Capture of Fort Macon

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 17, 1862

This site features the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This research resource will yield new insights into this important part of American History.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

Rebel Soldiers

Rebel Soldiers

Censorship

Censorship

New Orleans

Surrender of New Orleans

David Farragut

David Farragut

Virginia Map

Map of Virginia

Faragut's Fleet

Farragut's Fleet

Fort Macon

Capture of Fort Macon

Belle Reynolds

Belle Reynolds

Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge

Fort Macon

Battle of Fort Macon

Farragut's Ships

Commodore Farragut's Ships

Secession Cartoon

Secession Cartoon

 

 

 

MAY 17, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

315

"I came here to say farewell. Walls have ears, writing may betray. I leave Nashville to-night."

Another whirl and rush of music; then Lute's voice, faint and trembling,

"Leave! for what?"

"For our country, Lute—for the Stars and Stripes—for the Union !"

He tightened his grasp as he spoke, for she seemed falling. Another turn took them within the arch of the conservatory door. A fall of fleecy curtains separated them from the glaring, heated rooms, and the faint ray streaming from a single globe of ground glass alone did battle with its shadows. He drew her into its dimmest corner, still holding her fast. She struggled slightly, with timid hands tried ineffectually to free herself from his firm clasp, then drooped her face, crimson even in the darkness, low, lower, till it was hidden quite on his shoulder.

"Two hours later I shall be flying like a felon, traveling in the darkness, hiding by day, hunted down, perhaps, like a dog or a slave," he said, hurriedly. "Think how little heart I had for this; but I could not go without saying good-by to you."

"Where is the need?" she asked, with a shudder.

"Every need—the direst. Our flag and our Government are not idle words, Lute—showy insignia brought out to grace a gala-day, nothing worth in themselves. They have been our very life and breath all these years, and like the air, because unseen, they have been unvalued—their very existence almost denied. Now the day of our trial is upon us, and let him be called coward and slave who shrinks or falters."

"And I—"

The words escaped unconsciously. She was thinking of that dear head lying low in some ditch or on some mountain ridge, upturned blankly to the sky, cold and dead. His stern-set face relaxed suddenly, and the dark flame in his eyes melted into infinite tenderness.

"You, dear! Will you care? Will you wear heart-mourning for me if I fall?"

A tear glittering on her cheek in the faint light was her answer. He stooped to kiss it away, but voices came perilously near. The waltz was done.

"Give me something of yours that has been near you," he whispered.

She undid the belt that circled her trim waist, and gave it, with its gold and azure clasps, into his hand.

"God bless you, keep you from all harm, and bring you back to me!"

Her voice sank so low that he could scarcely catch the concluding words; but there was no time for answer. A sudden ray of light shot in through the parted curtains, soft footfalls and silken rustlings sounded close by them. He bent low over her, and pressed his lips to hers. Merry voices called them—the Philistines were upon them. Lute answered with a careless laugh, he with a jest, as they mingled again with the crowd. Who could have dreamed of that last burning kiss, that voiceless farewell?

An hour after exclaimed Evelyn Devereux the hostess, "Lute Loder, do you know you have lost your belt and those lovely clasps? What a pity! I thought I had never seen any thing so pretty. I shall have the servants look every where."

Lute smiled faintly at thought of such profitless looking. Miles away at that very moment, it was rising and falling with every pulse of the heart of Jack Centyre, as he rode steadily and swiftly on in the darkness.

Let those who have kept vigil through long months with hope and fear, tell how the weary ensuing days passed for Lute, if words can tell; if there is any expression for an undying heart-sickness, a never-ceasing terror. From society she was presently ostracized. Came there one day, Mrs. Rawlinson, the outward and visible sign of that inward and mysterious essence, principle, or quality, whatever it may be, known as the "ton," indignation throned on her bushy eyebrows, determination ensconced about the corners of her mouth.

"Ah! come here, you naughty child," was her salutation as Lute entered; "we were talking of you, were we not, Miss Primly?"

Aunt Rachel, who interpreted aright the ominous quiet of lips and mouth in her somewhat unmanageable ward, assented feebly, while Lute seated herself without other reply than a bend of the head.

