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Foreign and Colonial News

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1223, p. 303.

September 26, 1863

The Siege Of Charleston.--Capture Of Morris Island.

The whole of that long peninsula called Morris Island, which forms a natural mole at the southern side of the entrance to Charleston harbour is in the hands of the Federals. The capture of Morris Island opens the front door into Charleston. Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg, which are on it, can now be turned to the uses of the assailants. They command the entrance to the harbour, and at Cummings Point, the end of the Island, General Gilmore will be able construct batteries a mile nearer the city than the spot from which the recent bombardment took place.

The attacks upon Morris Island fills up the whole interval from the 1st to the evening of the 6th. On the night of the 1st a grand attack was organised in conjunction with the monitors. During the afternoon the commanders assembled in Admiral Dahlgren's cabin to agree upon their plans, and at about eleven o'clock the fleet steamed up the harbour and began the fight, dividing their attention between Fort Sumter and the works at Cumming's Point. There was one "continued line of flashes from the Beach Inlet to the works on the extreme left--an uninterrupted roar of heavy guns and the howl of rifle-bolts made the scene one not easily forgotten. At daylight on the 5th another furious bombardment began against Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg and continued without intermission until dark. In the course of the night the Federals landed men in boats on the space between the two works, and tried to take Battery Gregg by storming it in the rear. This adventurous attack failed. Next day the bombardment was renewed and kept up till dark, having lasted almost uninterruptedly for fifty-two hours. Meanwhile, General Gilmore had been getting nearer and nearer the fort by dint of spadework, and by the evening of the 6th his Sappers reached the moat which surrounded it. Then at last Beauregard confessed himself beaten. Between that night and the following morning the works on Morris Island were evacuated, the Confederates spiking their guns and carrying off their wounded.

On the capture of Morris Island, Admiral Dahlgren demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter. General Beauregard refused compliance, and the Federals once more began a furious bombardment. At six p.m. on the 7th the monitors opened fire at close range. They do not appear to have suffered much damage themselves, but they failed to compel the surrender of the devoted handful of men who manned the fort. On the 8th the monitors directed their fire against Fort Moultrie and the other works on Sullivan's Island, on the north side of the harbour. For nine hours the fire was kept up, "with no result," as the Charleston papers assure us, though it is said that a magazine in Fort Moultrie exploded, and Moultrieville, a number of buildings in the neighbourhood of the fort, was destroyed. Apparently during the night of the 8th, the Federals landed a force on the ruins of Fort Sumter, in the hope of taking it by a sudden and unexpected assault. The daring attempt failed. The Confederates were found prepared. The assailants lost sixty men by killing or drowning, and five officers were among the prisoners captured. At this point the curtain falls upon this extraordinary siege, notable alike for the determination and the wonderful range of the weapons with which the attack has been conducted and the desperate tenacity of the defence.

General Gilmore, in his despatch announcing the clearing of Morris Island and the taking of Forts Wagner and Gregg, says:--"About ten o'clock last night (the 6th) the enemy commenced evacuating the island, and all but seventy-five of them made their escape from Cumming's Point in small boats. Captured despatches show that the fort was commanded by Colonel Keitt, of South Carolina, and garrisoned by 1400 effective men, and Battery Gregg by between 100 or 200. Fort Wagner is a work of the most formidable kind. It is bombproof, and is capable of holding 1800 men. It remains intact after the most terrible bombardment to which any work was ever subjected. We have captured nineteen pieces of artillery and a large supply of excellent ammunition. The city and harbour of Charleston are now completely covered by my guns."

Other Military Movements.

No movement of importance has been made by either of the belligerent armies in Virginia, although there have been several skirmishes. A report has been current in Washington that General Lee had received heavy reinforcements, and that he meditated another aggressive campaign. The Confederate weakness at Chattanooga and other points is said to lend strength to this belief.

In East Tennessee we hear of the capture by Burnside of Knoxville and the taking of Cumberland Gap, where he made 2000 Confederate prisoners; and the abandonment by the Confederates of Chattanooga, which was immediately occupied by Rosencranz [i.e., Rosencrans]. The latter measure was probably taken by the Confederates with the view of advancing on and overpowering Burnside, but Rosencranz appears to have lost no time in taking possession of that strong Confederate position. A brief message informs us that General Burnside had resigned his command. No reason for such a step is given.

