Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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ing our approaches to "Wagner nor
offering fofmidable resistance to our

Gillmore now expected the iron-
clads to force their way into the in-
ner harbor and up to the city, which
he deemed no longer defensible
against our naval force; but Dahl-
gren did not concur in this opinion
of the feasibility of such an enter-
prise, and it was not attempted.

Gillmore, having completed" his
arrangements for opening fire from
* the Swamp Angel,' summoned Beau-
regard to abandon Morris island and
Sumter, on penalty of the bombard-
ment of Charleston. Eeceiving no
reply, he fired a few shots from that
battery, and desisted. Beaur^ard
thereupon complained that no rea-
sonable notice was given of this
opening on an inhabited city; add-
ing that he was absent from his poet
when Gillmore's message was re-
ceived thera Gillmore could tiot
see how he was blamable for this ab-
sence, and insisted that he had done
nothing contrary to the laws of war.

•Aug. n.

' Aug. 18-19.

' Aug. 21.

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The higli tides raised by the storm
aforesaid partially filled our works,
■crashing down parapets and imped-
ing our operations as well as destroy-
ing our approaches; yet a fourth
parallel was soon established," barely
800 yards from Wagner, and only 100
jfrora a sheltering ridge in its front,
from behind which Rebel sharp-shoot-
ers had seriously impeded our work-
ing parties and defied eflbrts to expel
them by infantry, as they afterward
did" to dislodge them by mortar-
firing. But Gen. Terry was now
directed to take it with the bayonet,
and did so : whereupon our fifth par-
allel was established behind it, only
240 yards from Wagner. Here, the
dry part of the island is but 25 yards
wide and barely two feet high : high
tides sweeping across in rough weather
to the marsh behind it. Hencefor-
ward, the ground was filled with tor-
pedo mines ; in spite of which, a rude
trench had been pushed forward, by
daybreak of the 27th, to within 100
yards of the fort

Yet here the progress of the be-
siegers was checked. The fire of
Wagner, concentring from its extend-
ed frpnt on this narrow sand-spit at
close range, was necessarily most ef-
fective; that of the James island
batteries was steadily increasing in
volume and accuracy; to push the
sap by day was death to all engaged
in it; while a bright harvest-moon
rendered it all but equally hazardous
by night. It became necessary to
silence the fort utterly by an over-
powering curved fire from siege and
Coehom mortars, at the same time
attempting to breach the bomb-proof
by a fire of riflod guns at close range ;
thus expelling the garrison from its

only available shelter. To this end,
all the light mortars were brought
to the front, and placed in battery ;
the capacity of the fifth parallel and
advanced trenches for sharp-shooters
was greatly enlarged and improved ;
the rifled guns in the left breaching
batteries were trained upon the fort ;
and powerful calcium lights prepared
to assist the operations of our cannon-
iers and sharp:shooters, while blind-
ing those of the enemy. The New
Ironsides, Capt. Bowan, also moved
up and set to work, during the day-
light, on the obstinate fortress. All
being ready, our batteries reopened **
in fall chorus: the New Ironsides
pouring in an eight-gun broadside of
11-inch shells against the parapet,
whence they dropped nearly verti-
cally, exploding within or over the
fort; while calcium lights turned
night into day, blinding the garrison,
and rendering visible to the besiegers
every thing connected with the fort.
This proved too much for the be-
sieged, who were compelled to seek
and abide in the shelter of their
bomb-proof, leaving our sappers free
to push forward their work until they
were so close to the fort that the fire
of the James island batteries, which
had become their chief annoyance,
could only be rendered effective at
the peril of friends and foes alike.
And now the sap was pushed with
vigor, and in entire disregard of the
enemy: the workers off duty mount-
ing the parapets of their works to
take a* survey of the ground ; until,
a little after dark," the sap was
pushed by the south face of the fort,
leaving it on their left, crowning the
crest of the counterscarp near the
flank of the east or sea front, com-

'Nightof Aug. 21.

•Aug. 26.

^ Sept. 5, ftt daybreak.

•Sept 6.

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pleteljr masking all the gnnB in ihe
work, save those on this flank, and
removing a row of long pikes which
had been planted at the foot of the
counterscarp as an impediment to

Gen. Gillmore directed Gen. Terry
to assault in three columns at 9
A. M. ;" that being the hour of ebb
tide, which gave the broadest beach
whereon to advance the assaulting
columns; but, by midnight, it was
discovered that the garrison were es-
caping ; and with such celerity did
they move that we took but 70 pris-
oners. They left 18 guns in Wagner
and 7 in Battery Gregg.

