Mercury, November 26, 1863 [OAF]
Morris Island, Nov. 14, 1863
—Still the bombardment of Sumter progresses, and still the rebels are masters of it. The firing during the week has been principally carried on by mortars, keeping it up all night. From the long continued silence of our long Parrotts, it is very naturally supposed that we are preparing something in a new direction, to cooperate with the advance from this side. Everything looks auspicious and we may yet pounce upon Charleston before we are aware of it. Taking a place by storm or surprise is the work of a few minutes, provided you have assurance made doubly sure by preparing for it; and it is the preparation which takes time. However, we hope for the best. The rebels may be hard pushed for ammunition, as they fire but little of the improved patterns, compared to what they did in the early stages of the siege; or they may be witholding it for the iron fleet, should the Admiral’s “bak bon” betray him into the temerity of running the gauntlet. The fire from the enemy is principally with the old fashioned mortar shell, 6 and 8 inch; no doubt some of the same stock stolen by that valorous Gen. Floyd.
Although the booming of Yankee guns and mortars may keep the denizens of the city awake, it does not appear to impede home manufactures in the city, if we may judge by the curls of smoke apparently from factory chimneys.
The batteries on James Island, all below Simpkins, have remained silent for the last two weeks or more, which goes far to strengthen the impression that the guns are removed to some other point; probably to Sullivan’s Island, just below the city, to command the channel. But those at and around Seceshville still remain, as we have both auricular and ocular proof almost daily.
The rebels have kept up a pretty brisk fire from Moultrie and Johnson the last two days; they seem determined to make our working parties uncomfortable as possible. Yesterday, the 13th, we lost five men killed in battery Chatfield, besides three wounded in Fort Putnam; among the killed was one man belonging to the 3d regiment, U.S. colored troops; two to the 11th Maine. I could not ascertain to what regiment the other two belonged.
But all the horrors of war are soon forgotten in the pomp and circumstance of show and parade. I observed this yesterday, probably more than I would at some other times. One of the brigades was out on the beach, trapped out in their best turnout for a grand review. The officers composing the staff were riding from one end of the column to the other, perfecting the line, disposing of guides, and giving all the usual and necessary orders. At the prescribed number of paces from the column, stood, sat, or lounged the usual crowd of lookers-on, soldiers from other brigades, who go to look at and criticise the evolutions. At this juncture, the stretchers are borne along from the front, dripping with blood, with the dead corpse of a companion in arms. The crowd gather round the stretchers — ask hurried questions, such as, what regiment does he belong to — what company, or, where was he hit? and a thousand such little questions, winding up with — poor fellow! it may be our turn tomorrow! which shows that, hardened as a soldier becomes, he feels solemn once in a while. While they look on in silence, the General who is to review the brigade appears — the band executes a grand flourish and plays a grand march as he rides down the line, which dispels every vestige of concern, or thought of the mangled corpses, hardly lost to the view of the lookers-on of a few moments before. But it may be well that it is so. If a soldier gave way, and brooded over the chance and the probability of death, his life would be unbearable.
November 14, 1863
This is Gooding’s 38th letter to the Mercury
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