Today in History:

58 Series I Volume XLVII-II Serial 99 - Columbia Part II

Page 58 Chapter LIX. OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.

NEW YORK, January 15, 1865.

Major-General FORTNER,

Commanding Department of the South:

DEAR SIR: During General Gillmore's command of the department you now control I was instrumental in sending, through the influence of the President, some 500 of Berney's Greek-fire shells for the 200-pounder Parrotts. I of know that three of these shells were thrown from the Swamp Angel into Charleston on the first night of the bombardment. Those three shells caused Beauregard to squeal like a struck pig. Those shells were confounded with a worthless shell known as the short shell, which I predicted a failure in advance. Berney's shells were known as the green-top shell down there, and, with proper fuses, I will guarantee seven out of ten. From some unaccountable reason the incendiary shell used, or attempted to be used on Charleston, with the exception of the three first thrown, have been failures, yet I do know that the Berney incendiary shell, when properly prepared and fitted with proper fuses, is certain to accomplish all that is claimed for it.

Having lately given a series of experiments to Generals Grant, Butler, Meade, and others, which were entirely successful; having with 100-pounder shells burned every house struck with a single shell, and knowing that you can burn Charleston whenever you please with these shells, and, having learned that a large number of the 200-pounders still remain with your command, I have taken the liberty of writing directly to you to say that if it be true that any number of those shells are on hand, and it be desired, I will come, or send Mr. Berney, examine the shell, where necessary refill them, insert proper fuses, and guarantee seven out of ten shall explode and set fire to any combustible matter in Charleston, provided your guns will throw them there. If the general will be kind enough to let his Chief of ordnance ascertain how many of the 200 green-top shells remain, and, if agreeable, will say that an opportunity such as indicated will be given to Mr. Berney or myself, one or both, I will undertake to demonstrate the practicability of burning Charleston or any other city which can be reached by any gun yet in service. Northing would suit the people so entirely just now as to hear that General Foster had burned that hot bed of rebeldom-Charleston. Nothing would so certainly immortalize General Foster as such a desired result so accomplished.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Willard's Hotel, Washington, D. C.


Write. Answer that none of the shells are here. If he will send or bring some we will fire them on Charleston with pleasure.


In the Field, Savannah, Ga., January 16, 1865.

General U. S. GRANT:

DEAR GENERAL: I have written you less than I had designed; but I have had visits from many, including General Barnard and Mr. Stanton, who will tell you all matters of interest. General Barnard staid

Page 58 Chapter LIX. OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.