Henry F. W. Little.

The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion online

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The gun was only fired nine times on the morning of the
22d, and was not fired again until the night of the 23d,
when it burst at the thirty-sixth round, blowing off its
breech, the break being a little to the rear of the vent.
The reinforce remained substantially intact, which under
the circumstances was a very singular occurrence. The
gun was fired very slowly, and the elevation at the time of
bursting was only thirty-one degrees, thirty minutes, and
was fired but once at an elevation of thirty-five degrees.

The gun was thrown forward upon the parapet, and
was afterwards buried under the sand-bags of the parapet.
The range was taken by triangulation, the steeple of St.
Michael's church was the objective point, and nearly all
the shells fired from this gun fell in that vicinity, which
was calculated to be seventy-nine hundred yards distant.
As to the correctness of the statement that Greek fire
was used in loading the shells, Gen. J. W. Turner, then
chief of artillery, and now of St. Louis, Mo., says in his
report, " Both incendiar}- shells and shells filled with
Greek fire were used. The latter worked very poorly,
nearly every one prematurel}' exploding; and it is not de-
termined whether any shells containing Greek fire ever
reached Charleston." However, it is a noted fact that the
people of Charleston were very much alarmed, steam
whistles sounded, bells were rung, and fires were started
in the city. After the destruction of the " Swamp Angel "
no gun was mounted there for some time, but two ten-inch
sea-coast mortars were placed there and were used in sub-
duing the fire from the batteries on James Island, and

148 History of the Seventh Regiment

particularly from a gun called the " Bull of the Woods."
These mortars were called the " Marsh Hens." Later on
a gun was mounted at the battery and was used until the
end of the war in firing upon the James Island batteries,
but the only recognized " Swamp Angel" was the particu-
lar gun which was first mounted at the Marsh Battery, and
was fired upon Charleston. After the war a foundryman
bought what old iron he could crather from Morris Island,
and his collection included the '"Swamp Angel," which
was identified by someone cognizant of its history, and it
was purchased by citizens of Trenton, N. J., where it had
been carried, who caused it to be properly mounted upon
a substantial pedestal at the junction of Perry and Clinton
streets, where it stands to-day, an ornament to the city and
the pride of its citizens. The broken breech is held in
place by a long bolt extending from it to the mouth of the
gun, and the pedestal has two tablets upon which is in-
scribed a history of the gun.

During this time work upon the batteries upon Morris
Island had been going steadily forward. As the siege
progressed new batteries were continually being con-
structed, and one battery of heavy guns was kept in reserve
for Fort Wagner, one for Fort Gregg, another for Fort
Sumter, and others for the torts in the harbor and on the
surrounding islands, and an occasional shot was sent to-
ward the small steamers that would occasionally venture
down toward Fort Sumter. On the evening of August 4,
Capt. Lewis S. Payne, of the One Hundredth N. Y. Vol-
unteers, was captured, together with ten non-commissioned
officers and privates of his regiment, after a brisk skirmish
with the pickets of the enemy near the mouth of Vincent's
Creek, at a place known as Payne's Dock, where the cap-
tain, who was known as a daring scout, had established a
picket post, which was about fourteen hundred feet west
of Fort Wagner. Of the number captured, the captain

New Hampshire Volunteers. 149

and four non-commissioned officers and privates were
wounded, one mortally.

The routine of duty had at this time become very severe,
and the regiment was ordered out nearly every other
night, either on fatigue or guard at the trenches. August
18, the regiment was stationed in the trenches at the front
and were under a heavy fire, and lost one man killed and
four wounded. On the 19th, a three-hundred-pounder Par-
rott was mounted in one of the batteries on the left, and
while being fired at Fort Sumter, had about three feet of
its muzzle blown off, caused by the premature explosion of
a shell, and as the break was nearly square across the
piece it was chipped with cold chisels and again used with
no apparent disadvantage to the gun. The three-hundred-
pounder required a little more elevation, to attain the same
range, than the two-hundred-pounder, but was more accu-
rate. It was mounted on an iron carriage with a centre-
pintle chassis, and worked with great ease. Steps w^ere
cut in the parapet upon which Nos. i and 2 men mounted
to load. The projectiles were carried on hand-barrows.
After the muzzle had been blown off and repaired, the gun
was fired three hundred and seventy times ; but subse-
quently, it was completely disabled by continued prema-
ture explosions of shells near the muzzle. It also gave
great trouble before it was got into position. It had to be
transported more than a mile from the dock through deep
sands and across semi-marsh overflowed by the tide. It
broke down three sling-carts, and was about a week on the
way, and in the daytime it was covered with brush and
weeds to conceal it from the enem}-. In one day it threw^
fifteen thousand pounds weight of metal. The same work
of destruction which it could perform in one day required
three or four days on the part of the one-hundred and two-
hundred-pounders, and its immediate effect upon Fort
Sumter was terrific.

i^o History of the Seventh Regiment


We had now eight distinct batteries, commencing on th
right and running around to the left of the island.

