2nd USCT Infantry Regiment 1st USCT Infantry Regiment 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment 1861 Skirmishes 1862 Skirmishes 1863 Skirmishes 1864 Skirmishes 1865 Skirmishes Alternate Battle Names 3rd Regiment Alabama Infantry 1861-04-12 Battle of Fort Sumter 1861-04-15 Evacuation of Fort Sumter 1861-04-19 Riots in Baltimore 1861-05-07 Gloucester Point 1861-05-10 Camp Jackson 1861-05-10 Riots in St. Louis 1861-05-18 Sewell’s Point 1861-05-29 Aquia Creek 1861-06-01 Fairfax Court House I 1861-06-01 Arlington Mills 1861-06-03 Philippi 1861-06-05 Pig Point 1861-06-10 Big Bethel 1861-06-15 Hooe’s Ferry 1861-06-17 Vienna 1861-06-17 Boonville 1861-06-19 Cole Camp 1861-06-27 Mathias Point 1861-07-02 Hoke’s Run 1861-07-05 Carthage 1861-07-05 Neosho 1861-07-08 Laurel Hill 1861-07-11 Rich Mountain 1861-07-12 Barboursville 1861-07-13 Corrick’s Ford 1861-07-17 Scary Creek 1861-07-17 Bunker Hill 1861-07-18 Blackburn’s Ford 1861-07-21 Manassas I 1861-07-22 Forsyth 1861-07-25 Mesilla I 1861-07-27 Fort Fillmore 1861-07-28 Sinking of the Petrel 1861-08 Siege of Tubac 1861-08 Cooke’s Canyon 1861-08 Battle of the Florida Mountains 1861-08-02 Dug Springs 1861-08-03 Curran Post Office 1861-08-05 Athens 1861-08-07 Hampton 1861-08-10 Wilson’s Creek 1861-08-10 Potosi 1861-08-19 Charleston 1861-08-25 Mason’s Hill 1861-08-26 Kessler’s Cross Lanes 1861-08-28 Hatteras Inlet Batteries 1861-08-31 Munson’s Hill 1861-09-02 Dry Wood Creek 1861-09-02 Gallinas Massacre 1861-09-08 Placito 1861-09-10 Carnifex Ferry 1861-09-11 Lewinsville 1861-09-12 Cheat Mountain 1861-09-12 Lexington I 1861-09-17 Liberty 1861-09-19 Barbourville 1861-09-21 Fredericktown I 1861-09-24 Canada Alamosa 1861-09-27 Pinos Altos 1861-10-03 Greenbrier River 1861-10-05 Cockle Creek 1861-10-09 Santa Rosa Island 1861-10-12 Battle of the Head of Passes 1861-10-21 Ball’s Bluff 1861-10-21 Camp Wildcat 1861-10-21 Fredericktown II 1861-10-23 Big Sandy Expedition 1861-10-25 Springfield I 1861-11-03 Port Royal 1861-11-07 Belmont 1861-11-08 Ivy Mountain 1861-11-19 Round Mountain 1861-11-20 Skirmish at Brownsville 1861-11-20 Hunter’s Mills 1861-12-04 Bog Wallow Ambush 1861-12-09 Chusto-Talasah 1861-12-13 Camp Allegheny 1861-12-17 Rowlett’s Station 1861-12-19 Skirmish at Blackwater Creek 1861-12-20 Dranesville 1861-12-26 Chustenahlah 1861-12-28 Mount Zion Church 1861-12-28 Sacramento 1862-01-01 Crook’s 1862 Expedition 1862-01-03 Cockpit Point 1862-01-05 Hancock 1862-01-08 Roan’s Tan Yard 1862-01-10 Middle Creek 1862-01-11 Lucas Bend 1862-01-19 Mill Springs

South Carolina

Start: 1863-07-18              End: 1863-09-07

Results: Inconclusive

Photo Gallery

Introduction

The Second Battle of Charleston Harbor, also known as the Siege of Charleston Harbor, Siege of Fort Wagner, or Battle of Morris Island, took place during the American Civil War in the late summer of 1863 between a combined Union Army/Navy force and the Confederate defenses of Charleston, South Carolina.

Background

After being repulsed twice trying to take Fort Wagner by storm, Maj. Gen. Quincy Adams Gillmore decided on a less costly approach and began laying siege to the fort.

Order of Battle

Battle

Innovations & Difficulties

In the days immediately following the second battle of Fort Wagner, Union forces besieged the Confederate works on Morris Island with an array of military novelties. Union gunners made use of a new piece of artillery known as the Requa gun—25 rifle barrels mounted on a field carriage. While sappers dug zig-zag trenches toward Fort Wagner a second novelty was used—the calcium floodlight. Bright lights were flashed upon the defenders blinding them enough to decrease accurate return fire while the Union gunners fired safely behind the lights.

The Confederate defenders also had advantages. The ground the Union sappers were digging through was shallow sand with a muddy base. The trenching efforts also began to accidentally uncover Union dead from the previous assaults on Fort Wagner. Disease and bad water plagued soldiers on both sides.

