Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Second Assault on Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863: The account of Henry F. W. Little, Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers

On July 18, 1863, Private Paul Whipple's regiment, the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers, led the second brigade into Fort Fisher at the mouth of Charleston harbor.  The 54th Massachusetts had been given the honor of leading the first brigade to charge the fort and has for good reason received the most attention, but the charge of the Seventh and the Second Brigade met a similar fate. So much will be said about that in the days surrounding the assault, that we can add only that the 54th Mass and Seventh New Hampshire were not strangers to each other and would again fight alongside each other.  Henry Little notes that because of disease, the Seventh could only muster about 480 officers and troops for the attack. 
"The morning of the 19th was Sunday, and an inspection of the troops upon the island was ordered, and only nine officers and two hundred and fifty-eight men appeared on the line of the Seventh New Hampshire as present for duty." ---Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H., 1896.
Plan of Fort Wagner

THE SECOND ASSAULT ON FORT WAGNER. 
COOPERATION OF THE NAVY. THE DEAFENING ROAR OF ONE HUNDRED HEAVY GUNS AND MORTARS. GENERAL GILLMORE HOLDS A COUNCIL OF WAR. AN ASSAULT DETERMINED UPON. THE FIRST BRIGADE UNDER GENERAL STRONG TO LEAD. THE SECOND BRIGADE UNDER COLONEL PUTNAM ORDERED IN AS SUPPORT.

THE FIRST BRIGADE UNSUCCESSFUL. THE SECOND BRIGADE REACH THE FORT AND HOLD A SALIENT FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. FAILURE OF THE THIRD BRIGADE TO COME TO OUR ASSISTANCE. THE DEATH

OF COLONEL PUTNAM, CAPTAIN BROWN, AND LIEUTENANTS CATE, BAKER, BRYANT, BENNETT, AND LANE ON OR NEAR THE WORKS. — CAPTAINS LEAVITT AND HOUSE AND LIEUTENANTS DAVIS AND WORCESTER MORTALLY WOUNDED. THE ASSAULT A FAILURE.

THE LOSS OF THE SEVENTH NEW HAMPSHIRE TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN.

On the morning of July 18, considerable commotion was noticed in the different camps of the troops on the island, and the weather was warm and sultry. The previous night had been warm and showery, and as we fell in for our rations of hard-tack and coffee, not a man in the command for a moment thought the day would be made memorable by a land and naval bombardment of uncommon severity, and would end in a second and bloody assault upon Fort Wagner and a disastrous repulse to the Union forces.
[116]
However, about 9 o'clock a. m., the troops on the island were ordered out from their camps among the sand-hills, under arms and in light marching order, upon the beach.  A large number from the Seventh New Hampshire had been detailed for fatigue duty the night before, and during violent thunder showers, had worked until nearly daybreak, supplying the gun and mortar batteries with ammunition which was to be used in bombarding Fort Wagner. The monitors and the new "Ironsides" [USS New Ironsides] at once moved up and engaged Fort Wagner, and a steady fire was kept up until about noon, which was vigorously returned by the guns of Forts Wagner, Gregg, Sumter, Moultrie, and the batteries on James Island. Owing to the heavy rains of the previous night it was nearly noon before the land batteries could open fire.
USS New Ironsides
The troops gathered upon the beach, stacked arms, and quietly rested at will, interesting themselves largely in watching the firing of our fleet. At noon the different company cooks brought us from the camping-grounds near by, our rations of hard-tack and coffee, and at 12.30 Company D, under command of First Lieut. Wm. C. Knowlton, was ordered to the battery on the left of our works, for the purpose of throwing up a further protection of earthworks in front of the battery, which was accomplished inside of a half-hour, and the company returned to the regiment on the beach. Shortly after 12 o'clock Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, having his flag on the monitor "Montauk," accompanied by four monitors and the new "Ironsides," and these followed by five wooden gunboats, closed in toward Fort Wagner, and together with the land batteries opened a terrific fire, and the roar of heavy ordnance was deafening. The wooden gunboats kept up a slow but accurate fire from their large pivot Parrott rifled guns, and very effectually shelled Fort Wagner, while they were wholly out of range of the guns of the fort, but the shell-[117] ing from the fleet and land batteries combined was so severe, that nearly all the troops of the enemy, both infantry and artillerists, were compelled to seek safety in the bomb-proofs. The guns were all silenced on the south or land side of the fort, and nearly silenced on the sea front; for in most instances the gunners were driven completely away from their guns.
Morris Island: watching USS New Ironsides firing on Rebel positions
At midday General Gillmore, who was on the island, rode up with his staff', and ascending the lookout which had been erected on the sand-hills near the beach, and just opposite the left of our regiment, watched, through his lorgnette, the effect of the shells. During that seemingly long summer afternoon the troops on the beach witnessed one of the grandest of bombardments by land and naval forces that had taken place since the commencement of the war. 

The forces on Morris Island were commanded by Brig. Gen. Truman Seymour, and the infantry was arranged in three brigades, the First under command of Brig. Gen. George C. Strong, was composed of the Forty-eighth New York, Col. W. B. Barton: Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, Capt. J. S. Littell; Third New Hampshire, Col. J. H. Jackson ; Sixth Connecticut, Col. J. L. Chatfield ; Ninth Maine, Col. S. Emery; with the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored), Col. Robert G. Shaw. The Second Brigade under command of Col. H. S. Putnam, of the Seventh N. H. Volunteers, consisted of the Seventh New Hampshire, Lieut. Co.. J. C. Abbott; One Hundredth New York, Col. G. B. Dandy; Sixty-second Ohio, Col. F. B. Pond; Sixty-seventh Ohio, Col. A. C. Voris. The Third Brigade, which took no active part in this second assault upon Fort Wagner, was commanded by Brig. Gen. T. G. Stevenson, and consisted of four excellent regiments from the forces of General Terry, which had just arrived from James Island. These troops were made up [118] of fine material, were led by competent officers, and were composed largely of regiments belonging to the Tenth Corps, with a few regiments which had formerly belonged to the Thirteenth Corps, which had been discontinued on June 11, and a few of the regiments of that corps had been transferred to the Department of the South. 
Bombardment of Ft. Wagner.  USS New Ironsides can be seen on lower right.
Col. R. T. Graham, who had commanded the Confederate forces on Morris Island during the engagements on the l0th and 11th, had been relieved on the morning of the 14th by Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro, who at once placed their fortifications in the best possible condition for defense, and the Confederate garrisons were largely increased.

The tide serving about 4 o'clock p. m., the iron-clads closed in to within about three hundred yards of Wagner, and the mortars and guns of the land batteries and every available gun of the naval forces now opened with renewed energy, and the sixty-four guns and mortars of our land and naval forces combined, were promptly answered by the heavy guns, some thirty or more, of Forts Sumter and Moultrie, Battery Gregg, and the heavy batteries on James Island ; the deafening roar of about one hundred guns of the heaviest calibre, worked with such rapidity, seemed almost unbroken. Rear-Admiral Dahlgren received a signal from General Gillmore during the afternoon, informing him that an assault would be made at twilight. This signal, it seems, was read by the Confederates, but the increased attack from the land batteries and the fleet would naturally forestall such an event. In the midst of this heavy firing a boat crew was called for, and the old crew of the colonel's barge at St. Augustine at once responded, under Corporal Palmer, of Company F, and rowed out to one of the advanced monitors, to carry an officer, with a communication from the general. The damage in our trenches from the heavy fire of the enemy [119] during the day, had been slight. A caisson was exploded in one of our batteries by a shell, and a few casualties occurred. Our earthworks had been carefully constructed, and afforded our artillerists considerable protection. 

