September 6, 1864: Foster stops bombardment of Fort Sumter “for want of ammunition”

On September 6, 1864, Major-General John Foster provided a status report to the Chief of Staff, Major-General Henry Halleck, in Washington.  The update, while routine, brought several ongoing operational lines together – prisoners, health and sanitary concerns, and the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  And above all, Foster emphasized he was not engaging in offensive operations:

General: I have the honor to report that no military operations of importance have taken place since the date of my last report. The enemy have sent over the lines without exchange a large number of surgeons and chaplains whom they had held in custody. This is the result of the correspondence which I had with General Samuel Jones, showing him that these persons were to be considered non-combatants.

The exchange of non-combatants, in this case medical officers and chaplains, was allowed under standing policy of the time, and considered a separate matter from the exchange of other officers and enlisted troops.  A fine detail distinction to consider with regard to prisoner exchanges.

Foster went on to relate the Confederates also sent over, without insisting on an exchange, a sergeant and a private who’d been captured at Port Royal Ferry earlier in the summer.  The reason these two were released involved the circumstances of their capture:

The rebel pickets at that point called to our pickets to send over a boat for them, as they wanted to desert. The sergeant in command of our pickets, credulously believing them, went in a boat with 1 man, and upon their arrival on the opposite shore were taken prisoners and the boat seized.

General Jones returns them without exchange, with the remark that “they were captured under circumstances which he cannot approve.”

Earlier in August, Foster had requested to send supplies to the prisoners in Charleston, Savannah, and Andersonville.  Now Foster related Jones’ response:

General Jones refuses to allow our officers, prisoners of war, to take charge of supplies for our prisoners at Charleston and Savannah, but says he will insure their faithful delivery. He has no jurisdiction over the prisoners at Andersonville, and therefore declines to entertain that part of the proposition.

So a partial solution, but not one that would ease the suffering where most exposed – Andersonville.

But Andersonville was not the only place in the south with concerns for health and sanitation:

The health of the department is growing rapidly worse. The number of sick in hospital is increasing, and a large number of the officers have to be furnished with sick leave to prevent permanent disability. I have no idea, however, that it is more than the usual malarious epidemic and disease peculiar to the climate this season of the year. It will not enfeeble the strength of the command beyond a proper limit of strength. I can get along very well with the force I now have until the enemy’s strength is very much increased.

Such indicated the “no offensive operations” instructions which Washington had frequently reiterated over the summer.  The Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter was an acceptable activity, as it did not commit the force to action.  The gunners on Morris Island would sweat as they handled the big guns.  But that did not risk a larger engagement, as did the demonstrations of early July 1864.  With that in mind, Foster related the progress of the bombardment:

I have been forced to almost entirely stop the fire upon Fort Sumter for want of ammunition, the requisitions upon the ordnance department having been entirely unfilled, and, on the contrary large orders having been received to send ammunition from this department to Fort Monroe. We had reached a point in the demolition of the fort beyond which the enemy could not have held out many weeks in their occupancy. Since the gradual cessation of fire they have exerted every effort to pile earth upon the parts which were being laid bare by the force of our fire.

The Third Major Bombardment ended on or around September 4 – basing that date on Captain John Johnson’s account, from the Confederate side. Foster had simply ran out of ammunition. I’ve run across the detailed orders in regard to ammunition forwarded from Hilton Head to Fort Monroe, but don’t have it handy as of this writing.  The point being – not only troops were going to Virginia.  The center of gravity around Richmond-Petersburg was also pulling in heavy ordnance.

Johnson and other Confederate accounts stressed that the fort was in better condition to resist a Federal assault than it was before the bombardment began.  That may have been so.  But it was only due to the employment of precious labor – impressed negro labor – to keep pace with the demolition done by the Federals.  If the Confederates could boast the ability to rebuilt the fort, the Federals could counter that the the bombardment was not sustained to the level needed to destroy the fort.  Were the strategic priorities weighed differently, the balance would shift accordingly.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 272-3.)


