The Siege of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina; verso: sketch of soldier

Object Number: 
1945.580.91
Date: 
1863
Medium: 
Graphite on paper
Dimensions: 
Overall: 6 1/4 x 9 5/8 in. ( 15.9 x 24.4 cm )
Inscriptions: 
Verso inscribed at upper center in graphite: "The Seige of Charleston / Malefactors going to the trenches / Morris Island S.C. / Aug. 11th/63"
Description: 
Civil War Drawings Collection. After being repulsed twice trying to take Fort Wagner [on Morris Island, which protects Charleston Harbor] by storm, Maj. Gen. Gillmore decided on a less costly approach and began laying siege to the fort. In the ensuing days, Union forces besieged the Confederate works with an array of military novelties. Union gunners made use of a new piece of artillery known as the Requa gun with 25 rifle barrels mounted on a field carriage. While sappers dug zig-zag trenches toward Fort Wagner, a second novelty was used: the calcium floodlight. Bright lights were flashed upon the defenders, blinding them enough to decrease accurate return fire while the Union gunners fired safely behind the lights. The Confederate defenders had advantages also. The ground the Union sappers were digging through was shallow sand with a muddy base. The trenching efforts also began to accidentally uncover Union dead from the previous assaults on Fort Wagner. Despite this, by mid August, Gillmore had his siege guns within range of Fort Sumter. On August 17, he opened fire and during the first day of the bombardment nearly 1,000 shells were fired. By August 23, the masonry had been turned to rubble and General Beauregard removed as many of the fort's guns as possible. Gillmore wired the War Department that "Fort Sumter is a shapeless and harmless mass of ruin".
Credit Line: 
James B. Wilbur Fund
Provenance: 
John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group