Garrison

The Union army maintained a constant rotation of soldiers to man the forward trenches of the “grand guard”. During the evening of August 16 a Confederate artillery shell burst through the bombproof serving as the headquarters for Colonel Joshua B. Howell, commanding officer of the grand guard that evening. A shell fragment struck Colonel Howell wounding him severely in the head. Despite Howell’s quick recovery the incident prompted the Union commander to exclusively use veteran troops in the forward trenches. Confederates also kept a constant rotation of soldiers through Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg. During the night rowboats would bring fresh troops from the mainland to replace the garrison. Even though they had won a substantial victory at Fort Wagner, the Confederates fully expected the campaign to continue. Having a large garrison to draw from, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was prepared to continue the campaign. Immediately in command of Confederate forces surrounding Charleston was former career army officer and South Carolina businessman Roswell S. Ripley. Ripley’s forces were spread throughout fortifications surrounding Charleston Harbor and included a division of local South Carolina militia. Gilmore and Admiral John A. Dahlgren requested reinforcements from General-in-Chief Henry Halleck. Halleck was reluctant but nevertheless a division from the Army of the Potomac was transferred to the south under George H. Gordon. General John G. Foster, Union commander of the Department of North Carolina, enthusiastically sent a division of reinforcements telling Gilmore

“Charleston is too important to be lost when so nearly won”.

Batteries

Despite the marshy conditions on Morris Island, Union forces had constructed powerful batteries to combat Fort Wagner. These batteries were often named in honor of fallen leaders such as Batteries Strong, Reynolds, Kearny and Weed. Others were named for high ranking army officers such as Batteries Rosecrans and Meade.

Inside Fort Wagner only one 10-inch Columbiad faced seaward and the few landward guns were in poor condition. During Colonel Lawrence M. Keitt’s tenure in command of the Confederate garrison, he established signal stations on Fort Wagner’s west wall to coordinate with Confederate batteries on James Island. Keitt’s replacement, General Johnson Hagood, made better use of sharpshooters and the few landward guns to impede the Union siege works upon the fort. The Confederates protected their own guns and bombproofs but exposed themselves to Union Naval fire and in the end could only slow the Union trenches.

Swamp Angel

On August 2 under the direction of Colonel Edward W. Serrell, Union engineers began constructing a battery further inland with the intention of bombing the city of Charleston directly. By August 17, the massive battery was ready for its armament. Lieutenant Charles Sellmer with a detachment of the 11th Maine Infantry was called in to man the 200-pound Parrott rifle now being referred to as the “Swamp Angel”. On August 21, Gilmore sent an ultimatum to Beauregard to abandon Forts Wagner and Sumter or Charleston would be fired upon. When Gilmore received no reply by the following day, the first shot was fired from the Swamp Angel into Charleston using the steeple of St. Michael’s Church for a bearing. On August 22, Confederate batteries tried in vain to silence the Swamp Angel. Beauregard scorned Gilmore for turning his guns on a civilian city and demanded an opportunity to evacuate the citizens. Gilmore complied with a day of cease-fire but also took the opportunity to express the fact that Charleston was a legitimate military target as an ammunition supply. The firing resumed, but on the 36th shot the Swamp Angel burst and was not replaced during the campaign. It was the first time a civilian population was deliberately targeted for military purposes during the Civil War.

Fort Sumter

Despite trenching difficulties, by mid-August Gillmore had his siege guns within range of Fort Sumter. On August 17, he opened fire and during the first day of the bombardment nearly 1,000 shells were fired. By August 23, the masonry had been turned to rubble and Beauregard removed as many of the fort’s guns as possible. Gillmore wired the War Department that

“Fort Sumter is a shapeless and harmless mass of ruin”.

However, the bombardment of Fort Sumter would continue in general until December 31, 1863.

Fall of Fort Wagner

Attacks on rifle pits

Gillmore’s attention returned to Fort Wagner. By now Gillmore’s forces were close enough to the Confederate works for the infantry to take action. On August 21, Colonel George B. Dandy led the 100th New York Infantry in a rush toward Fort Wagner’s rifle pits. The New Yorker’s quickly established a temporary picket line but their success was short lived. General Hagood ordered a counterattack which drove off Dandy’s men. Following Dandy’s attack Confederate engineers began working to strengthen the rifle pits, hoping to force the Union army into mounting another costly assault. Before work could be completed, Gilmore ordered division commander General Alfred H. Terry to capture the rifle pits. Terry prepared the 24th Massachusetts Infantry from Brigadier General Thomas G. Stevenson’s brigade to lead the attack. In support was the 3rd New Hampshire Infantry. Each member of the 24th Massachusetts was equipped with an additional two shovels to immediately rebuild the rifle pits once taken. On the evening of August 25, General Stevenson personally led the attack forward covered by fire from the requa guns. The attack overran the 61st North Carolina Infantry, many of whom surrendered. Colonel George P. Harrison, the fort’s commander, ordered an artillery counterattack but the rifle pits were already turning into a new siege line. On September 5, Gillmore and Admiral Dahlgren attacked with an intense bombing of Fort Wagner for 36 hours killing 100 of the remaining defenders.

Evacuation

Conditions within the fort were becoming intolerable, and the garrison commander, Colonel Lawrence M. Keitt, informed General Beauregard that he now had only 400 men capable of defending the fort. Therefore, on the evening of September 6–7, Beauregard ordered Confederate forces to abandon their positions on Morris Island. On September 7, Union troops occupied Fort Wagner.

Aftermath

Fort Wagner had withstood 60 days of constant bombing and held off a much larger Union army. Yet the Union army and navy had captured an important position at the mouth of Charleston Harbor and reduced its most formidable fortress to rubble. Despite this, the city of Charleston and Fort Sumter itself would remain in Confederate control until William T. Sherman’s armies marched through South Carolina in 1865.

Casualties

Total Killed Wounded Missing Captured
USA Battle Flag 358
CSA Battle Flag small 655
Combined Forces

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Charleston_Harbor

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