Saturday, April 1, 2017

Diary of John Hay: February 1 & 2, 1864

Evening of February 1st General Turner and I got on board a noisy little tug at the wharf which took us to the Ben Deford. We went upstairs and drank a few whiskey punches, and then to sleep.

In the morning found ourselves off Stono; — tide too low to let us over the bar; — were rowed ashore, — Gen. Terry, Turner and I. Stopped at lower end of Folly for an ambulance; rode to Gen. Terry’s headquarters and took horses to ride to Light House Inlet; crossed in a boat and walked up to Col. Davies. Col. D. full of a plan for capturing the Sumter garrison.

We went in ambulance to Wagner. The sound of firing had been heard all the morning. It grew more frequent, and Davies told us it was directed at a stranded blockade-runner. Just as we got in sight of Wagner a white smoke appeared in the clear air (the fog had lifted suddenly) and a sharp crack was heard. It seemed as if a celestial popcorn had been born in the ether. “There's a shell from Simkins,” said Turner. We went on, and there were more of them. As we got to Wagner we got out and sent the ambulance to a place of safety under the walls. They were just making ready to discharge a great gun from Wagner. The Generals clapped hands to their ears. The gun was fired, and the black globe went screaming close to the ground over the island, over the harbor, landing and bursting near the helpless blockade-runner stranded half-way from Fort Beauregard to Fort Moultrie. We walked up the beach. Heretofore we had from time to time seen little knots of men gathered to look at the fight, but now the beach was deserted. Once in a while you would see a fellow crouching below a sandhill keeping a sharp lookout. We soon came to Batteries Seymour, Barton and Chatfield, which were firing vigorously. We mounted the parapet and took a good look at the steamer. She was already a good deal damaged by one shell amidships.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 158-9.

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