American flag upon those ramparts with my own hands
- first to take possession, in the majesty of the United Rodgers, Nov. 9, 1861. States, of the rebel soil of South Carolina. The Confed“Rebellion erate forces were in an utter panic; they deserted everyRecord,” thing. Arms, tents, personal property were abandoned,
and by men intent only upon safety and spurred by monts, p.
The casualties numbered: in the forts, killed eleven, wounded forty-eight; on the ships, killed eight, wounded twenty-three. Fort Beauregard was abandoned the same evening, and the Union flag was raised over it at sunrise next morning. Upon examination during the few days following, it was found that the terror and flight of the enemy extended to all the adjacent islands. It had been intended, after the reduction and occupation of these forts, that the expedition should immediately proceed to the attack and capture of Fernandina, Florida. But the large expenditure of ammunition in the attack just made compelled