Fort Sumter Bombarded
The lighthouse in the distance marks the southern tip of Morris Island. In July, 1863, Union troops landed there and advanced two-thirds of the way up the island to a Confederate stronghold known as Battery Wagner. Unable to capture the battery by direct assault, they brought up heavy guns, and after two months drove the defenders out. Union artillerists then set up powerful siege batteries at Cummings Point (directly ahead of you) and from there shelled Fort Sumter at point-blank range, reducing its once proud walls to a mere pile of rubble. Ironically, the more they damaged the walls, the stronger they became. Slaved piled the debris into huge breastworks, twenty feet thick, and reinforced them with cotton bales, sandbags, and other material, rendering the fort impregnable to artillery.
In 1863, Union forces built a battery about two miles away in the marsh on lower Morris Island (in front of you). They mounted an eight-inch Parrott rifle called the Swamp Angel. This huge gun fired 150-pound shells and was aimed at the city of Charleston five miles away.
The Swamp Angel's first shot on 1:30am on August 22 caused panic in Charleston. This deliberate bombardment of a civilian population shattered the city's security. The Swamp Angel's brief career ended abruptly the following day when the overcharged gun burst while firing its 36th round. Other guns soon took its place, and the bombardment of Charleston continued intermittently for the next 18 months.