Guns pointed at Sherman: Confederate artillery dispositions in South Carolina, January 1865

Colonel Ambrosio José Gonzales served as the Chief of Artillery for the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida through much of the war. Gonzales was an exiled Cuban revolutionary when the war began, living in South Carolina.  And of course, at the onset of hostilities, he volunteered his services to the seceded state.

I’ve mentioned this interesting officer on several occasions while plotting the 150th events – most often in regard to his periodic reports of ordnance available to defend Charleston and other points in the department.  On January 19, 1865, Gonzales submitted one such report.  The timing provides a snapshot of the Confederate defenses opposing the Federal offensive into South Carolina.

The report was complied in a tabular format, making it difficult to reproduce here without a lot of white space and tabs.  So I’ll break down the particulars in a “fort by fort” format below.  Most of these works I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, so I’ll ask you to look back at some of those for particulars of the defensive arrangements.  Working, as the report did, from north to south through the department, we start with the defenses north of Charleston:

  • Battery White, protecting Georgetown, South Carolina, contained three rifled 32-pdr guns, six 24-pdr smoothbore guns, two rifled 12-pdr guns, one 12-pdr siege gun, and one 6-pdr field gun. The report thus indicates the 10-inch columbiads placed there earlier in the war had been removed by January 1865.
  • Battery Warren, on the Santee River had one 12-pdr rifle and one 32-pdr smoothbore.

Around Charleston itself, starting with the works on Sullivan’s Island:

Sullivans_Island_Batteries

  • Battery Marshall – two 8-inch columbiads, one 7-inch Brooke rifle, one 32-pdr rifle, two 12-pdr rifles (one of which was the old English gun), a 4-inch Blakely rifle, three 8-inch seacoast howitzers, and one 12-pdr siege gun.
  • Two Gun Batteries, four in total, with four 32-pdr and four 24-pdr smoothbores.
  • Battery Beauregard – one 10-inch columbiad, one 8-inch rifled columbiad, one 8-inch columbiad, three 8-inch seacoast howitzers, two rifled 32-pdrs, one 32-pdr smoothbore, two 24-pdr smoothbores, and three 10-inch mortars.
  • Battery Rutledge -three 10-inch columbiads and one rifled columbiad (8 or 10-inch).
  • Fort Moultrie – four 10-inch columbiads, two rifled 8-inch columbiads, one rifled 32-pdr, and one 10-inch mortar.
  • Battery Marion – three 10-inch columbiads, a 7-inch Brooke Rifle, one 8-inch columbiad, and five 10-inch mortars.
  • Battery Bee – one XI-inch Dahlgren, one 10-inch rifled columbiad, four 10-inch columbiads, and one 8-inch columbiad.

Behind Sullivan’s Island were the defenses of the Christ Church District:

  • Battery Evans – one 32-pdr smoothbore.
  • Battery Palmetto – one IX-inch Dahlgren.
  • Battery Gary – two 8-inch columbiads.
  • Battery Kinloch – one 32-pdr smoothbore.
  • Christ Church Lines – two 20-pdr Parrott rifles, two 8-inch shell guns and two 24-pdr smoothbore guns.

Fort Sumter’s armament at this point was one 10-inch columbiad, one 8-inch rifled columbiad, and four rifled 42-pdrs in those “three gun batteries.” Castle Pinckney contained four 10-inch columbiads and one 7-inch Brooke rifle.

Defending the city of Charleston itself were a formidable array of batteries along the waterfront:

  • Battery Waring – two 10-inch columbiads.
  • Battery Ramsey (White Point Battery) – one XI-inch Dahlgren, one 12.75-inch Blakely, one 42-pdr rifle, and three 10-inch columbiads.
  • Frazer’s Wharf Battery with one 12.75-inch Blakely.
  • Calhoun Street Battery with one rifled 8-inch columbiad.
  • Vanderhorst’s Wharf Battery with one 7-inch Brooke rifle and one 42-pdr rifled gun.
  • Half-Moon Battery with one 42-pdr rifle and one 32-pdr rifle.
  • Spring-Street Battery – one 10-inch columbiad.
  • Battery over the Ashley – one 10-inch columbiad.