“Forty Parrott shells fired at fort to-day, 15 missed”: The Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter slows to a close

At 7:30 p.m on September 2, 1864, Captain Thomas A. Huguenin sent his routine summary report for the day from Fort Sumter:

Forty Parrott shells fired at fort to-day, 15 missed.

Routine was right.  For eight straight weeks Fort Sumter was under concentrated bombardment by Federal batteries on Morris Island.  Early in July, the shells came at faster rates and from large caliber weapons.  But by late August and into September, the Federal’s pace and weight of fire fell offFrom the first two weeks of the bombardment (July 7 to July 21) the average rate was just over fifteen rounds per hour, the majority of which were heavy caliber Parrott rounds.  Over the second pair of weeks (July 22 to August 2), the average hourly rate dropped to eleven and a half rounds.  Those weeks saw a larger portion of mortars and small caliber Parrotts used.  Between August 3 and August 14, the hourly average held somewhat steady at 11, but mortar and columbiad fires accounted for half of the total.  So with forty rounds during the day, added to the thirty-three Parrott shells fired overnight, on September 2, the Federal bombardment dropped to “minor bombardment” levels, if not “desultory firing” levels.

From the middle of August through the end of the month, Huguenin recorded the following tallies incoming to Fort Sumter (allow me to cite his reports, as opposed to providing a table, as his notations are incomplete):

  • August 16 – “Forty-two Parrott shells fired at the fort during the night, of which 22 struck; 58 mortar shells, of which 33 struck.”
  • August 18 – “Sixteen Parrott shells fired at the fort to-day, of which 11 missed; 56 mortar shells, of which 11 missed.”
  • August 20, 11 a.m. – “Twenty-six Parrott shells fired at the fort last night, of which 14 hit; 51 mortar shells, of which 31 hit.”
  • August 20, evening – “Nine Parrott shells fired at the fort to-day, of which 8 missed; 51 mortar shells, of which 11 missed.”
  • August 22 – “Thirty-four Parrott shells have been fired during the night, 9 of which missed; 42 mortar shells, 6 of which missed.”
  • August 23, morning – “The enemy fired 20 Parrott shells last night, 14 of which missed; also 23 columbiad shells, 11 missed.”
  • August 23, evening – “Thirty-six Parrott shells fired at the fort to-day, 22 of which missed; also 61 columbiad shells, 5 of which missed.”
  • August 25, morning – “Five Parrott shells fired at the fort last night, of which 4 missed; 27 columbiad shells, of which 5 missed.”
  • August 25, evening – “Thirty columbiad shells fired at fort to-day, of which 28 hit; 19 Parrott shells, of which 3 hit.”
  • August 26 – “Thirty-five columbiad shells fired at the fort last night, of which 16 missed; 18 Parrott shells, of which 9 missed.”
  • August 27 – “Eleven Parrott shells fired at the fort to-day, all of which missed; 35 columbiads, of which 3 missed.”
  • August 28 – “Eighteen Parrott shots were fired at the fort last night, of which 17 missed; 32 columbiads, of which 5 missed.”
  • August 29 – “Twenty-one Parrotts fired at the fort to-day, of which 15 missed; 40 columbiads, of which 9 missed.”
  • August 30, morning – “Ten Parrott shells fired at the fort last night, none of which struck; 29 columbiads, of which 7 missed.”
  • August 30, evening – “Twenty Parrott shells fired at the fort t0-day, of which 10 missed; 38 columbiads, of which 9 missed.”
  • August 31, morning – “Four Parrott shells fired at the fort last night, of which 3 missed; 31 columbiads, none of which missed; 1 mortar, which missed.”
  • August 31, afternoon – “Fourteen Parrot shots fired at the fort to-day, of which 7 missed; 27 mortar, of which 8 missed.”

For September 1, the totals were 34 Parrott shells, of which 14 missed; 41 mortar shells, with 17 missing. And as mentioned, September 2nd saw 77 total Parrott rounds both day and night, with 26 missing.   During second half of August, Huguenin reported two Confederates wounded, and also four negro laborers killed and nine wounded.  Life in the fort continued to be more dangerous for the laborers than for the soldiers.

