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New York Times Article
Operations below Savannah;
Interesting Narrative of the Siege
and Capture of Fort Pulaski

The following article is from the New York Times, dated April 20, 1862:


Operations below Savannah.; Interesting Narrative of the Siege and Capture of Fort Pulaski

          On the 8th of April, Gen. HUNTER and Staff went ashore on Tybee Island; it was intended to open fire the next morning, but a delay of one day was found necessary. Gen. HUNTER did not take up his headquarters ashore, though he visited the batteries, and on the first day of the bombardment remained at them. Gen. BENHAM was in the action both days, but the command was left with Gen. GILMORE. Capt. PELOUZE, late Adjutant-General on SHERMAN's Staff, and now Inspector-General of the Department of the South, volunteered to take command of a battery, and was assigned to two; Lieut. WILSON, who had been engaged in drilling his men at their guns for several days, acted on the Staff of Gen. GILMORE, and exercised a sort of supervision of several of the batteries in conjunction with Lieut. PORTER.

          On the night of the 9th, I rode with Lieut. PORTER through the batteries; his object was to ascertain if it would be possible to open fire at sunrise in the morning. We visited each battery in turn, first the two mortar batteries, Stanton and Grant, the furthest from the fort. These were to be commanded by Capts. SKINNER and PALMER, of the Connecticut Seventh; then batteries Lyon and Lincoln, under Capt. PELOUZE. One of them mounted three 10-inch, and the other 38-inch columblads. All of these four works were more than 3,000 yards from Pulaski. Battery Burnside, under command of Sergeant WILSON, of the ordnance, mounted one 13-inch mortar; battery Sherman, commanded by Capt. FRANCIS, consisted of three 13-inch mortars. There stretched out an interval of ground beyond this battery half a mile or more, entirely exposed; one buttery (Halleck, Capt. SANFORD,) only interrupted it. Halleck was 2,400 yards from the fort, and contained the last of the 13-inch mortars. The next was Battery Scott, Capt. MASON, of the Third Rhode Island, only 1677 yards from Pulaski; it contained three 10-inch columblads, and one 8-inch. Next came Battery Sigel, (Capt. SELDENECK of the Forty-sixth New-York,) and Battery McClellan, (Capt. ROGERS.) Both of these, which were side by side, were 1,620 yards distant from the centre of Pulaski; the former mounted one 21-pound James, and five 20-pound Parrot guns; the latter, two 12-pound James and two 32-pound James. Best of all was battery Totten, under Capt. [???] , where were placed the four 10-inch mortars. All of these nearest batteries were very close together, and as they were to be so much exposed, connected by trenches, or covered ways. The splinter-proofs now were immediately in the rear of the batteries, so that the men could pass directly from their guns to cover. Those works were erected on a narrow strip of fast land, and just behind them was a wide swamp, into which it was hoped that most of the enemy's shells would fail. The batteries, though open, were still admirably protected. A man could scarcely be hurt unless in passing between them, or in the event of a shell falling directly into the works and exploding, when of course all in the neighborhood were endangered. The swamp extends into the interior of the Island, and seemed likely to receive some of the shot and shells aimed at the lower batteries, but its position in the rear of these most exposed seemed almost providential.

          Men were very busily at work without lanterns in every one of the batteries, pilling or filling shells, building [???] to render the parapets still more secure, lowering the [???] the trenches; and PORTER went around to each gun to ascertain if its captain was prepared with whatever would be necessary on the morrow. Some wanted one implement, and some another, these had no printing-wire, and those no friction-tube: all the thousand [???] needs that spring up invariably in an emergency were imperious; lists were made out and sent into headquarters, and officers assured that everything [???] should be obtained, and the rest must be dispensed with. At the 10-inch mortar battery, fuse-plugs were still wanting, and the ordnance officer was in despair. He had brought out a specimen of one prepared for another place, in hopes it might serve; and although one trial doubtless convinced him how vain were his hopes, he persisted in poking his plug again and again into the hole; but it was of no use. Here were these four pieces at this most advanced position rendered utterly useless. Not one could be fired. Finally, a happy thought struck him; there was a Yankee regiment on the island; all Yankees are whittlers; if this regiment could he turned out to-night they might whittle enough fuse-plugs before morning, to fire a thousand rounds. So we put spurs to our horses, and rode (in the darkness) bravely over the open space which separates the batteries, back to camp. The Sixth Connecticut was ordered out to whittle, and did whittle to advantage, providing all the plugs that were used in Battery Totten on the two succeeding days.

