The Big Bombardment
THE FAILURE of April 7 rankled with the Federal high command. In Washington plans were considered to destroy Sumter and take the city by a combined army and naval attack. Called in to attend the conferences was General Quincy A. Gillmore, rated as a great artillerist and a master of siege operations. Gillmore was asked if the army could aid the navy to enter the harbor by destroying the offensive power of Sumter. He replied that the army could, by mounting heavy rifled guns on Morris Island, south of the fort. On the strength of his opinion, it was decided to have the army secure possession of the southern end of Morris, reduce the Confederate batteries on the island, and destroy Sumter with rifled artillery. When this was accomplished, the navy would pass into the harbor, supported by fire from Gillmore, and force the city to surrender. Gillmore assumed command of the land forces on June 12, and a little later Admiral John A. Dahlgren replaced Du Pont.1
Below Charleston the Federals held a number of islands. One of them was Folly Island, a small, sandy strip, separated from Morris by a narrow inlet. Gillmore's plan was to assemble secretly on Folly a force that would suddenly cross to Morris, surprise the defenders, and occupy most of the island. His preparation period lasted twenty days, during which time he brought in his men, mostly at night, and placed forty-seven guns and mortars to support his assault. His activities were partially concealed from the Confederates at the southern end of Morris by the sand hills and underbrush on Folly. To deceive the Confederates he made a pretense of action at the southern end of Folly, as though he was going to attack James Island.2
Beauregard was well aware that a Federal force was on Folly and that it was up to something. The sounds made by the Federals as they assembled their guns could be heard on Morris.3 He doubted, how____________________
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Publication information: Book title: P. G. T. Beauregard:Napoleon in Gray. Contributors: T. Harry Williams - Author. Publisher: Louisiana State University Press. Place of publication: Baton Rouge, LA. Publication year: 1955. Page number: 185.