Posts Tagged With: Union

The double barreled cannon…


Double Barrel Cannon…

That just sounds awesome. Doesn’t it?

There are double barrel pistols, double barrel rifles, double barrel shotguns… But none of those sound as impressive as the double barrel cannon…

It was forged in the spring of 1862 in Athens, Georgia, according to the design of John Gilleland. He was a private in the Mitchel Thunderbolts, a homeguard unit for men too old for active duty. He was 53. The $350 needed to fund the manufacture of the cannon was raised via a subscription fund.

The cannon itself was roughly 13 inches wide and 4 feet 8 1/2 inches in length. It had two, three-inch barrels with a three degree divergence. It was also equipped with three touch holes. One for each barrel and one that would allow both barrels to be fired simultaneously.

Gilleland’s intention was for the cannon to fire mostly chain shot. Two six pound cannon balls connected by roughly ten feet of chain. The divergence of the bores was to ensure that the shot would extend to the full length of the chain as it sped towards the target.

This weapon was designed to be used against infantry with the intent to mow down swaths of soldiers as wide as the chain would reach…

Testing The Cannon

Mr. Gilleland took his new cannon north of Athens to a field near Newton Bridge for the initial test fire on April 22, 1862. A crowd of people gathered to see the new “secret” weapon in action. And here is where things got interesting…

When Gilleland touched the cannon off the first time, the two barrels did not fire simultaneously which caused the load to take a wild erratic course across the field missing the posts that had been erected as targets but wreaking havoc nonetheless. According to one account “It [took] a kind of circular motion, plowed up about an acre of ground, tore up a cornfield, mowed down saplings, and [then] the chain broke, the two balls going in different directions.”

A second shot was then attempted to try to get both barrels to fire simultaneously. This time the shot flew off into some pine saplings leading an eyewitness to report that, “[The] thicket of young pines at which it was aimed looked as if a narrow cyclone or a giant mowing machine had passed through,”

It is also reported that on another attempt, the chain broke and each ball took its own course. One hit a nearby cabin and destroyed its chimney. While the other veered off and struck an unwary cow killing it instantly.

Double Barrel Cannon

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While it may seem like a successful test – wholesale destruction and slaughter – it really wasn’t. When the barrels didn’t fire together it was impossible to tell where the shot might go and when they did it was found that the chain always broke.

Nevertheless, Gilleland promptly declared the test an unqualified success. And he was supported by this article in the April 30, 1862 issue of the Athens paper Southern Watchman:

Double-barrelled Cannon. – MR. GILLELAND has invented a double-barrelled cannon for throwing chain shot, which has been tested and found to work satisfactorily. Two shots are confined to the end of a chain and one placed in each barrel of the gun, the bores of which diverge slightly, and cause the balls to separate the full length of the chain – cutting down everything in their path. Of course, the barrels are fired simultaneously.

The cannon was then sent to the Confederate arsenal in Augusta, Georgia, for further testing. The commandant there, Col. George W. Rains, tested the weapon extensively and reported that it was not usable due to unpredictable rates of powder burn and barrel friction which led to unpredictable performance. The cannon was then sent back to Athens.

This outraged Mr. Gilleland and he wrote angry letters to both the governor of Georgia and to the Confederate government in Richmond. All to no avail…

The double barrel cannon would never be adopted by the Confederate army, but that doesn’t mean it never saw battle…

Active Duty!

Upon its return the gun was placed in front of the town hall to be used as a signal gun in case of attack.

There it remained until August 2, 1864, when it was hauled out of town to the hills by Barber Creek to meet the approach of Brig. Gen. George Stoneman and his Union troops.

The double barrel cannon was positioned on a ridge along with several other conventional cannons. Both barrels were loaded with canister shot. The homeguard units were heavily out numbered, but as the Union troops approached the Athens homeguard fired a four shell barrage including the double barrel cannon. Against such stiff resistance the Union troops withdrew.

There were a few more minor skirmishes around Athens but all-in-all the city escaped Sherman’s march to the sea and the double barrel cannon was moved back into town.

After The Civil War

After the American Civil War ended the city of Athens sold the double barreled cannon.

At that point it disappeared until it was found, restored, and returned to the city in the 1890s.

These days it sits in downtown Athens in front of city hall.

It can be viewed free at anytime on the corner of Hancock and College Avenues.

Where it points north…

Just in case!

