|The Illustrated London News,
vol. 43, no. 1223, p. 303.
September 26, 1863
FOREIGN AND COLONIAL NEWS.
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 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 harbor, 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 organized 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 harbor 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 harbor. 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 neighborhood 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 defense.
General Gilmore, in his dispatch 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 dispatches 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. Ii 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 harbor of Charleston are now completely covered by my guns."