« PreviousContinue »
General BEAUREGARD, Charleston:
MONTGOMERY, April 11, 1861.
Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the mean time he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are authorized thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides to be most practicable.
HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL ARMY, C. S. A.,
MAJOR: In consequence of the verbal observation made by you to my aides, Messrs. Chesnut and Lee, in relation to the condition of your supplies, and that you would in a few days be starved out if our guns did not batter you to pieces, or words to that effect, and desiring no useless effusion of blood, I communicated both the verbal observations and your written answer to my communications to my Government.
If you will state the time at which you will evacuate Fort Sumter, and agree that in the mean time you will not use your guns against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you. Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee are authorized by me to enter into such an agreement with you. You are, therefore, requested to communicate to them an open answer.
I remain, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 12, 1861. GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt by Colonel Chesnut of your second communication of the 11th instant, and to state in reply that, cordially uniting with you in the desire to avoid the useless effusion of blood, I will, if provided with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate Fort Sumter by noon on the 15th instant, and that I will not in the mean time open my fires upon your forces unless compelled to do so by some hostile act against this fort or the flag of my Government by the forces under your command, or by some
portion of them, or by the perpetration of some act showing a hostile intention on your part against this fort or the flag it bears, should I not receive prior to that time controlling instructions from my Government or additional supplies.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT ANDERSON, Major, First Artillery, Commanding.
Brig. Gen. BEAUREGARD, Commanding.
FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 12, 1861—3.20 a. m.
SIR: By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time.
We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants, JAMES CHESNUT, JR.,
STEPHEN D. LEE,
Maj. ROBERT ANDERSON,
Captain, C. S. Army, Aide-de-Camp.
U. S. Army, Commanding Fort Sumter.
The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, First Series, (Washington, 1880) I, 13-301 passim.
72. Surrender of Fort Sumter (1861)
BY MAJOR JOHN GRAY FOSTER AND MAJOR ROBERT ANDERSON
Foster was in charge of the engineering operations of the United States troops at Charleston, and he had superintended the successful transfer from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. During the war he rose to the command of departments. - For Anderson, see No. 71 above. - Bibliography as in No. 70 above.
[April 12, 1861.]
A. FOSTER'S ACCOUNT
4a.m. a signal shell was thrown from the mortar battery on James Island; after which
the fire soon became general from all the hostile batteries. . .
At 7 a.m. the guns of Fort Sumter replied, the first shot being fired
from the battery at the right gorge angle, in charge of Captain Doubleday. . . .
The supply of cartridges, 700 in number, with which the engagement commenced, became so much reduced by the middle of the day, although the six needles in the fort were kept steadily employed, that the firing was forced to slacken, and to be confined to six guns - two firing towards Morris Island, two towards Fort Moultrie, and two towards the batteries on the west end of Sullivan's Island.
At 1 o'clock two United States men-of-war were seen off the bar, and soon after a third appeared.
The fire of our batteries continued steadily until dark. The effect of the fire was not very good, owing to the insufficient caliber of the guns for the long range, and not much damage appeared to be done to any of the batteries, except those of Fort Moultrie, where our two 42pounders appeared to have silenced one gun for a time, to have injured the embrasures considerably, riddled the barracks and quarters, and torn three holes through their flag. . . .
The effect of the enemy's fire upon Fort Sumter during the day was very marked in respect to the vertical fire. This was so well directed and so well sustained, that from the seventeen mortars engaged in firing 10-inch shells, one-half of the shells came within or exploded above the parapet of the fort, and only about ten buried themselves in the soft earth of the parade without exploding. In consequence of this precision. of vertical fire, Major Anderson decided not to man the upper tier of guns, as by doing so the loss of men, notwithstanding the traverses and bomb-proof shelters that I had constructed, must have been great. . . . . . . The effect of the direct fire from the enemy's guns was not so marked as the vertical. For several hours firing from the commencement a large proportion of their shot missed the fort. Subsequently it improved, and did considerable damage to the roof and upper story of the barracks and quarters, and to the tops of the chimneys on the gorge. . . .
The night was very stormy, with high wind and tide. . . . The enemy threw shells every ten or fifteen minutes during the night. The making of cartridge bags was continued by the men, under Lieutenant Meade's directions, until 12 o'clock, when they were ordered to stop by Major Anderson. To obtain materials for the bags all the extra clothing of the companies was cut up, and all coarse paper and extra hospital sheets used.
