Today in History:

15 Series I Volume VI- Serial 6 - Fort Pulaski - New Orleans


Major Huger reports to me as follows, viz:

Up to some minutes after 9 o'clock a. m. the firing was very slow, the range being too great. About that time, however, the enemy reached a position in front of the batteries at about one and a quarter miles range at easy speed, delivering a slow but well-directed fire, and evidencing their determination to pass beyond, which I endeavored by a rapid fire of shell and hot shot to prevent, but the long range and moving objects did not let me succeed. In a few minutes several of the enemy's ships passed well beyond us. Three of them took position to enfilade our batteries from our northwest flank, while others, which had not yet go into action, assumed direction opposite our southeast front, and their largest ship (the Minnesota) returned our front, delivering a beautifully accurate fire at short range, supported at rather longer range by the fire of two other large ships of war. So soon as these positions had become established the fort was fought simply as a point of honor, for from that moment we were defeated, excepting perhaps by providential interference.

Our guns were fought, nevertheless, with determination and skill, and did a great deal of damage to the enemy. About 11 o'clock it was reported to me that the Bay Point batteries had been silenced, whereupon we determine that we would have to fight so much harder, and I am proud to say our men were equal to the exigencies of the occasion. Between 12 and 1 o'clock I was knocked down by a piece of shell, and a good deal stunned. I sent for Major Huger and transferred the command of the fort to him, to enable me to get a few moments' rest. By a little after 1 o'clock Major Huger informed Colonel Heyward, commanding the island, that the ammunition was nearly gone. It was thereupon determined by the order of the general commanding to evacuate the works. Three sections of the German Artillery, under Captain Harms, Lieutenant F. Melchers, and Orderly Bischoff, were detailed to continue a slow fire while the wounded were removed, and the garrisons was ordered to retreat by dispersion. Near 2 o'clock Major Huger ordered the last detachment from their guns.

By this time the field in our rear was covered with the shells of the enemy, and it is by the intervention of God's providence only that not more were lost. The fort was gone, but our honor was saved. Of the channel battery only three guns were in condition to have continued the fight, which would have been hopeless under any circumstances. A retreat was consequently ordered. On reaching Bluffton, the general commanding was kind enough to order our battalion here with expressions of approval, for which I respectfully tender him my thanks.

I beg leave to inclose you a return of our killed and severely wounded. The slightly wounded have not been mentioned, for they are very numerous. The general commanding will concur with me that this has been one of the hardest-fought fields on record, and I would be very grateful to him for the public expression of his opinion, to set the tongue of slander at rest and encourage our citizens soldiery. I beg leave also respectfully to bring to his notice the names of the following officers and men who have particularly distinguished themselves by acts of heroism, viz: Major Huger, the bravest of the brave; Lieutenant [J. E.] Heape, of Captain Bedon's company, whom I saw myself save a poor, severely-wounded soldier in the terrible shell-fire of the enemy while crossing the field in retreat; Mr. Carlsen, of the German Artillery, who replaced the Confederate flag on the rampart in a storm of shot and shell; Private Julius Wagener, a boy only fifteen years of age, who replanted our noble Palmetto banner on the ramparts, whence it had been shot down-I would not have mentioned his name, he being my own son, but for the opinion that he may hereafter become very useful to his country; Private Geilfuss, German Artillery, who brought away the Palmetto flag, and was otherwise heroically attentive to his duties.

I deem, besides, specially deserving the notice of the general command-