Mercury, November 17, 1863 [OAF]
Morris Island, Nov. 7, 1863
—As I closed my letter last Sunday the guns were booming with a dull, heavy sound, and have been ever since, although not quite so many have been engaged during the past week as the one preceding. Sumter still holds out, and, to speak candidly, it is difficult to perceive any great change in the looks of the fort, after the lapse of a week. That part of the walls of the fort exposed to our guns is apparently battered down, as far as can be by artillery, be it ever so heavy and effective. From the top of the wall downward to within apparently 10 or 12 feet from the base, the material of which the wall was composed is entirely knocked down, some of the debris in and some outside the wall, so that the fort on that side (the sea front) presents the appearance of a regular sand work before it is sodded. Now, all the guns in Christendom can never effectually displace the debris accumulated there, for the more projectiles thrown into the mass, the stronger it becomes. Not that Sumter is not practically and theoretically useless, for in reality it is, and very probably has been for some time. Day after day we shoot the flag away, the rebels content themselves with waiting till night, and then they put it up again; so, when daylight comes, we see it still floating proudly on the same old corner. Last Wednesday morning we saw a new flag raised on a longer staff, apparently both new; it floated about two hours, when it was shot away.
Last Tuesday, a deserter came over to Folly Island from James Island, and reported that on the day previous 11 men were killed in Fort Sumter and 27 wounded; he says that the rebels keep only a small garrison there in the day time, but reinforce nightly, to the extent of 400 men, removing them before daylight. We have been on the alert nightly, to hear of an assault being made on it, as it is “reliably” reported daily, that such and such a regiment is to “lead the charge on Sumter to-night”; but it has not come to pass yet. ”Fort Putnam” (Gregg) keeps up the fire now on Sumter, as “Fort Strong” (Wagner) is arranging her guns and embrasures for another point. The other batteries are preparing for another vigorous campaign, and the “Reliables” say that Monday will inaugurate something stunning.
The rebels have kept pretty quiet, firing but very little. Fort Moultrie does not deign to give the monitors a shot, while they lay at anchor close to her, daily firing away at Sumter. Occasionally Moultrie throws a mortar shell over to Putnam or Wagner, but they do but very little damage. There must have been a little affair on James Island last Monday, as we heard pretty brisk firing and could see shell bursting high in the air, a little to the south of Seceshville. We have heard nothing in regard to it, as the most of the notables are quartered on Folly Island, and as a matter of course, the news is kept there. As an item I will record the sailing of the Flag Vessel, cleared, from Lighthouse Inlet Tuesday, Nov. 3d, steamer Philadelphia, — to take her position among the fleet, off Charleston Bar.
The sick and wounded of the 54th Massachusetts volunteers beg to acknowledge the receipt of a lot of hospital stores, kindly sent them by the benevolent citizens of New Bedford; and particularly to the committee, who interested themselves in carrying out the designs of the contributors. It is a gratifying proof that the poor soldier is not forgotten.
November 7, 1863
This is Gooding’s 37th letter to the Mercury
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