I would respectfully request that charges be preferred against the commanding officer, for ignorance and incompetency, inasmuch as he should have known that no enemy's vessel would have made the signals which the Sumter did. She did not attempt to proceed on the way; the cries of the men were distinctly heard on the slant, as well as the other signals-as said before, seen and heard-and the approach of a miserable little flat like the Sumter should not have created so great a panic in an officer competent to take charge of so important a fortification.
By the extraordinary course pursued by the officer, valuable lives were lost, for I [have] no doubt many men were drowned in their attempt to wade to swim to Fort Sumter, and the most useful transport under my charge destroyed. I further state that, although there were in the cove at Sullivan's Island several small boats, no effort was made on the part of the officers and soldiers of that island to afford us any assistance whatever, and we were indebted entirely to the officers and crew of the gunboat for our removal from the sunken vessel.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
MOTTE A. PRINGLE,
Major, and Quartermaster.
Captain W. F. NANCE,
QUARTERMASTER'S OFFICE, Charleston, September 3, 18673.
COLONEL: In compliance with your communication of this date, I have the honor to state the following facts in relation to the sinking of the steamer Sumter, on the night of the 30th of August:
Having been refused any assistance from the gunboats, and my own crews not being sufficient to man enough row-boats to effect the transportation which I was ordered to carry out, nothing remained for me to do but to run the steamer directly to Cumming's Point. I would here state that I was detained two hours at Fort Johnson for the infantry which was to relieve that already on Morris Island, and that the Twentieth South Carolina Regiment, being on picket duty, a delay of two hours also occurred before they could be relieved.
After successfully landing the ordnance and commissary supplies, and disembarking and embarking the troops, I found that the tide had fallen so low as to render it impossible for me to bring the steamer over the flats between Forts Sumter and Jonson. It remained for the risk of being shelled by the enemy, or to pursue the course outside of Fort Sumter. Little dreaming of being fired into by our friends, I of course adopted the latter alternative. When approaching Fort Sumter, and abreast of Fort Moultrie, not very far form shore, I was surprised to hear a shot whizzing over our heads. I immediately ordered the steamer stopped, the whistle to blow, and myself waved the best lantern (an oil one), I could find, toward the fort. Finding that the first shot was rapidly followed by others, I ordered the captain ashore in the small boat, in order to inform the commanding officer of the nature of the boat they were firing into; also ordered the steamboat to blow off steam, as an additional evidence that we did not mean to proceed on our way or withdraw.