On James Island, the fortifications still bristled with guns defending that approach to Charleston:

JamesIslandLinesMay64East

  • Battery Wampler – two 10-inch columbiads.
  • Battery Harleston – three 10-inch columbiads, one 7-inch Brooke rifle, and one 6.4-inch Brooke rifle.
  • Battery Glover – three 8-inch rifled columbiads.
  • Fort Johnson – two 10-inch columbiads, one rifled 10-inch columbiad, one rifled 8-inch columbiad, one 7-inch Brooke Rifle, and two 24-pdr Austrian howitzers.
  • Battery Simkins – two 8-inch columbiads, two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles, and three 10-inch mortars.
  • Battery Cheves – three 8-inch columbiads.
  • Battery Haskell – one 8-inch columbiad, one 8-inch seacoast howitzer, two 42-pdr carronades, one rifled 32-pdr fitted as a mortar, and two 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery Tatum – one 32-pdr smoothbore and two 24-pdr Austrian howitzers.
  • Battery Ryan – one 32-pdr smoothbore, one rifled 24-pdr, five 24-pdr Austrian howitzers.
  • Redoubt No. 1 – one 8-inch columbiad and one 32-pdr smoothbore.
  • Fort Lamar – three 8-inch columbiads, one 32-pdr rifle, two 32-pdr smoothbore, and one 18-pdr smoothbore.
  • Secessionville – one 8-inch siege howitzer, one 42-pdr smoothbore, two 32-pdr rifles, three 32-pdr smoothbores, one 24-pdr rifle, one 24-pdr smoothbore, one rifled 18-pdr, and two 6-pdr field guns.

JamesIslandLinesMay64West

  • The “New Lines” with six specific battery locations (Battery Seroy was named “Battery No. 0” in this report – two 8-inch columbiads, two 8-inch seacoast howitzers, 8-inch siege howitzer, four 32-pdr smoothbores, eight 24-pdr smoothbores, two 18-pdr smoothbores, two 12-pdr rifles, and three 12-pdr smoothbores.
  • Battery Tynes – two 8-inch columbiads and one rifled 42-pdr.
  • Battery Pringle – two 10-inch columbiads, two 8-inch columbiads, two rifled 42-pdrs, and two rifled 32-pdrs.
  • Fort Trendholm – two 10-inch columbiads, one rifled 8-inch gun, two rifled 42-pdrs, two rifled 32-pdrs, two 32-pdr smoothbores, two 24-pdr smoothbores, and six 6-pdr field guns.

Covering the approaches to Charleston from the southwest, via the Edisto River:

SaintAndrewsParrishDefenses

  • Battery Washington – one 32-pdr smoothbore, one 24-pdr smoothbore, and one 18-pdr smoothbore.
  • Battery Haig – two 24-pdr smoothbores.
  • Battery Wilkes – one 24-pdr smoothbore.
  • Battery Geddes – one 24-pdr smoothbore.
  • Battery Palmer – one 8-inch columbiad, two 32-pdr smoothbores, two 24-pdr smoothbores, and one 12-pdr smoothbore.
  • Overflow works – one 32-pdr smoothbore, three 24-pdr smoothbores, and one 12-pdr smoothbore.

Further to the southwest, along the Charleston & Savannah Railroad:

  • Church Flats – two 12-pdr smoothbores and one 8-inch shell gun.
  • Pineberry – one 32-pdr smoothbore and one 4.62-inch rifle.
  • Willstown – one 32-pdr smoothbore, one rifled 24-pdr, and two 3.5-inch Blakely rifles.
  • Caw Caw – two 24-pdr smoothbore.
  • Stock’s Causeway – one 12-pdr smoothbore and one 4.75-inch smoothbore siege gun.
  • Ashepoo battery – one 24-pdr rifle, one rifled 18-pdr, and one rifled 12-pdr.
  • Burnett’s – one 4.62-inch rifle, two rifled 32-pdrs and one 32-pdr smoothbore.
  • Dawson’s Bluff – one 24-pdr smoothbore and one 3-inch rifle.