Batte7-y Brozvn. — On right of the second parallel, near
the beach ; distance from Fort Sumter, 3,516 yards. Arm-
ament — Two two-hundred-pounder Parrott rifles. Gar-
rison — Company I, Third R. I. Heavy Artiller}^ under
command of Capt. Charles G. Strahan.

Battery Rosccrans. — Near left of second parallel ; dis-
tance from Fort Sumter, 3,447 yards. Armament — Three
one-hundred-pounder Parrott rifles. Garrison — Company
M, Third R. I. Heavy Artillery, and a detachment of the
One Hundred and Seventy-eighth N. Y. Volunteer In-
fantry, under command of Capt. J. J. Comstock, Jr., of
the Third R. I. Heavy Artillery.

Battery Meade. — Near left of second parallel, in front
of Battery Rosecrans ; distance from Fort Sumter, 3,428
yards. Armament — Two one-hundred-pounder Parrott
rifles. Garrison — Detachments from the Third R. I.
Heavy Ardllery, the One Hundredth N. Y. Volunteers,
and the One Hundred and Seventy-eighth N. Y. Volun-
teers, under command of First Lieut. Henry Holbrook,
and after his death b}^ First Lieut. A. E. Green, Third
R. L Heavy Artillery.

XavaJ Battery. — Centre of first parallel, two hundred
yards north of the Beacon House : distance from Fort Sum-
ter, 3,980 yards. Armament — Two two-hundred-pounder
Parrott rifles and two eighty-pounder Whitworths. Gar-
rison — Detachments of sailors from the U. S. frigate
"Wabash," under Commander Foxhall A. Parker, U. S.

Battery Hays. — On creek, three hundred and twelve
yards west of Beacon House ; distance from Fort Sumter,
4,172 yards. Armament — One two-hundred-pounder Par-
rott rifle. Garrison — Detachments of Company D, Third
R. L Heavy Artillery, under command of Capt. R. G.
Shaw, of that regiment.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 151

Battery Row. — On creek, one hundred and thirty-five
yards west of Battery Hays, in sand ridge ; distance trom
Fort Sumter, 4,272 yards. Armament — One two-hun-
dred-pounder Parrott rifle, and two one-hundred-pounder
Parrott rifles. Garrison — Company H, Third R. I.
Heavy Artillery, and a detachment of the One Hundred
and Seventy-eighth N. Y. Volunteer Infantry, under com-
mand of Capt. A. W. Colwell, Third R. I. Heavy Ardl-

Battery Stevens. — Immediately to the left of Battery
Reno ; distance from Fort Sumter, 4,278 yards. Arma-
ment — Two one-hundred-pounder Parrott rifles. Garri-
son — Detachments of Company C, First U. S. Artillery,
and Seventh Conn. Volunteer Infantry, under command
of First Lieut. James E. Wilson, Fifth U. S. Artillery.

Battery Strong. — Immediately to the left of Battery
Stevens ; distance from Fort Sumter, 4,290 3'ards. Arma-
ment — One three-hundred-pounder Parrott rifle. Garri-
son detachment of the Seventh Conn. Volunteer Infantry,
under command of Capt. S. H. Gray, of that regiment.

In the aggregate there were at this time in position, two
eighty-pounder Whitvvorths, nine one-hundred-pounder
Parrotts, six two-hundred-pounder Parrotts, one three-
hundred-pounder Parrott, and eighteen rifled guns, of
the heaviest calibre, throwing a ton of metal on an aver-
age at each discharge. These were the heavy siege bat-
teries erected for the purpose of assisting the navy in the
reduction of Fort Sumter. Beside all these we had our
coehorn mortars, and our twenty and thirty-pounder Par-
rott rifles which we had used on Folly Island.