"I came here to talk to you quite seriously," pursued Mrs. Rawlinson, smoothing her gloves uneasily, and obviously embarrassed by the steady gaze and formidable composure of the culprit. "I knew your mother, my dear, and I feel an interest in you. Young people will be indiscreet, will draw wrong conclusions; no one knows that better than I. A pretty girl of eighteen can't be a Socrates—we don't expect it. In fact, why should we expect it? As I said to the ladies yesterday, berthas not battles, pleasure not politics, is running in your little head."

No answer to so much condescension; no appreciation of such elaborate kindness, either expressed or implied; only ominous silence, stormy eyes and mutinous though as yet quiet lips, and Aunt Primly looking on aghast and helpless. Clearly there was no resource left Mrs. Rawlinson but to bring out her heavy guns and open fire.

"Miss Loder, in a committee of our ladies it was yesterday decided," continued Mrs. Rawlinson, "that while our husbands, fathers, and brothers are away fighting our enemies, we can not in justice tolerate them in our midst. We have a list of ladies professing Union sentiments, and painful as it will be, we are resolved to cease all association with them."

"The question is then, who are the sufferers?" retorted Lute.

"I am sorry to say that your name is on the list."

"It is honored then."

"I pleaded your youth and beauty in vain. You are more than suspected of Union feeling."

"Why not say more than suspected of Christianity, love of country, or some such heinous offense?"

burst out Lute. "If I am only suspected, let suspicion be changed to certainty. I know no country but the Union. I acknowledge no allegiance to any flag but the Stars and Stripes. I desire no friendship with traitors and ingrates."

"She is mad!" gasped Aunt Primly.

"Worse!" echoed Mrs. Rawlinson, solemnly. Lute rose to her full height.

"Mrs. Rawlinson, tell your friends that the poorest man that fights for his country against the treason of secession is more honored in my eyes than your proudest leaders. If I were a man, my best blood should seal my words; as a woman, I am only sorry that I can not prove my sincerity by a more costly sacrifice."

Mrs. Rawlinson rose, reddening and swelling. "You will repent this."

"Perhaps. All things are possible."

" You have ruined yourself," quoth Aunt Primly, in despair. And if to be sedulously excluded from all recognition is to be ruined, then Aunt Rachel was right. The girls, her old friends, passed her with a giggle and whispers about strong-mindedness and abolitionism; the men with looks of cold reproof; the elderly ladies with real or affected horror. Aunt Primly read her a daily homily; secession was blatant all about her; not one word, not even a token of any kind, had she ever received from Jack; yet he was not dead; for she read, with a thrill that who can describe, in one of the local papers, that the arch-traitor Jack Centyre had escaped, and was serving as a lieutenant in Buell's army; but she stood firm—words easily written, lightly read, but hard and bitter in practice.

At length Miss Primly fell ill, and while her fever was at its height came the news of the fall of Fort Donelson, and the wild panic and terror that overtook Nashville. In the midst of it all Lute sat calm and even joyous, for to her the Federal army meant simply Jack Centyre. Jack well, faithful, and coming back to her, was the picture Hope held up before her; and one afternoon, while the city was breathlessly expecting the coming of Buell's army, as she sat by a lower window weaving golden dreams, she heard the jar of the gate, and looking up caught the glitter of sword and epaulets. He had come! and breathless with delight she ran to the door, opened it, and started back aghast. The uniform of the Texan Rangers met her eye, and a face pre-eminently handsome, spite of the evident traces of debauch—a face only too familiar to her, that of Raymond Mainwaring, outcast for his vices from a circle by no means saintly, and her bitterest enemy because she had once rejected him. What could have brought him there? She stood holding the door, looking at him with undisguised dismay.

"May I come in?" he asked, with an evil smile. "It is so long since we have met."

Even as he spoke he stepped past her into the hall, turned the key in the lock, and took it out. "These are unsettled times," he sneered, "and I have no fancy for being impaled like a bug on a Federal bayonet, and sent North as a curiosity. Will you come into the library, Miss Loder? I have something to say to you."

There was no one within call but female servants, for all the neighbors had fled; no help but to follow. Lute did so with a silent prayer. He gave her a seat, placed himself beside her, and, leaning forward, fixed his eyes intently on her face.

"You, I remember, are fond of poetry," was his most unexpected beginning. "I came here to quote a stanza that has been running in my head all day."

"Kind of you, but is it worth the risk? Pray, what is your quotation?"

