Today in History:

105 Series I Volume LIII- Serial 111 - Supplements


Major-General Gillmore says in his letter of the 21st of August last to General Beauregard:

I have the honor to demand of you the immediate of Morris Island and Fort Sumter by the Confederate forces. The present condition of Fort Sumter and the rapid and progressive destruction which it is undergoing from my batteries seem to render its complete demolition within a few hours a matter of certainly. All my heaviest guns have not yet opened. Should you refuse compliance with this demand, or should I receive no reply thereto within four hours after it is delivered into the hands of your subordinate at Fort Wagner for transmission, I shall open fire on the city of Charleston from batteries already established within easy and effective [range] of the heart of the city.

He proposed to fire on the city of Charleston to enforce the surrender of Morrison Island and Fort Sumter. His language admits of no doubt. The price of refusal to comply with his demands was the threatened destruction of the city of Charleston, for he resorts to no such pretexts as that he would destroy the batteries, ship-yards, iron-clads, arsenals, foundries, and depots of supplies. He says: "I shall open fire on the city of Charleston from batteries already established within easy and effective [range] of the heart of the city", where lay the sleeping women and children, the atnicipated victims of his wicked purpose. The object of the fire, according to Major-General Gillmore, was to enforce the surrender of an important for which he could not reduce, for after withstanding for nearly a year the most formidable bombardement from land and naval batteries ever before directed on one fort, the Confederate flag now flies over Fort Sumter. Failling in that, his next object was to destroy the city to its very "heart", to make it uninhabitable by non-combatants. Independently of the decleration of Major-General Gillmore, "that his purpose was to reach the heart of the city", the manner in which the fire has been directed from the commencement shows beyond doubt that its object was the destruction of the city itself, and every part of it, and not, as you assume, to destroy certain military and naval works in and immediately around it; for if the works you mention have been the marks, the fire has been so singularly wild and inaccurate that no one who has ever witnessed it would suspect its object. The shells have been thrown at random, at any and all hours, day and night, falling promiscuously in the heart of the city, at points remote from each other and from the works you mention. Many (I believe the greater number of them) have been thrown in the night, when it was impossible to see the object fired at. They have not fallen in or been concentrated for any time upon any particular locality, as would have been the case if directed on a particular fixed object for night firing; but they searched the city in every direction, indicating no purpose or expectation on the part those directing the fire of accomplishing any military result, but rather the design of destroying private property and killing some persons, no matter whom- most probably women and children quietly sleeping in their accustomed beds. A few weeks, since, between 1 and 2 o'clock at night, one of your shells passed within a foot of the bed occupied by a man and his wife. They were of the class whom your people denominate "American citizens of African descent", and were more than half a mile from the nearest military or naval work.

Again, your fire has been so slow that almost any damage, save the chance explosion of a magazine, that you could reasonably except on shot to effect could ordinarily be repaired before the next shot was fired. The object of your fire may legitimately be judged of by its effects. It has never suspended for an instant the labor on or in any military or naval work, factory, foundry, arsenal, or depot of supplies;