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impetuous assault drove them out and across the river. Meade pushed on
to Culpeper, and Lee hurriedly retreated across the Rapidan.

Meade's judgment was that no further advance should be made, but the
clamor of the North forced him to try another of the many attempts to
capture Richmond. He crossed the river on the 26th and 27th of November,
his aim being to divide the Confederate army by a rapid march on Orange
Court-House. But it seemed as if the flood-gates of heaven were then
opened. The rain fell in torrents day and night, and the country became
a sea of mud and water. Bridges had to be laid to connect different
portions of the army, and all offensive movements were for a while out
of the question. The delay gave Lee time to form his troops into a
compact mass, so that when the Unionists were ready to attack, it was so
evident that another Fredericksburg massacre would follow that the plan
was abandoned.

In truth, Lee felt so strong that he was disposed to advance himself,
but was dissuaded by the belief that some blunder of the Union commander
would give him a better opportunity, but Meade was too wise to do so. On
the 1st of December he returned to his old quarters on the Rapidan. The
weather had become extremely cold, and both armies went into winter
quarters.

The principal military movements of this year have now been described,
but it remains to tell of the operations on the seacoast and of the
leading military raids.


PRIVATEERING.

The Confederates displayed great activity and ingenuity in the
construction of ironclads and in running the blockade. Their vessels
continually dodged in and out of a few of the leading ports, the
principal one being Wilmington, North Carolina. The profits in a single
cargo of a blockade-runner were so enormous that the owners were
enriched by several successful voyages, while a single one would
reimburse them for the loss of their ship. Under such circumstances it
was no wonder that they took desperate chances, and firms were organized
who paid liberal salaries to the officers of vessels, who advertised
among their friends the regular dates of their departure, and, the worst
of it was, they were very regular in keeping them.

The _Alabama_ and other privateers were busy on the ocean, and the
Confederates strained every nerve to send others to sea. The _Nashville_
was a fine steamer that was in the Ogeechee River, Georgia, waiting for
a chance to slip out and join the commerce destroyers. She had a
valuable cargo of cotton, and the Federal cruisers were alert to prevent
her escape. They would have gone up the river after her, but there were
too many torpedoes waiting for them, and the guns of Fort McAllister
were too powerful.

Captain Worden, of the old _Monitor_, was now in command of the
_Montauk_, and he was delighted on the night of February 27th to observe
the _Nashville_ lying stuck fast in shallow water above Fort McAllister.
The opportunity was too tempting to be neglected, and the next morning,
despite a hot attack from the fort, he fired into the _Nashville_ until
she broke into flames and soon after blew up.


FAILURE OF THE ATTACKS ON CHARLESTON.

Naturally the desire was strong in the North to humble Charleston, where
the baleful secession sentiment was born and brought all the woe upon
the country. General Beauregard was in command of that department, and
he made every preparation for the attack, which he knew would soon come.
In a proclamation he urged the removal of all non-combatants, and called
upon the citizens to rally to the defense of the city.

A fleet of ironclads was always lying outside of Charleston, watching
for an opportunity to give its attention to the forts or city. One
tempestuous night in January a couple of rams dashed out of the harbor,
and, in a ferociously vicious attack, scattered the ironclads, and
compelled a gunboat to surrender. Thereupon the Confederates claimed
that the blockade had been raised, but no one paid any attention to the
claim.

An expedition was carefully organized for the capture of Charleston, and
placed in command of Admiral Samuel F. Dupont. The fleet, numbering a
hundred vessels, left the mouth of the North Edisto River on the 6th of
April, and on the same day crossed the bar and entered the main channel
on the coast of Morris Island.

A dense haze delayed operations until the following day, when a line of
battle was formed by the ironclads, the wooden vessels remaining outside
the bar. A raft was fastened to the front of the _Weehawken_, with which
it was intended to explode the torpedoes. The cumbrous contrivance
greatly delayed the progress of the fleet, which advanced slowly until
the _Weehawken_ had passed the outer batteries and was close to the
entrance to the inner harbor. Then Fort Moultrie fired a gun, instantly
followed by that of Fort Sumter, and the batteries on Sullivan and on
Morris Island. Then a hawser, which the Confederates had stretched
across the channel with the purpose of clogging the screws of the
propellers, was encountered, the _Weehawken_ was compelled to grope
around for a better passage, and everything went wrong. The _New
Ironsides_ made an attempt to turn but became unmanageable, two other
ironclads ran afoul of her, and matters were in a bad way when Admiral
Dupont signaled for each one to do the best it could.