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Parrot laughs like a super villain…


Categories: 2nd Amendment, adult radio | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in The Civil War…. Sunday, June 22


The Associated Press reported in a dispatch June 23, 1864, that the Confederates had been firing upon horse-drawn hospital wagons evacuating the wounded to waiting steamers off the Virginia coast. Union forces reported that “the Rebels pay no respect to our hospital flags; and on Thursday last they fired upon one of our hospital trains from a battery stationed near Petersburg, (Virginia), killing and wounding several horses.” The AP account said no one aboard the hospital wagons was wounded in that and other incidents as Union troops took aim at Petersburg 150 years ago in the Civil War. AP reported thousands upon thousands of bloodied men being evacuated, along with rebel prisoners like a Confederate lieutenant who had lost an arm in the fighting. Meanwhile, AP reported, artillery duels continued unabated for days near Petersburg. “The city is full of lofty shade trees, and the steeples of the churches are the only prominent objects on which to take effective range. The effects of the shooting have not yet been ascertained, aside from the burning of some of the buildings,” AP’s correspondent wrote in June 1864.

Union_soldiers_entrenched_along_the_west_bank_of_the_Rappahannock_River_at_Fredericksburg,_Virginia_(111-B-157)

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Roger Barbrick..Beach hunting Memorial Weekend…


Yesterdays Beach hunt got me a Silver Merc Dime and 2 V Nickels 
Very unusual finds for this beach. I think I found an old spot.

 

roger roger2 roger3

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Todd Brush on a detecting hunt Memorial Day weekend…..


Went out in the woods for a hunt today. I dug this incredible War of 1812 era Artillery button. Very cool find for Memorial Day!!

 

button

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This Week in the Civil War……


This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, March 30: Forrest’s Confederate raiders occupy Paducah, Ky.

Forces of legendary Confederate cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest swept into Paducah, Ky., on March 25, 1864, and briefly occupied the city — forcing a Union garrison of hundreds of troops to relocate defensively to a fort there. The Union garrison, backed by two gunboats on the nearby Ohio River, refused surrender and shelling of the Confederates by the gunboats ensued. Forrest’s raiders destroyed supplies and rounded up horses, sowing panic among retreating civilians. The Associated Press reported on the raid in a dispatch dated March 26, 1864. AP said an estimated force of 5,000 Confederates captured Paducah at 2 p.m. a day earlier, sacking the place and firing weapons. AP reported that a Union officer in charge of the garrison continued to occupy the fort below the city with about 800 men. “The rebels made four assaults on the fort, and were repulsed each time. Three of our gunboats opened on the city during its occupation by the enemy, much of which was burned,” The AP reported. Some 3,000 civilians had fled the Confederate advance, AP noted, adding that they returned home to find considerable damage once the raiders pulled out. AP added “Twenty-five houses around the fort were destroyed … as they were used by the rebel sharpshooters as a screen” during the incursion.

paducah19lg

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This week…The Civil War.


This Week in The Civil War, cwp005 Sunday, March 2: Union raid on Richmond, seat of the Confederacy.

Some 4,000 Union fighters led by Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick and Col. Ulric Dahlgren conducted a brazen raid on Richmond, Va., capital of the Confederacy, this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. Hundreds of cavalry at the head of the Union force opened the way while columns coming from behind ripped up the tracks of the Virginia Central Railroad as they headed south to the James River. The raiders led by Kilpatrick reached the outskirts of Richmond on March 1, 1864, and there fierce skirmishing erupted near the city’s defenses. But when Dahlgren’s reinforcements failed to arrive in time, the Kilpatrick raiders were compelled to retreat by Confederate cavalry. Dahlgren’s cavalry couldn’t penetrate the city either, owing to the opposition, and thus withdrew northward only to be ambushed by Confederate enemies. Dahlgren was killed and many of his unit captured

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This Week in the Civil War…..


Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote this week 150 years ago in the Civil War to the president of the Confederacy as his battered army continued its recovery from defeat at Gettysburg. Both North and South had experienced heavy bloodletting in the fight and were bidding to regroup after what would turn out to be the pivotal battle of the war. In a letter dated July 31, 1863, Lee told Confederate President Jefferson Davis that the adverse turn of events at Gettysburg for the South cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. “No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me, nor should it be censured for the unreasonable expectations of the public. I am alone to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess & valour,” Lee wrote Davis. In the same letter, Lee added: “Our loss has been heavy, that of the enemy’s proportionally so.” And he concluded that his plan could have worked if all the elements of his war strategy had come together as expected: I still think if all things could have worked together it would have been accomplished.” Many letters were going back and forth between Davis and Lee at this point in the war, with Davis at the time promising to rapidly furnish more fighters for the badly depleted Army of Northern Virginia.