Though 122,300 pounds of metal
had been hurled at it at short range
from breaching guns — ^none of them
less than a 100-pounder— within the
last two days, the bomb-proof of the
former was found substantially in-
tact, and capable of sheltering 1,500
men. Sand was fiilly proved to pos-
sess a power of protracted resistance
to the power of heavy ordnance far
surpassing that of brick or stone.

During the night of the 8th, a
flotilla of 25 to 30 row-boats, from
Admiral Dahlgren's fleet, led by
Com'r Stephens of the Patapsco, at-
tempted to carry Fort Sumter by
•assault, whereof no notice was given
to, and of course no cooperation in-
vited from. Gen. Gillmore. The
boats, having been towed nearly to
the fort, wjBre cast off and made tiieir
way to the ragged walls of the old,
inveterate obstacle to our progress,
whereon the crews of three of them,
led by Com'r Williams, Lt. Kemey,
and Ensign Porter, debarked, and
attempted to clamber up . the ruins

to the parapet ; but found the slope
far steeper and its ascent more diffi-
cult than they appeared when viewed
from a distance through a field-glass^
The garrison, under Maj. S. Elliot,
proved exceedingly wide awake, and
at once commenced firing and throw-
ing hand-grenades ; while, at a signal
given by them, the Eebel batteries
on every side but the offing opened
a terrific fire, whereby our three
boats were soon torn to pieces, and
those they had borne to the fort-
some 200 in number — either killed,
wounded, or compelled to surrender.
The killed and wounded were about
80 ; while 121 were ^taken prisoners.
The residue of the expedition drew
off unhurt. No life was lost on the
side of the defense.

Gen. Gillmore's * Swamp AngeP
had rather alarmed than injured the
Oharlestonians — ^no person having
been harmed by its fire, though seve-
ral shells had reached and exploded
in the lower part of their city, and
one had entered a warehouse, and,
exploding there, done considerable
damage to its walls and contents.
The * Swamp Angel,' being fired at
a considerable elevation, with a
charge of 16 pounds of powder, im-
pelling a projectile weighing 150
pounds, burst at its 36th discharge.
But now Fort Wagner and Batte-
ry Gregg were transformed and
strengthened, while other works wer^^
erected on that end of the island,
armed with mortars and heavy rifled
guns, a full mile nearer to Charles-
ton than the ^ Marsh Battery,' and of
course far more effective for the bom^
bardment of that city, a full half of *
which was henceforth under flre, an^

VOL. n. — 81

•Sept. 7.

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VTBiA, after Bome casualties, abandoned
by most of its inhabitants, who either
moved farther np, or left altogether :
while many of the buildings, includ-
ing some of the most substantial and
costly edifices, suiSfered severely.
Blockade-running — which had long
been a source of activity, importance,
and profit to * the cradle of Secession,'
in spite of all the gunboats, iron-
dads, &c., that could lie off her bar,
reenforced by the * stone fleet' — suc-
cumbed to and was broken up by the
terrible missiles of Gillmore, though
sped by guns mounted fully four
miles firom her wharves.

Meantime, Sumter, though still a
volcano, was a volcano asleep — ^her
guns mainly dismantled, her garrison
hidden in her inmost recesses. At
length, upon advices that the enemy
was remounting some guns on her
south-east face, Gillmore reopened*'
on that face from his heavy rifled
guns in Wagner and Gregg, crum-
bling it speedily into ruins, which
sloped from the summit of the breach
to the level of the surrounding water.
Thereafter, a slow and irregular fire
from Oumming's Point was main-
tained for weeks, or till nearly the
dose of the year ; when, all prospect
of a penetration of the harbor by the
iron-clads being over, and no object
seeming to justify a continuance of
the fire, it was suspended, or thence-
forth mainly directed against Charles-
ton alone.

A luckless attempt** to blow up
by a torpedo boat the new Ironsides,
as she lay off Morris island, and the
foundering** of the Weehawken, car-
rying down 80 of her crew, while at
anchor in the outer harbor during
a gale— owing to her hatches having

been inconsiderately left open — com-
plete the record of notable events in
this department for the year 1863.

