General Clingman’s Report to Governor Vance on Operations in Charleston

Transcript of report written by General Clingman for Governor Vance on August 4, 1863. The report appears to be a draft because of the numerous mark-throughs. [?] indicates an illegible word. Source: Clingman Papers, Folder 13, scans 3 to 15.

Sullivans Island Aug 4 1863


In accordance with your wishes I proceed to give Your Excellency a report of the military transactions in this [?] in which the troops of my brigade have been engaged. As I was, contrary to my own wishes temporary kept for a time out of command of a portion of the Brigade which not actively employed against the enemy, I cannot speak from personal observation of all the occurrences. I arrived in Charleston with the better part of my Brigade on the evening of the 12th of July. On reporting to Gen. Beauregard he referred me to Brig. Gen. Ripley. By him I was directed to select my two strongest regiments for service on Morris Island the southern end of which had been taken by the enemy two days previously and to send the other two regiments to James Island to report to Gen. Hagood. As I was given to understand that I was to lead an attack intended to dislodge the enemy if possible from Morris Island and as the 8th Reg. commanded by Col. Shaw, and the 51st commanded by Col. McKethan

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had more men present for duty than the others, I selected them for this enterprise on Morris Island and ordered the 31st under Col. Jordan and the 61st under Col. Radcliffe to James Island.

On the next day contrary to my expectations, it was determined that the attack on the enemy on Morris Island should not be made. In the evening Gen Ripley ordered the 51st Reg. was sent to battery Wagner on Morris Island and the 8th Reg. to James Island and sent an order to me to remain for the present in Charleston for special duty. On the following morning I was informed by him verbally that Gen. Taliaferro was to be placed in command of bat. Wagner & Morris Island, but as the service there in battery Wagner would be very exhausting as well as arduous he would after a few days probably be asked ask to be relieved, and that when he did so, I would be sent to take his place. After waiting a day, finding that there was a probability of active operations on James Island by the enemy, had a force there, and not liking to be kept [back of page 2] by being temporarily [?] on other duty.

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On the morning of the 16th two regiments of my Brigade the 31st under Col. Jordan and the 61st under Col. Radcliffe formed a part of the force used in making a demonstration on James Island which drove in the enemy’s pickets and inflicted some loss on them. Both their regiments were represented as acting well on the occasion. On the next day following I was placed in command of the Western lines of James Island but was directed to send one of my regiments, the 31st to aid the garrison in battery Wagner.

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One regiment of my Brigade 31st was ordered to battery Wagner. On the day following Jy. 18 there was a continuous cannonade and bombardment of that fort by the enemy’s fleet and a few guns on land and after dark an assault was made on the works which after a struggle of some hours was completely repulsed. The enemy lost very heavily and our troops less than might have been expected from the force attacking them. The 51st Reg. commanded by its Col. McKethan and the 31st in charge of Lieut. Col. Knight, its Col. being absent, were engaged in the struggle.

Our whole force in the fort is stated not to have exceeded fifteen hundred men all told. The 51st Regiment had six hundred and eighty seven (687) and the 31st three hundred and fifty (350) making together one thousand and thirty seven (1037) or more than two thirds of our entire force. Gen. Beauregard in a dispatch to Gen. Cooper states the entire loss of the Confederates at a hundred and fifty (150). The loss of the 51st was

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74 killed wounded, & missing, and of the 31st 37 making together one hundred & eleven (111) or more. It thus appears that these two regiments furnished more than two thirds of the force engaged on our side and sustained more than two thirds of the losses and I cannot doubt that they are justly entitled to an equal proportion of the credit for the victory.

On the day following July 19th I was ordered with my Brigade to Sullivans Island which was supposed to be threatened seriously by the enemy.

On the night of the 28th I was ordered to battery Wagner where I found two regiments of my Brigade the 8th under Col. Shaw and the 61st under Col. Radcliffe. The firing from the enemies batteries was continuous during the day following the latter part of the night and the day following 29th. From 10 ½ aclk. until after 11 aclk the bombardment from the fleet and land batteries at that time very numerous, was extremely heavy and more effective against the fort than on any previous day.

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While occupying it certain of my regiments were sent from time to time to aid in the defense of Battery Wagner, as the services there were so arduous and exhausting that both officers and men had to be relieved after a few days’ duty.

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This was due not only to the fact that gun batteries had been erected on land by the enemy near the fort, but also to the fact circumstance that the 10 inch Columbiad in [?] Wagner had been disabled the day before and there being no way to return the fire of the fleet, the ships came up close to the fort and ranged themselves at the most convenient distance. The monitors, the Ironsides, the wooden ships & mortar boats took on the positions as enabled them to make almost every shot tell & with shells and shot of 11 and 15 inch rifle were able to do great damage to the fort earth works. In the afternoon the ship fleet [?] fire probably from the exhausting of their ammunition or the fatigue of their men. During the night there was only desultry firing.

On the next day 30th however for a great part of the day it was very rapid but chiefly from the land batteries or fleet with rifle guns and mortars. However by having kept the garrison at work all night in spite of the falling of occasional shells

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the work had been so repaired as to be equal to its original strength.

On the morning of the 30th about day break the 51st Reg. under the command of Col. McKethan came in to relieve the 8th but owing to the fact that the steamboat left Cummings Point before the 8th could reach it was obliged to remain on the island during that day. As there was not room in the bomb proofs for all the garrison, a part of them had to be sent out side of the fort between it and Cummings Point, to obtain such shelter as the little hillocks of sand afforded & at night returned to the Battery to be ready to resist an assault if made. On this day there were in the sand, the principal part of the 61st reg. of my Brigade and a part of the 54 Georgia and when the whole of the 8th was added to them they made so large a body of troops as to attract the especial attention of the enemy’s fleet. In the after portion of the day therefore the Ironsides and some of the monitors

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with several of the wooden vessels, neglecting the Battery Wagner directed a storm of shells amongst our men who were lying in the sand, so terrible in affect. As we could had no gun in [?] to reply to them, the enemies vessels moved up untill they were in convenient range. Most So effective was their fire and so terrible in appearance, that as I looked on from the parapet of the fort, I apprehended the most serious loss to the brave men, who endured it, without the power to return a shot. No troops ever behaved better under similar circumstances and the casualties were far less than I had apprehended. The 8th Reg. N. C. T. which had been kept seven days & nights in the fort, and escaped almost miraculously without injury of any consequence, on this occasion had two killed and fourteen wounded, many of them seriously. The other regiments there suffered less.

On the night of the 31st there was an alarm and the enemy were announced to be coming up rapidly to assault the fort. All the men present turned out with the greatest alacrity and seemed

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most anxious to have an opportunity to repay the enemy at that range for all the missiles they had sent against us & regretted that their courage did not was insufficient to bring them up to musketry range.

During the five days in which I was in command of the Battery, several thousand shot and shells were fired into it some of them of more than four hundred pounds weight. The three North Carolina regiments of my Brigade and the Georgians & South Carolinians who were there with me during the entire period exhibited a self-possession and courage creditable to the best disciplined troops.

The losses in the Brigade I have the honor to command since it came to this state up to the present time have been as follows in killed wounded and missing: the 8th has lost 15, the 31st 45, the 51st 71 and the 61st 8.

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Though the duties here are arduous as well as dangerous there is [?] [?] [?] to leave spare no effort to protect the city of Charleston from the savage foe that threatens her. I have the [?] am

Very respectfully

Your obt servt

T L Clingman

Brig. Gen

His Excellency

Z. B. Vance

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