Beyond those works, curiously Gonzales reported a battery at Red Bluff, which had been abandoned in December including one 8-inch Columbiad and two 24-pdr rifled guns.  Those guns were withdrawn, with great effort, by Major-General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry after the fall of Savannah.  Likewise, Gonzales listed two 24-pdr Austrian howitzers and one 24-pdr flank howitzer at Old Pocotaligo, which had been withdrawn a few days before the report’s date.

In Florida, the Confederates maintained works on the Appalacicola River (five 32-pdr smoothbores and six 24-pdr smoothbores) and St. Mark’s (two 32-pdr rifles and two 32-pdr smoothbores).

In addition to those listed above, Gonzales noted twenty 6-pdr guns, six James rifles, and two 12-pdr howitzers distributed around the department at fixed positions in undesignated posts.

The cannon listed in Gonzales’ January 19 report were all fixed in fortifications.  While some weapons were field guns or could be adapted for field use, in most cases the garrisons lacked sufficient equipment and horses to move them with a field army.  In an earlier report, dated January 6, 1865, Gonzales detailed the field batteries in the department:

  • 14th Battalion Georgia Artillery, Company B, Captain Ruel W. Anderson, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Georgia Regulars Battalion, Company C, Captain A. Smith Barnwell, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Beaufort Light Artillery, Captain H.M. Stuart, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Chatham Light Artillery, Captain John F. Wheaton, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Chesnut Light Artillery, Captain Frederick C. Schulz, four 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Georgia Regulars Battalion, Company B, Captain Charles Daniell, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Palmetto Artillery, Battery G, Captain W.L. DePass, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Furman Light Artillery, Captain William E. Earle, one 12-pdr Napoleon, two 12-pdr howitzers, and one 10-pdr Parrott.
  • German Artillery, Company A, Captain F.W. Wagener, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Bachman’s German Artillery, Captain W.K. Bachman, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Guerard’s (Georgia) Battery, Captain John M. Guerard, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Inglis Light Artillery, Captain William E. Charles, four 6-pdr field guns.
  • Kilcrease Light Artillery, Captain F.L. Villepigue, two 12-pdr howitzers and two 6-pdr field guns.
  • Lafayette Light Artillery, Captain J.T. Kanapaux, four 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Leon Light Artillery, Captain Robert H. Gamble, two 12-pdr howitzers and two 3-inch rifles.
  • Louisiana Guard Artillery, Captain Camille E. Girardey, four 12-pdr Napoloens and two 3.5-inch Blakely rifles.
  • Marion Light Artillery, Captain Edward L. Parker, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Milton Light Artillery, Company A, Captain Joseph L. Dunham, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Milton Light Artillery, Company B, Captain Henry F. Abell, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Orleans Guard Artillery, Captain G. LeGardeur, Jr., two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Georgia Regulars Battalion, Company A, Captain J.A. Maxwell, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Santee Light Artillery, Captain Christopher Gaillard, two 6-pdr field guns and two 3-inch rifles.
  • Terrell Light Artillery, Captain John W. Brooks, four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Waccamaw Light Artillery, Captain Mayham Ward, two 12-pdr howitzers and two 6-pdr field guns.
  • Wagner Light Artillery, Captain Charles E. Kanapaux, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Washington (South Carolina) Light Artillery, Captain George H. Walter, two 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Section supporting Colonel Colcock’s cavalry, Lieutenant Richard Johnson, two 12-pdr Napoleons.

So the field batteries included fifty-nine Napoleons, five 10-pdr Parrotts, four 3-inch rifles, two Blakely rifles, twenty-eight 12-pdr howitzers, and ten 6-pdr field guns.  This gave Lieutenant-General William Hardee 108 cannon to support the mobile forces charged with opposing Sherman’s advance into South Carolina.

In total, 322 fixed and 108 field artillery pieces opposed the Federals as the embarked on the march into South Carolina.  In Sherman’s two wings, the Federals brought only 68 field guns.  Yet, much like they say about real estate, when it comes to artillery on the battlefield it is all about “location, location, location.”  With less infantry and cavalry to oppose the Federals, the Confederates could not bring their numerical advantage in artillery to bear.

(Gonzales’ reports appear in OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part II, Serial 99, pages 992 and 1024-6.)