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, July 14: ‘Glory’: African-American regiment assaults Fort Wagner.


After one recent failed attempt to take Fort Wagner on Morris Island on South Carolina’s coast, an all-black regiment formed as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry launched an all-out attack on July 18, 1863, that would inspire the 1989 movie “Glory.” Vicious hand-to-hand fighting ensued, with many left dead and wounded as Confederates holding the fort fought back from a fort bristling with artillery. Black troops bravely headed up the parapets, even as many were mowed down by artillery and gunfire. It was one of the prominent moments when African-Americans played a major role in Civil War combat. After the bloodied, tattered regiment was turned back, other Union units also tried to take the fort and failed. Once the fighting subsided, far heavier losses were counted on the Union side with about 1,515 casualties to about 174 Confederates defending the fort. The 54th’s colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was among the dead. Soon afterward, Federal forces would besiege Fort Wagner and force it to be abandoned by the Confederate defenders in September 1863, far later than Union generals had hoped at that point 150 years ago in the Civil War.
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Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry……

Tired, hungry and proud, the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry stood in the light of the setting sun and awaited the call to battle on the evening of July 18, 1863. The air was filled with the rumble of big guns, and the very ground on Morris Island, South Carolina, trembled beneath their feet. The regiment’s baptism of fire had come only two days before, but the memories of that sharp skirmish had already begun to fade in the shadow of the awesome task that now lay before them.

The path that had brought these determined men to the embattled sands of South Carolina had been a long one, born of idealism and fraught with difficulty. That they had succeeded in the face of bigotry and doubt was due in great measure to the colonel who led them. Slight and fair-haired, Robert Gould Shaw appeared even younger than his 25 years. But despite his initial trepidations, the Harvard-educated son of abolitionist parents had assumed the weighty responsibilities of command, and never wavered in his fervent resolve to show friend and foe alike that black soldiers were the fighting equals of their white counterparts.

Suddenly, a mounted general and his staff rode up before the assembled ranks. The officer was handsome and smartly dressed, and grasped the reins of his prancing gray steed with white-gloved hands. Brigadier General George C. Strong pointed down the stretch of sand to the sinister hump of a Confederate earthwork that loomed amidst the roiling smoke and spitting fire of the guns. Loudly, Strong asked, ‘Is there a man here who thinks himself unable to sleep in that fort tonight?’ ‘No!’ shouted the 54th.

The general called out the bearer of the national colors, and grasped the flag. ‘If this man should fall, who will lift the flag and carry it on?’ After the briefest of pauses, Shaw stepped forward, and taking a cigar from between his teeth responded, ‘I will.’ The colonel’s pledge elicited what Adjutant Garth Wilkinson James later described as ‘the deafening cheers of this mighty host of men, about to plunge themselves into the fiery vortex of hell:’

Major General Quincy A. Gillmore (Library of Congress) The moment of trial for the 54th Massachusetts had come about through the appointment of a new Union commander, the then Brig. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, who had taken charge of the Department of the South on June 11, 1863, replacing the querulous and unpopular Maj. Gen. David Hunter. Stocky and balding, the 38-year- old Gillmore had stood first in the West Point class of 1849, and had gone on to make a name for himself as a talented and intellectually inclined officer of engineers. His successful siege of Confederate Fort Pulaski early in the war had secured the water approaches to Savannah, Ga., and had won Gillmore wide acclaim. The victory had also fueled his considerable ambition.
From the moment of his arrival in the department, Gillmore had set his sights on the capture of Charleston, S.C. To many Northern eyes, Charleston was the very bastion of the Southern cause-the birthplace of the rebellion, from which the first shots had been fired at the Union flag. Indeed, one of the most formidable of Charleston’s defenses was Fort Sumter, the battered island fortress whose capture had precipitated the war itself. Moreover, the commander of Charleston’s 6,000-man defense force was none other than General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, the engineer officer turned Confederate leader whose forces had compelled Sumter’s garrison to surrender two years before.