At 5 o'clock on the morning of the 17th commenced the
first heavy bombardment of Fort Sumter by the land forces,
which terminated after seven days' firing in the demoli-
tion of the fort, although it w'as not wholly silenced until
September i, or until the end of the sixteenth day, but at
the end of the seventh day Fort Sumter was eflectually

152 History of the Seventh Regiment

destroyed as far as her ability for defense was concerned.
The cannonade was kept up with the regularity of clock-
work, and Brigadier-General Turner, chief of artiller}', in
his report says, "The precision of fire of the Parrott
rifles was remarkable, probabh' excelling any artillery
ever before brought on the field in siege operations."

The siege operations in the trenches were constantly
retarded by the enem}', whose sharpshooters occupied a
sand-ridge about two hundred and forty yards in front of
Fort Wagner, and Confederate historians say already one
effort to dislodge them had failed, and again another on
the night of the 25th had been unsuccessful. At length a
sudden bayonet charge on the evening of the 26th was
made by the Twenty-fourth Mass. Volunteers, Col. F. Os-
borne commanding, supported by the Third N. H. Vol-
unteers, under Capt. J. F. Randlett. This charge was
so quickly and vigorously made that there was no time for
escape, the lines being only some twenty-five or thirty
3'ards apart at one point, and the larger part of the picket
force, about seventy, were taken prisoners. They belonged
to the Sixt3^-first N. C. (Confederate) Regiment.

The rebel prisoners were obliged to stand there ex-
posed, to prevent the fire of Fort Wagner until our men
had safely entrenched themselves. This at once secured
for us a new and stronger position, which we quickly
proceeded to tbrtify. Now began the most perilous part
of our siege work, which was to be constructed over the
narrow^ strip of the island which lay between the "ridge"
and Fort Wagner, and it became almost impossible to
push forward the sap by day, while the brightness of the
prevailing harvest moon rendered the operation almost as
hazardous by night. Besides the increasing effectiveness
of the artiller}' fire from Wagner, and the more distant
flanking batteries on James Island, the sappers now en-
countered an elaborate and ingenious system of torpedo-
mines, which were to be exploded by persons walking

Co. D.

Co. D.

Co. D.

Co. F.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 153

over them. Sixty loaded shells and water-tight kegs of
two gallons capacity had been so placed since the second
assault on Fort Wagner. Six were exploded by the sap-
pers, with twelve casualties. In order to effectually silence
Fort Wagner at this time — as the guns from that fort, to-
gether with one mortar, were very annoying to the ap-
proaching sappers — General Gillmore on the morning of
September 5, concentrated upon this stronghold the fire of
one three-Kundred-pounder Parrott rifle, four tvvo-hundred-
pounder Parrott rifles, nine one-hundred-pounder Parrott
rifles, ten thirty-pounder Parrott rifles, together with the
fire from seventeen mortars, as these guns and mortars
could be spared from the bombardment of Fort Sumter,
that fort having been rendered whollv useless as a work
of defense for the enemy.

A desultory fire was still kept up at the same time from
other guns upon the ruins of Fort Sumter, in order that no
repairs should be made. A very powerful calcium light
was stationed at the left of the second parallel and was
used with success in illuminating the parapet and higher
parts of Fort Wagner, and was largely the means of pre-
venting any considerable repairing of the damages done
during the day. It gave the gunners at our batteries a
chance to plainly see the fort, and also a chance to eflec-
tually prevent working parties from making the much
needed repairs ; in attempting to make these repairs, on
the night of September 5, the Confederates admit a loss
of eighty men killed and wounded. This light was also
used on Fort Sumter, that our gunners working the bat-
teries by night might better see the objective point fired
at, while the enemy could see nothing but a small bright
light, ver}' dazzling to look at.

During the pending siege operations many promotions
had taken place in the regiment to fill the vacancies made
b}' those of our officers who had been killed in the second
assault upon Fort Wagner, or who had died from the effects

154 History of the Seventh Regiment

of wounds. Among the field and staff, Lieut. Col. Joseph
C. Abbott was promoted to colonel, to date from July 22,
1863 ; Maj. Thomas A. Henderson was promoted to lieu-
tenant-colonel, to date from July 22, 1S63 ; Capt. Augus-
tus W. Rollins, of Company F, was promoted to major, to
date from July 23, 1863; a phj^sician by the name of
Moses S. Wilson, of Salisbury, N. H., was commissioned
as junior assistant surgeon, to date from January 12, 1863,
in place of Asst. Surg. William H. Smart, who had re-
signed November 20, 1862 ; Q^ M. Andrew H. Young
having been promoted to captain and assistant quartermas-
ter U. S. Volunteers, to date from November 25, 1862,
Q^ M. Sergt. George S. Hanson was commissioned to
fill the vacancy, to date from November 26, 1862, and
Private Darius Merrill, of Company D, was promoted to
quartermaster-sergeant, to date from March 12, 1863.
Sergt. Avery Bixby, of Company I, was promoted to prin-
cipal musician, to date from July 3, 1863, in place of Prin-
cipal Musician Hiram S. Clifford, who was reduced to the
ranks and assigned to Company C, and Patrick McKenna,
a musician of Company ¥, was promoted to be principal
musician, to date from July 4, 1863.