April 13. At daybreak no material alteration was observed in the enemy's batteries. The three U. S. men-of-war were still off the bar. The last of the rice was cooked this morning, and served with the pork -the only other article of food left in the engineer mess-room, where the whole command has messed since the opening of the fire. After this the fire was reopened, and continued very briskly as long as the increased supply of cartridges lasted. The enemy reopened fire at daylight, and continued it with rapidity. The aim of the enemy's gunners was better than yesterday. .
It soon became evident that they were firing hot shot from a large number of their guns, especially from those in Fort Moultrie, and at nine o'clock I saw volumes of smoke issuing from the roof of the officers' quarters, where a shot had just penetrated. From the exposed position it was utterly impossible to extinguish the flames, and I therefore immediately notified the commanding officer of the fact, and obtained his permission to remove as much powder from the magazine as was possible before the flames, which were only one set of quarters distant, should encircle the magazine and make it necessary to close it. All the men and officers not engaged at the guns worked rapidly and zealously at this, but so rapid was the spread of the flames that only fifty barrels of powder could be taken out and distributed around in the casemates before the fire and heat made it necessary to close the magazine doors and pack earth against them. . . . The whole range of officers' quarters was soon in flames. The wind being from the southward, communicated fire to the roof of the barracks, and this being aided by the hot shot constantly lodging there, spread to the entire roofs of both barracks, so that by twelve o'clock all the woodwork of quarters and of upper story of barracks was in flames. Although the floors of the barracks were fire-proof, the utmost exertions of the officers and men were often required to prevent the fire communicating down the stairways, and from the exterior, to the doors, window frames, and other woodwork of the east barrack, in which the officers and men had taken their quarters. All the woodwork in the west barrack was burned. The clouds of smoke and cinders which were sent into the casemates by the wind set on fire many boxes, beds, and other articles belonging to the men, and made it dangerous to retain the powder which had been saved from the magazine. The commanding officer accordingly gave orders to have all but five barrels thrown out of the embrasures into the water, which was done.
The small stock of cartridges now only allowed a gun to be fired at intervals of ten minutes. ..
At 1 o'clock the flagstaff, having been struck twice before this morning, fell. The flag was immediately secured by Lieutenant Hall, and as soon as it could be attached to a temporary staff, hoisted again upon the parapet at the middle of the right face by Lieutenant Snyder, Corps of Engineers, assisted by Hart, and Davey, a laborer.
About this time information was brought to the commanding officer that Mr. Wigfall, bearing a white flag, was on the outside, and wished to see him. He accordingly went out to meet Mr. Wigfall, passing through the blazing gateway, accompanied by Lieutenant Snyder. In the mean time, however, Mr. Wigfall had passed to an embrasure on the left flank, where, upon showing the white flag upon his sword, he was permitted to enter, and Lieutenant Snyder entering immediately after, accompanied him down the batteries to where some other officers were posted, to whom Mr. Wigfall commenced to address himself, to the effect that he came from General Beauregard to desire that, inasmuch as the flag of the fort was shot down, a fire raging in the quarters, and the garrison in a great strait, hostilities be suspended, and the white flag raised for this object. He was replied to that our flag was again hoisted on the parapet, that the white flag would not be hoisted except by order of the commanding officer, and that his own batteries should set the example of suspending fire. He then referred to the fact of the batteries on Cummings Point, from which he came, having stopped firing, and asked that his own white flag might be waved to indicate to the batteries on Sullivan's Island to cease also. This was refused; but he was permitted to wave the white flag himself. . . .
At this moment the commanding officer, having re-entered through an embrasure, came up. To him Mr. Wigfall addressed nearly the same remarks that he had used on entering, adding some complimentary things about the manner in which the defense had been made, and ending by renewing the request to suspend hostilities in order to arrange terms of evacuation. The commanding officer desiring to know what terms he came to offer, Mr. Wigfall replied, "Any terms that you may desire - your own terms - the precise nature of which General Beauregard will arrange with you."
The commanding officer then accepted the conditions, saying that the terms he accepted were those proposed by General Beauregard on the 11th, namely: To evacuate the fort with his command, taking arms