Battery Wagner after its capture: Photo Analysis

The next set of Morris Island photos for which I’m working up blog presentations are several featuring Battery Wagner after it became the Federal Fort Wagner… or the seldom used proper name – Fort Strong.  Dating the photos has proved a challenge to me.  These could have been from anytime between October 1863 to the end of the war (and more likely the latter – at the end of the war when the situation allowed photographers to climb on the parapets).  But what they do indicate is the Federals retained much of the structure of the Confederate fort.  This view looks across the center curtain wall, from the left (ocean) side bastion (for the key map below, we’ll call this photo W1):

Lots of tents and other temporary living arrangements.  Notice the “moat” or ditch in front of the fort and the pallisading remain.  The Federals still considered a Confederate counterattack a threat and thus kept the fort’s defenses in working order.  But let us focus on a structure in the center of frame:


This is a “cut” through the wall of the fort, not seen when the Confederates built the fort.  The wood framing is part of a new sallyport built by the Federals to allow easy access from the south end of Morris Island.  The walls of the bastion block our view of a bridge over the ditch.

A view from the opposite side of the wall, which I’ll call W2, was taken from the top of a magazine just past the naval guns in battery:


It also leaves the bridge out of view:


The sallyport is there, but the bridge is out of frame to the right.


Yes, there’s a lot of interesting “cannon stuff” in that photo, which I’ll return to in due time. For now look to the left of the sallyport to a canvas fly:


Appears to be some sort of administrative area, perhaps where the sergeant of the guard or officer of the day conducted their business.

That fly appears in another photo (which we’ll call W3) of the fort:


There’s the benches seen from ground level.  And we also see the fly is reinforced with a plank roof.  Here’s the full view of W3:


You can see the “door” for the sallyport behind the fly.  But I know your eyes are drawn here:


Inspection time!  So was that the scene which our photographer was trying to capture for posterity?

Or what about these guys on the old sea-side bastion wall?


The fellow on the right is pointing in the direction of Fort Sumter.

And the fellow on the left has his scope pointed towards that fort also.


And another fellow in the middle of that group has his binoculars out.

Such activity on the wall would indicate the photo was taken sometime while the Federals were actively working against Fort Sumter – from the last week of October through the early days of December.  However, such observations were taken, almost daily, from that spot starting in mid-September 1863 right up to the spring of 1865! Yes, Charleston – the longest campaign of the war.

Here’s the key map in progress for these photos:


The angles of the photos overlap well, I think.  I’ve also indicated, in gold lines, the location of the sallyport added by the Federals.

More to come on these and other photos from Battery Wagner.