The Defenses of James Island: May 1864 – Part 1, the East Lines

Earlier this season, I provided a summary from an inspection of Confederate defenses on Sullivan’s Island.  Balancing that is a report, also by Major George Upshur Mayo, on the defenses of James Island, posted 150 years ago today (May 25).  James Island remained a “hot spot” due to its proximity to Federal garrisons.  Compared to Sullivan’s Island, its batteries faced different threats – not ironclads, but Federal raiding parties and wooden gunboats.  The armament, thus, differed accordingly.  The report offers another snapshot in time of those defenses.

JamesIslandLinesMay64North

Summarizing Mayo’s report, by fortification (and with maps cropped to show each section in detail), first the east side of the line:

JamesIslandLinesMay64East

Battery Glover:  Captain J.D. Johnson commanded this battery. “This battery is not in order. The eccentrics of the carriages require adjusting. The magazines are good.” Mayo indicated the battery had two rifled and banded 42-pdr guns, with a total of 251 bolts and projectiles.

Battery Wampler: Mayo found the magazine unkempt and two 10-inch columbiads there out of order.  But the ammunition and implements passed inspection.

Battery Harleston: “… in good order and the magazines kept with remarkable neatness, but water begins to come through….”  Captain W.H. Peronneau commanded, though reported sick.  The battery contained three 10-inch columbiads, one 7-inch Brooke, and one rifled and banded 42-pdr.  The rifles had 130 bolts between them, but the cartridges were considered too heavy. Mayo suggested breaking those down to seven pound charges and thus creating 81 additional cartridges.

Fort Johnson: “… is in good order and very neatly policed about the guns and magazines.”  Captain A.S. Gaillard commanded Fort Johnson with a garrison of 3 officers, 63 men. The fort contained one rifled 10-inch columbiad, two smoothbore 10-inch columbiads, one 8-inch columbiad, two 30-pdr Parrotts (I believe formerly of the Siege Trains), and two iron 6-pdr field guns.  For the guns, the fort’s magazine had 109 10-inch bolts, 295 10-inch shot, 82 10-inch shells, 20 10-inch canister, 64 8-inch shot, and 9 8-inch shells.

Battery Simkins: Captain D.E. Dickson, 2nd South Carolina Artillery commanded this work.  At his disposal were 122 men (also garrisoning nearby works). While in good condition, one of the magazines in the battery was too low and useless due to flooding.  Mayo suggested more earth to protect this forward, exposed battery.  In addition he suggested more care for the guns to prevent corrosion.  The battery contained two 8-inch shell guns, one 6.4-inch Brooke rifle (being remounted after repairs), and three 10-inch mortars.

Headquarters Brooke Gun: An additional 6.4-inch Brooke armed a small work between Battery Simkins and Fort Johnson.

Battery Cheves:  Mayo found this battery in disarray.  The parapet, carriages, and gun mountings needed much attention.  The garrison, under Captain W.M. Hunter, complained of bad cartridges and fuses.  And their shells appeared to be misshapen in casting.  Three 8-inch columbiads in the battery had 192 shells, 49 canister, and 48 grapeshot.

New Mortar Battery: Near Battery Cheves, the Confederates were constructing a new mortar battery.  While incomplete, it would contain three 10-inch mortars.  301 shells were on hand.

Battery Haskell: “This battery is in fair condition only.” Mayo reported the magazine somewhat cluttered. Armament included one 8-inch columbiad, one 8-inch siege howitzer, two 42-pdr carronades whose carriages did not perform well, and two iron 6-pdr field guns.  In addition, there was a 32-pdr rifled gun mounted on a ship carriage so as to fire at high elevation.  This was the “rifled mortar” experimented with earlier in the year.  Mayo rated it as “deficient.”  But the battery was generously stocked with rounds of all calibers.

Battery Tatom: Mayo found this battery in good order, but the magazine “not neatly kept.”  The work contained one 32-pdr smoothbore and three 24-pdr howitzers.  Recent changes to the battery’s armament left quantities of 12-pdr and 6-pdr projectiles, taking up space in the magazine.

