Illustrations of the War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1223, p. 317.
September 26, 1863
A Blockade-runner has brought us some
sketches from our Special Artist in Charleston, two of which are
engraved in the present Number. Respecting the Engraving on our first
page--"The Assault on Fort Wagner on the night of July 18"--our
Special Artist and Correspondent writes as follows:--"I returned from
the south-west just in time to witness this most formidable of all
attempts made by the enemy on the defences of Charleston. You are
already doubtless aware that the Federals succeeded a fortnight since
in effecting a lodgment of their forces on the islands forming the
approaches to the city. A temporary success enabled them to throw up
works in front of Fort Wagner, and to commence an advance on the
last-named stronghold. In conjunction with their iron fleet, which
took up an enfilading position seawards, they maintained a heavy fire
Page 31811-inch and 15-inch guns, on the devoted sandworks during the whole day preceding the assault. At a little after eight in the evening the Yankees attacked with three brigades, believing that a bombardment of twelve hours' duration from ordnance of hitherto unheard-of calibre would have demoralised or driven the garrison out. They could not have had less than 8000 men engaged, some of whom reached the parapet and died there; yet with only 1500 to oppose them, they were eventually driven back with a loss equal to the entire force of the Confederates in the fort. The period chosen for my illustration is the moment when the last shell fired from the fleet bursts over the battery; and the troops, illumined by the glare, are seen rushing to the parapet to repel the assault. Some of the enemy have already reached the crest of the work, but only to pay for their temerity by falling where they stand."
Our Correspondent remarks, in relation to his other sketch--"The Appearance of the Ditch and the Southern Slope of Fort Wagner the Morning after the Assault--The horrible scene that met the eye the morning after the attack beggars description. All through the night we could hear the screams and groans of the wounded lying within a few yards of us; but as a continual fire was kept up by the advanced pickets it was impossible to do anything for them without running great risk of being shot. Early in the morning, however, the Federals sent a flag of truce asking for a cessation of hostilities, that they might bury their dead. The first demand was granted, but they were told they could not be permitted to come within the lines of the Confederates, and that the latter would perform the last offices for the fallen enemy. In the ditch they lay piled, negroes and whites, four and five deep on each other; there could not have been less than 250 in the moat, some partially submerged; and, altogether, over 600 were buried by the Southerners.