Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/49

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39
Defence of Fort Morgan.

you to Chief Engineer Sheliha's letter to Headquarters' Department, of July 9th, from which time no material change or addition was made; and further to state, that it had been demonstrated by the fire from the enemy that the enceinte of the fort (in which was its main strength) protected the scarp of the main wall only about one-half its height from curbated shot; that it was now in the power of the enemy to open fire from every point of the compass, and consequently none of the casemates, without heavy traverses in their front, would be safe; that it was manifest, by this concentration of fire, my heavy guns could soon be dismounted; and my making a protracted resistance depended on my ability to protect my men from the heavy fire, and hold the fort from the flank casemates against an assault. With these views, I employed my men day and night, most of the time under fire, in erecting traverses to protect my guns on the main wall as long as possible, to render the casemate selected for the sick and wounded secure, and to provide safe quarters for themselves in their rest from the arduous duties they would have to endure. It was necessary also to put a large traverse at the Sally Port, which was entirely exposed.

Thus absolutely to prevent the probability of Fort Morgan's being reduced at the first test and onset by the heavy batteries of the enemy, it was necessary for my limited garrison (of some 400 effective) to labor to effect a work equal almost in extent to building a new fort.

On early morning of the 9th the enemy proceeded with monitors and transports, and disembarked troops at navy cove, commencing at once their first work of investment by land.

The "new redoubt" (2,700 yards from the fort) from which the guns had been withdrawn, and the work formerly known as "Battery Bragg," were destroyed as far as possible by burning the wood work. The buildings around the fort, hospitals, quarters, stables, &c., were also at the same time fired and cleared away as much as possible.

Two monitors, three sloops-of-war and several gunboats engaged the fort for two or three hours—the wooden vessels at rather long range—with no material damage apparent to either side. Soon thereafter a flag of truce was reported from the fleet, and communicated to this effect:

Brigadier-General R. L. Page, Commanding Fort Morgan:

Sir—To prevent the unnecessary sacrifice of human life