In the first weeks of September, 1863, the fighting continued as the Federals tried to overcome the Confederate defenses guarding Charleston, South Carolina. In July, the Union troops had landed on Morris Island and attacked Fort Wagner, but several attacks had been disastrously repulsed. They settled into a siege, maintaining a regular bombardment of the works. For two months the fort held out against the Union attacks. But near the end of August the Yankees were able to capture the line of rifle pits outside the fort, and began turning them into a siege lines. Subjected to constant bombardment, with only 400 men left to defend the fort and the Union lines drawing ever closer, P. G. T. Beauregard, Confederate commander in Charleston, ordered the fort abandoned on the night of September 6th. The next day the Federals occupied the works.
|Ironclads Bombard Fort Moultrie|
As we neared Sumter we were hailed loudly by the enemy, but no answer was returned. Simultaneously a rocket was sent up from the fort, and almost as it exploded the air was filled with hissing, shrieking missiles from the James and Sullivan's Island batteries, which seemed alive with fire, while an iron-clad was pouring grape and canister into the boats and sweeping the approaches to the gorge. The parapets and crown of Sumter were filled with men pouring a murderous fire down on our defenseless party, and heavy missiles and hand grenades helped on the work of destruction. Before this fire had fully developed, two boats from the Powhatan and others had effected a landing. ... Under these conditions but one expedient was left - to effect an early withdrawal. ... We found [our loss] amounted to 124 killed, wounded and missing, out of 400 men.The landing force had been completely defeated, and some who could not withdraw surrendered. Union bombardments continued, but the fort was held until Sherman advanced into South Carolina in February, 1865.
|Union troops digging a trench|