Gillmore viewed the reduction of Charleston as a logical sequence of strategic events that would bring an ever increasing rain of naval and artillery fire to bear on the city and its fortifications. Working closely with Rear Adm. John A. Dahlgren’s Federal fleet, Gillmore would seize Morris Island, whose low-lying sands commanded the defenses of the inner harbor. From Cumming’s Point on the island’s northern tip, Federal guns could reduce Fort Sumter, which had long prevented Federal ships from gaining access to the harbor. In order to get to Cumming’s Point, Gillmore’s 11,000 troops would first have to capture Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg, the Rebel fortifications that guarded the upper third of Morris Island.

The first part of Gillmore’s strategy went entirely according to plan. In the early morning hours of July 10, Strong’s brigade launched a surprise amphibious landing on the southern end of Morris Island. By late afternoon, the intrepid Strong had routed the island’s defenders back to their strongholds at Wagner and Gregg. Strong’s men took 150 prisoners, a dozen guns and five flags, and may well have overrun Fort Wagner itself, had Gillmore not been satisfied to rest on his laurels that day.

The Confederates had time to prepare for the assault that followed on July 11, and despite Strong’s personal initiative and the gallantry of his leading regiment, the 7th Connecticut, the Southern garrison was able to repulse the onslaught. Only 12 Confederates were killed or wounded, while the failed attack cost the Union 330 men. As more Union forces arrived on Morris Island, Gillmore pondered his next move.

Originally constructed as a battery, Wagner had grown into a fully enclosed fort. Named for slain South Carolina Lt. Col. Thomas M. Wagner, the work measured 250 by 100 yards, and spanned the southern neck of Cumming’s Point from the Atlantic on the east to an impassable swamp on the west. Its sloping sand and earthen parapets rose 30 feet above the level beach and were bolstered by palmetto logs and sandbags. Fourteen cannons bristled from its embrasures, the largest a 10-inch Columbiad that fired a 128-pound shell. Wagner’s huge bombproof, its beamed ceiling topped with 10 feet of sand, was capable of sheltering nearly 1,000 of the fort’s 1,700-man garrison. The fort’s land face, from whence any Union assault must come, was screened by a water-filled ditch, 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Buried land mines and razor-sharp palmetto stakes provided additional obstacles to an attacking force.

Eleven hours into the unprecedented land and sea bombardment, Gillmore had every reason to expect that a determined assault would carry the battered enemy earthwork. Gillmore’s chief subordinate, Brig. Gen. Truman Seymour, shared his commander’s confidence. Seymour had formed a part of the Regular Army garrison that surrendered Fort Sumter at the start of the war, and eagerly anticipated the day when Sumter-and rebellious Charleston-would again be in Federal hands. Strong, whose brigade would spearhead the charge, was won over by Seymour’s zeal. But not every subordinate was so sure of success. Colonel Haldimand S. Putnam, like Strong a graduate of the West Point class of 1857, would lead a four-regiment brigade in the second wave of the assault. ‘We are all going into Wagner like a flock of sheep,’ Putnam told his officers. ‘Seymour is a devil of a fellow for dash:’

Gillmore had launched his initial assault on Fort Wagner without artillery support. Determined not to repeat his mistake, he decided to precede a second effort with one of the heaviest cannonades of the war to date. The fort would be pulverized not only by entrenched land batteries, but by the guns of the Federal fleet, a formidable armada that included the USS New Ironsides, a veritable floating gun platform sheathed in iron. The shelling would commence on the morning of July 18, 1863.

William B. Taliaferro Four Federal land batteries opened fire at 8:15 a.m., and soon 11 ships of Dahlgren’s fleet were adding their salvos to the massive bombardment. After covering the fort’s guns with sandbags in hopes of protecting them from the ravages of Yankee shellfire, the bulk of the Confederate troops scurried for the shelter of Wagner’s bombproof. Brigadier General William B. Taliaferro, a 40-year-old Virginian and battle-scarred veteran of Stonewall Jackson’s campaigns, commanded the Confederate garrison. Taliaferro (pronounced Tolliver) fully expected the Federals to launch a land assault, and entrusted Lt. Col. P.C. Gaillard’s Charleston Battalion with the dangerous assignment of manning the ramparts during the bombardment. The South Carolinians hunkered down and breasted the iron storm as best they could.
As the afternoon wore on, the tide rose, allowing the New Ironsides and five smaller monitors to close to within 300 yards of the fort. The turreted ironclads were a fearsome sight; to Taliaferro they seemed ‘like huge water dogs, their black sides glistening in the sun:’ Naval shells weighing more than 400 pounds hurtled through the air with a terrifying roar that sounded to one Southern defender like ‘an express train.’ Occasionally the iron missiles would skip across the waves like huge pebbles, each smack as loud as a cannon shot. One huge projectile exploded just offshore and showered the fort with a school of dead fish.

