South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER LII
EHAUSTION AND DEFEAT, 1864-1865

AFTER THE FIRST great bombardment from August 17 to September 1, 1863, Fort Sumter, with few cannon, remained from that time an infantry outpost for 200 to 300 men. Thrice abandonment of the fort seemed almost inevitable--September, 1863, December, 1863, and July to August, 1864; but each time the fortitude of the defenders took advantage of the weariness or ignorance of the enemy to prepare for further defense. The explosion of one of the magazines during profound quiet on December 11, 1863, killing eleven and wounding forty-one, was the worst single catastrophe of the four years except the killing of thirteen men, October 31, 1863, by a wall thrown upon them by a Union shell.

At 1:00 A.M., September 9, 1863, Fort Sumter was attacked by a landing party, who lost, in killed, wounded, and captured, 124. it was subsequently repeatedly reconnoitered for a landing, which never again occurred.

The eight or ten Federal bombarding monitors and several ironclads suffered severe losses. The three major attacks on Sumter lasted 117 days, the eight minor attacks forty days, and desultory firing 280 days. So effectively were the bombproofs maintained that from August, 1863, to February, 1865, only fifty-two men were killed and 267 wounded. The Federal fleet never ventured to run past the Sullivan's Island batteries of the entanglements and mines in the harbor.

On September 4, 1863, Colonel Alfred Rhett and the 1st South Carolina Artillery were replaced in Sumter by Major Stephen Elliot and the Charleston Battalion. Elliot was sent to Virginia in May, 1864, where as Brigadier-General he received the wound that ended his life in 1866. Captain J. C. Mitchel assumed command of Sumter on May 4, 1864, and on being mortally wounded on July 20 was succeeded by Captain T. A. Huguenin, who served until the evacuation, February 18, 1865. New troops had frequently relieved the old.

Blockade-Running.-- Not only was Charleston harbor the scene of by far the heaviest and the most prolonged naval operations by the Federals, but it was the chief center of the Confederate blockade-running. It was from Charleston that Mason and Slidell sailed, to be taken from a British mail steamer and bring war between England and the United

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