From our position on the beach we could see the shells exploding in and around the fort, the clouds of dust rising high in the air, as they plunged into the loose sand of which it was built. Three times the rebel colors were shot away, and as many times a few daring men came out upon the parapet and raised them again. Ignorant as was everyone, from the commanding general down, of the construction of the fort, it seemed as if that shower of ponderous missiles, bursting all around them, must destroy or drive away the garrison. However, we were soon to be undeceived. Long and dreary seemed the hours of the afternoon as we lay upon the hot sand of the beach, scorching in the rays of an unclouded sun, and speculating upon the results of the bombardment. Just before sundown General Gillmore called up his brigade commanders, with General Seymour, and upon Colonel Putnam's return we learned that an assault had been determined on, — contrary to his advice, as he said. "I told the general," said he, "I did not think we could take the fort so, but Seymour overruled me; Seymour is a devil of a fellow for dash." To Major Henderson he remarked, "We are all going into Wagner like a flock of sheep." Immediately upon Colonel Putnam's return the regiment was ordered to fall in, and we could hear the commands given in the brigade in our front. We have no doubt that our troops had been seen all day upon the beach from the lookouts at Fort Sumter, and that they knew we were massing troops for some purpose. The dysentery, which prevailed among the troops while on Folly Island, had enormously swelled the sick-list of the Seventh, and the adjutant that morning at roll-call reported to the brigade commander but four [120] hundred and eighty officers and men present for duty after the line was formed.

Seventh New Hampshire Sergeant's Uniform
The regiments of the Second Brigade formed in column by companies, the Seventh New Hampshire leading, it being the regiment of the ranking colonel. It was then we knew full well the meaning of such a movement, and as the rays of a glorious sunset shone upon the bright, fixed bayonets of our troops, it blended with the pale, uplifted faces of our comrades, whose firm, resolutely compressed features we knew meant "victory or death." Not a man asked to leave the line. There was no apparent show of fear upon those visages, as we looked along the line in pride at the noble representation from the Old Granite State, and, probably, not one in those crowded columns realized at that moment that perhaps one fourth of their number would be "mustered out" ere the rising of another sun.

The command, "Forward," was given. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored) had already left the advance works on the double-quick, with the brave Col. Robert G. Shaw at their head, closely followed by the First Brigade under dashing Gen. George C. Strong, and they in turn supported at half brigade distance by the Second Brigade under the gallant Putnam, of the Seventh New Hampshire, whose soldierly bearing instilled more courage into his troops, than any officer we ever saw in the service during the whole period of the war. We shall never forget the scene. As he sat on his horse, facing the left flank of his brigade (which was then in column by company), attired in a common soldier's blouse without straps, he looked every inch a soldier.

The 54th Mass. Attacks Fort Wagner
As soon as the Second Brigade had passed our outer line of works, the firing of our batteries and the fleet at once ceased, and Colonel Putnam deployed his brigade into column by battalions, and the different regiments of the [121] brigade closed up to less than half distance. So narrow was the neck of land between our advanced works and Fort Wagner, that, small -as was our regiment in numbers, only six companies could dress in line, and consequently four companies had to march en echelon to the rear. Then as if aroused from sleep Fort Wagner opened its batteries. Its heavy siege guns, howitzers, and forty-two-pounders poured a fearful cross fire of grape and canister upon the narrow neck of sand along which the crowded columns of the storming party must advance, while the profile of the parapet of Fort Wagner was outlined against the dark thunder clouds rising behind, by' the sparkling fire of the rifles of the garrison, who, secure in their immense bomb-proof during the long hours of the bombardment, had sprung to the parapet upon its cessation, to repel the expected assault. Besides the storm of iron hail from Forts Wagner, Sumter, and Moultrie, and Battery Gregg, all the batteries on James Island were throwing shells and shrapnel, and the nearer ones grape and canister, working their guns for all they were worth, plowing wide swaths through our ranks, which, however, were quickly closed. For a moment the brigade was halted, at the moment that the regiment under Shaw, and the First Brigade struck the enemy's picket line — which time the writer of this occupied in placing a tourniquet upon one of the men in Company D, Hinckley D. Harris, by name, whose right leg was badly shattered at the knee by a grapeshot, and we had barely time to affix the instrument, the grape and canister in the meantime splashing the water into our faces; for the left of the regiment then stood in the edge of the marsh on the left of the narrow neck of land, and the water was a foot deep or more where we stood — when we heard the ringing command, "Forward," from Colonel Putnam, who was ever on the alert to have his brigade on time; besides which we distinctly remember [122] the order given by Lieutenant-Colonel Abbott, which was, "Seventh New Hampshire, keep closed on the colors."

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/batterywagner/maps/batterywagnermap.html
Springing to their feet the line pushed on into a storm of shot that seemed to fill the air like the drops of a summer shower, after that it was hard to know or hear any command, as there was such a noise from the shells and guns, together with the shrieks and cries of the wounded. All this time it was growing darker, and upon nearing the coveted works we went in on the double-quick. We passed their outer works and opened to let the remnant of the First Brigade with Shaw's broken battalion pass through on their way to the rear, for they had nobly borne the first shock, their onset being so fierce and heavy that they were badly shattered, and the Second Brigade had the front.

Closing up as well as possible the regiment reached the ditch, a trench with sloping sides, some fifty feet in width, five in depth ; and for the whole length of the south front waist deep in water and soft mud, though at the southeast angle and along the sea front it was dry. This ditch was enfiladed by heavy howitzers, which kept up a constant fire of grape and canister, and the sides and angles of the fort and the ditch itself were covered with the dead and wounded. In the angles of the ditch especially we noticed they lay piled one upon another, and there was no chance to get down into the ditch without climbing over these bodies.
  
Before starting on this charge Colonel Putnam directed that the cap should be removed from the rifles, as our dependence must be on the bayonet should we come to fighting. In the regiment just behind us (the One Hundredth New York), this order was neglected, Colonel Dandy saying that his men never fired without orders, a statement sadly and signally disproved within an hour. The right of the regiment crossed the ditch near the southeast angle. [123] and found a small portion of the First Brigade on the parapet near that angle; the companies on the left finding the ditch in their immediate front impassable, crowded around to the right, and crossed the ditch near the same angle, while the four companies en echelon, passed clear around the right, and some of them scaled the parapet of the fort upon its sea face. The next regiment in our rear (the One Hundredth New York) came promptly up to the ditch and in the darkness, which was only lighted up by the flashes of the guns, saw the parapet covered with men, and supposing them to be Confederates, fired into them, undoubtedly killing and wounding many of our men. As it had now become very dark we could only see our way when the flashes of the rebel guns which swept the moat, lit up the ghastly scene for a moment only, but at short intervals. But we mounted the parapet of the fort, only to find that the stronghold was so constructed as to be almost impregnable; and some mistake or delay in giving orders to General Stevenson, prevented the Third Brigade coming to our aid. It was now nearly 10 o'clock. 
http://tofindtheprinciples.blogspot.com/2011/09/honoring-amhersts-african-american.html
We had already driven the rebel gunners from some of the nearest guns, but only to find that other guns which we had not seemed to find in the darkness, swept the traverses. After waiting for reinforcements, and holding the whole southern face of the stronghold until it was impossible to stop longer, our ranks having become so badly thinned and broken, we retired in as good and quick order as possible under the circumstances, for it was about as difficult to pfet back as it was to go on. Therefore, after some skillful engineering, as we thought, to escape the missiles thrown after us, the remnant of our brigade reported at our outer line of entrenchments where we found the Third Brigade drawn up in line to resist any sortie the enemy might make, and leaving on the field behind us and at the fort upwards of six hundred of our brave com- [124] rades, among them our heroic brigade commander, who was shot through the head and instantly killed on the parapet.
The loss of the Seventh New Hampshire in this assault was two hundred and sixteen killed, wounded, and missing, and of this number eighteen were officers, eleven of whom — including our gallant and beloved colonel — were either slain outright or mortally wounded and left in the enemy's hands.

