Volunteer Engineers, which is our main dependence in siege work, is being paid.
This night I made, in compliance with official instructions, a second careful reconnaissance of all the ground included within our picket line which is in advance of the first parallel, and reported the facts observed to the general commanding.
Thursday, July 23.-To-day the second series of engineering operations in the first parallel, and immediately to its rear, is completed, and my supervision of it, which began on the night of the 18th instant, is ended. About one thousand days' work* has been expended on it and the seacoast mortar battery, in which no pieces were mounted. Three-fourths of the work was done in the night. Neither the enemy's artillery nor sharpshooters gave us any serious annoyance at this period. Captain Suess, and Lieuts. H. Farrand and P. McGuire, New York Volunteer Engineers, chiefly superintended the work.
The general commanding has decided to attempt the demolition of Fort Sumter, from positions now held by his force, the nearest of which is about 2 miles from the fort. If this plan succeeds, it is understood that the navy will be able to occupy Charleston Harbor, thus investing Morris Island and causing a speedy surrender of its earthworks, which, from their favorable position and thorough construction, have proved so formidable.
As the first step in this plan, I have been ordered to direct the establishment of a strong defensive line across Morris Island at the most advanced practicable point, thus securing our lodgment on the island and depots of supplies, and rendering the construction and operation of the necessary breaching batteries comparatively safe from interruption by sorties. In verbal instructions, my particular attention was called to the importance of a formidable material obstacle in front of the line-one that would go far to "keep the enemy out, even if the work was not defended."
Accordingly, on the night of July 23, this main defensive line and second parallel was opened by the flying sap. Its right is situated 480 yards in advance of the first parallel, 870 yards from Fort Wagner, and about 3,550 yards from Fort Sumter.
A bright moon rendered the first part of the night too light to expose a large number of men, the enemy's pickets being within 200 yards, and vigilant, from the effect of some skirmishing which occurred in establishing our advanced line of posts. Had Fort Wagner opened fire, the work would have been stopped. At about midnight, ground was broken, and the following work accomplished by day-break, when the fatigue parties retired:
1. A parapet 10 feet thick and 175 yards long, following the face of a low ridge, which extended northwest and southeast across the island was built, under the direction of Captain Suess.
2. On the right of this line, enfilading the beach, and defending all the passable ground in front, six field howitzers, belonging to Lieutenant G. V. Henry's battery (B, First U. S. Artillery), and used as guns of position, were placed in a battery having platforms, embrasures, traverses, and a splinter-proof shelter for ammunition. This work was superintended and rapidly completed by Lieutenant Farrand.
3. An obstacle, consisting of 75 yards of inclined palisading, and
*See Note 18, p. 326.