War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0141 Chapter XV. FORT PULASKI.

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Numbers 3. Reports of Brigadier General Egbert L. Viele, U. S. Army.


Savannah River, April 11, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops under my command in connection with the investment and reduction of Fort Pulaski.

The plan of operations assigned to me comprised the erection of batteries on the Savannah River, to cut off communication between the fort and the city of Savannah, from which supplies of ammunition and men were drawn, and to establish batteries on the islands adjacent to the fort, against the gorge and left flank, with which, in conjunction with the batteries on Tybee Island, the fort could be reduced. The expedition for these purposes was fitted out at Port Royal, and consisted of a detachment of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, a detachment of Volunteer Engineers, a battalion of the Eighth Maine Regiment Volunteers, and the Sixth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, and a supply of heavy ordnance and entrenching tools.

A full reconnaissance and report had previously been made by Lieutenant J. H. Wilson, Topographical Engineers, of the water communications with the Savannah River, by which it was developed that the rebels had sunk the hulk of a brig, securely fixed in its position by means of heavy piles in what is known as Wall's Cut, an artificial channel connecting Wright River (one of the outlets of the Savannah) with Bull River, which last, by its connection, forms a direct communication with the harbor of Port Royal, thus serving as a thoroughfare between that harbor and Savannah.

The removal of the hulk was the first thing to be accomplished, and was intrusted to Major O. T. Beard, Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, who, with the aid of a company of the Volunteer Engineers, and by means of mechanical appliances, suggested by his own ingenuity, succeeded after three weeks of unremitting night labor, and in close proximity to the rebel forces, in removing the piles and hulk from the channel, so as to admit of the passage of gunboats and light-draught steamers. This being accomplished, the expedition proceed to the north end of Daufuskie Island, at which point a camp and depot were established for operations in the Savannah.

Reconnaissance for suitable locations for the batteries were then made under the superintendence of Captain and Acting Brigadier-General Gillmore, during which the telegraphic communication between Fort Pulaski and Savannah was cut, and the wires, both land and submarine, removed for about the distance of 1 mile. Venus Point, on Jones Island, on the north side of the Savannah, and the upper end of Long Island, in the Savannah River, were recommended as the most feasible positions to be occupied. These islands, as well as all others in the river, are merely deposits of soft mud on sand shoals, always covered at high tide and overgrown with rank grasses.

The occupation of points so unfavorable for the erection of batteries was rendered still more difficult by the presence in the Savannah of a fleet of rebel gunboats, constantly passing and always on the alert. To have floated the ordnance in the flat-boats in which it had been placed into the Savannah River would have exposed it to capture by the gunboats. To move it over the swamps seemed almost impossible, while