Despatches from Leavenworth, in Kansas, of the 10th inst., state that official intelligence had been received of the capture of Fort Smith, in Arkansas, by General Blunt, on the 1st inst.; also that the Confederates had evacuated Little Rock and retired to Washington, forty miles distant, which they were fortifying.

The whole army of the Gulf is moving from New Orleans. General Franklin is said to have started, at the head of 30,000 men, for Texas. Advices from New Orleans, of the 29th ult., state that the Confederates in Attakapus County crossed the Grand Lake 8000 strong. It is supposed they intended to attack Brashear City for supplies.

General News.

Secretary Chase has satisfactorily concluded the 50,000,000-dols. loan with the banks.

The Douglas and Breckinridge sections of the Democratic party have held a meeting at New York, at which all minor differences were satisfactorily adjusted, in order that a united Democratic opposition to President Lincoln's Administration might be presented to the people during future elections.

The Hon. Charles Sumner recently spoke with some vehemence at the Cooper's Institute, New York, against the attitude of England and France since the outbreak of the war. Earl Russell's treatment of the Federal Government he considered had been unfriendly, and his correspondence "hard, curt, captious, and cynical." He charged the British Government with complicity with the "pirate ships" and their depredations, and said its liability was accumulating. The French offer of intervention was denounced, and a blow dealt at the "empire" of Mexico. The remarks denunciatory of England and France are said to have been loudly applauded.

A correspondence between Fernando Wood and President Lincoln, dated December last, has been published. Wood informed Mr. Lincoln that he has information that the Southern States would send representatives to the Federal Congress provided a general amnesty was granted, and suggesting that an unofficial correspondence be opened with the Southern leaders on this subject. President Lincoln replied that he thought Mr. Wood's information would prove groundless; but if the people of the Southern States would cease resistance, re-inaugurate, and submit to, and maintain the national authority within the limits of the Southern States under the Federal Constitution,then war would cease on the part of the United States. If, within a reasonable time, a full and general amnesty were necessary to such an end, it would not be withheld; but he did not think it proper to communicate this to the Southern people, who, he believed, already knew it, and when they chose could communicate with him unequivocally. Mr. Fernando Wood replied, regretting that Mr. Lincoln declined the innocent effort to ascertain whether the South desired to return to the Union.

The Federal troops had been withdrawn from the streets and squares of New York, and no futher apprehensions [sic] of disturbance were entertained--the City Council having finally passed the resolution appropriating 3,000,000 dollars to pay for substitutes. Many of the substitutes and conscripts who had been raised by the draught from New York and the adjoining States were showing a very refractory spirit; and, in one instance, an escort had to fire twice into some New Jersey recruits, who were ultimately disarmed.

The draught is to be enforced in Ohio.

The Kansas militia, inflamed by the massacre at Leavenworth, were preparing to enter Missouri for the purpose of taking a bloody revenge on all persons suspected of attachment to the Confederate cause; but the Federal General Schofield was endeavouring to restrain them.

A meeting has been held at Paolo, Kansas, at which 3000 armed men were present. The recall of the Kansas troops was urged if the Government continued its offensive military system in Kansas.

The proprietors of the Baltimore Republican have been sent South for publishing disloyal poetry.

The trade of New Orleans with Cairo, St. Louis, and the cities and towns of the Upper Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio, has been declared free from military control.

Intelligence has been received of the foundering of the Federal corvette Bainbridge, seven guns, Commander Thomas J. Dwyer, in a fearful hurricane, on Aug. 21, the whole of the crew, about one hundred, with the exception of two men, going down with the vessel. The Bainbridge formed one of the Federal fleet appointed to the West India waters to intercept the various "blockade-runners."

At Havannah a British brig, the Atlantic, had arrived. She had been captured as a blockade-runner by the Federals, but subsequently her crew overpowered the prize crew and carried her into Havannah.

Previous: The War in America: Assault on Fort Wagner, Charleston Harbour, on the Night of July 18--The Rush of the Garrison to the Parapet. From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.--See Page 317.IllustrationVolume 43, no. 1211, p. 2 (13 paragraphs)
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