« ZurückWeiter »
Fort Pulaski commands the sea-approaches to the city of Savannah, Georgia. It is built on Cock Spur Island, at the mouth of the Savannah River, fourteen miles below the city. It is a new work, but recently finished, and cost the Government about one million dollars. It is of brick, seven feet thick at the base, five at the top, and forty feet in height. Its bomb-proof casemates are numerous, and constructed in the best manner. Its full armament consists of one hundred and fifty guns. It is surrounded with a ditch and glacis, and is, in
every respect, a most complete and formidable work. Large vessels, in coming past the fort, are obliged to come within about two hundred feet of it. Its full war garrison is about eight hundred men.
The possession of this important work was embraced in the early plans of the rebels, and they displayed some ingenuity in the mode of attaining their object. Joseph E. Brown, the Governor, Alexander H. Stevens, and other influential citizens
PLAN FOR ITS CAPTURE,
of the State were professedly Union men, but really as decided rebels as Cobb or Toombs. Their professions of Unionism had for their object to carry with them into secession, by the influence of their example, the large class whose sympathies they had gained by apparently sincere professions of loyalty.
Fort Pulaski was at this time garrisoned by only twenty men, and as the successive steps, preliminary to secession, were being taken by the leaders, the populace of Savannah became much excited, and threatened to seize Fort Pulaski. The hypocritical Governor professed to fear that the threat would be carried into execution, and to prevent its occupation by the secession mob, proposed to garrison it with State troops! Though the more discerning of the Union men saw through the hollow artifice, yet the masses were satisfied, and the fort was garrisoned by two hundred and twenty-five men from the military organizations of Savannah, nearly all of whom were open secessionists, and the commander, Col. Alexander B. Lawton, entertained like views.
The fort was thus occupied until the State seceded, on the 19th day of January, 1861, when it was formally turned over to the Confederate Government.
The capture of this fort, was one of the earliest purposes of Gen. Sherman ; and his first reconnoissance was made on the first of December, 1861. Preliminary to the contemplated operations before the fort, it became necessary to secure the complete blockade of the Savannah river, between the fort and the city of Savannah. This was effected by the erection of batteries commanding it, on the 22d of February, and ordnance was quietly landed on Tybee Island. On the shore of this Island, next to the channel which separates it from the fort, the light batteries were to be erected, and immediately under its fire. The heavy guns, some weighing seventeen thousand pounds, had to be transmitted from one to three
miles over a bed of mud, upon which a fascine road had to be constructed for the purpose. All the labor of transporting the guns, and erecting the batteries, was performed in the night, 80 as to escape the notice of the enemy. It was concealed from their observation during the day, by the tall grass. They knew, indeed, that works of some kind were being constructed, but could not so clearly ascertain their locality as to get their range.
Eleven batteries, mounting thirty-six guns, were thus erected. They were all earth-works, revetted with sods, fascines, or hurdles, having parapets not less than eight feet in height, with traverses between the guns, deep and narrow embrasures, splinter-roofs for all the advanced works, capable of holding the two reliefs of gunners off duty, and one or two service magazines in each battery. A stone magazine of the capacity
of three thousand barrels was erected ; as, when the batteries should once open, it was intended to have on hand a supply of ammunition sufficient for nine days' continuous bombardment.
Preparations for the attack were all completed on the morning of April 10th, when Gen. David Hunter, who had succeeded Gen. Sherman, in command of the Department, dispatched a flag of truce to the fort, with a summons to surrender. Col. Chas. H. Olmsted, in command of the fort, replied to the summons by saying, “I am here to defend the fort, not to surrender it."
As soon as the reply was received, the signal was given to open fire. Gen. Hunter, Gen. Benham, Gen. Gillmore, Com. Rodgers of the Wabash, and the staffs of the Generals, passed from head-quarters to a central position on the beach, between batteries Lincoln and Burnside, convenient for the transmission of orders and observation of the fire on both sides, and partially screened by a low natural parapet rising a few feet above the beach. Before they had reached the place, the report of the first mortar from battery Halleck, fired under the direction of Lieut. Porter, announced the beginning of the bombardment. It was followed by the discharge of another mortar from battery Stanton, on the extreme right, others rapidly succeeding, according to the order prescribed. For some minutes, Pulaski was silent; then fired from different casemates, four guns in swift succession at the upper batteries. On our side, the line of fire rolled gradually along the beach, extending itself to the right and left, until all the batteries but Scott were fairly unmasked. The fort, meanwhile, replied from embrasures and barbette, directing its aim chiefly at the batteries on King's Landing and on Burnside and Sherman in the centre.
"The morning was clear and cold, with a fresh easterly wind coming in from the Atlantic, fretting into crests of white, the