Battery Ryan: This work contained a “left” and “right” wing.  On the left was a line with one 8-inch howitzer, one 32-pdr smoothbore, and one 24-pdr Austrian howitzer.  On the right were four 12-pdr howitzers.  Mayo considered this battery deficient.  Though amply garrisoned with four officers and 97 men, the magazine was not clean and the weapons out of order. Mayo felt Captain J.R. Bowden was not allocating all the means at his disposal.

Mayo did not mention Battery Reed, which had fallen into disuse at this time of the war.

Redoubt No. 1: Also manned by Bowden’s command, this work likewise failed inspection.  It contained one 8-inch shell gun and one 32-pdr smoothbore.

Redoubt No. 2:  One short 32-pdr naval gun in this work at the time.  It’s cartridges were overweight for the gun. Mayo suggested a swap with nearby batteries for the correct loadings.  Mayo did not inspect any of the other redoubts on the line, which indicates those, though maintained, were unarmed.

I will continue with Mayo’s report in Part 2, with a look at the western and northern defenses, as well as a review of the South Carolina Siege Train and field pieces on James Island at that time.

(Mayo’s report appears in OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 505-513.)

 

 

Battery Glover: “This work is intended for five guns”

The subject for the second installment of “Fortifications around Charleston in Detail” is Battery Glover.  I discussed this battery last year when detailing the fortifications around Charleston as they existed in the spring of 1863.  So Battery Glover should be no stranger here.  However the battery is one of the more obscure in the defenses, having saw no substantial action during the war.

Name:  Originally referenced as “Lawton Battery.”  Renamed Battery Glover in November 4, 1862, under General Orders #88 (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, Page 666).  A couple of secondary sources mention “Battery Styles” at this location.  But that designation is tenuous, in my opinion.

Named for:  There is no official notice on the naming of this fort.  The most likely is Colonel Thomas J. Glover, Colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, who was killed at Second Manassas in late August 1862 (from what I understand, on Chinn Ridge).

Location: James Island, facing Charleston Harbor’s south channel.

JamesIslandEastLinesMap

Description: A battery fronting the inner portion of Charleston Harbor.  Four or five gun positions (the fifth may not have been completed).  Frontage of approximately 110 yards.  Height of parapet was about 10 feet above ground level.  Ditch in front of works roughly three feet deep.  Depth of works, including magazine, was 70 yards.  Internal dimensions of magazine approximately 75 by 25 feet.

Purpose: According to a circular from Brigadier-General Roswell Ripley, from December 1862, Battery Glover was part of the inner circle (or third) of fire designed to protect Charleston Harbor.  “Should any vessel succeed in passing the second circle of fire the third will be formed and put into action by the guns of White Point Battery and Battery Glover, with such guns of Forts Johnson and Ripley and Castle Pinckney as will bear.” (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, Page 734).

Captain John Johnson’s map demonstrates how Battery Glover covered the Ashley River channel in conjunction with those other fortifications.

BatteryGloverLocation

Established:  Prior to the fall of 1862.

Plans, photographs and other depictions:   There may be at least one wartime photograph of Battery Glover from the harbor, but I don’t have a copy to post. Federal engineers made detailed diagrams of the battery after the fall of Charleston, providing a plan of the battery:

BatteryGloverPlan

The profile on section 1 showed three guns in position, with a fourth position left empty.  This matched Confederate descriptions of the armament in January 1865 (see below).

BatteryGloverProfileSect1

Section 2 profile demonstrated the ditch in front of the works and the height of the walls.

BatteryGloverProfileSect2

The central magazine extended well back of the gun platforms.

BatteryGloverProfileSect3

Armament:  Varied during the war:

  • March 3, 1863 – One rifled 32-pdr and three smoothbore 32-pdr guns, with an unmounted 8-inch shell gun.   Brigadier-General S.R. Gist wrote, “This work is intended for five guns, some of which are now in position, viz: One rifled 32-pounder and three smoothbore 32-pounders on barbette carriages; the fifth gun, an 8-inch shell gun (navy), is awaiting its carriage. This gun, not being intended for solid shot, would be more serviceable if placed in the front battery at Secessionville in lieu of the rifled 24-pounder now in that battery, and its position filled by a gun of long range and one capable of projecting heavy solid shot or bolts.”  (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, page 605.).
  • August 1863 – The 8-inch shell gun went to Redoubt No. 1 on the James Island line (OR, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 47, page 256).  Orders passed down to prepare two 10-inch columbiad platforms in the battery (Ibid, page 286).
  • October 21, 1863 – armament reduced to three rifled 32-pdr guns (OR Series I, Volume 28, Part I, Serial 46, page 148).    However, in a report on the defenses, “It is advisable to place a heavier armament in Battery Glover, when it can be obtained, and the present armament should then be sent to localities better suited for it” (Ibid, page 433).
  • May 25, 1864 – Inventory by Major George Upshur Mayo states the battery had two 42-pdr rifled, single banded guns, with 151 bolts, 100 shells, and 110 pounds of cannon powder (OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 505-9).
  • January 1865 – Three 8-inch columbiads (OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part II, Serial 99, page 1025).

Significant actions and activity:  The battery was not involved with any major actions, as the Federals never tested the inner defenses.  In May 1864, Mayo reported “This battery is not in order. The eccentrics of the carriages require adjusting. The magazines are good.”

Units assigned and commanders:  In March 1863, the battery had 75 personnel assigned.  In June 1863, Company G, 2nd South Carolina Volunteer (Heavy) Artillery garrisoned the fort (OR, Series I, Volume 28, Part II, Serial 47, page 162).  Mayo’s report of May 25, 1864 indicated “Captain [John] D. Johnson commanding; Lieut. R.M. Anderson sick since May 8; Lieut W.D. Scarborough sick in camp about six weeks.”  These officers were part of Company E, Palmetto Battalion, South Carolina Artillery (3rd Battalion, Light Artillery).

Status today:  In the mid-1990s, I visited this site and noted a slight trace of remains.  But I don’t know if those are extant today.  The site is on private property.  I don’t know who the owner is now, and out of respect for that won’t  post the exact location here.

150 Years Ago: Improving the James Island Forts defending Charleston

I’m a little behind on the exact sesquicentennial timing, so please forgive me being a few days off.  On March 3, 1863, Brigadier-General States Rights Gist – a Confederate who’s parents left no doubt as to their political leanings – filed a report on the defenses of James Island.

English: Photo of Confederate General States R...
Brig.Gen. S.R. Gist

Gist had recently returned to Charleston and had assumed command of forces on James Island and in Saint Andrew’s Parish.  Gist’s command covered the area south and southwest of Charleston, which was for all practical purposes the “right flank” of the city’s defense.  Consider the Charleston theater of operation:

SCCoast1a

To the northeast of the harbor, the barrier islands offered a few channels, but none leading deep inshore.  While this was a non-topographical map, the limited road network depicted alludes to the wide, impassable marshes.

On the other hand, to the south and southeast, Federal gunboats could, and often did, navigate up the Stono River (… at their own peril of course).  The network of islands that included James Island offered high ground, roads and causeways leading right to the inner harbor.  And just north of the island, within easy reach, was the vital Charleston & Savannah Railroad.

CharlestonDefGilmore1a

For the Federals, James Island offered a passageway to the birthplace of secession.  For the Confederate defenders, the island was a critical salient.  In June 1862, the Confederates thwarted an early attempt on James Island with a victory in the battle of Secessionville.  Not resting on a victory, the defenders expanded and improved the defenses.  However, after a September inspection tour, General P.G.T. Beauregard described the works as “not very properly arranged and located” and he directed additional work.

Upon receiving command of the sector on February 12, 1863, Gist began inspecting the defenses with an aim to complete the desired improvements.  His March 3 report indicated that the defenses were “not altogether in fighting condition in consequence of the want of necessary ordnance and ordnance stores…” From that overall assessment, Gist provided a detailed examination of the key defenses of his command.

JamesIslandDef2

On the harbor side of the island, Fort Johnson, Battery Glover, and Battery Means covered the South Channel and mouth of the Ashley River.  The armament of Fort Johnson included two 10-inch columbiads, a rifled 32-pdr gun, two 32-pdr smoothbores, and a 10-inch mortar.  Gist wanted to relocate the later guns, of little use against ironclads, to other points in the defenses.  In their place he requested more rifled guns.   Battery Glover contained a rifled 32-pdr and three smoothbore 32-pdrs, with an 8-inch shell gun waiting for a carriage.  Gist wanted to send the shell gun to Fort Lamar, in exchange for a rifled 24-pdr.  Battery Means, with only a pair of 8-inch shell guns, could only cover the entrance to Wappoo Creek (which provided passage between the Stono and Ashley Rivers).