In Company A there w^as no change at this time in the
commissioned officers. In Company B, Second Lieut.
George W. Tavlor was promoted to first lieutenant in
place of First Lieut. Ezra Davis, who had died of wounds ;
and Sergt. James A. Cobb, of that company, was promoted
to second lieutenant in place of Taylor, promoted. In
Company C there was a vacancy in each grade of the
lieutenants' commissions. First Sergt. William F. Spaul-
ding, of Company H, was promoted to first lieutenant of
Company C, in place of First Lieut. Virgil H. Cate, who
was killed; and Sergt. Maj. George F. McCabe, of the
non-commissioned staff, was promoted to second lieutenant
in place of Second Lieut. Andrew J. Lane, killed. In
Company D, Sfergt. Charles A. Lawrence, of Company B,

New Hampshire Volunteers. 155

was promoted to second lieutenant in place of Second
Lieut. Alfred N. Bennett, killed. In Company E, Sergt.
Robert Burt was promoted to tirst lieutenant in place of
First Lieut. Timothy Dow, resigned ; and Sergt. True W.
Arlin was promoted to second lieutenant in place of Sec-
ond Lieut. Henry N. Baker, killed. In Company F, First
Lieut. Charles Cain, of Company I, was promoted to cap-
tain of Company F, in place of Rollins, promoted ; First
Sergt. Francis White, of Company K, was promoted to
tirst lieutenant in place of First Lieut. Oliver M. Clark, re-
signed ; and Sergt. William F. Thayer, of that compan}^
was promoted to second lieutenant in place of Second
Lieut. Frank G. Wentworth, resigned. Sergeant Thayer
declined to be mustered, and Sergt. George Roberts was
promoted to second lieutenant instead. In Company G,
First Lieut. Penuel C. Ham was promoted to captain of
that company, in place of Capt. H. B. Leavitt, who died
of wounds ; Second Lieut. Joseph E. ClifTord was pro-
moted to first lieutenant in place of Ham, promoted ; and
Sergt. Joseph A. Jacobs was promoted to second lieuten-
ant in place of Clitlbrd, promoted. In Company H, Sec-
ond Lieut. Charles H. Farley was promoted to first
lieutenant in place of First Lieut. John H. Worcester, who
had died of wounds; and Sergt. Francis Lovejoy was pro-
moted to second lieutenant in place of Farley, promoted.
In Company I, Sergt. Hazen G. Dodge was promoted to
first lieutenant in place of First Lieutenant Cain, promoted ;
and Sergt. Heber J. Davis, of Company K, was promoted
to second lieutenant in place of Second Lieut. Perley B,
Bryant, killed. In Compan}^ K, First Lieut. Leander W.
Fogg was promoted to captain in place of Capt. Warren
E. F. Brown, killed ; and Second Lieut. William A. Hill
to first lieutenant in place of Fogg, promoted ; and Sergt.
George M. Chase, of Company C, to second lieutenant of
Company K, in place of Hill, promoted.

It will be seen by these promotions that there was quite

156 History of the Seventh Regiment

a change in many of the companies, and the men who had
served so faithfully in the ranks made the best of officers,
as a general rule, and in the different companies the va-
cancies among the non-commissioned officers necessitated
the promotion of deserving privates to till the places of
those who had been killed, had died of wounds, or had
been promoted or discharged. Our ranks had now be-
come very much depleted through the losses from killed,
wounded, and missing, and from disease.

Our sappers had now reached a zone of torpedoes
thickly planted and it was with the utmost caution that the
advance could be made. The guns of Fort Wagner were
almost wholly silenced by the vigilance of our sharpshoot-
ers and the terrible bombardment from our fleet and land
batteries. The roar of artillery at times was terrific, and
while Fort Sumter was being pounded to ruins by our
batteries, and Fort Wagner was plied so constantly with
shot and shells as to remain almost wholly silenced, the
severe exposure from the almost constant fatigue and picket
duty, and duty in the trenches performed in the blazing
heat of a Southern midsummer sun. under the constant
fire of the enemy, made the labor alike toilsome, hazard-
ous, and unhealth}^ ; the effect was appalling from the
noticeable increase of the sick-lists of the different regi-
ments on the island, and the lack of fresh vegetables had
undoubtedly much to do with it.