In North Oarolina, little of mo-
ment occurred in 1863. Gen. D. H.
Hill attempted to retake Kewbem on
the first anniversary'* of its recov-
ery to the Union : attacking, with 20
guns, an unfinished earthwork north
of the Keuse: but that work was
firmly held by the 92d New Yoik
until reenforced; when its assailantB
drew off with little loss.

Hill next demonstrated" against
Washington, N. C. : erecting batte-
ries at Bodman's and Hill's Points,
below the town, which commanded
the navigation of Pamlico river and
isolated the place. But Gen. Foster
had meantime arrived : finding a gar-
rison of 1,200 men, with two gun-
boats and an armed transport under
Com'r R. Eenshaw; while the de-
fenses were well placed and in good
condition. ffiU had here his corps,
estimated by Foster at 20,000 strong,
with 50 guns. But he paused three
days before assaulting; which pre-
cious time was well improved by the
garrison in strengthening and per-
fecting their works — Foster peremp-
torily refusing to allow any espionage
of his doings under the pretense of
summoning him to surrender. Those
days being ended, it was understood
on our side that an order to assault
was given, but not obeyed — our
works being deemed too strong to
justify the risk. Hill now com-
menced a siege in due form; mount-
ing guns on the several ridges com-
manding the town, with one on Bod-
man's Point, across the river; our
small force posted there being easily





'March 30.

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expelled. As this poBition enabled
the enemy to shell the town and onr
vessels Ijing before it, Foster at-
tempted to recover it by an assault,
bnt &iled; and a second attempt,
aided by the gunboat Ceres, which
had just come up, running the Bebel
batteries, was defeated by the un-
timely grounding of that vessel.

Hill, having opened upon our
works with 14 heavy guns, Fort
Washington replied; and a mutual
bombardment for 12 days was only
interrupted by the failure of our

Meantime, a small fleet of gun-
boats had arrived below the Bebel
batteries conmianding the river, with
a relieving force of 3,000 men on
transports, under Brig.-Qen. Henry
Prince, whom Foster ordered to land
and take the HilPs Point battery, so
as to allow the boats to eome up.
Prince decided this impracticable,
and refused to attempt it.

Foster was now obliged to supply
his batteries with ammunition by
means of sail and row-boats, which
stole up the rivw under the cover of
darkness; evading Hill's guard-boats,
which were on tibe lookout to inter-
cept them. Thus, he generally re-
ceived enough during each night to
nerve his batteries for the ensuing day.

At length, the steamboat Escort,
Capt. Hall, having on board the 5th
Bhode Island, with a supply of am-
munition, ran the blockade by night,^
and arrived safely at the wharf, giv-
ing matters a very different aspect ;
so Foster returned in her by day-
light " to Newbem ; she receiving, on
her way down the river, 47 liots,
which killed her pilot and killed or
wounded 7 of her crew ; but her ma-

chinery was so shielded by pressed
hay-bales that the gunboat was not

And now, putting himself at the
head of 7,000 men who, under Gen.
J. N. Palmer, had been quietly
awaiting at Newbem the issue of
the si^e, Foster started*^ by land to
fight his way back; gathering up
Prince's 3,000 men by the way, and
occupying, next day. Hill's Point bat-
tery, which the enemy abandoned on
his approach. Pushing on, he found
Hill in Ml retreat, and was unable
to bring him to a stand. Of course,
the presumption is strong that Hill's
force had been over-estimated by Fos-
ter at 20,000.

An expedition composed of three
Maes, regiments, under CoL J. B.
Jones, was soon dispatched ^^ to cap-
ture a Bebel outpost at Gum Swamp,
8 miles from Kinston ; and was par-
tially successful, taking 165 prison-
ers ; but the enemy attacked our out-
post in return, killing Col. Jones and
inflicting some other loss, though
finally repulsed.

A cavalry raid, supported by in-
fantry, to Warsaw," on the Weldcm
and Wilmington Bailroad, and an-
other, soon afterward, to the Bocky
Mount station, proved successful : the
railroad being broken in either in-
stance, and considerable property de-
stroyed; Tarborough being captured,
and several steamers burned there,
during the latter.

Gten. Foster was soon ordered" to
Fortress Mcmroe — ^his command be-
ing enlarged to embrace that section
of Virginia — ^but no important move-
ment occurred till he was relieved '* by
Gen. Butler, and ordered to succeed
Gen. Bumside in East Tennessee.

'April IJ. '•Ai«rill4. "April 17. '•May 11. ''July 3. " July 18. '•OotM.