          In the ordnance yard was a confused group; wagons waiting for their piles of implements, workmen manufacturing or mending implements and weapons, others providing ammunition; officers making out lists, or filling them up, or giving various orders; every now and then a messenger arriving or leaving, all by night; a lantern burning dimly here and there; and the moon struggling to look down through misty clouds. [???] could be seen beyond some sand [???] in the distance, and the incessant war of the surf prevented all noise of our hammering or shouting from reaching the ears of the beleaguered garrison, unconscious how near its fate was at hand. The sentinel on the walls cried out "All's Well" -- and a private soldier exclaimed, "Ah, you wouldn't say that if you could see what we are about over here."

          It was long past midnight before we were all abed, in the lightkeeper's house; for Gen. GILMORE's headquarters were established in the shanty where the keeper of Tybee light once slept calmly, undisturbed by wars or rumors of wars. Five of us bunked in one garret, in our blankets. We had been used to talk late into the night, but this time all the sleep that could be secured before daylight was necessary. A Major-General and three of his Aids lav in the opposite room, no better off than we: a Brigadier and his Staff below.

One man was awake, without being called, in the morning, and that was Lieut. WILSON, who was to carry the demand for a surrender; and none of the others was later than he. WILSON had fairly earned the honor, which nobody grudged him; but, how we feared he might bring back terms! Everything was got ready to open fire, so soon as he should return with a defiance. He bore a written summons from Gen. HUNTER, and a man was stationed in the light-house to watch his course. His boat, with its white flag waving under the stars and stripes, was allowed to cross the creek that separates [???] from Cockapur Island. He was met atthe shore and detained there. It seemed an age to us who were waiting. Then word came that he had started to return; he was ashore; he was at headquarters. "What word did he bring?" "A sealed letter." Just then Gen. HUNTER stepped out of his room, and remarked blandly, "Gen. GILMORE, you may open fire as soon as you please." O'RORKE, lucky dog, carried the message to Lieut. PORTER, who was at Battery Halleck, and to have the honor (well deserved) of firing the first gun. A classmate of his, just one year before, had fired the opening gun on Fort Sumter. So appropriately and opportunely was the insult to the stars and stripes avenged.

          The formal demand carried by Lieut. WILSON has probably already been made public. It was felicitous in calling for a surrender and restoration of Fort Pulaski. The reply was gallant: ''We are here to defend, not to surrender the fort." So PORTER opened fire, and the other batteries followed in their order, and Pulaski was not more than four or five minutes behindhand in replying, although she had not anticipated an attack so soon. In a very short while all of our own works were engaged. The great 13-inch mortars were long in getting the range, and, to tall the truth, did not succeed in retaining any accurate range at all. Several of the columblads were dismounted early in the action, but not by the enemy -- the accident was owing to some defect in their pintles. Then one of the mortars in Battery Sherman become useless for an hour or more; still Battery Burnside, with its single piece, was doing good execution, and up at Battery McClellan the firing was rapid and accurate. WILSON was there. The three Generals and their Aids were on the ground; Gen. HUNTER remaining all day at a point to the left or Battery Lincoln; Gen. BENHAM being more active, and Gen. GILMORE hard at work, knowing that his spurs were to be won. PELOUZE was provoked because one of his guns was dismounted, and O'RORKE was delighted because he was bidden to put it in order, under fire. This was accomplished by the help of a detachment of volunteer engineers, of whom Col. Hall was in command. Aids and orderlies gallopped across the dangerous ground, and Generals, more cautious for officers than these for themselves, ordered the younger men to take the least uncovered road. "Down, gentlemen, down," said Gen. HUNTER, when those around him were needlessly exposing themselves. Horses fastened near the battery got frightened at the prodigious noise, and broke their bridles, scampering off to camp; no Orderly could be sent, under that are for a horse; an Aid came along soon after; as a sorry substitute, some Quartermaster had lent him a brute that evidently would stand any fire without running; the rider had no spurs nor whip, and he labored the animal with the flat of his sword; so a comrade afoot, but accustomed to ride, sat down on the roadside, took off his own spurs, and fastened them on the Aid, who thus won his spurs even earlier than Gen. GILMORE.

