Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/413

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Seacoast Defences of South Carolina and Georgia.

tion with the large army commanded by such an engineer as Gillmore, they would have proved almost as slight an obstacle as if they had been built of lath and plaster, and garnished with "culverins."

Pemberton, as I have always understood, had materially departed from General Lee's plan of defensive works for the department. Be that so or not, the system which Beauregard found established upon the approaches to Charleston and Savannah, he radically changed with all possible energy. One material vice of the system was an extension of the lines beyond all possibility of having a force disposable at all adequate to their defence. These lines consequently were reduced and arranged upon a wholly different plan, both at Charleston and Savannah. And so comprehensive were these changes, that had General Long chanced to visit those two places and the intermediate lines about the first day of July, 1863 he would have been sorely puzzled to point out in all the results of defensive engineering skill, which must have met and pleased his eyes in the department, any trace of what he had left there something more than one year before.

For example, the Fort Sumter and works on Sullivan's Island, which fought and defeated the fleet of Admiral Dupont on the 6th of April, 1863, were, in nothing else scarcely than the terrain on which they stood, the same works that Beauregard had found constructed. As arranged by him, on that day they encountered a naval onset more formidable, from the character of the vessels engaged and greatness of calibre of the armaments, than any other fortifications have ever been subjected to; and in less than forty minutes five of the nine iron-armored vessels sent against them were placed hors de combat. The Battery Wagner, which, on the 18th of July and for fifty days thereafter, so successfully endured a combined naval and land attack of the magnitude that no other single work, of any size or armament, ever had brought to bear upon it, was, in no respect save the site, the same work which General Pemberton had left there. As Beauregard prepared it and the supporting batteries, it not only bore the brunt successfully, on the 18th of July, 1863, for eight hours without an instant of cessation, of the Iron Sides and of five or six monitors with their 11 and 15-inch guns and of five unarmored vessels, together with several land batteries, but remained in condition to inflict one of the bloodiest defeats known in history upon the powerful column that General Gillmore sent to storm it. Nor is this all: subjected to an incessant,