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Ukqubstionablt, the darkest Ixoutb
of the National cause were those
which separated Bnmside's and Sher-
man's bloody repulses, at Fredericks-
burg ' and Vicksbnrg' respectively
from the trinmphs of Meade at Gret-
tysburg,* Grant in the fall of Vicks-
bnrg/ and Banks in the surrender of
Port Hudson/ Our intermediate and
subordinate reverses at Galveston,'
and at Chancellorsville/ also tended
strongly to sicken the hearts of
Unionists and strengthen into confi-
dence the hopes of the Rebels and
those who, whether in the loyal States
or in foreign lands, were in sympa-
thy, if not also in act, their virtual
allies. "No one in Europe but those
who ardently desired our success
spoke of disunion otherwise than as
an accomplished fact, which only pur-
blind obstinacy and the invincible lust
of power constrained us for a time to
ignore. Hence, when the French Em-
peror made, during the dark "Winter
of 1863-3, a formal, diplomatic prof-
fer* of his good offices as a mediator
between the American belligerents,
he was regarded and treated on all
hands as proposing to arrange the
terms of a just, satisfactory, and con-
clusive separation between the North
and the South. Even before this, and
before the repulse of Bumside at Fred-
mcksburg. Lord Lyons, British Em-
bassador at Washington, had sent a
confidential dispatch to his Govern-
ment, narrating the incidents of a

visit he had paid to New York di-
rectly after our State Election of 1863,
wherein Horatio Seymour was chosen
Qt)vemor and an average majority of
over 10,000 returned for the Demo-
cratic tickets : he reasonably claiming
that vote, with the corresponding re-
sults of elections in other loyal States,
as a popular verdict against the fur-
ther prosecution of the "War for the
Union. While discouraging any pres-
ent proffer of European mediation, as
calculated to discredit and embarrass
the * Conservatives,' and to inspirit
and infiame the ^ Kadicals,' who were
still intent on subjugating the South,
and would hear nothing of conceded
Disunion or of foreign intervention,
Lord Lyons gives the following com-
prehensive and evidently dispassion-
ate view of the current aspects of our
domestic politics, as they were pre-
sented to his keenly observant vision :

"Washington, Nov. 17, 1862.

" In his dispatches of the 17th and of the
24th ultimo, and of the 7th instant, Mr. Stu-
art reported to yonr lordship the result of
the elections for memhers of Congress and
State ofSoers, which have recentlj taken
place in several of the most important States
of the Union. Without repeating the de-
tails, it will be sufficient for me to observe
that the success of the Democratic, or (as it
now styles itself) the Conservative party,
has been so great as to manifest a change in
public feeling, among the most rapid and the
most complete that has ever been witnessed,
even in this country.

" On my arrival at New York on the 8th
instant, I found the Conservative leaders ex-
ulting in the crowning success achieved by
the party in that State. They appeared to
r€{joice, above all, in the conviction that per-

" Dec 13, 1862. • Dec. 28.
* July 4. •July 9.

■ July 3, 1863.
• Jan. 1, 1863.

^ May 3-5, 1863. • By dispatch of M.

Drouyn de i'Huys, Jan. 9, 1863.

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Bonal liberty and freedom of speecli had been
Becnred for the principal State of the Union.
They believed that the Government must at
once desist from exercising in the State of
Kew York the extraordinary (and as they
regarded them) illegal and nnoonstitntional
powers which it had assumed. They were
confident that, at all events, after the 1st of
January next, on which day the newly elect-
ed Governor would come into office, the
suspension of the writ of habeas corpus could
not be practically maintained. They seemed
to be persuaded that the result of the eleo-
tioDs would be accepted by the President as
a declaration of the will of the people ; that
he would increase the moderate and conser-
vative element in the Cabinet ; that he would
«eek to terminate the War, not to push it to
extremity ; that he would endeavor to effect
a reconciliation with the people of the South,
and renounce the idea of subjugating or ex-
terminating them.

" On the foUowing morning, however, in-
telligence arrived from Washington which
dashed the rising hopes of the Conserva-
tives. It was announced that Q^n. McClel-
lan had been dismissed from the Anny of
the Potomac, and ordered to 'repair to his
home ; that he had, in fact, been removed
altogether from active service. The Gen-
eral had been regarded as the representa-
tive of Conservative principles in the army.
Support of him had been made one of the
articles of the Conservative electoral pro-
gramme. His dismissal was taken as a sign
that the President had thrown himself en-
tirely into the arms of the extreme Radical
party, and that the attempt to carry out the
policy of that party would be persisted in.
The irritation of the Conservatives at New
York was certainly very great ; it seemed,
however, to be not unmixed with conster-
nation and despondency.