          All this while the fire was becoming more frequent and more accurate, and the reply more vigorous. Shells fell within a few yards of our batteries every few moments, many of them exploding, but most of them went into the marsh. The men soon got so that they could distinguish a casemate from a barbette discharge, and only the batteries on Goat's Point (the nearest to the fort) could be reached by the guns in embrasure; so the cry, instead of being "Cover'' every time a discharge was seen, became "Barbette" or "Casemate.'' The interval between the discharge and the arrival of a shot was several seconds -- quite long enough for those near cover to seek it. Of course in the open intervals there was no cover to be sought. Some would lie flat on the ground, others stalked or role indifferently along. By and by we could tell when a gun was trained on any particular battery, and even the cry of "Barbette" disturbed but a few. With good glasses it was possible to watch the enemy as he loaded a piece or got it into battery, and if his range was known, then the call was "Rifle," or by whatever name the piece was distinguished. The rebels told us afterward that they were as skillful as our own men in eluding the fire.

By-and-bye the shot and shells began to fall faster within Fort Pulaski -- fewer exploded in the air, but clouds of dirt arising told that the parade or the ramparts had been struck. Huge traverses -- some of sand-bags, some of sods -- had been built in the parapet, which served as an admirable cover for the enemy, but many of these were struck; the bricks began to tumble in many places from the wall; one or two projectiles were seen to enter the embrasures; and at each skillful shot, a shout went, up from all our batteries. After awhile the men jumped up on the parapets to watch each shot, and regular signals were exchanged between the batteries. The clouds of smoke did not interfere materially with the view, and the windage was slight. Shells could be seen just as they escaped from the tempest of fire and smoke belched out at the discharge, and traced in their passage through the air, sometimes hidden by a cloud, sometimes coming out again, often until they fell within the walls.

Two mortar batteries along the shore outside of the fort opened during the morning on Goat's Point, whither the enemy appeared his hottest fire. At about 1 o'clock, the halyards attached to the [???] were shot away, and the flag came down, but it was immediately raised in a less conspicuous place. During the afternoon, an embrasure in the [???], on the southeast a male of the fort, was struck repeatedly and pieces of the brick work observed to give way. This angle was the nearest reins to the batteries, and in a [???] with the magazine of [???] fact well known to us [???] plans of the work. In our possession. Afterward, all the efforts to affect a breach were directed to the spot. Several of the guns, however, which were most relied on to accomplish this object, were [???]; the mortar [???] were observed to fall [???] wide of the [???]; and no remarkable result could be noticed even when one fell within the fort. Numerous marks, however, [???] faces of the work which were exposed, [???] of the [???] and accuracy of our [???]. By nightfall, breach was so [???] that it was [???] to all it could eventually [???] into a practicable one. The heavy bombardment was [???] at dark, [???] one shell each at intervals of fifteen minutes all night long, so as to worry the enemy, and [???] the making any attempt to stop the breach [???] damages, but without any idea of [???] material [???]. Several of [???] had [???] been dismounted, and other [???], during the day. The breach had been commenced, but on the whole the result did not seem especially [???]. It might be less [???] and the [???] as long as [???] Island [???]