Shell after shell burst over and within Fort Wagner’s ramparts, dismounting cannons and blasting wooden barracks and storehouses to splinters. In the words of one Southern officer, the fort was ‘pounded into an almost shapeless mass!’ Although most of the Confederates were safe within Wagner’s massive bombproof, the strain was immense as the structure reeled and shook around them. Taliaferro, would later write: ‘Words cannot depict the thunder, the smoke, the lifted sand and the general havoc; the whole island smoked like a furnace and trembled as from an earthquake!’ Waves of sand were blown over the exposed troops of the Charleston Battalion, and Taliaferro himself was buried to the waist while encouraging his beleaguered defenders. But despite the awesome tempest of fire, fatalities were few.

At 2 p.m., the halyards of the fort’s big garrison flag were severed and the banner fluttered to the ground. While four intrepid soldiers struggled to raise the fallen colors, engineer Captain Robert Barnwell planted a regimental battle flag atop the parapet to show the Yankees that the garrison remained defiant. Afternoon gave way to evening, and still the inferno raged. Then, shortly before sunset, the Union fire rose to a crescendo. Shadowy forms could be seen massing on the open beach, and Taliaferro readied his men for imminent attack.

As the light of the setting sun cast a lurid glow through the pall of smoke that hung over Fort Wagner, Shaw formed his black soldiers in the vanguard of the Union attack force. Earlier, Strong had tendered the 54th the dangerous post of honor. ‘You may lead the column,’ the general told Shaw. ‘Your men, I know, are worn out, but do as you choose!’ For Shaw, there had been no possibility of refusing the offer there was simply too much pride at stake.

‘His bearing was composed and graceful,’ Captain Luis Emilio recalled, ‘his cheek had somewhat paled, and the slight twitching of the corners of his mouth plainly showed that the whole cost was counted.’ Shaw deployed his 624 men in column of wings’–five companies in the first line, five behind. The colonel positioned himself beside the Stars and Stripes in the first line, while Lt. Col. Edward N. Hallowell stood with the white colors of Massachusetts in the rear wing. At 7:45 p.m., Shaw raised his sword, and the 54th Massachusetts started down the beach.

The men of the 54th advanced grimly, bayonets fixed and muskets at the right shoulder. The pace was at a quick time, and as the ramparts of Wagner loomed closer, Shaw ordered the men into a jogging double-quick. At a point where the beach narrowed to a width of 100 yards between the Atlantic on the right and the swamp on the left, the orderly ranks began to crowd together, the formation assuming a V-shape, the colonel and the United States flag at its apex. Shaw gave the order to charge, and the bayonets of the front rank were lowered into a bristling wall of steel.

Assault on Battery Wagner – Harper’s Weekly As the Federal assault swept ever closer to the ramparts of Fort Wagner, the day-long bombardment sputtered and died. Quickly, Taliaferro’s gray-clad defenders took their battle stations, artillerists ramming charges down half a dozen guns that had survived the shelling unscathed. The infantry leveled their muskets, and when the Yankees were within 150 yards, Taliaferro gave the order to fire.
‘A sheet of flame’ flashed out, James recalled, ‘followed by a running fire, like electric sparks!’ The blazing muskets and cannons reminded James of the fireworks he had seen illuminating the Arc de Triomphe during a Paris Bastille Day celebration. But the thud of hot lead into human flesh, and the screams of the dying, brought home the terrible reality of what lay before them. With a flourish of his sword, Shaw led his black soldiers into the vortex.

With men falling on all sides, the 54th surged over the sharpened wooden stakes that ringed the fort and through the water-filled ditch. In some places, shelling had filled the moat with sand, while elsewhere the water was knee- to-waist-deep. Hallowell and James were among those who fell wounded before gaining the ramparts, but Shaw kept his feet, clambering up the sandy slope with a knot of determined survivors. As he crested the flaming parapet, Shaw waved his sword, shouted ‘Forward, 54th!’ and then pitched headlong into the sand with three fatal wounds.

