Abbildungen der Seite
[blocks in formation]

dull red waters of the broad Savannah, and swaying against the sky the tremulous outline of the woods on the island shores beyond. The fort stands clearly out, the sunlight falling on its seaward faces, which are wreathed with the smoke of their own guns, and canopied with white clouds from the shells exploding above them. From Stanton to Totten, the low shore of Tybee recedes and advances, and every slope of sand is lighted with incessant flashes, instantly veiled in volumes of pale blue vapor. The reports of the heavy guns and mortars mingle with the sharper tones of Parrott rifles, and just overhead comes every few minutes the sudden rush of solid shot, or the angry scream of conical projectiles, and the quick explosion of shells, sending their fragments into the marsh in rear.

“The fire from Pulaski, was tolerably regular, though not very vigorous during the first morning. Not more than six or eight guns were steadily served. It was soon discovered that those in the casemates would not reach the batteries below Scott. From thc barbette, occasional shots passed orer Lincoln and Lyon, but none went beyond them. On our side, it was evident that the thirteen-inch mortars, from which much had been hoped, were at too great a distance to be effective, most of their shell exploding high in the air, or falling outside of the fort. Capt. Pelouze was doing better with his columbiads, which were fired at great elevation, and were meant to breach the magazine in the rear of the fort. From the upper batteries the effect of the guns, which were attempting to breach the south-east face of the fort, began to show very plainly. The smooth surface was here and there indented, and the even line of the parapet showed numerous gaps. At eleven o'clock, the rebel flag, which was hoisted on a very tall flag-staff, was shot away, and came swooping down inside the fort, followed by cheers from all the batteries. Another was soon raised at the north angle on a low staff. At twelve, forty-one scars were counted on the south-flank, the pancope, and the south-east face of the

[blocks in formation]

fort, and several of the embrasures were considerably enlarged. During the afternoon the fire slackened on both sides, and after sunset not more seven or eight shells an hour were thrown till daylight the next morning.

It was not considered that the day's work had greatly hastened the surrender, the mortars having proved a disappointment, and the effect of the breaching fire being not yet sufficiently decided. No one had been hurt in the batteries, though there were plenty of narrow escapes. The large party accompanying the Generals, had drawn considerable attention from the fort, and numerous shot and shell were sent in their direction. One shell was seen to burst within fifty feet of Gen. Hunter and Gen. Benham, and a fragment of another struck the ground not twenty feet from the latter. Most of the shells, however, exploded harmlessly on the marsh.

“On Friday morning, at daylight, the bombardment opened with fresh vigor on both sides. The barbette guns on Pulaski were directed with considerable precision and rapidity at the upper batteries. On our side the work of breaching was resumed with determination, and the effect of the fire was almost immediately apparent in the enlargement of the two embrasures on the left of the south-east face. Commande Rodgers, in battery Sigel, Capt. Turner, in battery McClellan, and Lieut. Wilson, in battery Scott, directed all their attention to the rapidly-widening breach, and the fire was deliv ered with great accuracy and most damaging effect. About nine o'clock, Thomas Campbell, private of Company H, 3d Rhode Island, while serving his gun in battery McClellan, was struck by a solid shot entering through the embrasure, and was so badly injured that he died in less than an hour. This was the only casualty on our part during the bombardment.

“Pulaski's was far less accurate than ours. In crossing the open spaces between the batteries, it was found the shot from the fort swept a good deal of ground, but nearly all went over

[blocks in formation]

In the batteries, also, few shot struck the face, or parapet of the works, or exploded directly over the trenches, but either buried themselves in the beach, or went entirely over. A small rifled barbette gun, afterward found to be one of the patent Blakely cannon, brought over in the Fingal, was much the most troublesome piece, continually improving in accuracy until it was silenced. Remembering that the batteries which were exposed to the fire of Fort Sumter, were much better protected than these, and that the fire of that fort was less vigorous than Pulaski's, it is easy to believe the long discredited story, that no one was killed during that bombardment.