          [???] at above [???] I have said, [???] every five minutes, but shortly after [???] all our batteries were opened as in. The [???] vigorous than on the day before. On our [???] gun [???] is readiness, [???] did good service. The great columblads under Capt. PELOUZE were especially effective; they certainly shook the walls of old [???], and denounced them to a considerable extent. All along our [???] the firing was more rapid and more accurate; I [???] counted five shots striking within the walls within five second, and searching the fort was struck as often as seven times within as many seconds. Rebel officers told me afterward that, on an average, one out of three of the shots that were fired took effect, and that during all of the second day lay one shot or shell every minute was the average they received. [???] this morning Capt. Seldeneck, of Battery [???], was relieved, and Capt. C.P.R. RODGERS, of the frigate Wabash, with a portion of the Wabash's crew, worked several of the guns of this battery during the remainder of the fight. At the same time Capt. TURNER. Chief of Commissary on Gen. HUNTER's staff, and Lieut. WILSON, undertook to drill a detachment of the Eighth Maine. Volunteers, (Col. RUST.) These men were utterly ignorant of their duties, knew not even the names of the different parts of the [???], but they went to work, were drifted under fire, and in twenty minutes were able to serve their guns with more than tolerable accuracy, and did some of the most effective service during that day. This same regiment lay not more than half a mile in the rear of Battery Halleck for more than mail of the entire engagement, covered only by some brushwood, but perfectly content with their exposed position, because they were told that it might prove eminently an important one.

         Early on the second day, especial attention was directed toward the breach; every gun that could be brought to bear upon the pancoupe was trained that way, and the aperture began soon to show the effects. In an hour or two, it became large enough for two men to enter abreast, and the nearest embrasure on [???] considerably enlarged. Meanwhile, all the other [???] of the day before were enhanced; shots struck all over the two exposed faces of the fort; the two mortar in series on the shore of Cockspur Island were [???], and several of the casemate guns were struck, through the embrasures. A man was [???] Battery [???] this morning, by a shell, which fell almost vertically into the battery and exploded, striking the poor fellow in the head, side and leg, horribly wounding him, and burying another with fragments of the revetment. The wounded man soon afterward died, the other unhurt. This was the only casualty of the action on our side, except that a Lieutenant received a slight blow in the jaw. The battery put up by Gen. VIELE, on Long Island, opened fire this morning, and was sufficiently vigorous in its compliments to merit and receive repeated replies, and affording good service by the destruction, it [???]. The gunboat Norwich, lying somewhere on the [???] of the fort, in the direction of the sunken bulk of which I have previously spoken, also became engaged -- the distance must, however, have been too great for her to have rendered any especial assistance, still she, too, got an occasional answer from the garrison. On this day clouds of red dust were seen to rise more frequently from the fort, indicating that the brickwork of which it is constructed was hit, and after a while the great breach became so large that the propriety of a storming party was discussed. The lower part of the aperture was partly filled by the debris that fell from above; the arch of the casemate was not only laid bare, but evidently shaken, and a gun in barbette, immediately over the breach, was tottering and ready to tumble below. The breach by its side was also momently becoming wider, and just as Gen. BENHAM was questioning whether a messenger should not be sent to demandeven the surrender before risking so great a loss of human life, as must have been incurred in an assault, the rebel flag on old Pulaski was lowered halt way, and a final gun fired from a casemate in the fort. As the flag was not completely hauled down, uncertainty was felt on our side for a moment, but all firing ordered at once to cease. In a moment more the white flag was raised, and amid cheer after cheer, all along the batteries on Tybee, down came the stars and bars. It was the 11th of April, a year to a day from that time when the Stars and Stripes were first dishonored by Americans.

