Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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A Diary of American Events.

July 11, 2013

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

July 11.—This morning at daybreak the National forces on Morris Island, under the command of General Gillmore, attempted to carry Fort Wagner by assault. The parapets were gained, but the supports recoiled under the fire to which they were exposed, and could not be got up. Captain S. H. Gray, commanding twp companies of the Seventh Connecticut regiment, gives the following report of the affair: After the success of yesterday “we bivouacked for the night under easy range of Fort Wagner. About half-past two A.M., General Strong came and called the Lieutenant-Colonel out. Ho soon returned and said: ‘Turn out! we have got a job on hand.’ The men were soon out and into line, but rather slow to time, as they were tired with the work the day before.

“The programme was to try to take Fort Wagner by assault; we were to take the lead, and to be supported by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania and Ninth Maine. Silently we moved up to the advance-line of our pickets, our guns loaded and aimed, and bayonets fixed. We were then deployed into line of battle, (we had one hundred and ninety-one men and officers, all told,) reached and crossed the neck of land that approached the Fort, our right resting on the beach. We were deployed and ready for the start. Our orders were to move steadily forward until the pickets fired, then follow them close and rush for the works, and we were promised ready support. General Strong gave the order: ‘Aim low, and put your trust in God. Forward the Seventh!’ And forward we went, being not over five hundred yards from the Fort when we started.

“We had not gone far before the picket fired, and then we took the double-quick, and with a cheer rushed for the works. Before we reached the outer work, we got a murderous fire from the riflemen behind the works. A few fell— a check in the line. An encouraging word from the officers, and right gallantly we reached the outer works; over them with a will we went; down the opposite side, across the moat—there being about one foot of water in it—right up to the crest of the parapet; and there we lay, anxiously waiting for our support to come up so far as to make it a sure thing for us to rise up and go over with a bound; our men in the mean time busying themselves by picking off the sharpshooters and gunners. We lay so near the top that one had to put his head up and point across the parapet to kill his man.

“As near as I can ascertain, we were in this position from ten to twenty minutes, when both of the regiments that were to support us broke and fled, leaving us to take care of ourselves as best we might. As soon as the regiment in front broke and ran, they paid particular attention to our case. They threw hand-grenades over the parapet, and soon sent men into the flank of a bastion, which commanded the front upon which we lay. They had us there at a great disadvantage. The question was whether we should surrender as prisoners, attempt to carry the works, and to be entirely annihilated, (as they greatly outnumbered us,) or take the back-track and run the gauntlet for our lives.

“Upon consulting the Lieutenant-Colonel, he reluctantly gave the order to retreat. Lieutenant Phillips exclaimed: ‘For God’s sake, don’t let us retreat.’ As if by magic, the order was recalled, and although some had started, they returned; but the order had to be repeated, and down in and across the moat we went over the works. They had a perfect enfilading fire of small-arms for a thousand yards—besides, their pieces were giving us grape and canister. They fell on all sides of me, and I alone of four captains was spared, and out of one hundred and ninety-one officers and men that marched out to attack the foe, only eighty-eight returned safe to camp; and ever let it be said, to the credit of the Seventh Connecticut volunteers, that not one straggler could be discovered. Fifteen minutes after we got in camp, the roll was called, and but one man came in afterwards, and he was delayed in assisting a wounded comrade.

“Met General Strong coming off, and with tears in his eyes he said we had done our whole duty, and covered ourselves all over with glory, and if the support had come in time, that ‘we should have taken the works,’ and without a doubt we should have done so. But our loss is great. We had eleven officers in our mess. Now we have but four. It is hard, but such is the fate of war.

“Our attack on the tenth July was a fearful surprise to them. They had but few troops on this Island. Had they five thousand infantry here, the natural defences are of such a character, that we never could have taken it.”

The National losses in the actions of yesterday and to-day, were one hundred and fifty killed, wounded, and missing. Eleven pieces of heavy ordnance and a large quantity of camp equipage was taken from the rebels, who lost two hundred men in casualties. — General Gillmore’s Report.

—At New-York the draft was begun and carried on without any disturbance.—The First National Bank of Pennsylvania announced business at Philadelphia.—Lieutenant A. L. Sanborn, of the First regiment of colored volunteers, was killed at Norfolk, Va., by Dr. David M. Wright, a prominent rebel physician of that place.—A grand torchlight procession took place at New Orleans in honor of the capture of Port Hudson and Vicksburgh, and “to celebrate the redemption of the South-West from treason and rebellion.”—Vernon, Indiana, was visited by the rebels under John Morgan.—(Doc. 47.)

—The rebels evacuated Hagerstown, Md., last evening, but returned to the town again to-day.— A sharp engagement took place on the Hagerstown road, resulting in the defeat and pursuit of the rebels to Funkstown, where a strong rebel position was found.—William McKee, one of the proprietors of the St. Louis Democrat, was put under arrest by order of General Schofield, for the publication of the letter of President Lincoln to General Schofield, explaining the reasons for the removal of General Curtis, and for refusing to state in what manner such letter came into his hands.—The rebel forces under John Morgan reached Vienna, Indiana, at one o’clock this morning, and burned the dépôt and bridge belonging to the Jefferson Railroad at that place.— (Doc. 47.)

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