“The barbette fire, however, was maintained so steadily from two guns on the north-east face, one on the south-east, and one on the extreme angle of the south flank, that Commander Rodgers determined to silence it, and about twelve o'clock directed all his guns for that purpose, loading and firing as fast as possible. In half an hour, the barbette fire had ceased, and was never renewed, and his guns were once more turned on the breach, which had already become so extensive that orders had been given to prepare scaling-ladders, in readiness to storm the fort, if not surrendered. The whole exterior surface of the pancope, and so much of the nearest end of the south-east face as covered two casemates, was gone ; the two embrasures were enlarged, so that from the batteries the inside of the fort could be seen through them, and one was opened so near the parapet that it was plain the whole angle would soon be in ruins. Only two casemate guns, the third and fourth of the south-east face next the angle, were still served by the garrison, and the fire from batteries Sigel and Scott were directed upon them, about half past one o'clock, the McClellan battery, of two thirty-two and two forty-two pounder James rifles, still aiming at the old breach. Nearly every shot struck the wall, sending great masses of brick into the ditch below, and lifting into the air a cloud of fragments

[blocks in formation]

and dust. I sat, during the last half hour, on a pile of sandbags, overlooking the parapet of battery Scott, watching the flight of the solid ten-inch shot from its heavy columbiads. Suddenly, on the north angle of the fort, something white fluttered up into the air, clung for a moment in folds, and then streamed out broadly against the sky. Pulaski had hoisted the white flag, and the siege was over. Still the rebel ensign was not struck, and while that flew, there remained a doubt. Just then, from one of the casemates of the fort, came another white puff and a shot. Our guns, which had hesitated since the white flag was first seen, answered along the whole line of batteries, with an almost simultaneous roar, and the fort was half hid in the dust of crashing bricks, and the smoke of bursting shells that followed, and when it cleared away once more, the rebel flag and flag-staff had disappeared together, and only the symbol of surrender floated over the walls.

“The hour was two o'clock, on the afternoon of Friday, April 11th, a memorable anniversary."

The fort and garrison were surrendered immediately, and without conditions.

The number of prisoners was three hundred and sixty. There were taken forty-seven guns, seven thousand shot, about forty thousand pounds of powder, and three months' supply of provisions.

Thus, after two months spent in preparations for the attack, and thirty hours of actual bombardment, Fort Pulaski fell,— one of the strongest fortresses in this or any other country ; one that the rebels had considered absolutely impregnable, and whose capture bore testimony at once to superior engineering skill, and to the great improvements made in the construction of siege guns.

New Orleans is much the largest city in the Cotton States. Its population is about two hundred thousand, and in wealth



and commercial importance, ranks among the first cities of the Union, it commands the trade of the Mississippi, and its possession by the rebels was to them an object of the first importance. The sea approaches to the city were defended by two strong forts — Jackson, and St. Philips, built for the Government, and which the rebels had fully manned and armed. Additional works of great magnitude and strength had been erected, at other points above, upon which nearly a year's time, and large sums of money, had been expended. Besides, the utmost skill and resources of the city and Confederacy had been employed, in building floating batteries, iron clad and iron prowed ships, chains were forged and cast across the channel in its most difficult parts, and channel obstructions of every conceivable kind, and devices to impede and destroy any hostile fleet approaching the city.

They thus boasted at this time of their invulnerable defenses :

“NEW ORLEANS, 1862.— The Mississippi is fortified so as to be impassable for any hostile fleet or flotilla. Forts Jackson and St. Philips are armed with one hundred and seventy heavy guns, (sixty-three pounders, rifled by Barkley Brittch, and received from England). The navigation of the river is stopped by a dam of about a quarter of a mile from the above forts. No flotilla on earth would force that dam in less than two hours, during which it would be within short and cross range of one hundred and seventy guns of the heaviest calibre, many of which would be served with red-hot shot, numerous furnaces for which have been erected in every fort and battery.

“In a day or two, we shall have ready two iron-cased floating batteries. The plates are four and a half inches thick, of the best hammered iron, received from England and France. Each ironcased battery will mount twenty-six eight pounders, placed so as to skim the water, and striking the enemy's hull between wind and water. We have an abundant supply of incendiary shells, cupola furnaces for molten iron, congreve rockets and fire-ships.

« ZurückWeiter »