          Gen. HUNTER was aboard the McClellan, with his Aids, watching the engagement Gens. BENHAM and GILMORE were ashore, and rode rapidly out to Goat's Point. It was some moments before we could believe that the fort had really struck its colors, and that what we had been hoping for and laboring for, and fighting for so long, was actually accomplished. Those who had known of these endeavors from the start shook hands, and as Gen. GILMORE rode along the men cheered him lustily. They knew how much of the credit of this result was due to him. Immediately upon arriving at Goat's Point, Gen. GILMORE, with his Aids, Mr. BADEAU and Col. RUST, entered a boat and put off for the fort. Their passage was rough; the way had never been traveled before by Union sailors since our arrival; the channel was unknown, and the skiff got aground. The heavy sea struck her and she nearly swamped, but the crew rowed hard, and the Aid and the Colonel bailed out the water with their hats, and soaking with the salt tides of the Savannah, the party landed on Cockspur Island. A long wooden causeway extends over the marsh perhaps a quarter of a mile, up to the fort. BADEAU was sent in advance bearing a white flag, to meet the rebel officer who was approaching. This proved to be Capt. SIMS, of the Georgia Volunteers, and lately editor of the Savannah Republican. He apologized for the delay, and said he had supposed that the Union party was to land at another wharf; he was taken up to Gen. GILMORE, introduced, and then led the party back to the fort. At the entrance stood Col. OLMSTEAD, the commandant. He showed the way to his own quarters, having previously requested that several National officers who were approaching, might, as a matter of courtesy, be desired to remain outside until the preliminaries were adjusted. This was accorded him, and an interview of an hour took place, at which only himself and Gen. GILMORE were present. The terms of the capitulation having been settled, Gen. GILMORE was shown over the Fort by the Colonel, and then took his leave, accompanied by Col. RUST. Messengers from Gen. HUNTER had meantime arrived. These, together with Gen. GILMORE's Aid, made the rounds of the Fort under the escort of Col. OLMSTEAD, who introduced us to his officers, and were the only persons present when the swords were delivered. Major HALPINE, as the representative of Gen. HUNTER, received the weapons. The ceremony was performed in the Colonel's headquarters, all standing. It was just at dark, and the candles gave only a half-light; the weapons were laid on a table, each officer advancing in turn, according to his rank, and mentioning his name and title; nearly every one added some remark; the Colonel's was dignified: "I yield my sword, but I trust I have not disgraced it." Some of the others were not equally felicitous. Major HALPINE, in reply, spoke gracefully of the painfulness of the duty he had been called upon to perform -- to receive the swords of men who had shown by their bravery that they deserved to wear them. The scene was touching, for however unrighteous the cause in which these men had been engaged, they thought it was their country's, and they had risked their lives for it. The condition of the fort showed that they were brave; and, indeed, was the best justification of their defeat. As soon as the surrender was complete, Col. OLMSTEAD turned to his officers and began making some remarks to them, upon which his captors withdrew. The American flag was then raised on the ramparts, and Pulaski became again part of the possessions, an well as of the property, of the Union.

          The arms of the privates had been previously stacked on the parade, and the men marched to quarters. Both officers and men were allowed to remain all night in their usual quarters. The interior of the fort presented a sorry sight. Blindages had been put up extending on all sides of the rampart, and a part rendered bomb-proof; but shot and shell had burst through many of them, had knocked in walls, had broken down stairways, entered casemates, upset guns, and piled up masses of rubbish and debris all around. Seven guns on the parapet were dismounted, nearly every traverse had been struck and partly torn to pieces; all the passage ways were obstructed by piles of stones and fallen timber; the magazine had been stuck and part of its outer caring of brick torn away, whale at the breach the [???] was, of course, greatest of all. The breach was quite practicable, and so acknowledge why the commandant; the ditch, sixty feet [???], was mere than half filled [???] by the fragments that had fall [???] could [???]. The Colonel declared, [???] the magazine not been struck. This, of course settled his fate, and rendered any prolonged resistance at useless risk of life. Forty thousand pounds of powder, 7,000 shot and shell, and forty-seven guns were captured. The prisoners was [???] in number, [???] to the [???] volunteers, the [???] Light Infantry and to a [???] Regiment. [???] an intelligent [???] of men, and in any of [???] declared [???] They cleared [???] for the [???] various in character and [???]. The Colonel [???] of his [???] by a [???] The officers invited the Unionists to their quarters, where several took supper, and some even slept with the rebels whom they had been fighting a few hours before. There was no bitterness apparent on either side; no desire to introduce personal animosities.

