War of the Rebellion: Serial 046 Page 0525 Chapter XL. OPERATIONS ON MORRIS ISLAND, S.C.

Search Civil War Official Records

Before detailing the particulars of the affair, I ought, perhaps, to state that I arrived at Battery Wagner on Monday, July 13, and reported to Colonel Graham, and by him my men were immediately placed in position to defend the works, and was informed that in the event of an assault I would be held strictly responsible for, and expected to defend successfully, my own line. From this date to the assault, on the night of the 18th, most of my men had been constantly on duty day and night, and were completely worn down with fatigue, having slept but little for six nights, many of them having fainted from excessive heat in the bomb-proof during the day.

My line extended from near the sally-port on the right. My left rested near the bomb-proof immediately in front of the commissary building. The same line assigned me by Colonel Graham was approved by you, and I continued to hold it. This line was unbroken during the entire fight, and was successfully defended from three separate assaults made on it by the enemy, and their wounded and dead is the surest evidence of the precision with shish we fired.

The first assault was made about 8 p.m. Some minutes before that time my entire line was occupied, and from my line was the first infantry firing done. The enemy was three times repulsed from the front of my line, but in the meantime had effected a lodgment on our works near the burst rifled gun, 40 yards to my left. I then directed my fire to rake the ditch and the outer portion of the work at that point, and am convinced that our fire must have been very destructive. By this time, but of the three guns stationed on the platform immediately in rear of the flag-staff was in condition to be fired. So new of the artillerymen were left that it became necessary for me to detail a portion of my men to assist in manning the gun, which, under charge of Corporal Conner, of the artillery continued to fire on the enemy with effect so long as the action continued.

You will remember that before the enemy were near enough to be fired on by the infantry, I called your attention to the fact that I and Lieutenant-Colonel [C. B.] Hobson had examined the full length of my line and found the companies ready and in proper position, and fired on the enemy as soon as they came in range.

At the time the order was given for the men to leave the bomb-proof and occupy the lines, the shelling was most terrific, and I am informed some confusion followed. While the shelling continued, I succeeded in manning my lines, commencing on the right, and by the time it had ceased, as before stated, I reported to you. By this time the confusion caused by the shelling had ceased, and a very large portion of my officers and men were at their post. I am unable to state whether or not any of my men skulked in the bomb-proof, as I left it and went to the right of my line as soon as the order was given. From the number of each company I found in position, I am of the opinion that the skulkers were but few.

The action continued until 11.30 p.m., when the firing ceased.

Considering the extent of my line (more than half of the front attacked by the enemy), I am of the opinion that my officers and men acted well, and my heavy loss is an evidence of the readiness with which the men exposed themselves. Where so many did well, it is impossible to mention all who deserve to be; but I cannot refrain from mentioning the names of Captain E. Southerland and Lieutenant W. H. Littlejohn, of Company A, both of whom were severely wounded. Lieutenant G. W. Thompson, Company E, was killed while nobly discharging his duty at the head of his company . Lieutenant John D.