instant the batteries, magazines, and roads leading to them were all completed. Wagons had been engaged for several nights previous hauling shells to the mortar batteries, and on the night of the 23rd I had the magazines filled with ammunition and reported to General Parke that we were ready to open fire.
The following day at 2 o'clock I received orders from him to commence firing that afternoon, if possible. I obtained details of men for the mortar batteries from Captain Ammon's company of the Third New York Artillery. The men, having a march of 4 miles to the batteries, did not arrive there till late in the afternoon. Captain Morris reported that he would not be able to open fire till the next morning, as he had still some work to do upon the embrasures. As I was confident that the enemy was ignorant of the nature and position of our batteries and as we would be able to fire only a few shells before dark, while obtaining our rangers, I thought it better to wait till morning, keeping the enemy in ignorance till we were ready to open fire upon all the batteries simultaneously and to continue it. The men slept in the batteries that night, and all commenced fire shortly after sunrise in the morning.
Lieutenant Prouty commanded the 8-inch mortar battery, and I took charge of the 10-inch, and was assisted by Captain Ammon, and by Captain Pell, aide-de-camp to General Burnside. The first few discharges were from the Parrott guns, which were followed soon by the mortars, and the fire was continued without interruption till 5 p.m.. It was returned from the fort with twenty-one guns, among which were one 8-inch and two 10-inch columbiads and six 32-pounders mounted as mortars. At first the enemy's fire was very rapid, principally shells and shrapnel, and the fort was so enveloped in smoke that it was difficult to tell whether our shells were falling within or beyond them. At 9 o'clock I received a dispatch from the signal officer at Beaufort, saying the mortars were "firing too far." The error was corrected immediately, and shortly after the enemy's fire was somewhat slackened.
The smoke cleared away, and I could observe the effect of every shell distinctly. The bolstered of the 10-inch and one of the 8-inch mortar-beds were split during the day. The platforms of the 10-inch mortars were badly injured, as the soil was too light from one piece at a time for that purpose. During the afternoon we fired very carefully, but slowly, as I wished to reserve ammunition for night firing if necessary.
After 11 o'clock more than five-eights of the shells fell within the fort. The equipment of the 10-inch battery was considerably injured by round shot and the explosion of a few 10-inch columbiad shells from the fort. The point in stakes were several times displaced. At about 5 o'clock the enemy hoisted a white flag and we ceased firing. During the night the batteries were completely repaired and the magazines replenished. The men slept in the batteries, that they might open fire again if necessary.
But one man was killed in my battery and none wounded. I received most valuable assistance from Captains Pell and Ammon, and I cannot speak in too high terms of the men. The detachments from Captain Ammon's company were without previous knowledge of mortar practice except what they had gained from a drill the preceding day, yet they served the pieces efficiently and without accident throughout the day. The gunners detailed from Captain Morris' company, Privates Carlin, McKinstry, Reising, and McKenna were invaluable.