          The rebels had some three or four men badly wounded, but none killed. [???] officer, Adjt. [???], was [???] by dust or cement nailing in his eyes. They [???] that they knew of our place [???] and thought it [???], to attempt to interment them, they had not anticipated that their [???] could be [???] , indeed, as such an event [???] aching, at the distance of 1,600 yards, is [???] in war, this importation is not surprised. They assured us that [???] of our mortar shells [???] of the works, [???] most of these which struck [???] they [???] while these erroneous mistake [???] way [???] than the [???] the casemates. In no instance [???] they [???] injury from one of their shells. If several had [???], however, to strike in the same [???] is to say if the [???] and then kept, a different [???] been told. As it was, the [???] The [???] to Savannah, with news of the surrender, immediately, [???] down the flag. They [???] the next day, when Gens. HUNTER, BENHAM and GILMORE visited it. Col. TERRY, of the Seventh Connecticut, is now in command, having come over with his regiment on the right of the surrender. He and his men will deserved the honor, for their services have been [???] and important throughout the entire investment, and during the actual bombardment.

          On Sunday, the 13th, the prisoners were divided into two parties; the officers and about two-thirds of the men were placed in the Ben De Ford -- the remainder on the Honduras, and conveyed to Bay Point. Here they were transferred to the Star of the South and the McClellan for transportation to Fort Columbus, New-York Harbor. As the McClellan was leaving the wharf, a sad procession marched down, in dusty and shabby gray uniforms, unarmed, each man bearing his bundle; just so I had seen them come out of Fort Pulaski, where they had flaunted their flag in our faces so long; but the Stars and Stripes were waving in their old place again, though over dilapidated walls, and those who fought against the nation had been made to feel that the nation had might as well as right on its side. Still, when I saw the dingy crowd on the McClellan sailing off into imprisonment, and silently waving their hats and garments to another tearful and silent throng on the Star of the South, who quietly returned the checkless salute -- I could not but feel that the way of the rebel is hard. VAGABOND.




Gov. BUCKINGHAM of Connecticut, has just received from Gen. W.H. BENHAM the following letter, written since the surrender of Pulaski:



HILTON HEAD, S.C., April 14, 1862.


          MY DEAR GOVERNOR: You will recollect that in October last I had expressed the earnest which that a part, at least, of the troops I might have the honor to command should be from that State in which the blood of my forefathers had run for two centuries and a third. This wish has been at length gratified, and different regiments and companies from that State are now here, in my command, and of these it has been my good fortune to find, in the short time that has elapsed since my arrival, one regiment, the Seventh Connecticut, under that excellent officer, Col. TERRY, one of those engaged in most arduous and useful service in the construction of the batteries and trenches against Fort Pulaski, which they as skillfully and as nobly manned in the recent bombardment of that fortress, on the 10th and 11th insts. I was pleased to find that my own judgment of this regiment was fully borne out by the opinion previously entertain of them by their immediate commander, Acting Brig.-Gen. GILLMORE, who was also the chief engineer of the siege, so that to his great satisfaction I selected this regiment for the honor of being the first garrison of the captured fortress, given up to us, with apparently retributive justice, upon the anniversary of the day upon which the outrage of the filing upon Fort Sumter was perpetrated. And it is a great pleasure for me to state to you that the first morning sun of the occupation of this work by our troops gilded the banner of that State whose trust is still as from the first, "He who brought us over will protect us."

I have the pleasure of forwarding to you herewith, for such disposition as you may deem advisable, among the memorials of the State, the garrison storm flag of Fort Pulaski; a fort constructed mainly under the direction of one son of Connecticut; Lieutenantand Captain, now Gen. MANSFIELD, of whom, for a time, I was the principal assistant engineer, on the work, and now recaptured for the United States, by a portion of the troops of my division, of which the regiment from our own State shared most fully every labor and every danger. I have the honor to be, Sir, with high respect, your obedient servant,



Brigadier-General, U.S.A.

His Excellency, Gov. BUCKINGHAM, of the State of Connecticut.

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