Huguenin’s observations indicate a significant number of the Federal shots went wide of the target.  One would think, given a year of operations in which to fine tune the direction of the guns, the Federal fires would be very accurate by August 1864.  On the other hand, there was less of Fort Sumter to aim at by the end of that month, and the Federals were focusing fires on specific portions of the fort.  And there was one other issue facing the Federals on Morris Island, alluded to by Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig

In his update of August 24, 1864, Schimmelfennig provided his tally of ammunition expended from August 16 to August 24:

The following is the number of shots fired by our batteries and by the enemy since my last report of the 16th instant: At Fort Sumter, total number of shots, 1,014; at the city we have fired within the last twenty-four hours fifteen 100-pounder shell. Previous to that there was no firing at the city, the 100-pounder being dismounted by reason of a broken carriage, and the powder that we had for the 30-pounder being so poor as not to throw a shell into the city. The enemy has fired from Sullivan’s and James Islands at our camps and front batteries 118 shells.  This fire has been responded to from Fort Strong.

He didn’t indicate if the poor powder affected the firing on Fort Sumter.  But the rate of fire over those days was down to less than five per hour.  On September 2, he added the tallies for August 24 through that date:

The firing from our front battery since my last report (nine days) has been as follows: At Fort Sumter, 936 shells; at the city, 298 shells. The enemy has fired during the same time from his batteries on James and Sullivan’s Islands 490 shells, which have been duly responded to from Fort Strong. The enemy has thrown mortar shells at Paine’s Dock for several nights last.

The firing rate dropped slightly to just over four per hour on average.  At the same time, the Confederates had increased their counter-battery fire somewhat.

On September 3, Huguenin recorded 31 Parrott shells through the night, and one negro laborer killed.  The following day the Federals fired 35 Parrott shells at the fort.  The Third Major Bombardment, as defined by Captain John Johnson, ended with that.   A few days of relative peace came before another “minor” bombardment resumed. So one might read the finish of one period and the start of another as subjective.  Regardless, for sixty straight days Fort Sumter endured one of the heaviest bombardments of the war.  And the only major change in the situation at Charleston was a relocation of rubble.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part I, Serial 65, pages 72-3 and 236-40.)



3,180 shots at Fort Sumter between August 3 and 14, 1864: Third Major Bombardment continues

On August 16, 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel William Ames, Chief of Artillery of the Northern District (Morris and Folly Islands), Department of the South, provided an in progress report for the Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter.  The bombardment, which started on July 7, was at that time in its sixth week.  Ames provided this tally for the ordnance expended:

I have the honor to report the following number of projectiles and guns as expended in the bombardment of Fort Sumter from August 3 to August 14, inclusive: Three 200-pounder Parrott guns; 304 30-pounder Parrott shells, 299 100-pounder Parrott shells(*), 772 200-pounder Parrott shells, 13 300-pounder Parrott shells, 219 10-inch columbiad shells, 1,465 10-inch mortar shells, 108 13-inch mortar shells; total, 3,180.

The Third Major Bombardment had exceeded both previous “major” bombardments in terms of duration.  But it remained behind the Second Major Bombardment in terms of number of shots fired at Fort Sumter.  The problem facing the Federals was the amount of ordnance on hand – both guns and projectiles.  Already the Army was forced to borrow from the Navy.  And the Army lost three 200-pounder (8-inch) Parrotts during the first half of August.

The breakdown of rounds fired also illustrates some changes in the type of fires.  Recalling Ames’ reports from July 26 and August 1 for comparison, consider the proportions.  First from the period from July 7 to July 22:


More than half of the shots fired were from 100-pdr and 200-pdr Parrotts (that would be 6.4-inch and 8-inch for those who prefer the bore diameter designation… like me).  The mortars provided a quarter of the shots fired.  In the minorities were 30-pdr Parrotts, 300-pounder Parrotts, and the columbiads.

Then from July 23 to August 1:


The mortars increased in proportion to nearly a third.  The 30-pdr Parrotts provided a quarter of the rounds fired.  Triple the number of 300-pdr (I mean 10-inch) Parrotts.  Four times increase in the proportion of the columbiad contribution.  And decreasing noise from the 100-pdrs and 200-pdrs.

