War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0043 Chapter XV. SINKING STONE FLEET IN CHARLESTON HARBOR.

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sunk between thirteen and seventeen vessels in the main ship channel. The North Channel and Maffit's Channel are still open. This achievement, so unworthy any nation, is the abortive expression of the malice and revenge of a people which it wishes to perpetuate by rendering more memorable a day hateful in their calendar. It is also indicative of their despair of ever capturing a city they design to ruin, for they can never expected to possess what they labor so hard to reduce to a condition not to be enjoyed. I think, therefore, it is certain that an attack on the city of Charleston is not contemplated, and we must endeavor to be prepared against assaults elsewhere on the Southern coast.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General, Commanding.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.

Numbers 2. Report of Major Thomas M. Wagner, S. C. Artillery.


SIR: in obedience to instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of the sinking of the stone fleet at the entrance of Charleston Harbor:

On the afternoon of December 18 a large increase to the blockading squadron was observed. The majority of vessels appeared to be old whaling and trading vessels. On the 19th, the weather being bad, not much progress was made in their preparations for sinking. A few of the vessels were stripped. By dawn on the morning of the 20th great activity was observed; fifteen vessels were placed in line more or less direct across the main ship channel, about 4 miles south-southeast of Fort Sumter and 3 miles east-southeast of the light on Morris Island. By evening all had been stripped, dismasted, and sunk. From the observations made the vessels appeared to have been placed in a single irregular line, with intervals of 100 feet, making a distance of about 3,500 feet in extent from shoal to shoal, and completely occupying the channel. The vessels commenced to settle immediately, and at the end of a week but little was to be seen of any of their hulls. They time to time come ashore. The position of the blockading squadron has, however, prevented any accurate survey being made.

On January 20 another fleet came to anchor off the port. They took up their position in a line extending from the entrance of the north channel southwardly to the main ship channel. The vessels were mostly of a smaller class than those of December. They were fourteen in number-barks and bring. They were stripped and towed northwardly to their positions, which was on the south edge of the shoal known as the Rattle Snake, and opposite the entrance of the Maffit Channel, with the exception of one vessel, which was placed on the eastern edge of the shoal about two and a half miles east of the other vessels and between the Shoal and the Long Island Beach.

The line extended from north to south, and, by measurement, six miles and a half east-northeast of Fort Sumter. The place has been