Thursday, April 13, 2017

Brigadier-General Pierre G. T. Beauregard to Leroy P. Walker, April 17, 1861

Charleston, S.C., April 17, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit by Col. R. A. Pryor, one of my aides (who like the others was quite indefatigable and fearless in conveying my orders, in an open boat, from these headquarters to the batteries during the bombardment), a general report of the attack of the 12th instant on Fort Sumter. This report would have been sent sooner if my other pressing duties had permitted me to devote my time to it, while the presence of the enemy's fleet still led us to expect an attack along the coast at any moment. A more detailed account will be sent forward as soon as the returns of the commanders of batteries shall have reached this office. The great difficulty I will labor under will be to do full justice to all when so much zeal, energy, and gallantry were displayed by officers and soldiers in the execution of my orders. I wish, however, to record two incidents, which will illustrate the feelings that animated all here.

Whilst the barracks in Fort Sumter were in a blaze, and the interior of the work appeared untenable from the heat and from the fire of our batteries (at about which period I sent three of my aides to offer assistance in the name of the Confederate States), whenever the guns of Fort Sumter would fire upon Fort Moultrie the men occupying Cummings Point batteries (Palmetto Guard, Captain Cuthbert) at each shot would cheer Anderson for his gallantry, although themselves still firing upon him, and when on the 15th instant he left the harbor on the steamer Isabel the soldiers of the batteries on Cummings Point lined the beach, silent, and with heads uncovered, while Anderson and his command passed before them, and expressions of scorn at the apparent cowardice of the fleet in not even attempting to rescue so gallant an officer and his command were upon the lips of all. With such material for an army, if properly disciplined, I would consider myself almost invincible against any forces not too greatly superior.

The fire of those barracks was only put out on the 15th instant, p.m., after great exertions by the gallant fire companies of this city, who were at their pumps night and day, although aware that close by them was a magazine filled with thirty thousand pounds of powder, with a shot-hole through the wall of its anteroom.

I am now removing the tottering walls of the buildings within, and clearing away all the rubbish, &c., from the interior of the work, so as to render it still more formidable than it was before it was attacked.

In one or two days I will send forward to you photographs taken at different points of sight, from which you can clearly understand the condition of the fort within when first occupied by us.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.
Hon. L. P. WALKER,
Secretary of War, Montgomery, Ala.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 1 (Serial No. 1), p. 28; This report is quoted in Samuel Wylie Crawford’s The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861, p. 447.

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