Sergeant William Carney was sprinting through the chaos when he saw the man bearing the American flag stumble and fall. Carney threw away his musket, raised the flag, and scrambled up the bullet-swept slope of the fort. A shower of hand grenades leveled the ranks around him, but Carney gained the crest, where it seemed he was the only man left standing. He knelt and gathered the folds of the flag, while the battle raged on all sides.

Unable to breach the defenses, many soldiers began to retreat, while others fired across the ramparts in a pointblank duel with the Charleston Battalion and the 51st North Carolina. Two captains of the 54th fell dead, one across the other, while Sgt. Maj. Lewis Douglass-son of the black abolitionist-had his sword ripped from his side by a canister shot.

As a Confederate later commented, he and his comrades were ‘maddened and infuriated at the sight of Negro troops:’ And indeed, no quarter was given by either side. At one point a Southerner ripped the white Massachusetts banner from its staff, only to have it snatched back in hand-to-hand combat. After the battle, the bloodied flag would be found under a pile of dead men in the ditch.

The 54th Massachusetts had been shattered, but now the rest of Strong’s brigade came charging up to the moat five regiments, each in column of companies, with the 300 men of Colonel John L. Chatfield’s 6th Connecticut in the vanguard.

Chatfield’s leg was shot from under him, and he was crawling rearward when another bullet knocked his sword from his hand. Private Bernard Haffy threw himself between his stricken commander and the hail of bullets, then began dragging Chatfield back down the beach. Many of the Connecticut men fell before reaching the ramparts, but Color Sergeant Gustave De Bonge bore the regimental banner to the crest, followed by more than 100 madly cheering New Englanders. De Bonge planted the flagstaff in the sand, then toppled over dead with a bullet between the eyes. The flag was raised, shot down, then raised again.

As fate would have it, the 6th Connecticut had struck the Confederate earthwork at its weakest point. Demoralized by the long bombardment, the 31st North Carolina had failed to occupy their appointed post in Wagner’s southeast bastion. Taliaferro frantically rounded up more steadfast soldiers, while the 51st North Carolina and the Charleston Battalion poured an oblique fire into the determined Union assailants.

Image of Fort Wagner in 1865 – After Federal Capture (Library of Congress) Soldiers of the 48th New York succeeded in following the Connecticut troops up the slopes of the southeast bastion, but few of Strong’s remaining units were able to get that far. Three Confederate howitzers had come into action on the flanks of the attacking forces, and the deadly hail of canister brought the 3rd New Hampshire, 76th Pennsylvania Zouaves and 9th Maine to a bloody standstill atop a ridge of sand just beyond Wagner’s moat. ‘It was almost impossible to pass over that ridge and live five seconds,’ recalled 76th Pennsylvania Colorbearer S.C. Miller.
Strong collared Miller and tried to get the charge moving again. A group of men led by 3rd New Hampshire Colonel John Jackson started forward with the general and the flag, but were mowed down by a salvo of canister shot. Miller survived unscathed, but his flag was riddled. Jackson’s coat was torn from his body, while another of the iron balls ripped through Strong’s thigh-an injury that would ultimately prove fatal. In shock and pain from his wound, Strong gave the reluctant command, ‘Retreat in the best order you can!’

In fact, the leading Union brigade had dissolved in inextricable chaos, some running for the rear, others yelling, fighting and dying in the darkness. ‘The genius of Dante could but faintly portray the horrors of that hell of fire and sulphurous smoke,’ one officer recalled, ‘the agonizing shrieks of those wounded from bayonet thrust, or pierced by the bullet of the rifle, or crushed by fragments of exploding shell, sinking to earth a mass of quivering flesh and blood in the agony of horrible death!’

It was 8:30 p.m.–more than half an hour after the charge began-before Haldimand Putnam brought the second brigade to Strong’s aid. Furious at the delay, Seymour sent his chief of staff galloping to where Putnam’s troops stood in column on the beach. Putnam claimed that Gillmore had ordered him to wait where he was, but acceded to Seymour’s frantic plea and started his four regiments forward.

