Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 1863: Does Fort Sumter have any guns left?

Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore commanded Union forces on Morris Island, South Carolina.

After weeks of heavy bombardment, Fort Sumter had been reduced to a pile of shattered masonry. Union Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore had scaled back bombardment of the fort a week earlier, which led the Confederates in Charleston to attempt two things: 1) attempts were made to dig out most of the guns buried in the rubble of Sumter and remove them to batteries on the mainland, and 2) the Confederates began to refortify Sumter, not as a masonry fort, but as a sandbagged field fortification with just a few heavy guns. On this day 150 years ago, Gillmore reported on the situation to Henry W. Halleck.
Morris Island, S. C., August 30, 1863.

SIR: I have nothing to report since mine of yesterday, * except that I reopened fire on Sumter this morning at the request of Admiral Dahlgren, whose chief pilot reported that he saw some guns in position there last evening, a report which, whether correct or otherwise, prevented the monitors from operating as they intended to do.

It is not at all improbable that guns may have been remounted on Sumter during the night time within the past week. I admit my inability to prevent it without a constant bombardment and an enormous expenditure of guns and ammunition.

I can discord no guns on Sumter from my batteries, and none have been fired for the last five days, according to the reports of my lookouts.

The party controlling the waters of Charleston Harbor of course control the communication to and from Fort Sumter, and can come and go when please, if favorable by darkness.

From Sumter was thoroughly silenced on the 24th instant, and can be again.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.

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