The James Island Line (labeled “East James Island Line” on my map) consisted of a three mile front with “six redoubts, five redans, and one lunette.”   Defenders  manned 18 to 20 guns along that line.  The works lacked magazines and in some places ramps and firing platforms.  Engineers had already repositioned the works away from earlier infantry cremaillere lines.  But not all those old works were demolished, and obstructed the new lines.  Gist wanted the old lines cleared, completion of the artillery positions, and additional firing platforms for any reinforcing field artillery.

In front of that East James Line, Battery Reed with two 24-pdr siege guns covered the bridge to Secessionville and Light House Creek.  Gist felt that, although low in elevation, this work was an important link supporting the outer line.  He desired expansion to connect with the East James Line and to allow a couple more field pieces.

Charleston 4 May 10 251
Inside Fort Lamar Today

Fort (or Battery) Lamar was the main defense of Secessionville.  Earlier reports indicated the fort had two 8-inch guns, one rifled 32-pdr, six smoothbore 32-pdrs, two rifled 24-pdrs, and two 10-inch mortars.  Gist tallied thirteen guns without noting the particulars.  Construction on the fort was nearing completion, which would make it, in Gist’s estimate, “impregnable if defended by a proper garrison….”  To the north of Secessionville, a new two gun battery covered the bridge to the main island.  On Bridge Neck, infantry lines with provisioning for three field artillery pieces, also defended the bridge (some accounts refer to this as a causeway).

East of Secessionville and Fort Lamar, the Cross-Roads Line covered three roads providing access into James Island.  Gist had originally placed this line of works in an earlier tour of duty.  The 1,200 yard line was designed to block patrols and delay any force in strength.  The line consisted of hedge-rows, infantry entrenchments and field artillery firing positions.

Fort Pemberton anchored the defensive line to the Stono River.  The fort had fifteen guns and could handle ten more if reinforced.  Earlier reports stated the fort included two 10-inch columbiads, two 8-inch guns, two 42-pdr guns, two rifled 32-pdrs, four 32-pdr smoothbores, two 18-pdr guns, and two rifled 12-prs.  This appeared sufficient to keep gunboats at distance.  But Gist suggested an additional flanking exterior battery for a better angle down the river.

Behind Fort Pemberton, the West James Island Line was the last link in the chain of fortifications.  Gist described the works as “a continuous redan line” indicating the presence of several strong points along the 2,600 yard front.  Like the east line, the west side contained light artillery.

One important improvement, although not a fortification, suggested by Gist was placing a signal station behind the West James Island Line.  Not only would that improve communications across the island and to Charleston, but would also allow observation of potential landing sites along the Stono River.  You see, signal stations were not all about signals back in those days.  Gist also directed his engineers to construct better bridges and passages between James Island and Saint Andrew’s Parrish to the north.  This would allow for covered and concealed movement of troops to threatened positions.

Gist estimated the remaining work required “600 hands for six or eight weeks,” but he only had 130 (more on this in a later post).  Overall the military force on James Island included 1,735 artillerymen, 5,100 infantry, and 2,500 reserves.  Armament included 75 guns and three mortars.  Gist desired 120 guns.

Closing his report, Gist looked beyond James Island for the ultimate solution:

I will indulge the hope that the advance line of defense may be speedily re-established upon Cole’s Island and the Stono once again freed from Yankee gunboats.  This would of necessity reduce the garrison required for its defense to at least one-third the number at present called for.

But, as we know from the perspective of 150 years later, that ship had already sailed.  Cole’s Island, along with the marshes behind Folly and Morris Islands, were soon to be within the Federal advanced picket lines.  This prompted more improvements and additions to the works.  But the James Island defenses would serve their intended purpose.  The defenses of James Island held the Federals at bay until 1865.  As seen from the photo of Fort Lamar above, a few of these works stand today.

(Gist’s report appears in OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, pages 804-808.)