Among the most beautiful scenes to behold upon a dark
night were the mortar battery fights, which were often
witnessed during the siege, when the sky would be filled
with shells from either side, and the fuses so well timed
that they would not explode until they had reached the
level of Mother Earth, the fuses from the shells lighting
up their paths, and giving to the scene the look of a " bat-
tle of comets."

Fort Sumter had now the appearance of a huge brick
structure which had suddenly collapsed, showing a promis-

New Hampshire Volunteers.


cuoiis pile of bricks, stones, and rubbish down to the water's
edge. Its guns had all been rendered useless ; it was
held by a small garrison who had constructed bomb-proof
shelters from sand-bags and bales of cotton brought from
Charleston, and but for the flag that floated over it, one
would have thought it vacated. Fort Moultrie and the
batteries on Sullivan's Island, and Fort Johnson and the
batteries on James Island had not been materially dam-
aged, but it was now almost impossible to repair the works


of either Forts Sumter or Wagner, during the day or night,
owing to the constant firing kept up by our batteries, aided
by the calcium light, when such working parties were dis-
covered. So successfully was this carried out that the Con-
federate commander at Fort Wagner, Col. L. M. Keitt,
reported a loss of about eighty men, killed and wounded,
of the working party alone, on the night of September 5,
and our sappers, though unmolested by the fire of the
work itself, were made to suffer from the long range fire of
the flanking batteries on James Island, until the approach
became so near that the fire endangered the rebel crarrison.

158 History of the Seventh Regiment










A demonstration by boat attack was made on Fort
Gregg b}' way of Vincent's Creek, on the night of Septem-
ber 5, under command of Maj. O. S. Sanford, of the
Seventh Conn. Volunteers, but which was unsuccessful,
owing to unforeseen difficulties. On the morning of the 6th,
the sap was pushed by the south face, and thenceforward
the sappers had nothing to fear, not even from torpedoes ;
but entirely under cover of the east or sea front, they ad-
vanced nearly to the flank of that front, where they fin-
ished their labors and entered the ditch about 10 o'clock
that night. At this time the rebel garrison could not have
a single picket outside of their stronghold, their sharp-
shooters were driven into the fort, and not a gun could be
used or fired by its garrison, and General Gillmore deter-
mined upon a third assault to take place at dawn on the
morning of the 7th. x\s soon as the sap was completed on

New Hampshire Volunteers. 159

the night of the 6th, the forces to be employed in the as-
sault were ordered to the front, and among the other regi-
ments ordered out for this purpose was the Seventh N. H.
Volunteers. Shortly after midnight a deserter came into
our lines with the information that the Confederates had
evacuated the fort, and a few scouts at once ventured to
crawl over the parapet to ascertain if the report was true.
He informed our officers that the}' had retreated up the
island to Fort Gregg, on Cummings Point, about a mile
away, from whence they intended to retreat by boat to
Charleston, after having blown up Fort Gregg ; and he
urged our officers to hurr}- up their assault if they cared to
capture any prisoners. Feeling a little suspicious of the
man. General Terry put him under guard and told him if
his information proved false he would be shot at sunrise.
The deserter expressed his willingness to abide by this,
and the result proved as he predicted.

Five men of the Thirt3'-ninth 111. Regiment volunteered
to go into the fort and ascertain whether or not the infor-
mation given by the rebel deserter was true ; after mak-
ing a thorough investigation they returned and reported
the evacuation to be true, and that regiment at once ad-
vanced and occupied the fort. The Seventh New Hamp-
shire, with other troops, was at once ordered to advance
towards Cummings Point. They were in time to capture
two or three boats containing seventy men, with a lieuten-
ant of the Confederate navy, who had delayed in getting
off by a few moments only. Confederate officers who
rendered their official reports of the evacuation of Morris
Island, mention their loss at that time as two or three
boats and forty-six men.

The remainder of the island was now in our possession,
with the complete armaments of the fortifications, and
our assaultincT column was at once ordered back to their
different camps, leaving a sufficient number of troops to
garrison the evacuated works. It was the intention of the

i6o History of the Seventh Regiment

enemy to blow up the magazines of both Forts Wagner
and Gregg, but the men whom they detailed for that pur-

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 13 of 52)