After crossing the ditch all regimental action ceased, and each action seemed an individual one, and will be best illustrated by quoting from the narrative of Adjt. Henry G. Webber, who says: "Crossing the ditch at or near the southeast angle, I found myself, on reaching the crest of the parapet, in a corner where the bomb-proof, rising some six feet higher than the parapet, afforded a protection in front from the enemy's fire, and crowded upon the parapet, the slope of the bomb-proof, and in the corner were one or two hundred men from all the regiments in both brigades, among whom the few that I could make out as belonging to the Seventh New Hampshire were scattered. It was in vain that I tried in the tumultuous crowd, to get them together. All was wild uproar, with the groans and cries of the wounded: men calling for their officers, officers calling for their men, and many in wild excitement yelling with no apparent object but to add to the confusion. Captain Brown, of Company K, stood upon the bombproof, trying in vain to excite some men to follow him. Captain Rollins, of Company F, Lieutenants Knowlton and Bennett, of Company D, had all crossed at the same point, and no two men who stood together belonged to the same company, if by chance to the same regiment. 

Colonel Putnam, delayed by his horse being shot from under him, now appeared upon the fort, and ordered an attempt to charge and silence one of the guns that flanked [125 ] the sea face, and still swept the top and sides of the bomb-proof with grape.

Lieutenant Bennett and myself then joined Captain Brown upon the top of the bomb-proof, and a few men moved to follow us. The position of the gun could be plainly seen in the gathering darkness, by the burning fragments of cartridges before its muzzle, but right across the path yawned a wide, deep, black pit — an opening into the bomb-proof in rear of a seaward embrasure, up from which came occasional shots. To the left was apparently a chance to get around, but the road was blocked by a crowd of men, sitting, lying, or standing; some disabled by wounds, some apparently paralyzed by fear. As we attempted to force a path through them a shell burst in our midst. Bennett was killed. Brown mortally wounded, and one of my legs went out from under me, and refused duty. The men fell back and I crawled over the edge of the bomb-proof again, among the increasing throng of wounded and dying, to see how much I was hurt, and was relieved to find it more of a bruise than a wound, from which the numbness soon began to pass away.

"Colonel Putnam went up on the bomb-proof, and endeavored to get up a charge, but in vain  after which, drawing his men into the crowded corner of the fort, he endeavored to hold out until reinforcements, for which he had sent, should arrive. The enemy made one charge upon us, but were driven back by our fire. Shortly afterwards a ball through the head stretched Colonel Putnam among the slain, just as he had announced to Captain Rollins his determination to hold out to the last. Major Butler, Sixty-seventh Ohio, Captain Rollins, and myself, were now the only officers left, and the small force of men was woefully thinned, while the dead and dying were piled over the small space we held. [126] "So long a time had elapsed since reinforcements were sent for, that Major Butler began to tear that the officer who was sent had failed to cross the belt of tire that still swept the outside of the ditch, and expecting a charge every moment, to which our small force could oppose but feeble resistance, he at last gave the order to retreat, and taking a last shot over the bomb-proof, we silently skedaddled toward our lines."

Five officers fell before reaching the moat which surrounded the work. Of the line, Captain Brown and Lieutenants Cate, Baker, Bennett, and Bryant, fell dead on or near the works. Captain Leavitt lived until he reached Charleston. Captain House died of his wounds in October, and Lieutenants Davis and Worcester died on board transports, after they were exchanged. All other wounded officers recovered. It is an historical fact that in this assault the Seventh New Hampshire lost more officers than any other regiment in any one engagement during the war. 
2nd Assault on Fort Wagner
General Strong and Colonel Chatfield, of the Sixth Connecticut, had fallen mortally wounded near the fort, while leading the First Brigade, and General Seymour was severely wounded by a grape-shot, while the Second Brigade was moving up, and was obliged to leave the field.

Had the Third Brigade come to the assistance of the Second Brigade on the evening of the assault on Fort Wagner, and sent two of its regiments around the sea front of the fort to the rear of that stronghold, the Union forces would have taken the fort and its garrison; and instead of smashing two good brigades upon the fortified front of such a formidable earthwork, a portion of one of the brigades engaged, would have been sufficient to hold the front while two good regiments passing around the work to the rear, which was almost wholly unprotected, and which movement would have been a feasible one, would [127]
have successfully terminated the assault. Why our general officers who had the advantage of a military education should have seemingly overlooked the advantage of such a movement is not clearly comprehensible. Even noted Confederate authorities seem never to have given a thought to the accomplishment of such a movement, which could have been easily made, and the long and arduous siege and consequent loss of life have been averted. Such a movement would also have shown conclusively the fault of constructing a formidable earthwork with the rear almost wholly unprotected.

The morning of the 19th was Sunday, and an inspection of the troops upon the island was ordered, and only nine officers and two hundred and fifty-eight men appeared on the line of the Seventh New Hampshire as present for duty.

Company C had lost every commissioned officer. First Lieut. Virgil H. Cate had only lately been exchanged and returned to the regiment, and was acting aide-de-camp to Colonel Putnam. Second Lieut. Andrew J. Lane was killed before reaching the fort. Of the two hundred enlisted men who were either killed, wounded, or missing, I desire to speak in particular, because without them where would the glory and fame of our regiment have been? Good, faithful, brave men and tried even unto death. They were of the best we had. Their memory we shall ever cherish, and as we recall the faces and pronounce the names of those comrades who were missing on that eventful evening of July 18, 1863, we find they were men whom we would have chosen for any emergency. First Sergts. Gilbert F. Dustin, of Company D ; Alexander S. Stevens, of Company E; Thomas F. Meader, of Company F; Charles C. McPherson, of Company I: and Jacob W. West, of Company G, who died of his wounds August 5, "went in to stay," and the loss of these five first sergeants [128] was sadly felt by the companies to which they belonged. Only a few, a very few of our wounded men ever came back to us. Nearly all of our missing comrades proved to have been either killed or wounded and died in rebel hands. The squad of men who were captured from Company D, at St. Augustine, Fla., had been returned but a short time to the regiment, and some of them were that evening either killed or again captured. At least no tidings ever came of them. Every company had its list of killed and wounded, and scores of New Hampshire homes went into mourning for those who never returned.

The men who were wounded were generally found to be seriously so, making it very much the worse for them, as it was impossible to get those badly wounded comrades back to our lines ; and as we were compelled to retreat on the double-quick, those who had not been able to get back by their own efforts, and those who were left near the rebel works had to be left to the mercy of rebel hands. 
 ---Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H., 1896.
Fort Wagner, July 19, 1863. Harper's


Friday, July 12, 2013

Music: Skeleton Crew : We are still free [in America]




Skeleton Crew:
Tom Cora
Fred Frith
Dave Newhouse
Zeena Parkins

Skeleton Crew was a United States experimental rock and jazz group from 1982 to 1986, comprising core members Fred Frith (guitar) and Tom Cora (cello), with Zeena Parkins (harp) joining later. Best known for their live improvisation performances where they played various instruments simultaneously, they also recorded two studio albums Learn to Talk (1984) and The Country of Blinds (1986)

from Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeleton_Crew_%28band%29

Skeleton Crew in 1982. From left to right: Tom Cora, Dave Newhouse and Fred Frith.














 
Tom Cora – cello, electric bass, accordion, drums, voice
Zeena Parkins – Korg CX3, accordion, electric harp, drums, voice
Fred Frith – electric guitar and bass, drums, violin, voice

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Seventh New Hampshire in the Civil War: The First Charge On Fort Wagner, Morris Island, S.C. July 11, 1863

