“I desire you to have the Swamp Angel repaired”: Foster seeks another “angle” on Fort Sumter

On July 26, 1864, Major-General John Foster gave Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig an order with several tasks to accomplish.  The first was with respect to the old Marsh Battery where a year earlier the Swamp Angel had first brought Charleston under bombardment:

I desire you to have the Swamp Angel repaired and armed with a 30-pounder or 100-pounder Parrott to fire on Fort Sumter along the left flank of that work, and thus prevent the enemy landing materials at the sally-port on that side, and also receiving re-enforcements and supplies. Considerable work is needed on the platform and foundation to make it strong enough to support the shock of the gun.

With guns in Fort Putnam able to range Charleston with ease (and regularity), the Marsh Battery was redundant for bombardments of the city.  But the position of the battery, to the left of the main Federal breaching battery lines, allowed fresh angles for the work against Fort Sumter.  The map below demonstrates this:


The line of fire for guns in Battery Putnam is in dark blue and touches the southernmost corner of the fort.  The orange line is the original line of fire for the Swamp Angel into Charleston.  The light blue is the line of fire proposed by Foster, which allowed a gun to cover the western corner and fire across the northwest face of the fort.  And there just happened to be a wharf along that side, relocated by the Confederates after the bombardment of Fort Sumter began almost a year earlier. Clearly Foster was serious about wearing down Fort Sumter.

Other instructions handed down by Foster in the order spoke to some of the administrative matters within the command:

I also want your report, as soon as it can be furnished, of the effect of the firing on Fort Sumter, and of the mine rafts, and also your opinion as to the practicability of-an assault by boats.

A very interesting – for those of us who like things that go “boom” – report was in the works which would detail the work of the guns against Fort Sumter that July.  Look for it in a follow up blog post.

The other matter was left over business from earlier in the month… and less favorable than blasted brickwork at Fort Sumter:

I also require a report of the attack on Fort Johnson by boats, and the reason for the failure of such attack. The rebel papers speak of Colonel Hoyt’s conduct as being very gallant and brave, but state that some of his men ran back to the boats.  They do not refer to the reserve or to any other regiment than Colonel Hoyt’s, so that this portion of the force could not have gone near enough to attract their attention. The responsibility for lack of support to Colonel Hoyt should be made to rest where it belongs.

Due to illness, Schimmelfennig had delayed an investigation into the failed July 3 assault on Fort Johnson.  Not until October would a final report go forward, casting Colonel William Gurney of the 127th New York in very negative light.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 187-8.)


5 thoughts on ““I desire you to have the Swamp Angel repaired”: Foster seeks another “angle” on Fort Sumter

  1. I assume the photo of the gun in the Marsh Battery above is a replacement gun and NOT the original 100-pounder?

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