ranges of sand-hills shielded them and their operations from our view. In the course of the morning, their riflemen gave us some annoyance, and during the day the wooden vessels of their fleet, aided by one turreted iron-clad, attacked our works, throwing some 300 heavy shell and shot. I determined to make a slight reconnaissance at night to feel the enemy and to add to the confidence of the garrison, and ordered a party, consisting of 150 men from various commands, under Major Rion, of Nelson's South Carolina battalion to push forward, drive in the enemy's pickets, and feel its way until it encountered a heavy supporting force. This duty was gallantly and well performed. Major Rion pushed the pickets and the first reserve back upon a reserve brigade in such disorder that the latter fired upon their retreating companions, inflicting a heavy loss in addition to the punishment already inflicted by Major Rion. I established rifle-pits some 200 yards outside the work (the nearest practicable point) and made such dispositions for holding the post against assaults (by assigning each command its particular position, &c.) as were necessary.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the bombardment was kept up from the fleet from 10 until 5 [o'clock] each day, the average number of projectiles thrown at the work being 300 daily the casualties being and the damage to the fort inappreciable, our work having been directed up to this time not in repairs, but to improvements at Forts Wagner and Gregg. During these three days, the enemy, under cover of the sand-hills, erected batteries on land, the nearest being about three-quarters of a mile off, and others extending from Gregg's Hill to the left, and distant about 1 3/4 miles from Fort Wagner. These batteries were gradually unmasked, and were, with the exception of the first, entirely without range of our guns.
On Saturday, the 18th instant, at 8.15 a.m. the enemy having disclosed his land batteries, brought up to their support his entire fleet, consisting of the Ironsides, flag-ship, five monitors, and a large number of wooden steam guns hips. With this immense circle of fire by land and sea, he poured for eleven hours, without cessation or intermission, a storm of shot and shell upon Fort Wagner which is perhaps unequaled in history. My estimate is that not less than 9,000 solid shot and shell of all sizes, from 15-inch down ward, were hurled during this period at the work. The estimate of others is very much greater.
The garrison of the fort on this day consisted of the Charleston Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel [P. C.] Gaillard, whose position extended from the sally-port in Light-House Inlet Creek, on the right, to the left until it rested on Colonel McKethan's regiment, Fifty-first North Carolina Troops, which extended to the gun-chamber opposite the bomb-proof door, at which point and extending along the face of the work to the left to the sally-port next Fort Gregg, the Thirty-first North Carolina Troops, Lieutenant-Colonel [C. W.] Knight, occupied the work. These positions for the infantry were verified by frequent inspections, and the several commands were required to sleep in position, and each man was instructed as to the exact point which he should occupy, and which in any moment of confusion he would be required to gain and hold. In addition to this, a small portion of the Thirty-first North Carolina Troops were held as a reserve in the parade, and a part occupied the parapet just to the right of the sally-port.
27 R R-VOL XXVIII, PT I