The Seventh New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment was in the same Brigade as the Seventh Connecticut and so they came to be commonly referred to as the "77th New England" by the troops.  On July 11, 1863, Union General Q. A. Gillmore, having perhaps fatally delayed by not giving chase following the rout of the Confederate forces on the southern two-thirds of Morris Island, began his first assault on Fort Wagner. This attack failed like the better remembered second assault. In the first assault, the Seventh New Hampshire was held in support of the attack, which was led by the Seventh Connecticut. Henry Little's account is therefore brief. We can supplement it with the account by of the Seventh Connecticut's Stephen Walkley, Jr. in his regimental history.  At the coming Second Assault ("Glory"), the Seventh New Hampshire would lead the second wave in support of the 54th Massachusetts.  Both would suffer horrendous losses as did the Seventh Connecticut in the "First Charge' on the fort.
Henry Little's account of the First Assault on Fort Wagner: 
At early dawn on the morning of the 11th, and before the morning mist had lifted itself above those sand-hills, a disposition of the forces comprising the brigade under General Strong was made for an assault upon Fort Wagner. The assaulting column was at once ordered forward and the Seventh was ordered into line for support. The assault was sharp and furious, and lasted less than a half- hour, but the garrison of Morris Island had been considerably reinforced during the night so that the force inside of Fort Wagner numbered about one thousand infantry and two hundred artillerists, about four hundred men more [112] than the effective strength of the garrison the day previous. The assault proved a failure, with a loss of killed, wounded, and captured of about three hundred and thirty.
The Seventh being in the supporting column lost no men in this assault. Then came the order to entrench, and the two months' siege of Fort Wagner at once commenced. In this first assault on Fort Wagner, the assaulting column consisted of four companies of the Seventh Connecticut, the Ninth Maine, and the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania. The supporting column consisted of the Sixth Connecticut, Forty-eighth New York, Third and Seventh New Hampshire.....  This assault demonstrated to General Gillmore that Fort Wagner, when properly garrisoned, was stronger than he had supposed it to be, and after consultation with Rear-Admiral Dahlgren he concluded to establish counter-batteries against it, and to attempt with the combined lire of the land batteries and gunboats, to drive the enemy from it, or open the way to a successful assault. Batteries were accordingly established and were ready to open fire on the morning of the 18th.
On the night of the 11th, the Seventh was still at the front, and we got a ration of hard bread, the first we had issued to us since leaving Folly Island. As the plunging fire from the guns of Sumter, Wagner, Gregg, and Moultrie, and the enfilading fire of Fort Johnson, the Horseshoe battery, and Battery Bee on James Island had been very annoying, during the day we were directed to strengthen our slight earthworks, this being the first entrenchment of any kind yet made upon this end of Morris Island by our troops.  ---Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H., 1896.


This is the obviously fuller account by Stephen Walkley, Jr. of the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers (later a Senator from Connecticut) of the first assault on Fort Wagner, July 11, 1863:
About one mile from Fort Wagner and within range of its guns, the Seventh New Hampshire was stationed under cover of the sand hills ; two companies were thrown out as a picket line within four or five hundred yards of the fort.

The battalion of the Seventh Connecticut, utterly exhausted by two sleepless nights and the battle of the morning, was halted under cover of the hills and the sound of bursting shells over the heads of the men was more terrifying than dangerous. That night, the first one out of three, they lay down to sleep. [74]
Stephen Walkley, Jr.
CHAPTER XI.
FIRST CHARGE ON WAGNER. 
About 2.30 on the morning of July 11th, General Strong came and called Lieutenant Colonel Rodman out for a short consultation. When he returned, he said to the officers, "Turn out, we have a job on hand." They well knew what that meant. The men were aroused from sleep, formed into line, pieces loaded and primed and bayonets fixed. Silently and quietly they moved up to our advanced picket line. General Strong was there. He informed them that the fort was to be assaulted, that they were chosen as the "Forlorn Hope," and that there were but three guns that looked this way. He directed them to move quietly forward until the enemy's pickets fired, then follow them close and rush for the work, and they should have prompt support. "If you fire, aim low, but don't stop to fire ; trust in God and give them the bayonet."* "Forward the Seventh" was the order, and forward they went. Soon the enemy's pickets opened fire, and scarcely waiting for the order the Seventh took up the double quick step with a cheer and rushed for the works. Before reaching the outer work, a murderous fire of musketry met them and a few men fell, temporarily checking the advance.
Hiram L. Barrett, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers
Captured at Fort Wagner, July 11, 1863.
"Each comrade can best describe his individual hardships and occasional pleasures. These stories tell of devoted men who left their peaceful firesides to aid in subduing a wicked rebellion. I enlisted without hope of winning rank or glory. I touched elbows with comrades in every engagement credited to Company K until my capture at Fort Wagner, S. C., July 11th, 1863. Then followed ten months of starvation in prison pens as follows: Three days in Charleston jail, thirty-two days in Libby prison, one hundred twenty-seven days on Belle Isle and eighty-nine days in the small-pox hospital, being exchanged May 8th, 1864."
An encouraging word from the officers restored order, and right gallantly they sped to the outer work, over it with a will, down into and across the moat, through water about a foot deep, and scrambled up the slope of the [75] parapet where they lay down so near the crest that one had but to raise his head, and rest his gun upon the parapet to kill his man. There they lay busying themselves with picking off sharpshooters and gunners while anxiously awaiting the promised support. All were doing their best to keep down the fire of the o-arrison and a few cases of individual bravery were specially noticed and reported.
Quite a number of the garrison were killed or wounded, while our men were in that position. Captain Gray said to private William DeWitt of Company A, who lay by his side, "Shoot that gunner." He rose, took deliberate aim and fired. At the same time a bullet hit him in the head and he fell with his gun across the parapet.

In the meantime what had become of the supporting column? These were the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania in close column, and after them the Ninth Maine. When the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania had come within range of 200 yards the enemy opened simultaneously along his whole line, and the column halted and lay down. Though they remained but a short time in that position, that halt was fatal, for the interval was lost and the garrison filing out of the bomb-proof gathered in the flank of a bastion and poured an enfilading fire along the parapet, while others threw hand grenades from within the fort.

The Pennsylvanians soon rose and moved gallantly up to the ditch on the right and the Ninth Maine on the left, but only to a useless sacrifice, for the 1,200 men in the fort with their three cannon were by this time mowing them down, and nothing was left for them but to join the retreat. Their mistake cost them dear; their casualties were in that short period 180.

Of them. General Strong said in his official report:

"The Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Regiment, heretofore bearing the reputation of a most gallant and thoroughly [76] disciplined organization, will have another and early opportunity to efface the remembrance of their involuntary fault. The causes of their failure, and hence the failure of the assault, were, first the sudden, tremendous and simultaneous fire which all encountered, and second, the absence of their colonel, who was taken ill before the column was put in motion."
Before the support came on "the forlorn hope" had quickly to choose whether to surrender, to rush down into the fort to certain annihilation, or to run the gauntlet of fire from the cannon and musketry of the garrison. The last was chosen.

Reluctantly Lieutenant Colonel Rodman gave the order to retreat. Down the slope, across the moat and along the beach they ran, with a strong enfilading fire of musketry, besides three cannon from the fort pouring out grape and canister. This cut them down on all sides. Lieutenant Colonel Rodman was shot first in the side ; then a grape shot plowed through his left leg. This was about 150 yards from the fort. Lieutenant Green stopped to help him and
he was shot in the leg. Others went to his assistance and four men carried him to camp, dodging down their heads every time a charge of grape or canister came along. This so added to the colonel's suffering that he said, "Stand up, they can't hit you." General Strong, who met them on their return, said with tears in his eyes : "Ah, my brave fellows, you deserved a better fate ; you have covered yourselves with glory."

About fifteen minutes after reaching camp, the roll was called and only eighty-eight men responded. The whole number who went into the fight were eleven officers and 185 men. Capt. Theodore Burdick, Lieut. John H. Wilson and twenty-five enlisted men were killed, two officers and forty-two enlisted men wounded, and four officers and fifty- [77] four men captured. Of the fifty-four captured, eighteen were wounded and sixteen afterward died in prison from wounds or privation, so that though the official report of casualties gives an aggregate loss of 103 in killed, wounded and missing, the actual loss of life in consequence of the charge was forty-three, more than one-fifth of those who were engaged.

The following lines which were read at a reunion of the right flank company are here published by request.
THE FIRST CHARGE ON WAGNER.
At Morris Isle on a summer night,
Near where the waves flashed phosphor light,
A tired battalion of soldiers lay;
Companies A, B, I and K.
Wean- with waiting on Folly's shore,
Weary with watching the night before.

Weary with fighting from early dawn
Through the sultry hours of a July morn,
Beyond the hilltops' wavy crest,
They laid them down for a needed rest;
And with labored breathing, long and deep,
The red half moon began to glower
Fast were locked in dreamless sleep.

