Friday, April 1, 2011


The Charleston Mercury
April 1, 1861


Gen. Beauregard led a tour of
Charleston Harbor for dignitaries.
     Saturday last was an occasion that will long be remembered by our troops at the various posts in the harbor, as well as by the large number of distinguished gentlemen whose visit to the fortifications formed the chief incident of the day. Shortly after nine o'clock the members of the State Convention, and a few others who had been invited to accompany them, repaired to the Southern Wharf, where the commodious steamers Carolina, Capt. Lockwood, and General Clinch, Capt. Relyear, were in readiness to receive them. At ten o'clock the lines were cast off and the boats, with the State and Confederate colors streaming fore and aft, moved from the wharf to the inspiriting strains of "Dixie's Land," from the Palmetto Band, stationed on the forward deck of the Clinch. . . .
     The company who, by the invitation of Gen. Beauregard, participated in the excursion, must have numbered several hundred. . . .Gen. Beauregard, in undress uniform, was aboard the Carolina, chatting socially in the groups that filled the cabins, and pointing out to those whom the scene was a new one, principal points of interest.
      The steamers first ran over close to the James' Island shore, to give the company a view of the village and earthworks at Fort Johnson. As the three guns and mortar batteries ereceted at this point were the first of the works visited, they were of course viewed with greater curiosity, and spy-glasses of every variety, from the long and weatherbeaten marine glass to the delicate lorgnettes of the ladies, were brought into requisition to get a better look at the grim embrasures of the gun battery and the immense mound which protects the mortars. . . .
          On reaching the wharf, we encountered the picquet guard of the First Rifle Regiment, under command of Lieut. Heyward. . . . The stalwart gunners ( who belong to the regular army of the State, and who are as fine a body of soldiers as it is possible to find) were all at their respective batteries, and went through the manual of heavy artillery with remarkable precision. The quarters, the magazine, the bomb-proofs, and the furnace, at which several 8-inch shot were brought to a bright red heat, eminently suggestive of unpleasant results, all came in for a share of attention; . . .
The Charleston Zouave Cadets were among the troops
defending Charleston Harbor in 1861,
     Once more aboard the staunch boats, we steamed away down the Maffit Channel to the music of the "Marsellaise." As we came opposite to Fort Moultrie, the flash and white cloud from the embrasure, followed by the loud, by way of salute, had re-commenced. The cannonading was continued for several minutes. . . When opposite the five-gun battery, garrisoned for the last six weeks by the Vigilant Rifles, or rather the Vigilant Artillery (for they are good at either service), Capt. Tupper saluted with his battery. . . The detachment of the Charleston Light Dragoons, on out-post duty, were also under arms, and formed in line on the beach; they, too, fired a feu-de-joie from their revolvers. . . .
     . . . The scene upon the Island was indeed a beautiful one. The long row range of sandhills was covered with sentries, and squads of troops engaged in the drill. At short intervals the various posts were indicated by the flags streaming over them.  Some of these banners were extemporaneous patterns, but all, of what ever size or hue, bore the honored device of the Palmetto. . . .
     Meantime a very sumptuous and plentiful collation had been served up in the lower cabins of the steamers. The keen breeze and the trop over Sullivan's Island had been sufficient to give a zest to the appetites of the party, and the rapidity with which the edibles (and drinkables, too) disappeared, was only equalled by the agility with which the corps of sable caterers marshalled up fresh supplies. . . .
     This unique work. . .was built under the direction of Major P.F. Stevens, Superintendent of the Citadel Academy, and attracts attention, chiefly owing to its simple but massive construction. . .The Columbiad guns, with which this novel battery is equipped, bear on the south wall of Sumter, the line of fire being at an angle of about thirty-five degrees. . . .
     Passing on to the other batteries, we could not but marvel at the engineering skill displayed in the construction of these formidable works. We were soon roused from our admiration of these triumphs of military engineering by the report of one of the ten-inch mortars, which showed that the day's practice at the batteries had begun.
     . . .One after another the mortars and heavy guns sent their shot and shell flying over the waters of the harbor. To a large majority of the spectators the flight and bursting of shell was something novel, and the scene was altogether grand and impressive. . .Among those who fired the mortars was ex-Senator Chesnut, and we heard one of the officers say that his shot was quite a creditable one. . . .
     After this splendid exhibition of gunnery, the visitors continued their walk a few hundred yards to withness the review of the First Regiment of Volunteers, Col. Maxcy Gregg, commander. They were drawn up on the beach in two ranks, and as soon as General Jamison and General Beauregard took their position opposite the centre, Col. Gregg ordered the regiment to prepare to review; the ranks were opened and aligned; officers stepped to the front; the band beat off; and the scene reminded us of a similar occasion previous to the departure of the Palmetto regiment for Mexico. Nearly 1000 men were under arms. . . .
     By this time the sun was fast sinking, and the party hurried back from their rambles, and bidding good bye to the gallant men at the trneches, embarked for the city. On our way we passed close under the walls of Fort Sumter, upon which nearly all of Major Anderson's garrison must have been collected. In a short time we had reached the Southern wharf, and at six o'clock we stepped ashore, while the band played away at "Dixie" quite as vigorously as if they had never stopped since we started in the morning.

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