The following was sent to me by a good friend, Pam Newhouse of Michigan, who is an astute history researcher and a former NPS guide at Fredericksburg//Spotslyvania, NMP (Chancellorsville and Guinea Station were her duty stations.)She also won the “Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg Summer Scholar Award” in 1997 and lived first in Emmitsburg (2 months), then for a month in NPS housing (an old house on Baltimore St in town- not battle related- built in the 1920s).
<< Here is a letter someone sent me from their ancestor in the 39th Illinois who was a part of the assault on Fort Wagner on Sept 7, 1863. Interesting! I will transcribe it as it was written, spelling, grammar and all. The handwriting is legible but some spelling is “creative.” (Remember, the 54th MA had failed in their attempt to take the fort on July 18; the artillery rounds that were supposed to soften the stronghold up didn’t do that.
So a siege was put in place and on Sept. 7 Union troops went forward again. This time the place was a wreck, and Beauregard had pulled his troops out during the night just before the assault, so there was no combat. The 39th ILL apparently got there first.) Along with the letter there is a patriotic envelope envelope addressed to “Mr. Charles Hertzog, Rockville, Kankakee Co., Illinois.” And the most interesting thing of all is a full page drawing of Fort Wagner, as the 39th found it. This soldier must have had a drafting background as it is meticulous and very well done. The walls are drawn in proper perspective and he has all of the gun emplacements there, even telling what kind of guns they are. He shows the magazine, the barracks, and the zig zag ditches that the Union soldiers dug that go all the way up to the abatis just in front (and to the right) of the fort. Every little thing is labeled.
“Camp Howel, Morris Isalnd, SC
Sept 8th 1863
Most Related frends at home
I now take My pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hoping that these few encibed remarks May bring glad harts in the family the result is the Rebbel strong holt has fell at last thank the Almighty. Forts Wagoner and Greg have fell into our hands. on the night of the 7th of Sept. 1865 our Regment went up on the Ramparts for Fort Wagoner at 3, O.clock on the night of the 7th and was the first to plant our Battle Flag on the paripets of the Fort.
Who would have thought the resistless foe had Evacuated the place and finding no rebbels there we were not repulsed. the Fort was strown with dead bodys, legs, arms and heads of the afects of our terable Bombarding for 30 days which kept it so hot for them that they could not bury the dead and were driven out by cause of filth on one respect our shells not giving them time to bury their dead & so they had to get out of that. our Men having went through Fort Wagoner Marched along up the sea beach and taking every thing as they went ontill they Met with another strong holt wich was the iron clad Fort Greg. formily called Comings Point Battry. but the Rebbels not liking our steel pointed projectiles gave under as steel naturaly supercedes iron. We took posesions of the fort and capturing a large number of Buternuts mostly North Carlinians wich would rather not fight if they was not held to it by Southern barabrious treatment.
Our Men on entering Fort Wagoner and going to the Magizine found a wounded reb laying ther and on finding out the partiuclar points found a cord atached to his person wich led to a friction Mach in the powder Magizine. the Rebbels notion was certainly for destruction of lives. We should suppose Reb. Gen. Beauregard would be hunted for such deeds as that.
They despute every inch of their swamp and still they admit that their works are not strong enough for our Siege pieces. and the question is what are they going to do. have thier city burned or Surrender. I think Fort Sumter will a stand under the floting stars and stripes ere 24 hours. Sumter looks like a huge pile of brick bats from a distance.
Five Monitors and the New Ironsides propelled threateningly up the Harbor this evening and opened a destructive fire on Fort Moultry and its surrounding Land Batteries and I think by the Rebbles own acount that Moultry will soon be battered down. And after that is good old Casle Pinkney, as the Rebbels call it. is no more than and Egg for our Iron fleet to knock to pieces as the Rebbel Rams don’t show themselves to our fleet. if they did their fate would be as the Rebble
Ram Fingals. (Burst their 20 Boilers.)
Our Camp is situated on the Beach of Charleston harbor we have a good sea breese wich makes it pleasant to a poor fateagued Soldier. the wind is frequently very high wich makes the sand drift as the snow does on the praries of the West wich make it uncomfortable part of the times
W. F. H.
Co. E, 39th Ill Vol.
Morris Island, SC “’
Coming from a participant makes it a unique account indeed. Thanks, Pam.