charge of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Francis A. Osborn commanding, supported by the Third New Hampshire Volunteers, Captain Randlett commanding. Sixty-seven prisoners were captured. They were afraid to retire on account of their own torpedoes,* as they informed us, and had too little time, even if there had been no torpedoes. No works, excepting rude rifle-pits in the excellent natural cover afforded by the ridge, were found. Sand-bags of a superior quality had been freely used for loop-holes and traverses.
The moment the ridge was gained, the work of entrenching was begun under the superintendence of Captain Walker. The fifth parallel was opened from the sea to the marsh, a distance of 140 yards, advantage being taken of the enemy's pits on the left, and cover was rapidly obtained, under the stimulus of a severe grape and shell fire from Wagner. The right of this parallel is 245 yards from the fort. In this work the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers proved themselves as efficient in the use of the shovel as they had in that of the bayonet a few moments before. From the right of this line an approach was at once opened by the flying sap. This was extended to the marsh, and later in the night the sap was continued to the beach, within 100 yards of the fort, by a second line running near the edge of the marsh. Not much work was done on this last line, on account of the water, and lack of time before day. On it the first torpedoes* were found. One exploded, throwing a corporal of the [Third] U. S. Colored Troops, of the fatigue detail, 25 yards, and depositing him, entirely naked, with his arm resting on the plunger of another torpedo, which facts gave rise, on his being discovered next morning, to the absurd story that the enemy had tied him to the torpedo as a decoy. I was standing 20 yards from him at the time of the explosion, and Captain Walker much nearer. Both supposed that it was a shell from the enemy until late in the night, when other torpedoes were found.
The discovery of these torpedoes explains what has been, to me, one of the greatest mysteries in the defense of Wagner, i. e., the fact that no material obstacle of any amount could be discovered in front of the work, not even after our two almost successful assaults. Torpedoes were the substitute.
Positions were built for two Requa batteries, one on the right, and one near the center of the parallel on top of the ridge; the latter in an advanced position, in order to flank the line. An approach from the redan of the fourth to the fifth parallel was built by the flying sap; the work was very difficult, on account of the mud and water, and was in charge of Lieutenant Wilcken.
Thursday, August 27.-This day and night were employed in strengthening and perfecting the defensive arrangements in the fifth parallel, and the approaches to and from it. Completed two emplacements for Requa batteries, which were mounted at night. Built sand-bag loop-holes for sharpshooters, and banquette tread for infantry. Eight torpedoes were discovered inside of our advanced line to-day. In endeavoring to move, by means of a rope, one which projected into the ditch, it exploded. These torpedoes give us considerable trouble and anxiety, but they are an excellent obstacle to prevent a sortie by the enemy, who are very much afraid of them. Began this night to convert a large cistern found in the fifth parallel into a bomb-proof magazine. Opened, by means of the flying sap,
*See Note 5, p. 310.