Over Saint Michael's steepled tower,*
When 'mid the sleepers a tumult began
Spreading itself from man to man.
Hark, 'tis the sergeant's muffled voice,
"Fall in ! the Seventh, fall in here boys!"

They spring to their feet with sleepy stare;
They brush the sand from out their hair,
Rifle and cartridge box they grasp.
Around their waists their belts they clasp,
And rolling their blankets with hasty care,
They fall in line; none are missing then.
[78]
They march toward Wagner along the beach
Until our picket post they reach;
Then halt and rest the line along.
When out to the front steps General Strong.
"Men, where yon fort's embrasures yawn,
Our flag must float when the day shall dawn
And yours be the honor the charge to lead,
Brave hearts and strong hands your efforts need,
When you fire aim low. and trust in God
And give them the bayonet;" then with a nod
To Colonel Rodman he seeks the rear
And "Forward the Seventh" comes firm and clear.

Many a man when soul is fired
With rage or with battle's zeal inspired
Will face his death with unflinching brow,
But when the pulse is cool and slow,
When brain is still and thought is clear.
None but a hero can conquer fear.

The little band of companies four
Who heard that word upon the shore,
Might well with fluttering heart-beat send
A farewell thought to home and friend,
Or lift to Heaven a silent prayer;
For they knew that Death was in the air.
But as they march to meet their fate
Their step is true and their line is straight,
Elbow to elbow, each to each
They firmly tread the silent beach.

In their faces the guns of the picket flash
"Double Quick ! Charge !" and on they dash
Met by the deafening roar and crash
Of bursting shell and musket's flash.
Quick in the moat their knees are wet:
Quickly they mount the parapet:
They throw themselves upon the fort
To await the arrival of their support,
Loading and firing they hold their place.
Looking thrice their number in the face.
"Now if our comrades were only here
We'd carry the fort with a rush and cheer,
[79]
Where linger the regiments in the rear,
Who shoulder to shoulder were marching near."
Alas, the enemy's murderous fire
Has checked their advance, will they retire?
Later they charge, but they charge too late
To save their brothers from adverse fate.
So the little band on the fort who lie
Must choose to surrender, retreat or die.
"Retreat" was Rodman's reluctant word,
"Save himself who can'' and those who heard
Helping the wounded and leaving the dead,
Back, back through the fiery gauntlet sped,
While the roar and whistle and hum and buzz
Of grape and canister around them rose.

One hundred and ninety-six all told
Had taken part in that charge so bold,
But when they returned to their bivouac
Only just eighty-eight came back.
Some in their last long sleep lay low
"With their backs to the field and their feet to the foe"
Some maimed or surrounded by hostile foes
Were compelled to surrender; and out of those
Full many by wounds or privation died.
Where in Southern prisons for home they sighed.
One-fifth of those who joined the strife,
There gave their lives for the nation's life.
All honor to them, and when we meet
Our comrades old of the Seventh to greet.
The Seventh, which faced Confederate lines
From Florida's swamps to Virginia's pines.
Be our hand-clasp warmest, our welcome best
For those who charged upon Wagner's crest.
*General Strong was a fine type of the true Christian soldier. One who was wounded in that charge afterward said to the writer: "When I learned what we were to do my knees shook so that I thought I should drop, but the way General Strong said Trust in God' braced me right up, I never thought of myself after that." 
[*]*St. Michael's Church — a prominent object in Charleston as
seen from Morris Island.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Service Record and Official List of Battles and Engagements of the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment, 1861-1865



Whipple, Paul. Co. K; b. New Boston; age 21; res. New Boston; enl. Nov. 16, '61; must. in Nov. 20, '61, as Priv.; app. Sergt. Dec., '63; re-enl. and must. in Feb. 28, '64; app. 1 Lt. Co. A, Oct. 28, '64; Capt. Co. I, Dec. 12, '64; tr. to Co. K, Feb. 3, '65; must. out July 20, '65. P.O. ad., Riverdale, S.C. See State Service.  Revised Register Of The Soldiers And Sailors Of New Hampshire In The War Of The Rebellion 1861-1866.  Prepared And Published By Authority Of The Legislature, By Augustus D. Ayling, Adjutant General.  Concord: Ira C. Evans, Public Printer. 1895.

Best to let Little describe it as he and Paul Whipple (wounded at Fort Wagner and Darbytown Road) served the almost the entire war in the Seventh New Hampshire:
The regiment had been in twenty-two engagements, besides numerous skirmishes, which, at times during our service, were of almost daily occurrence. These engagements and skirmishes were fought in Florida, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. But one other regiment from New Hampshire suffered as severely in loss of officers killed in action, during its entire service, as the Seventh New Hampshire; only two other regiments from the State lost as many men killed in action: more men from the Seventh died in rebel prisons than from any other regiment from New Hampshire; the Seventh lost more officers than any other Union regiment in any one engagement during the war. The whole number of men mustered into the regiment was seventeen hundred and nineteen, of which five hundred and ten were mustered [433] out at the expiration of their term of service; two hundred and eleven died of disease. The regiment on its return to Concord numbered three hundred and twenty men and twenty-two officers, and of these less than one hundred were original members who left the State in 1861. Of the original field and staff only one remained....
Henry F.W. Little

During its service the Seventh New Hampshire was at Camp Hale, Manchester, N. H., from October 16, 1861, to January 14, 1862 ; at White Street Barracks, New York City, 79 White street, from January 15 to February 13, 1862;
79 White Street
at Fort Jefferson, Fla., from March 9 to June 16, [434] 1862; at Beaufort, Port Royal Island, S. C, from June 22 to September 1, 1862: at St. Augustine, Fla., from September 3, 1862, to May 10, 1863, (five companies, under Colonel Putnam, were attached to the Second Brigade, Terry's Division, Tenth Army Corps, from April 4 to 12, 1863) ; at Fernandina, Fla., from May 10 to June 7, 1863; at Hilton Head, S. C, from June 8 to 16, 1863; at Folly Island, S. C, from June 17 to July 10, 1863, (attached to the First Brigade, Vodge's Division, Tenth Army Corps, June 20, 1863); at Morris Island, S. C. from July 10 to December 20, 1863, (attached to the Third Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army
Three Officers and a Sargent of the Seventh New Hampshire.
Corps, July 19, 1863; and First Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, November 23, 1863): with the United States forces at St. Helena Island, District of Hilton Head, S. C, from December 21, 1863, to February 4, 1864 ; in Florida, from Jacksonville to Olustee, from February 8 to April 14, 1864, (attached to the Second Brigade, First District of Florida, February 4, 1864) ; in Virginia from April 21, 1864, to January 5, 1865, (attached to the Third Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, April 23, 1864; Second Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, May 3, 1864; Second Brigade, First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, December 4, 1864); in North Carolina from January 13 to July 24, 1865, (attached to the Second Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, March 27, 1865). During the regiment's service in Virginia, it was in the Army of the James, and during a portion of the time the Seventh was in North Carolina, it was in the Army of the Ohio. [435 ]
 
Official list of battles and engagements in which the Seventh New Hampshire participated.

Morris Island, S. C. . . . . July 10, 1863
Fort Wagner (first assault) . . . July 11, 1863
Fort Wagner (second assault) . . July 18, 1863
Siege of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, S. C July 10 to Sept. 7, 1863
Siege of Fort Sumter, S. C. . Sept. 7 to Dec. 20, 1863
Olustee, Fla. ..... Feb. 20, 1864
Chester Station, Va. .... May 9, 186
Lempster Hill (near Chester Station), Va. May 10,1864
Drury's Bluff, Va May 13-16, 1864
Bermuda Hundred, Va., May 18, 20, 21, June 2-4, 18, 1864
Near Petersburg, Va. .... June 9, 1864
Ware Bottom Church, Va. , . . June 16, 1864
Deep Bottom, Va. .... Aug. 16, 1864 
Siege of Petersburg, Va. . Aug. 24 to Sept. 28, 1864 
New Market Heights, Va. . . . Sept. 29, 1864
Near Richmond, Va. .... Oct. 1, 1864
New Market Road (near Laurel Hill, or near Chapin's Farm), Va. . . . Oct. 7, 1864
Darby town Road, Va. . . . Oct. 13, 27, 28, 1864
Fort Fisher, N. C. .... Jan. 15,1865
Half Moon Battery, Sugar Loaf Hill, near Federal Point, N. C. . . Jan. 18, 19, 1865
Sugar Loaf Battery, N. C. . . . Feb. 11,1865
North East Ferry (near Wilmington), N. C Feb. 22, 186
--- Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H., 1896.
 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Union Descent Upon Morris Island, S.C., July 9-10, 1863. - The Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers

Colors of the Seventh New Hampshire, 1865
Capt. Paul Whipple and the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers in the Civil War:
The Descent Upon Morris Island - Mobilization, Assault, and Missed Opportunities in the days before the Assaults on Fort Wagner.