And from August 2 to August 14:


Now the mortars shouldered half the load.  The 200-pdrs fired nearly a quarter of the shots.  The columbiads sustained nearly the same ratio of shots fired.  But decreases from all the other Parrotts.  I’d love to see a breakdown of this on a day-by-day basis.  Furthermore, a similar breakdown, even if week-t0-week, for the other major bombardments would be interesting.

What these charts are demonstrating is the nature of the Third Major Bombardment. By the start of the second month of work, the Federals turned increasingly to vertical fires.  Some of the same reasons Federals at Petersburg brought up their mortars were at play.  Recall the Second Major Bombardment turned to mortars in the later part of November. However, the Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter was burning out resources faster than they could be replenished on Morris Island.

∗The “printed” official records indicate this as “200-pounder Parrott shells” but given the sequence and other information surrounding this report, I think that is a misprint and sh0uld read “100-pounder Parrott shells.”

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, page 241.)

“The negro force reduced considerably; more absolutely necessary.”: Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter continues

The Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter entered a second month in August 1864.  I offered the “by day” Confederate tally of rounds fired at the fort at intervals during July  – July 7-10, July 11-20, and July 21-25.  Over those time, the rate of fire averaged around 15 rounds per hour.  That was “average,” and not saying the Federal fire was consistent.  Rather just using that as a measure to demonstrate the surges and ebbs to the firing.  Firing reached a peak on July 20 with 706 rounds fired – just under 30 per hour average.  On July 24, there was an ebb of 161 rounds fired, giving an average of barely seven per hour.

Those were the figures up to the last week of July, when Captain Thomas A. Huguenin took command of Fort Sumter.  For the last days of July, he recorded the following totals:

  • July 26 – 272 fired by day, 66 at night , 102 missed – 440 total.
  • July 27 – 193 fired by day, 86 at night, 62 missed – 341 total.
  • July 28 – 149 fired by day, 43 at night, 78 missed – 270 total.
  • July 29 – 190 fired by day, 63 at night, 106 missed – 359 total.
  • July 30 – 156 fired by day, 57 at night, 68 missed – 281 total.
  • July 31 – 135 fired by day, 117 at night, 107 missed – 359 total.

That brought the Confederate’s tally to a total of 8,806 for the month of July.  The daily average over the last six days of July was 341, bringing the hourly average to slightly over 14.

After July, Huguenin’s reports in August were not as regular compared to July.  As result, the tallies are not uniform:

  • Morning of August 1 – total of 177, most of which were mortar.
  • Afternoon of August 2 – total of 171 both gun and mortar shots.
  • Morning of August 3 – total of  178, most of which were mortar.
  • Afternoon of August 3 – 74 shots at the fort plus one mortar shell.
  • Afternoon of August 8 – 56 Parrott shots, 9 mortar shells.
  • Afternoon of August 9 – 58 Parrott shots.
  • Afternoon of August 10 – 115 shots from guns, 57 mortar shells.
  • Mid-day of August 11 – 89 shots from guns, 75 mortar shells.

The numbers are not complete, and I am reluctant to offer firm totals, from the Confederate perspective, over that period.  But the numbers do indicate the Federal fire slackened.  This is due to the shortage of guns and ammunition on the Federal side, which necessitated the Navy to loan ordnance to the Army.   And the daily totals fell to “minor bombardment” if not “desultory firing” levels, as described by Captain John Johnson.

Speaking of Johnson, it was during this period that Johnson received a wound serious enough to remove him from Fort Sumter.  Before dawn on July 28, Johnson was inspecting the eastern angle of the fort when a mortar shell burst.  A fragment hit Johnson on top of his head.  Lieutenant Ralph Izard filled in temporarily as the fort’s engineer until Lieutenant Edwin White arrived as the permanent replacement on July 30.  Johnson had served in Fort Sumter from November 8, 1863 until his wounding.  White would remain at the fort until the Confederates withdrew from Charleston.

