War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0244 COASTS OF S. C., GA., AND MID. AND EAST FLA. Chapter XXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

New Ironsides received of shots............................ 65

Keokuk received of shots................................... 90

Weehawken received of shots................................ 60

Montauk received of shots.................................. 20

Passaic received of shots.................................. 58

Nantucket received of shots................................ 51

Catskill received of shots................................. 51

Patapsco received of shots................................. 45

Nahant received of shots................................... 80

-----

520

THOMAS JORDAN,

Chief of Staff.

HDQRS. DEPT. SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,

Charleston, S. C., October 15, 1863.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army:

GENERAL: In a published circular (Numbers 39) of the State Department at Washington, signed by Mr. William H. Seward, and addressed to the diplomatic agents of the Government abroad, I notice a statement relative to the defeat of the enemy's iron-clad fleet in the attack on Fort Sumter on the 7th April last so contrary to the actual facts of the case that I feel called upon, as commander of this military department, most emphatically to deny the truth of that version, which is as follows:

An attack by the fleet, on the 7th of April last, upon the forts and batteries which defend the harbor of Charleston failed because the rope obstructions in the channel fouled the screws of the iron-clads and compelled them to return after passing through the fire of the batteries. These vessels bore the fire of the forts, although some defects of construction were revealed by the injures they received. The crews passed through an unexampled cannonade with singular impunity. Not a life was lost on board a monitor.

From the inclosed reports* of Brigadier General R. S. Ripley, Colonel William Butler, and Colonel Alfred Rhett, who commanded at that period respectively in this military district the batteries on Sullivan's Island and Fort Sumter, it will be seen that-

1st. No iron-clads came nearer than about 600 yards of the rope obstructions, except the disabled Keokuk, which drifted in to about 300 yards before it could be again got under way but in a skiing condition, consequently the propellers of the iron-clads never could have become entangled in the rope obstructions.

2nd. The iron-clads never passed through the fire of the batteries, for they never approached nearer than from 1,100 to 1,300 yards of the outer batteries, except the Keokuk, which came up to about 900 yards and was sunk. None of the iron-clads came within range of the heaviest batteries in Fort Sumter and on Sullivan's Island, which they would have been compelled to do on entering the harbor.

3rd. The fleet did not escape without material injury, for one of the number, the Keokuk, was sunk, and its armament is now in position for defense of Charleston on our own batteries. Another monitor had to be sent to New York for extensive repairs, and several others were sent to Port Royal also for repairs.

4th. Not a life may have been lost on the iron-clads, but on examination of the wreck of the Keokuk its hull was found penetrated, and the 10-inch round shots and 7-inch rifled bolts had made clean holes through

---------------

*See pp. 1015-1017.

---------------