Putnam’s 7th New Hampshire, 505 strong, pushed its way through the shaken fugitives of the earlier waves and reached the moat, where, in the words of a survivor, ‘all regimental action ceased, and each action seemed an individual one:’ Private Stephen Smith was clambering down into the ditch when his left thigh was shattered–a compound fracture that left him sprawled on his back atop a dead man, his broken leg pinned beneath his body. Beside him the casualties lay three and four deep, some drowning in the sea water that filled the moat with the rising tide.

The tragedy unfolding on the flaming bastion was now compounded by the actions of the 100th New York Regiment, whose commander, in defiance of orders, had told his men to cap as well as load their pieces. Their ranks savaged by the ensuing holocaust, the New Yorkers poured a ragged volley into a mass of men silhouetted on the ramparts. Caught between two fires, scores of Federals went down, and a cry of rage and anguish rose above the crash of battle. Frantic shouts of ‘Don’t fire on us!’ went unheeded, and some Federals answered the mistaken volleys with shots of their own. Nursing a shattered elbow, 48th New York Private Joseph Hibson scrambled back down the rampart to check the deadly fire of the 100th New York, then returned to the battle in time to seize his regimental colors from a fallen bearer. The staff was shot in half, and Hibson’s injured arm was broken a second time, while fragments from an exploding shell gashed his scalp. Still, the bloodied 20-year-old private was able to save the flag–a deed that would earn him the Medal of Honor.

The last of Putnam’s regiments, the 67th and 62nd Ohio, managed to get another 100 men across the moat and onto the southeast bastion. Then Putnam himself arrived, having been delayed when his horse was shot from under him in the advance. The colonel took charge of the beleaguered force, but was unable to organize a cohesive defense in a chaos in which no two men seemed to be from the same company, let alone the same regiment. In the words of one survivor, the bulletswept bastion was a ‘carnival of death,’ and a ‘hell of terror.’ Another man would never forget the sight of slain Lt. Col. James Green of the 48th New York, whose glassy eyes and smoldering beard were illuminated by the flashes of the guns.

Putnam and his officers sent messengers back through the maelstrom of fire to bring up fresh troops. But Brig. Gen. Thomas Stevenson’s 3rd Brigade never arrived. Seymour had been severely wounded by a canister shot, and Gillmore was increasingly out of touch with the situation. Reinforcements may well have enabled the Federals to carry Wagner, but they were not forthcoming and, sensing victory, the Confederates began to launch counterattacks of their own.

Using the roof of Fort Wagner’s bombproof as a makeshift breastwork, the Federals were able to beat off two attacks by gunning down the Southern officers who led them. But time was clearly running out. Putnam had just turned to Major Lewis Butler of the 67th Ohio and said, ‘We had better get out of this!’ when a bullet blew off the back of the colonel’s head. After a hasty consultation with the surviving officers, Butler began an evacuation of his troops-first the bearers of the precious regimental flags, then every other man and, finally, a last mad dash for safety. Many never got the word and continued to fight until forced to surrender.

William Carney – 54th Massachusetts. Medal of Honor Winner The Federal collapse coincided with yet another counterattack by Taliaferro’s garrison, bolstered by fresh troops of the 32nd Georgia, who had been transported to Morris Island under the command of Brig. Gen. Johnson Hagood. The Confederates surged over the southeast bastion, killing or capturing every Yankee who remained. By 10:30 p.m., the desperate fight for Fort Wagner was over.
Stevenson’s belated preparations to commit yet a third wave to the charge on Wagner were rendered moot by the crowds of bleeding, powder-stained survivors who blocked his path. Confederate shells continued to sweep the beach, and as the battered remnants retreated, still more men fell victim to the unrelenting fire. Wounded adjutant James of the 54th Massachusetts was being borne from the field when a shell decapitated one of his stretcher bearers. Carney had managed to get the 54th’s colors away from the fort in safety, though he was shot twice in the process. Like Hibson of the 48th New York, Carney’s fidelity to the flag would win him the Medal of Honor.

Daylight revealed the full extent of the Federal disaster. ‘In front of the fort the scene of carnage is indescribable,’ Taliaferro wrote. ‘I have never seen so many dead in the same space.’ At a cost of 36 killed and 145 wounded and missing, Taliaferro garrison had inflicted more than 1,500 casualties on their assailants. The brave soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts had sustained the heaviest loss–281 men, of whom 54 were killed or fatally wounded, and another 48 never accounted for. But the other regiments had paid almost as great a price. The 7th New Hampshire alone counted 77 killed or mortally wounded, 11 of whom were officers.

