W. H. Seaward, United States Secretary of State, relative to the defeats of the enemy's iron-clad fleet on the 7th of April last, is presented, and my testimony, as one of the officers in command of batteries on the occasion, desired, as to its correctness.*
The statement referred to is thus expressed:
An attack by the fleet, made on the 7th day of April last, upon the forts and batteries which defend the harbor, failed because the rope obstructions in the channel fouled the screws of the iron-clads, and compelled them to return, after passing through the fires of the batteries. These vessels bore the fire of the forts, although some defects of construction were revealed by the injuries they received. The crews passed through an unexampled cannonade with singular impunity. Not one life was lost on board a monitor.
This statement of Mr. Seaward's is, I beg leave to say, incorrect in several particular. Being in a position where I could obtain a good view of the action, I submit, as a fact, that none of the iron-clads approached within severel hundred yours of the obstructions, and, therefore, the screws could not have been fouled by them.
With regard to the fire of the batteries, through which it is said by Mr. Seaward that the iron-clads passed, I would state that the iron-clads were not any time within fair range of the heaviest guns in position on Sullivan's Island, but to the fire of which they would have been exposed (within effective range) had they passed "through the fire of the batteries" and into the harbor.
It is known that the turreted iron-clad Keokuk sank soon after retiring from the action, within sight of our batteries; and, if the public journals of the enemy are to be believed, disabling injuries were inflicted upon other iron-clads of the fleet, and some officers and men killed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain W. F. NANCE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. First Military Dist., Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND SUBDIVISION, First Military District, Sullivan's Island, October 10, 1863.
While forwarding the within, I think it proper to state that on the 7th of April I was in a position from which I could see every one of the vessels engaged during the entire period of the attack, and I know positively that not one of the monitors or any their vessels approached near to the obstructions. As well as I could judge by the eye, I would say that no one of them was nearer to the obstructions than half a mile, nor did any one of them, when nearest to our batteries, remain stationary many minutes, but, after receiving a few broadsides, they in succession rapidly retreated.
T. L. CLINGMAN,
HDQRS. FIRST REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA ARTILLERY, Charleston, October 12, 1863.
GENERAL: In reply to the inquiry touching the correctness of the statement of Mr. W. H. Seaward, United States Secretary of State, con-
*See Beauregard to Cooper, p. 244.