Johnson was not the only casualty during the last days of July or early days of August. Private John Beasley from the 32nd Georgia received a mortal wound on the same day Johnson was wounded.  The following day, Private Simeon Percy from Company F, 1st South Carolina was wounded in the hand.  On July 31, Private Richard Bishop of the same company was slightly wounded. Four other privates and the fort’s doctor were wounded during the first ten days of August.

But those were not the only casualties.  In that same period, Hugenin reported two negroes killed and fifteen wounded (plus one severely sunburned).  While the reports usually gave names for the soldier casualties, none were provided for the laborers.  Remember, these were impressed or contracted laborers.  Most of them were enslaved. And clearly they were facing the most danger at Fort Sumter.

And this labor force was vital to the Confederate defense of the fort. On August 10, Hugenin reported:

One hundred and fifteen shots fired to-day, 2 missed; 57 mortar shells, 15 missed. No casualties. The negro force reduced considerably; more absolutely necessary.

Without that labor force, the Confederates could not maintain the organized rubble pile that was Fort Sumter.  Sadly, we don’t know their names.  At best there is mention of their owners, in reference to their property loss.  And very few post war Confederate accounts mention this “absolutely necessary” component of the defiant maintenance of the Confederate flag over Fort Sumter.

(Citations and bombardment figures from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part I, Serial 65, pages 229-35.)

Ask for IX-inch guns, you get XI-inch guns: Naval support for the Third Major Bombardment

Last week, I mentioned this gun that was put to use on Morris Island in the summer of 1864:

At the end of July, 1864, Major-General John Foster requested support from Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren to sustain the Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter.  In addition to asking for replacements for burst heavy Parrott rifles, Foster asked if the Navy might loan some heavy smoothbore guns.  Foster asked for IX-inch Dahlgrens, but his subordinate, Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig, felt XI-inch 0r XV-inch Dahglrens would be more suitable for the work.  While Schimmelfennig had a cordial relationship with Dahlgren, I don’t think he pressed the Admiral directly on the issue.  Likely, Dahlgren had more of the XI-inch guns on hand, as the IX-inch guns were heavily used by the smaller blockaders and the XV-inch guns were for the monitors.

On August 5, 1864, Foster wrote to Schimmelfennig to announce the Naval “reinforcements” for the Third Major Bombardment:

Admiral Dahlgren has declared his willingness to lend six 11-inch guns, with carriages, implements, and the requisite officers, crew, and ammunition. The guns are to be landed by the navy at Light-House Inlet, and will be transported to their positions by the army. It is recommended, however, that at high tide the scows used for carrying the shells be run up as high as possible on the beach near the battery and the shells be thrown overboard, so that they can be picked up at low tide by the wagons and taken into the battery. Four 100-pounder Parrott guns will be sent up also as soon as transportation can be had. I will borrow from the navy some 100 and 200 and 300 pounder ammunition, and send it up at the same time, if possible.

Six XI-inch Dahlgrens and four 100-pdr Parrotts to add their weight to the bombardment falling on Fort Sumter. And the Army would receive ammunition to refresh their depleted stocks.  Notice how these would be delivered:  directly over the beach. In fact, dropped on the beach to be retrieved at low tide!  And I do like the use of the verb “borrow,” as if the Army intended to give those shells back.

Foster used the same letter to discuss the ongoing investigation of the failed raid on Fort Johnson.  But after briefly touching upon that matter, he turned to the care of ordnance used in the bombardment.  Referencing the ordnance report from the end of July, he wrote:

I likewise inclose an official copy of the ordnance report from your command, with indorsements thereon, and your attention is invited to indorsement from Lieut. John R. McGinness, chief of ordnance, who states that there is a good supply of lacquer on hand, and that he even used some himself when up there, instructing the men how to lay it on.

The report of the chief of artillery for the Northern District states that the suggestions of R. P. Parrott have not as yet been put into practice. You will cause an investigation to be had in this matter at once, and ascertain with whom the fault of this negligence lies, and have orders issued immediately to lacquer the shells, as per instruction given by Lieutenant McGinness, chief of ordnance, Department of the South, when in your district. The officer who is responsible for this negligence should be punished.

