no more capacity in the walls of the fort for resistance than did the mounting of the guns on the northeast face, which was recommended and ordered without any reference to exterior protection.
Captain Champneys, the engineer in charge of the fort to whom the order was given to prepare for mounting the last-named guns, was directed to report upon the practicability of protecting the embrasures of these guns, and he suggested an exterior iron shield, which was approved, with some slight modifications, and orders were given for its construction, which have not been carried into effect, as will appear from the accompanying report of Lieutenant Young, not for the want of iron plating (that was supplied by the Navy Department), but for lack of competent mechanics to do the work.
There is, however, no question it is desirable to protect the walls of the fort by a shield or crib-work, or both, and I will make the effort to have it done. I have already instructed Captain Johnson to make preparations, when he can conveniently do so, for the erection of crib-work to the right of the three-gun battery on the northeast face of the fort, and will spare no effort to do all that can be done for strengthening the fort in every available way, both inside and out.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. B. HARRIS,
Colonel and Chief Engineer Department.
CHARLESTON, November 14, 1863.
Colonel D. B. HARRIS,
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that in accordance with directions I called on Mr. Thomas Eason, with whom you stated you had contracted for the construction of the iron shield for Fort Sumter, but finding him out of the city I referred to his brother, Mr. J. M. Eason, in whose possession I found the sketch which had been furnished by the Engineer Department.
From what I can learn of the matter Mr. Thomas Eason was the party who engaged to do the work, but with the expectation that his brother, Mr. J. M. Eason, who had the means and tools at his disposal, would do it.
I asked Mr. J. M. Eason if he would undertake the work and press it forward at once. This he declined to do, stating that he did not approve of the plan and would not like to be responsible for its success; besides which he had undertaken work for the navy which absorbed his time and means. He said he would cut and drill the iron in accordance with directions that might be furnished him.
On Mr. Eason declining the work I applied to proprietors of other mechanical establishments in the city, but could not induce them to undertake it, they alleging that they were engaged with other Government contracts and had not the means of doing it.
I then endeavored to find mechanics who would work at the fort under my immediate direction, hoping that though without experience in this particular work I might be able to execute it, but in this I also failed, as there was no one disengaged or willing to go to the fort.