After a time, eight ironclads secured position in front of Fort Sumter,
at distances varying from a third to half a mile. This placed them in
direct range of 300 heavy guns which concentrated their appalling fire
upon them, the shots following one another as rapidly as the ticking of
a watch. The _Keokuk_, which ran close to Fort Sumter, was struck ninety
times, in the course of half an hour, in the hull and turrets, and
nineteen shots pierced her sides close to and below the water-line. Her
commander with great difficulty extricated her from her perilous
position, and she sank the next day.

The fight was another proof of the fact that, in all such engagements,
the preponderating advantage is with the land batteries. The ships of
the squadron were severely injured, but they inflicted no perceptible
damage upon the forts. Admiral Dupont had gone into the battle against
his judgment, and he now signaled for the ships to withdraw. All with
the exception of the _New Ironsides_ returned to Port Royal on the 12th
of April.

This failure caused great disappointment in the North and to the
government. Admiral Dupont was ordered to hold his position inside of
Charleston bar, and to prevent the enemy from erecting any new defenses
on Morris Island. The admiral replied that he was ready to obey all
orders, but, in his judgment, he was directed to take an unwise and
dangerous step. Thereupon he was superseded by Rear-Admiral Dahlgren,
and preparations were begun for a combined land and naval attack upon
Charleston.

[Illustration: ATTACK ON CHARLESTON, AUGUST 23D TO SEPTEMBER 29, 1863

"After a time eight ironclads secured position in front of Fort Sumpter,
at a distance varying from a third to half a mile. This placed them in
direct range of 300 heavy guns, which concentrated their appalling fire
upon them, the shots following one another as rapidly as the ticking of
a watch."]

One of the best engineer officers in the service was General Quincy A.
Gillmore, who had captured Fort Pulaski at Savannah the previous year.
He was summoned to Washington, and helped the government to arrange the
plan of attack upon Charleston. The most feasible course seemed to be
for a military force to seize Morris Island and bombard Fort Sumter from
that point, the fleet under Dahlgren giving help. There was hope that
the monitors and ironclads would be able to force their way past the
batteries and approach nigh enough to strike Charleston.

Accordingly, a sufficient detachment was gathered on Folly Island, which
lies south of Morris Island, and batteries were erected among the woods.
On the 10th of July, General Strong with 2,000 men attacked a force of
South Carolina infantry at the southern part of Morris Island, and drove
them to Fort Wagner at the opposite end. The Confederates were
reinforced, and, in the attack on Fort Wagner, the Federals were
repulsed and obliged to retreat, with heavy loss.

On the night of the 18th, in the midst of a violent thunderstorm, a
determined assault was made upon Fort Wagner, one of the newly formed
negro regiments being in the lead. The fighting was of the most furious
character, but the Federals suffered a decisive defeat, in which their
losses were five times as great as those of the defenders.

General Gillmore carried parallels against the fort, and the ironclads
assisted in the bombardments; but, though it continued for weeks, the
city of Charleston seemed to be as far from surrender as ever. A part of
the time the weather was so intolerably hot that operations were
suspended.

Gillmore, however, was so near Charleston that he was able to reach it
with his heaviest guns, and he prepared to do so. His principal piece
was a Parrott, which threw a 100-pound ball, and was christened the
"Swamp Angel."

The first shot was fired at midnight, August 22d. As the screeching
shell curved over and dropped into the sleeping city, with its frightful
explosion, it caused consternation. The people sprang from their beds
and rushed into the streets, many fleeing to the country. Beauregard
sent an indignant remonstrance, telling Gillmore that all civilized
nations, before bombarding a city, gave warning that the non-combatants
might be removed. Gillmore explained his reason for his course, and
agreed to wait until the following night before renewing the
bombardment.

At that hour it was resumed, with the promise of grave results, but at
the thirty-sixth discharge the Swamp Angel exploded, and thus terminated
its own career. General Gillmore continued to push his parallels against
Fort Wagner. Although the ironclads could not pass the obstructions to
the inner harbor so as to help, Gillmore persevered, and finally
rendered Forts Wagner and Gregg untenable.



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