" Several of the leaders of the Democratic
party sought interviews with me, both before
and after the arrival of the intelligence of
Gen. McClellan^s dismissal The subject up-
permost in their minds, while they were
speaking to me, was naturally that of foreign
mediation between the North and the South.
Many of them seemed to think that this me-
diation must come at last ; but they appeared
to be very much afraid of its coming too
soon. It was evident that they apprehended
that a premature proposal of foreign inter-
vention would afford the Radical party a
means of reviving the violent war spirit, and
of thus defeating the peaceful plans of the
Conservatives. They appearea to regard
the present moment as peculiarly unfavora-
ble for such an offer, and, indeed, to hold
that it would be essential to the success of
any proposal from abroad that it should be
deferred ontil the control of the Executive

Government should be in the hands of the
Conservative party.

«^I gave no opinion on the subject. I did
not say whether or no I myself thought for-
eign intervention probable or advisable ; but
I listened with attention to the accounts
given me of the plans and hopes of the Con-
servative party. At the bottom, I thought I
perceived a desire to put an end to the war,
even at the risk of losing the Southern States
altogether; but it was plain that it was not
thought prudent to avow this desire. In-
deed, some hints of it, dropped before the
elections, were so ill received that a stronK
declaration in the contrary sense was deemed
necessary by the Democratic leaders.

'^At the present moment, therefore, the
chiefs of the Conservative party call loudly
for a more vigorous prosecution of the war,
and reproach the Government with slack-
ness as weU as with want of success in its
military ifieasures. But they repudiate all
idea of interfering with the institutions of
the Southern people, or of waging a war of
subjugation or extermination. They main-
tain that the object of the military opera-
tions should be to place the North in a po-
sition to demand an armistice with honor
and effect. The armistice should (they hold)
be followed by a Convention, in which such
changes of the Constitution should be pro-
posed as would give the South ample secu-
rity on the subject of its slave property, and
would enable the North and the South to
r^unitdj^nd to live t^gf therln p*^*^^ flnfl )'ar-
mony. The Conservatives profess to think
tliat the South might be induced to take
part in such a Convention, and that a resto-
ration of the Union would be the result

*^The more sagacious members of the
party must, however, look upon the pro-
posal of a Convention merely as a last ex-
periment to test the possibility of reunion.
They are no doubt well aware that the more
probable consequence of an armistice would
be tiie establishment of Southern independ-
ence : but they perceive that, if the South is so
utterly alienated that no possible concessions
will induce it to return voluntarily to the
Union, it is wiser to agree to separation than
to prosecute a cruel and hopeless war.

*^ It is with reference to ^ch an armistice
as they desire to attain, that the leaders of
the Conservative party regard the question
of foreign mediation. They think that the
offer of mediation, if made to a Radical ad-
ministration, would be rejected ; that, if made
at an unpropitious moment, it might in-
crease the virulence with which the war is
prosecuted. If their own party were in
power, or virtually controlled the adminis-
tration, they would rather, if possible, ob-
tain an armistice without the aid of foreign
governments ; bat they would be disposed to

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accept an offer of mediation if it appeared
to be the only means of putting a stop to
hostilities. They would desire that the offer
should come from the great powers of En-
rope conjointly, and in particular that as
little prominence as possible should be given
to Great Britain."

The State elections of 1863 opened
in New Hampshire ; * where the Re-
publican party barely escaped defeat ;
Ipsing one of the three Representa-
tives in Congress for the first time in
some years, and saving their Governor
through his election by the Legisla-
ture ; he not having even a plurality
of the popular vote." The regular
Democratic poll was larger' than at
any former election.

The next State to hold her Elec-
tion was Rhode Island ;" where the
Republicans triumphed, electing both
Representatives in Congress as well
as their State ticket ; but by a ma-
jority" considerably reduced from
that exhibited on any clear trial of
party strength for some years.

Connecticut had, by common con-
sent, been chosen as the arena of a
determined trial of strength, at her
State Election this Spring," between
the supporters and opponents respec-
tively of the War for the Union.

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 68 of 113)