Lieutenant John McGinness complained the interior of the shells were not varnished as recommended by the weapon’s inventor.  And he leveled blame on the artillerists:

As soon as received, Captain Parrott’s letter to the major-general commanding, recommending that the interior of his shells be coated with lacquer or varnish, a copy was made and forwarded through the ordnance office, Morris Island, to the chief of artillery Northern District. An abundance of lacquer has long since been sent to Morris Island and the ordnance officer has been directed to send a supply of it to the batteries. A portion of the 12 shells herein mentioned were varnished by my own hands. I stood over the man until he had completed the balance, and I venture to say that had I not done so even this small number would not have been tried. Why were there not more varnished by the officer commanding the work (Putnam), as plenty of material remained, and give the suggestion a fair trial? I requested the chief of artillery that morning, after I had these shells varnished, to have others prepared in the same way, using lacquer. I respectfully submit that too little interest is manifested by the commandants of batteries in the working, care, and management of their guns, and that this fact more than any other accounts for the great number of guns burst at the front. Too much is expected of ordnance officers.

McGinness felt the artillerists should take an interest to ensuring their ordnance was properly prepared… and not assume the ordnance officers were handling those details.  It’s the little things, such as a light coat of varnish, that spell the difference between a shell sent to a precise point in the rubble that was Fort Sumter and a premature explosion damaging the gun and possibly killing the gunners.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 192 and 216-7.)



August 2, 1864: “Three boats went entirely around Sumter this evening”- Federal recon of Fort Sumter

Periodically during the Third Major Bombardment, the Federals sent out boats under the cover of night to assess the progress of the destruction of Fort Sumter.  The most detailed of those reports came in the first days of August 1864.  On the night of August 1-2, three boats, lead by Captain Richard Allison, 127th New York Infantry, made a complete circuit around the fort.  Allison provided this report the next day:

I have the honor to report that, in compliance with orders from the general commanding, three boats went entirely around Sumter this evening. The following boats were the three, viz: First boat, Captain Allison and Lieutenant Eaton, with ten oars; second boat, Lieutenant Little and Lieutenant Prowley, with five oars; third boat, Captain Long and Ensign C. C. Neil, U.S. Navy, eight oars.

We left Paine’s Dock at 7.30 p.m., and Gregg at about 8 p.m., passing between Sumter and Johnson near the second telegraph pole. From this point we could see the left flank and the dock. Upon the docks there was a lantern, also a sentry. On this face there are nine casemates, through which the light could be plainly seen. Drifting with the tide past the left face we could see no signs of life. Passing the right face we could see three casemates, through which the light showed very plainly, also glimmering of light through several others.

There was at the base of this face, where it flanks the right flank, a lantern, rather dim; supposed to be a signal lantern for their boats. While turning the left flank could see the three rams, one of which was moving down showing a bright light. We met with no obstacle during the reconnaissance, owing probably to our getting around the fort before the rams had gained their position and thrown out their boats.

I have the honor to inclose a draft of the fort, showing the outlines of the walls as seen from the boats.


We can compare Allison’s diagram to that made during a detailed survey of the fort after it’s capture in February 1865:


Allison’s count of casemates on the left face may be off by one.  But he did accurately count the casemates of the right-face’s (or east) three gun battery.  Interesting indeed the number of lights in the fort, but which were all casting light on sides unseen from Morris Island and the Federal gunners.

Another point to consider from Allison’s report is the activity of the Confederate ironclads.  While bottled up in Charleston, long months removed from their one attempted sortie out, the rams remained a deterrence.

Pause and think about what Allison and his crews had to do to get this information – row out across Charleston harbor on a summer night in August 1864 in open boats, in range of the largest concentration of heavy caliber guns in the south.  Not to mention the Federal batteries firing from Morris Island at the same time.  Lot of grit there with Captain Allison and his men just to get a peak at the far side of Fort Sumter.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 210-11.)

