Confederate Batteries Facing Fort Sumter

Yesterday, I posted an image depicting the arrangement of the guns at Fort Sumter.  Let me turn now to the Confederate batteries.  (I do apologize for the less “compressed” presentation for the Confederate batteries.  The location of the batteries and their mixed composition made a single presentation, as with Fort Sumter, cumbersome.)

The Confederate batteries around Charleston Harbor held the advantage of both dispersal and angle of attack.  But the coastal geography limited the firm ground from which to mount the batteries.  There are some discrepancies between Federal and Confederate accounts with regard to the arrangement of the guns (wouldn’t be the last time, right?).  So let me cite in comparison those indicated by the Confederate officers and Captain John Foster, who was in Fort Sumter on the receiving end.

This map from Wikipedia (I think it is one of Hal Jesperson’s excellent maps) depicts the general arrangement of those batteries.

Working from the “top” or 12 o’clock of Fort Sumter, starting with the Mt. Pleasant Battery, the guns on the Sullivan’s Island side of the channel were  arranged as such:

While no photos taken from the Fort Sumter defenders’ point of view in 1861 exist, drawings from the Atlas of the Official Records depict the panorama.

Fort Moultrie seen from Fort Sumter

On the Morris Island Side, two breeching batteries and a mortar battery bore on Fort Sumter:

Here is a sketch view of those batteries, drawn in March 1861.

Cummings Point1
Cummings Point seen from Fort Sumter

Further south on Morris Island were several batteries which did not bear on Fort Sumter, but guarded the channel approaches.  Their role in the battle was only to deter any Federal naval landing.  The cannons included two IX-inch Dahlgrens, 8-inch seacoast howitzers, 42-pdr and 32-pdr seacoast guns, 24-pdr siege guns, and several field pieces (apparently even “cadet” guns from the Citadel).

On James Island, one battery with three 24-pdr siege guns and a mortar battery with four 10-inch mortars faced Fort Sumter.  The mortar battery there initiated the bombardment on April 12.

Fort Johnson seen from Fort Sumter

Not a factor in the battle, guns on Castle Pinckney in the center of the harbor included 32-pdr and 24-pdr guns (although a vague reference to a “howitzer” may be one of the 8-inch types).

All told, Captain Foster noted 30 guns and 17 mortars firing on Fort Sumter on this 150 years ago today (April 12, 1861).  The weight of guns was among the largest arrayed against any target in North America up to that time.  Within a few years, that feat was small in comparison to the guns arranged for larger, bloodier battles.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

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