Newspaper clipping from the Baltimore American of April 15, 1863.
A disgraceful result.
OFF CHARLESTON BAR, April 8, 1863.
Yesterday was a bright day, but nothing to compare to the clearness of the atmosphere this morning. We can see the bruises and indentations on the walls of Sumter; the flags flying from all the forts, and even the smoke curling up from the chimneys of the houses in Charleston; the steeples of St. Philip's, St. Michael's, the Cathedral, and Grace Church can be recognized, as well as the observatory on the Mills House.
Everything is distinct and clear to the vision this morning, and just sufficient wind blowing to carry the smoke rapidly off if the bombardment be renewed.
Fort Pinckney, which is far up in the harbor, opposite the wharves of the city, is distinctly visible, with its flag, whilst Fort Sumter stands out clearly in the foreground of this magnificent panorama
At 10 o'clock this morning a large rebel ram made its appearance in front of Fort Sumter, and turning off toward Fort Moultrie came driving down Maffitt's Channel along the base of Sullivan's Island to the front of Fort Beauregard; here she stopped for about ten minutes to watch the effect on our fleet in the Ship Channel, as well as probably also to tempt the wooden gunboats outside to run in and meet her under the guns of Fort Beauregard. The ironclads, of course, could not get to her without running around across the bar and they paid no attention to her movements. She could have run out and engaged the wooden vessels if she had thought proper.
The Unadilla, Canandaigua, Housatonic, Wissahickon, and the Huron lying all ready to meet her.
Finding our vessels made no movements, she turned back, and in a few minutes glided in behind Sumter again, and moved up toward the wharves of the city.
Sinking of the Keokuk.
The ironclad Keokuk, as I related in my report of yesterday's proceedings, retired from the conflict badly pierced with shot, seventeen balls passing through her armor, five of which were below the water line. She was with difficulty kept afloat during the night and at 8 o'clock this morning sank near the end of Folly Island, about 3 miles from Sumter. She lies in about 2½ fathoms of water, and her smokestack is visible above the water line.
Mr. Stimers has made arrangements to blow her up and destroy her to-morrow. Her pumps were kept going through the night and hopes were entertained until a few moments before she sank that she could be saved, but she sank very suddenly.
The officers were unable to save anything except the clothing in which they stood.
The rebels stood on the shore watching her sinking, and it is said this afternoon that they are collecting fieldpieces along the shore to prevent any attempt to raise or destroy her. But she will be destroyed by one of Ericsson's torpedoes attached to a raft in front of the Weehawken, which will destroy her at one explosion by coming in contact.
The country, disgraced.
But now comes the saddest and most sorrowful part of my statement.
The seven Ericsson monitors were all examined this morning by Mr. Stimers, inspector of monitors, and with the assistance of his workmen had them all in as good condition for service as they were yesterday, before noon.
Half past 1 o'clock was the hour fixed upon for a renewal of the bombardment, and officers of the different vessels were all in readiness and most of them anxious for the renewal of the conflict. The order for the movement was momentarily waited for, but the order never came. At 3 o'clock it was ascertained throughout the fleet that the admiral had decided that "Charleston is impregnable, that Sumter can not be taken with the vessels and apparatus placed at his disposal by the Government."
In other words, that the power of the Government is not sufficient to humble this nest of rebels.
Sad conclusion to the man who so decided, and sorrowful to the country which trusted in his ability to perform the duty assigned him.
In conversation with some of the commanders of the ironclads before the order was received, I was assured that the walls of Fort Sumter were pierced and crushed, and the opinion was expressed that in three hours more the fort would be compelled to surrender. Several of them testified that their immense shot had entered the embrasures of the fort and dismounted the guns, and that the walls were in the most shattered condition. Other officers approved the decision of the admiral, but they are the same ones who have maintained from the first that "Charleston could not be taken."
The sailors of the fleet, however, were disgusted with the decision and felt themselves disgraced.
Two hours and fifteen minutes of bombardment, 1 man killed, 7 wounded. 1 inferior vessel sunk, and the great effort of the country to take the forts and public property abandoned as impregnable!
Oh, that we had a Farragut here to take command at once, and do what has been so weakly attempted by Admiral Du Pont.
The reason why Charleston has not been destroyed by the ironclad fleet, even if Sumter had not been taken, is the dreadful fear that overshadowed the fleet authorities of rebel torpedoes. Farragut had the same to encounter at New Orleans with wooden ships, but he dashed into his work and considered that the risk of life was a part of the duty of a naval officer; that great risks were necessary to secure great results.
Here, however, the ghosts of rebel torpedoes have for two months past paralyzed the efficiency of the fleet authorities and the sight of large beer barrels floating in the harbor of Charleston added terror to the overwhelming fear.
The Government furnished them with India-rubber rafts, cork jackets, and everything else that could be contrived to ease their minds, but the torpedo phantom has proved too powerful to be overcome, and to-morrow the whole fleet will retire to summer quarters in Port Royal Harbor.
How not to do it.
I have spent nearly two months in this vicinity waiting the slow and tedious movements preparatory to the attack on Charleston, and though I hoped for success, I have been convinced from the beginning that the great work has been entrusted to incompetent hands.
Everything has convinced me that if Charleston should be taken it would be more through "main strength and awkwardness" than from any capacity to accomplish the work.
The Secretary of the Navy sent down from here appliances to be used in removing obstructions in the harbor. These rafts and torpedoes have been here nearly two months, and the attempt to take Charleston has been abandoned without their usefulness being considered for a moment. One of the rafts was taken in by the Weehawken with grapnels attached to it to catch torpedoes, but they refused to have the torpedoes connected with it. They were afraid the torpedoes might kick backward, although they had been experimented with and even the raft had not been injured. One of these torpedoes, containing 700 pounds of powder, would have swept away the obstructions in the harbor and enabled the fleet yesterday afternoon to go up and bombard the city. They were, however, not used, and this great national retribution is abandoned.
C. C. FULTON.