“This leaves only one breaching gun… that can be used”: Report on The Third Major Bombardment

On August 1, 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel William Ames provided an update on the progress of the Third Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter, adding to his report covering the period up to July 22:

I have the honor to state that since my last report of July 22, the firing upon Fort Sumter has been continued. The fire from guns of Fort Putnam has been directed at a point on the gorge wall to the left of the old breach. The fire from Battery Chatfield has been directed at the center of the sea-wall. This change in the point against which the fire was directed was made in accordance with orders from department headquarters. The breach in gorge wall has been cut or combed off for about 7 feet. The sea-wall has been cut down for about 5 feet. The breach, however, is not yet practicable.

Basically, the gunners on Morris Island were “walking” their fires across the gorge wall of Fort Sumter.  And “walking” very slowly and methodically over the span of days.  But for all that work, there was no breach at that time.

Ames then reported on the status of the guns used in the operation, starting with two more disabled guns in the last three days:

On July 30, No. 4 gun, Fort Putnam (200-pounder Parrott), was disabled, a crack appearing on right upper quarter of gun and extending from under re-enforce to left trunnion. This gun has fired 573 rounds. August 1, No. 4 piece, Battery Chatfield (300-pounder), was disabled, about 24 inches of muzzle being blown off. This gun has fired 1,200 rounds. The carriage was not injured, so that the reserve 300-pounder can be at once mounted in its place. There are, with the exception of 30-pounder Parrotts, no reserve guns on hand at ordnance yard.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Major-General John Foster recognized the shortage of guns and had already inquired with Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren to secure replacements.  But Ames pointed out, the Army needed more than just guns:

The following are the breaching guns in works at the front that bear on Fort Sumter, viz:

Fort Putnam, one 200-pounder Parrott, serviceable; two 30-pounder Parrotts, no projectiles.

Battery Chatfield, one 200-pounder Parrott, vent closed; one 100-pounder Parrott, vent closed.

Columbiad battery, two 100-pounder columbiads; no projectiles.

This leaves only one breaching gun in works at front that can be used to-day on Fort Sumter.

Only one!  Foster’s bombardment could not be sustained with just one breaching gun.

Ames went on to include a detailed summary of the firing since the last report:

Since July 21 the following number of projectiles have been fired at Fort Sumter, viz:

  • From Fort Putnam:
    • 200-pounder shells – 497
    • 30-pounder shells – 854
  • Battery Chatfield:
    • 300-pounder shells – 362
    • 100-pounder shells – 353
  • Battery Barton, 10-inch mortar shells – 557
  • Battery Seymour, 10-inch mortar shells – 392
  • Columbiad battery, 10-inch columbiad shells – 266
  • 13-inch mortar battery, 13-inch mortar shells – 52
  • 300-pounder Parrott Shells -362
  • 200-pounder Parrott Shells – 479
  • 100-pounder Parrott Shells – 353
  • 30-pounder Parrott Shells – 854
  • 13-inch mortar shells – 52
  • 10-inch mortar shells – 949
  • 10-inch columbiad shells – 266

Total – 3,333

Notice the change with respect to the majority of the projectiles used. Where as during the first two weeks of the bombardment, the heavy Parrotts fired the majority of the rounds, by the last week of July that workload shifted to the lighter Parrotts and mortars.  The Federals were expending ammunition and guns at a barely sustainable rate.  Thus the weight of fires decreased over that time.  The rate of fire decreased from 16 ½ per hour to about 12 ½.  And the number of heavy shots decreased by about 25% over the weekly rate seen earlier in the month.

Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig added his endorsement to this report:

The firing into the city and the bombardment of Fort Sumter have been continued as ordered….

The enemy replies to our fire occasionally from his works on James and Sullivan’s Islands. The enemy’s fatigue parties still show themselves around Fort Johnson, Battery Simkins, and the works around Secessionville.

Somewhat hum-drum summary for what was a heavy and active bombardment of the fort where the war began some three years earlier.  In addition to his endorsement, Schemelfennig would called for “11 and 15 inch Dahlgren guns” from the Navy to supplement the Parrotts.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 207-8.)