The Confederates stripped the slain of useful apparel and souvenirs, then piled the dead into mass graves. Shaw was singled out for what the Southerners considered the ultimate insult-by being interred with his fallen black troops.

Gillmore had learned a bloody lesson. Fort Wagner could never be taken by direct assault, but must be gradually besieged, the noose tightened until the Confederate garrison was forced to surrender or evacuate. Nearly two months of grueling siege work finally gained Gillmore his prize, though even then he was denied the full fruits of victory. On the night of September 6, 1863, the defiant Confederate garrison abandoned Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg under cover of darkness, leaving their opponents a heap of sand, and a legacy of valor.

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New map may explain Lee’s decisions at Gettysburg…..


On the second day of fighting at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee listened to scouting reports, scanned the battlefield and ordered his second-in-command, James Longstreet, to attack the Union Army’s left flank.

It was a fateful decision, one that led to one of the most desperate clashes of the entire Civil War — the fight for a piece of ground called Little Round Top. The Union’s defense of the boulder-strewn promontory helped send Lee to defeat at Gettysburg, and he never again ventured into Northern territory.

Why did the shrewd and canny Lee choose to attack, especially in the face of the Union’s superior numbers?

While historians have long wrestled with that question, geographers and cartographers have come up with an explanation, by way of sophisticated mapping software that shows the rolling terrain exactly as it would have appeared to Lee: From his vantage point, he simply couldn’t see throngs of Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys.
“Our analysis shows that he had a very poor understanding of how many forces he was up against, which made him bolder,” said Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, whose team produced the most faithful re-creation of the Gettysburg battlefield to date, using software called GIS, or geographic information systems.

Developed for the Smithsonian Institution to mark Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary, the panoramic map went live on the Smithsonian website Friday, giving history buffs a new way to look at the Civil War’s pivotal battle, which took place July 1-3, 1863.

“Our goal is to help people understand how and why commanders made their decisions at key moments of the battle, and a key element that’s been excluded, or just not considered in historical studies before, is sight,” Knowles said.

Long before the advent of reconnaissance aircraft and spy satellites, a general’s own sense of sight — his ability to read the terrain and assess the enemy’s position and numbers — was one of his most important tools. Especially at Gettysburg, where Lee was hampered by faulty intelligence.

“We know that Lee had really poor information going into the battle and must have relied to some extent on what he could actually see,” Knowles said.

The geographer applied GIS to find out what Lee could see and what he couldn’t.

To reconstruct the battlefield as it existed in 1863, researchers used historical maps, texts and photos to note the location of wooden fences, stone walls, orchards, forests, fields, barns and houses, as well as the movement of army units. High-resolution aerial photos of the landscape yielded an accurate elevation model. All of it was fed into a computer program that can map data.
But a GIS-generated map, with illuminated areas showing what Lee could see and shaded areas denoting what was hidden from his view, indicates the terrain concealed large numbers of Union soldiers.

“What really came through as a new discovery for us in this project was seeing how few federal forces Lee could see, particularly on Day 2, when he decides to send Longstreet,” Knowles said.

Historian Allen Guelzo, who wasn’t involved in the project, agreed that Lee’s view probably misled him. Guelzo, director of Civil War-era studies at Gettysburg College, took a visitor up to the school’s cupola and motioned toward the peak of Little Round Top, just visible in the distance.

“You can see a lot from up here, and Robert E. Lee might have thought on July 2 that he had seen everything,” said Guelzo, who has written a new book on the Battle of Gettysburg. “But, in fact, the dips and folds of the ground, the foliage as it was on the ground in various groves and woods, all of that concealed what turned out to be the deadly truth.”

Conversely, the Union Army occupied higher ground, and used it to great advantage.
Union Gen. Gouverneur Warren spied Longstreet’s troops just as they were about to launch their attack on an undefended Little Round Top. Frantic, Warren dispatched an officer to round up reinforcements. They got there just in time, and withstood the Confederates.

In Warren’s case, GIS confirmed what historians have long known.

For Knowles, the mapping project and the mysteries it revealed helped Gettysburg come alive.

“Commanders always had to make decisions with really limited information … committing men’s lives to scraps of information or intuition, or what you can see at a certain day or a certain time,” she said. “This analysis, for me, is making the battle more human.”
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/A-Cutting-Edge-Second-Look-at-the-Battle-of-Gettysburg.html

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