On July 9th and 10th, the Seventh New Hampshire participated in the Union's successful occupation of the lower two-thirds of Morris Island, putting them "within 600 yards" of Fort Wagner.  Henry Little notes that the reluctance of the commanding officer to push forward and attack Fort Wagner was a major blunder, allowing the Confederate forces to be reinforced during the night and thus resulting in the carnage that would follow during the first and second assaults on Fort Wagner.  



We believe had an assault at once been made on Wagner that we should have had the island by sunset wholly in our possession, but for some unaccountable reason this was not done, and was undoubtedly a grave mistake on the part of our commanding general, which was afterwards more fully demonstrated in all our minds, and all Confederate authorities on the subject unite in the opinion that the Union Army lost a great opportunity in not assaulting Fort Wagner that evening.(Little, 1896:109)
What follows are accounts of the action by Henry Little, Medal of Honor recipient and historian of the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment,  John Johnson,  Chief Confederate engineer at Fort Sumter, and Episcopal clergyman of Charleston, South Carolina, and Quincy Adams Gillmore, Commander of the Union 10th Corps, which included the forces on Folly and Morris Islands.

Henry F. W. Little
Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H.,
John Johnson

John Johnson. 1890.  The defense of Charleston harbor, including Fort Sumter and the adjacent islandsCharleston, S.C., Walker, Evans & Cogswell co.

 General Quincy Adams Gillmore with his horse and tent at Morris Island, South Carolina, 1863.


 Henry Little's account:
During the afternoon of the 9th, the company cooks brought up our rations, and a detail was sent back for our rubber blankets, and during the early hours of the morning of the loth, the brush in front of our masked batteries was carefully removed and the embrasures were carefully shoveled out, long before the early dawn. Major John- [108] son, in his book entitled, "The Defense of Charleston Harbor," says, "some cutting away of brushwood from the front of the concealed works had already been heard by the Confederates, but as there was no removal of the brush, the batteries continued to be undiscovered up to the last moment." And he further says, "Capt. Charles T. Haskell, Jr., of the Twenty-first S. C. Volunteers, scouting from Morris Island, in a small boat, made discovery of the barges moored in the creek back of Folly Island, and that even this discovery failed to alarm the defenders of Morris Island as it should have done," which shows how securely the secret of our work had been kept, and how well the suspicions of the garrison and pickets of the Confederates on Morris Island had been allayed.

On the night of July 9, and about thirty hours after the departure of General Terry's expedition. Brig. Gen. George C. Strong embarked his command in boats or barges at a point near the southwestern extremity of Folly Island, and cautiously proceeded up the creek toward the north end of the island, and near the left of Little Folly Island, and awaited the opening of our batteries.
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5538/9234945727_6df432759a.jpg
 Just before 4 o'clock on the morning of the loth, the regiment was ordered to move back a short distance from the batteries, when we were formed in line, and were ordered to support the batteries. The morning dawned pleasant and beautiful, but the atmosphere was close and sultry; a little after 4 o'clock the forty-seven guns and mortars opened from our batteries on Little Folly Island, and were shortly afterward joined by the guns from the monitors, in the harbor, which made a formidable crossfire on the rebel works; and the music of these heavy guns in support of the land batteries was terrific. The rebel forces on Morris Island were so taken by surprise at so heavy an onset that it was some little time before they could get their batteries at work, and then came the fire [109] from Forts Gregg and Wagner at the north end, and from all the guns in the batteries at the south end of Morris Island that the rebels could bring into use, and for nearly three hours this heavy bombardment was kept up. About 7 o'clock General Strong's brigade, awaiting patiently for orders to cross, quickly rowed their barges from the cover of Little Folly Island, and at once pulled for the Morris Island shore, crossing Lighthouse Inlet near the left of Little Folly Island, and under. a heavy infantry lire and the fire of the batteries on the south end of Morris Island a landing was made, line formed, and the rifle-pits and batteries at once charged and taken ; this success was at once followed by the crossing of the Seventh in barges, immediately in front of our batteries, and with other troops who came after us we were formed in support of General Strong's brigade. The batteries on the south end of Morris Island were captured with about two hundred of the rebel garrison, the remainder of their forces were soon skedaddling up the island towards Fort Wagner, and our advance followed them up and a little beyond the Beacon House, and at 9 o'clock two thirds of the island was ours. We believe had an assault at once been made on Wagner that we should have had the island by sunset wholly in our possession, but for some unaccountable reason this was not done, and was undoubtedly a grave mistake on the part of our commanding general, which was afterwards more fully demonstrated in all our minds, and all Confederate authorities on the subject unite in the opinion that the Union Army lost a great opportunity in not assaulting Fort Wagner that evening.
The rebels in their haste to get out of harm's way were obliged to leave almost everything behind, and we found a great variety of articles in their camps, including equipments, arms, ammunition, clothing, muster-rolls, and the personal baggage of the officers and men. We found this [110] island to be more of a sand haste than the one we had just left, with scarcely a half-dozen trees, and very few shrubs upon it; but we were nearer Charleston.

Early in the afternoon First Lieutenant Worcester, of Company H, with a detail from the regiment, advanced as skirmishers and established a picket line where the first parallel was afterwards located. These pickets were under a constant fire of musketry from Fort Wagner, but the distance was so great that the force of the bullets was nearly spent before reaching us. A ten-inch mortar shell fell during the afternoon, within a few yards of the pickets stationed on the beach, which fortunately did not explode, and consequently did no harm.

The fleet followed up the advantage gained by the land forces and the ironclads steamed in close to Fort Wagner, and firing occasional shells helped to keep the rebels from establishing a heavy- picket line in our immediate front during the day.

About 4 o'clock p. m. the Seventh was ordered to the front and took its station near the Beacon House, which was only about four thousand yards from Fort Sumter, from which fort a halt-dozen guns had been firing upon our advancing troops since 10 o'clock a. m., including two powerful Brooke rifles, one of which was fractured five day's after. The day was intensely hot and the men suffered for water. Small details of men were sent back to Folly Island with loads of empty canteens, and we got a small amount of food from the bags of those rebels who were forced to drop them in their hurry to get back to Wagner. The average Confederate haversack as we found it on Morris Island, consisted of a meal sack with a long string tied around the mouth and fastened to the roundabout belt in front, and slung back over the left shoulder, which was easily got rid of by cutting the string at the roundabout, letting the bag fall off over the shoulder [111] behind. We remember to have personally captured one of these bags, and found a conglomeration of uncooked rice, corn meal, and a small piece of plug tobacco, which we eagerly divided with another comrade, who in return gave us a graham pilot biscuit, some black beans, and a piece of bacon which he had taken from another bag.

As the shades of evening settled down around us. Lieutenant Worcester's men were relieved by a new detail, and the picket line was advanced further to the front, the line extending across the island. We occupied with our reserve the line of ground which had been occupied by our pickets during the day, and where was afterwards constructed the first parallel, beyond the Beacon House, which all who were present at the siege of Morris Island will well remember. At dark the firing almost wholly ceased, and the men who were weary and worn with the severe fatigue of the day, after throwing up a slight breastwork, lay down on the sand-hills in line, and soon forgot their hardships and were dreaming of their homes far away, and no one could foretell what the morrow might bring forth. Our pickets were now within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner, and a line of pickets was established by the rebels during the night, immediately in our front, and occupying a ridge extending entirely across the island. -- Henry F. W. Little. The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, Concord, N. H., 1896, pages 107-111)
 
 
 Johnson's (Confederate) account, from John Johnson. 1890.  The defense of Charleston harbor, including Fort Sumter and the adjacent islands
The Union batteries on Little Folly Island were reported ready for attack on the 6th of July, and orders were issued by [88] Brigadier-General Gillmore, commanding, to open fire and advance on the night of the 8th, barges being collected for the purpose; but no attack was made at that time. It was on this night of the 8th-9th that Captain Charles T. Haskell, Jr., scouting from Morris Island in a small boat, made discovery of the barges moored in the creek back of Folly Island. Even this discovery failed to alarm the defender's of Morris Island, as it should have done; for Brigadier-General Ripley, as already mentioned, reported none but light defensive works across the inlet" up to the 8th or 9th of July."
 Another time set for the attack was the morning of the 9th,but bad weather and other unfavorable circumstances caused a second postponement. Some cutting away of brushwood from the front of the concealed works had already been heard by the Confederates, but as there was no removal of the brush, the batteries continued to be undiscovered up to the last moment.
On this day, however, the 9th, a division of troops, supported by gunboats, began the movements, demonstrating on James Island by way of the Stono River, and an expedition set out from Beaufort to cut the Savannah Railroad at the Edisto. Of these more will be said farther on.
Soon after daybreak, about five o'clock, on the 10th day of July, a close, sultry morning, the batteries were finally unmasked and opened upon Morris Island. Some attack was looked for by the Confederates, but not such a furious and overwhelming cannonade as now began and continued for three hours. It was made with more than four times their number of guns and troops.  Forty-seven guns and mortars were afterward, in an hour's time, joined by eight more gums of the heaviest calibre from the monitors, assisting with their formidable cross-fire. The land attack was commanded by Brigadier-General T. Seymour.
The reply of the Confederate batteries was not immediate, as they were taken much by surprise; nor was it effective against such odds. Guns were disabled and casualties were very frequent. The infantry supports occupied the main line of rifle-pits to the rear of the works, with only a picket-guard at Oyster Point. But when the troops of Strong's brigade appeared in boats coming from the cover of Folly Island into the inlet and [90] advancing on Morris Island, the Confederate batteries were put to better use than before, firing upon the flotilla and sinking a
launch ; then the infantry, under Major G. W. Mclver, moved forward to meet the attack by occupying the advanced rifle-pits near the water. This was about seven o'clock.
On came the boats, using their howitzers and aided by a fire from the left of the Folly Island batteries specially directed by the officer in command, Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Jackson, upon the infantry forming to dispute the landing. One division of the boats, led by four companies of the Seventh Connecticut, under Lieutenant-Colonel D. C. Rodman, made gallantly for Oyster Point, and carried, after a short resistance, the rifle-pits in that vicinity. Another division, with the Sixth Connecticut, Colonel J. L. Chatfield commanding, kept on down the inlet to the south-eastern point of the island, where it landed under cover of high ground in perfect safety, as the Confederate guns could not be depressed sufficiently to bear on the spot. (Lieutenant-Colonel L. Meeker's report.) With a charge from this point, and but little loss, the Sixth Connecticut captured the nearest batteries, while, converging toward the middle of the island, the other (the main) column, led by the Seventh Connecticut and comprising also the Forty-eighth New York, Ninth Maine, Third New Hampshire, and Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, took battery after battery, and drove the infantry support out of their main line of rifle-pits in full retreat up the sandy length of the island toward Fort Wagner.
The Confederates fought their batteries as long as they could under Captain Mitchel and Captain Macbeth, the latter being wounded and captured; but the extreme heat of the day, combined with the overpowering fire of the enemy's guns, told disastrously on the small force both of artillery and infantry, so that Colonel Graham could do nothing but give the order to retreat. 150 wounded or exhausted' men, with Captain Macbeth and Lieutenants Bee and Guerard, were made prisoners, the total loss, killed, wounded, and missing, being reported by
General Ripley at 294. Among the killed or mortally wounded were Captain Charles T. Haskell, Jr., First South Carolina Infantry, Lieutenant John S. Bee, First South Carolina Artillery, [91] Lieutenant T. H. Dalrymple, Twenty-first South Carolina volunteers, and Assistant Engineer Langdon Cheves. The Union loss was 107, Captain L. H. Lent, of the Forty-eighth New York volunteers, being among the killed.
The retreat of the Confederates over the heavy sand toward Fort Wagner, nearly three miles of toilsome effort under a broiling sun was at length covered by that work and the arrival of seven companies from Lieutenant-Colonel P. H. Nelson's Seventh battalion of South Carolina volunteers, under Major James H. Rion; the retreat being followed up by the four monitors, close in to the beach, as far as Wagner itself.

General Gilmore's account:

Gilmore begins with a lengthy footnote responding to the criticism that an attack on James Island would have directly threatened Charleston and therefore would have been more efficient.  Gilmore replies that his forces were no match for the larger and fortified Confederate forces.  Henry Little will later argue in his book that the construction of the Swamp Angel battery and the arrival of longer range artillery, as well as the USS New Ironsides, would have ultimately made Wagner indefensible, which indeed was ultimately the case.

  * The question has been asked why the route across James Island from Stono River, the same that Brigadier-General Benham attempted, was not selected to operate upon.  The answer is simple. The enemy had more troops available for the defence of Charleston than we had for the attack. The general in-chief in the preliminary discussions of the project, had mentioned ten thousand men as the approximate number that could be collected in the department of the South for this operation. The force actually got together there did not vary much from eleven thousand five hundred men, including engineers and artillerists. Upon Morris Island, on account of its narrowness, this force was ample, and it was not until the command had been reduced one-third by sickness and casualties that reinforcements were asked for. But James Island presents a different case. There our progress would soon have been arrested by the concentration of a superior force in our front. Upon Morris Island both parties had all the force that could be employed with advantage. Our superiority in artillery, ashore and afloat-particularly in the use of mortars in the trenches—the successful application of new devices, tlie energy and skill of our engineers, and a steadily maintained initiative, gave us the controlling elements of success. Moreover, according to the programme of joint operations, the demolition of Fort Sumter was what the land forces had to accomplish, and that could be done with more easy and certainty from Morris Inland than from any other position. James Inland was too wide to operate upon, with a fair promise of success, with our small force.—Q. A. G. (1865:23-24).
Gilmore's account follows, including his Confidential Orders for July 9 and 10, 1863:
DESCENT UPON MORRIS ISLAND, JULY 10, 1863.
54. The storming of a fortified position, except when preceded by the slow operations of a regular siege, which, besides partially or entirely silencing the fire of the enemy's works, will also enable the attacking column to get very near the enemy under cover before the final assault is made, is always an operation attended with imminent peril in its execution, and great uncertainty in its results. The best troops can seldom be made to advance under the fire of even a few well-served pieces of artillery. The hazard of such an undertaking, great as it is under ordinary circumstances, when both parties operate on firm ground, becomes immeasurably augmented when the assaulting column has to approach in small boats from a distant point, exposed to full view and constant artillery fire, disembark and form upon an open beach in the presence of the enemy, and finally advance to the attack under the combined fire of artillery and small-arms.
55. Yet these were the difficult conditions of the problem so successfully solved in the descent upon Morris Island on the 10th day of July. 
56. It was known from deserters and fugitives that the enemy had there in position from ten to twelve guns of various calibres, and that these were so arranged in batteries of single pieces, that they each covered with their fire, not only the north end of Folly Island held by our advanced pickets, and the main ship-channel abreast of Morris Island, but could be so traversed as to sweep the entire length of Lighthouse Inlet, which separates the two islands.
57. Three methods of conducting the assault suggested themselves:

First, To place the men in small boats in Stono River, tow them out to sea, and land them in the surf at daybreak on the sea front of Morris Island;
Second, To accumulate on the north end of Folly Island the boats required for the assaulting column, keep them concealed there until the moment of attack, and then launch them under fire, embark the men, and cross over;

Third, To embark the men in Folly River, and pass in the night-time, during high tide, through the shallow creeks into Lighthouse Inlet and make the assault from that direction. This last-named method of attack was adopted.

58. In the mean time, between the middle of June and the Gth of July, ordnance and ordnance stores were quietly accumulated at Folly Island.

59. The following armament was secretly placed in position on the north end of Folly Island, completely masked from the enemy's view by sand ridges and undergrowth. The object to be secured by this powerful array of guns was threefold, viz., First, To operate against and, if possible, dismount the enemy's guns nearest the place where the landing would have to be made; Second, To cover the debarkation of the troops; and, Third, To protect their retreat to the boats in case of repulse. This last-named condition was considered by far the most important of the three.

Battery. No. of Guns. Kind of Guns.


60. The duty of constructing these batteries was assigned to Brigadier-General L. Vogdes. The task was by no means easy, and to its successful execution our subsequent triumphs were due in no small degree.

61. It was necessary that the attack on Morris Island should be a surprise in order to insure success. Secresy was therefore an essential element in the preparations. Most of the work on the batteries, and all the transportation to them, was accomplished at night, and in silence. Moreover, all signs of work had to be carefully concealed by day. One fortunate circumstance favored these operations. A blockade-runner had been chased ashore just south of the entrance to Lighthouse Inlet, within point-blank range of our batteries, and while the enemy on Morris Island were industriously engaged in wrecking this vessel night and day, (an operation which we could easily have prevented,) our batteries were quietly and rapidly pushed forward to completion. They were ready to open fire on the 6th July.

62. The fact that forty-seven pieces of artillery, with two hundred rounds of ammunition for each gun, and provided with suitable parapets, splinter-proof shelters, and magazines, were secretly placed in battery in a position within speaking distance of the enemy's pickets, exposed to a flank and reverse view from their tall observatories on James Island, and to a flank view at pistol range from the wreck, furnishes by no means' the least interesting and instructive incident of this campaign.

63. Meanwhile, during the week ending July 8th, additional troops, comprising Brigadier-General Terry's division, about four thousand strong, and Brigadier General Strong's brigade, about two thousand five hundred strong, were quietly accumulated on Folly Island under cover of darkness.

64. The buoys at the entrance to Stono River, where the channel was narrow and crooked, with but five feet of water at low tide, were lighted up at night, and all transports carrying troops were ordered to enter after dark, land their men, and depart before daylight in the morning. Sutlers' schooners were ordered away, and all appearance of preparations for offensive operations was carefully suppressed. Upon General Vogdes' defensive works on Folly Island a semblance of great activity was conspicuously displayed. Everything being in readiness, the following order was issued:

65. CONFIDENTIAL INSTRUCTIONS.

Headquarters Department Of The South,
Folly Island, July 8th, 1863.

I. An attack upon Morris Island will be made at the rising of the moon to-night, by Brigadier-General Strong's brigade of Brigadier-General Seymour's division. This force will be embarked in small boats immediately after sunset, and will pass through Folly Island Creek to and across Lighthouse Inlet.

A small detachment from this force will enter the creek to the west of Morris Island, and will land just north of the old lighthouse, seize the batteries there, * and, if possible, turn them upon the enemy's encampment north of them. The main column will land from Lighthouse Inlet, carry the batteries on the south end of Morris Island, and advance to the support of the detachment above mentioned. Two regiments and some field artillery will be held in readiness on the extreme north end of Folly Island to be pushed over as reinforcemeuts. To this end General Strong will send his boats back as soon as he has disembarked his command.

II. At the same time General Terry, with all his division, except the One Hundredth New York Volunteers, will ascend the Stono River under convoy of the navy, and make a strong demonstration on James Island, but will not unnecessarily hazard any portion of his command. Perhaps one or two regiments only need be disembarked. These should be pushed forward as skirmishers under cover of the navy.

IIL A naval force is expected to enter the main channel abreast of Morris Island, by or before sunrise to-morrow morning, to co-operate with the land forces.

IV. Should the night attack fail from any cause, the assaulting column will withdraw to Folly Island, sending their boats into Folly Island Creek. In that event the batteries on the north end of Folly Island will open at daybreak, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

Brigadier-General Seymour will arrange the details.
By order of

Brigadier-General Q. A. Gillmore.
W. L. M. Burger,
Assistant-Adjutant- General.

66. Colonel Serrell of the New York Volunteer Engineers had received orders to remove, before daybreak on the 9 th, enough of the piles, which the enemy had previously placed across the creek which connects Lighthouse Inlet with Folly Island Creek, to allow the column in the small boats to pass through.

67. The batteries on the north end of Folly Island were also ordered to be unmasked, by opening out the embrasures and cutting away the brushwood in front of them....
68. About midnight on the 8th it was determined, for various reasons, the principal one of which was the unseaworthy condition of our boats, to defer the attack until the next night. A sufficient number of piles had been removed to afford a passage for the boats, but the work of unmasking the batteries had not progressed far enough to expose them to the view, or attract the attention of the enemy.
 69. In the mean time Brigadier-General Terry's command, of about three thousand eight hundred men, had proceeded up the Stono River on the afternoon of the 8th, and was confronting the enemy on the lower end of James Island. The immediate effect of this demonstration, as subsequently ascertained, was to draw off a portion of the enemy's force on Morris Island.
The following order was then issued on the afternoon of the 9th, and full detailed instructions for the assault given verbally to Generals Seymour and Strong.

70. CONFIDENTIAL INSTRUCTIONS.

Headquarters Department Of The South,
Folly Island, S. C, July 9th, 1863.

I. The attack on Morris Island, ordered for this morning but postponed in consequence of the inclemency of the weather and other unfavorable circumstances, will take place to-morrow morning at break of day, by opening our batteries at the north end of Folly Island.

General Strong's brigade, or so much of it as the small boats can accommodate, will embark to-night and hold itself in Folly Island Creek, ready to move forward and at the proper time occupy the south end of Morris Island.

II. Lieutenant - Commanding Francis W. Bunce, United States Navy, with four navy howitzer launches, will approach Lighthouse Inlet at daybreak, by way of Folly Island Creek, and engage the enemy's rifle-pits and batteries on Morris Island in flank and reverse, choosing his own position. He will cover General Strong's landing.

III. Two regiments of infantry, a battery of light artillery, and five Requa's rifle batteries,* will be held in readiness to reinforce General Strong promptly.

Brigadier-General Seymour will arrange and order all details.

By order of

Brigadier-General Q. A. Gillmore,
Ed. W. Smith,
Assistant-Adjutant- General.

* For a description of the Requa batteries see Report of Major T. B. Brooks, A. D. C. and Assistant Engineer.

71. In pursuance of the above order, nearly two thousand men of General Strong's brigade were embarked in small boats in Folly River on the evening of the 9th, and at daybreak on the following morning the head of the column had reached Lighthouse Inlet, where it was halted. The boats kept close to the east shore of the creek, and were screened by the marsh grass from the view of the enemy on Morris Island.

72. Our batteries on Folly Island opened shortly after daybreak, and were served rapidly for about two hours, when I ordered General Strong to land and make the assault by putting two regiments ashore at Oyster Point, and the balance of his command on the firm land lower down. The landing was promptly effected, under a hot fire of artillery and musketry, under which our troops did not falter for a moment. All the enemy's batteries on the south end of Morris Island were gallantly and successively carried.

73. By 9 o'clock A.m. we occupied three-fourths of the island, and our skirmishers were within musket range of Fort Wagner. The heat being intense, and the troops exhausted, offensive operations were suspended for the day.

74. Brigadier-General Seymour was ordered to carry Fort Wagner by assault at daybreak on the following morning. The attempt failed....
"Genl. Gillmore's works in front of Fort Wagner, July 1863." Library of Congress.