He took her hand. Direful menace and fierce triumph flamed in the midnight depths of his eyes. He spoke as if he would burn in every word on her memory:

"'For Time at last sets all things even;

And if we do but watch the hour,

There never yet was human power

Which could evade, if unforgiven,

The patient search and vigil long

Of him who treasures up a wrong.'"

He had a marvelous voice, full, deep, capable of any inflection, and it rung out now like the toll of doom. Lute's heart gave a sudden bound, and then stood still in mortal terror; the blood surged over cheek and brow, and as suddenly receded; and her voice shook spite of her bravest efforts, though her words were calm enough.

"Bon! I see your taste has improved; but I conclude this is only your text. What is your sermon?"

"A short one, Lute. A year ago I loved you, and you might have saved and redeemed me. You refused with scorn, and society applauded you, but 'Time has set all things even.' The wheel has turned. Society has need of me now, ignores you." "True, yet hardly worth the telling."

"You are right, as usual, were that all I had to say; but listen. I am a man of a curious pertinacity of disposition, and I never relinquish a determination. A year ago I decided that you must belong to me. I have not changed my mind, though I have waited in silence. My time has come. Your consent is no longer necessary. You are alone here, in a city distracted with mad, selfish terror, and Government will not inquire too closely into the conduct of so useful an officer. I shall take you."

"You dare not!"

"I dare any thing."

"God—"

" Is on the side of heavy battalions and favorable. circumstances."

She struggled to shake off his grasp on her wrist, which he had unconsciously tightened to a painful degree. A locket fell from her belt. He picked it up and opened it.

"Jack Centyre! So he is my rival! Will it interest you to know that I saw him at Fort Donelson? He was one of the first to scale the walls, and I think was cut down at once. But come, my love! time presses."

A pistol lay on the table. Lute, in desperation,

caught it up and aimed it at him. He smiled scornfully.

"Shall I show you how to pull the trigger? I think you are more afraid of it even than of me. What a soldier's wife you will make!"

She dashed down the pistol and darted toward the door, but he held her fast. A moment's struggling exhausted her little strength, and left her utterly helpless in his iron grasp. There was no relenting in his determined face—he had no pity. Surged up then to her brain, with a dull, waving sound in her ears, the quickened tide of blood. She seemed fainting, dying; when suddenly, amidst the whirl and confusion of her faculties, she found that she was listening to a sound growing nearer and louder every moment: the quick gallop of horses; the creaking of the gates; the loud echo of hoofs along the carriage-road.

"Come!" urged Raymond, with an oath.

Her answer was a long and thrilling shriek. Shouts and voices responded from without. They were thundering at the door—locked, alas! and quite strong enough to withstand a lengthy siege. Some one called her:

"Lute! in God's name, where are you?"

It was Jack's voice! She answered with a second shriek, as Raymond tried to drag her toward the door. They were coming around the house. There was a jingle and a crash of broken glass as

a window was dashed in, and then sprang into the room men in the welcome Federal uniform, with swords and revolvers drawn.

Lute ran up to the leader.

"Oh, Jack, you have saved me! I knew that you were not dead, and that you would come!" And so, as usual, the little things of man's estimation were the agents of Providence. Jack's impatience proved Lute's salvation, and her happiness also; for Aunt Primly could not in decency deny to Lieutenant Centyre the life that he had saved. Mainwaring they marched off to the camp in triumph, and the official report coolly noted him down as "One prisoner taken."

How many that read it dreamed of the almost tragedy depending on those simple words?

GENERAL McCLELLAN'S ARMY.

WE devote several pages this week to illustrations of our Army under General McClellan, which has just driven the rebels out of Yorktown. On page 305 will be found a fine picture of a rebel RECONNOISSANCE BY NIGHT, WITH DARK LANTERNS, preliminary to the evacuation; on page 308 the DEPARTURE OF OUR CAVALRY AND FLYING-ARTILLERY, under General Stoneman, up the Yorktown turnpike, in pursuit of the rebels; on page 309 a spirited picture of the CAPTURE OF A REBEL RIFLE-PIT by the Massachusetts First; on page 310 a complete Map of the SEAT OF THE WAR IN VIRGINIA, which will enable our readers to follow the movements of the various armies under McClellan, Franklin, McDowell, Banks, and Fremont; and on page 311 a semi-humorous picture representing THE PICKETS OF THE TWO ARMIES CONVERSING FROM THE SHELTER OF TREES. The brilliant charge of the Massachusetts First upon a rebel rifle-pit is thus described in the Herald letter:

Five companies of Massachusetts troops participated in a splendid little action which took place this morning. One company made a brilliant charge on a rebel redoubt, drove the rebels away, killed quite a number, and hemmed in fourteen, who were taken prisoners. The redoubt is situated in front of a piece of woods, and faces an open cornfield to the right of the Yorktown road. It was determined last evening to reduce the work and ascertain what fortifications were behind, beyond the woods. Early this morning three companies of the First Massachusetts Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, and two. companies of the Eleventh, under Major Tripp, left camp and arrived on the ground just about daylight. Company A, Captain Wild, was deployed as skirmishers to the left across the field to prevent a flank movement of the enemy. Company I, Captain Rand, was held in reserve toward the right near a small ravine, while Company H, under Captain Carruth, advanced at double quick across the field and charged upon the work. Led by Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, they dashed ahead in the most gallant manner. As soon as they were seen crossing the open field, a distance of four or five hundred yards from the redoubt, the rebels opened a spirited fire from behind the parapet. In face of this fire the gallant little band of sixty advanced at a double quick with bayonets fixed. Their comrades were falling on the field around them; but not a man on our side fired a gun until those who charged the redoubt had arrived within a few yards of the ditch in front. Then they discharged a volley, and the rebels retreated. Although much exhausted by the run across the corn-field, our men jumped into the ditch and climbed over the parapet. Thus the work was successfully taken in a few minutes. Lieutenant Chandler and Lieutenant-Colonel Wells were among the first to reach the fort. Company H lost three men killed and thirteen wounded. No other casualties occurred on our side. Most of the killed and wounded fell within twenty yards of the ditch, which was six or seven feet deep and eight feet wide in front of the redoubt. Company A still held their position as skirmishers to the left, and subsequently Company I was ordered to advance to support those in front. In the meantime Company A, Eleventh Massachusetts, Captain Humphrey, came forward to the right at double quick and kept the rebels back, while Company G, Captain Allen, which had been placed to support a section of our artillery, also advanced, and with picks and shovels commenced destroying the redoubt. Our artillery did not fire a single shot. Presently the rebels opened with their artillery from their fortifications to the left. Our brave Massachusetts boys fired away into the woods, while some of their comrades were shoveling the earth from the parapet of the rebel fort into the ditch below. A little to the right of this work there was an opening through the woods and a clearing behind, where another rebel redoubt was situated. From this the rebels poured forth a continuous fire; but the skirmishers from the Eleventh regiment filed off to the right and left, covered by the woods, and thus escaped the effect of their fire. When the attack was made on our left the rebels were driven in confusion in every direction. Fourteen of them got on a small strip of ground behind which was a stream which they could not cross. Hence they were taken prisoners. One of them rushed out with a white haversack on his musket and begged our men not to shoot. Firing in that direction ceased for a moment. He said there were thirteen others who wanted to surrender. Soon they appeared and were taken prisoners. Fourteen rebels were captured altogether—one sergeant, one corporal, and a dozen privates. They all belonged to Company E, Nineteenth Virginia Regiment. They were a companyof sharp-shooters who were on duty in the fort. They said they were completely taken by surprise, and when we opened the attack there was great confusion among them; but they were soon supported by other troops on the right and left. Our soldiers acted in the most gallant manner, and were highly complimented by the Brigadier-General, who was on the ground. The object of the movement having been most successfully accomplished, our men retired from the field in perfect order.

FORT MACON REPOSSESSED.  

ON page 316 we illustrate the BOMBARDMENT AND RECAPTURE OF FORT MACON, at Beaufort, by the United States troops under the command of General Burnside. Our pictures are from sketches by our special artist, Mr. Angelo Wiser. The fort was taken on Friday, April 25. The following account of the bombardment is from the correspondence of the Times:

Friday morning—a day whose evil augury has been so signally reversed in the history of this campaign—dawned pleasantly, but a fresh breeze sprang up from the south at daybreak. At precisely 5:40 o'clock a Parrot gun from Captain Morris's Battery startled the town from its slumbers. Its thunder shook the houses in Beaufort to their foundations, and while the echoes of its shrill, bursting shell were still rolling along the opposite shores, eager gazers, with half-finished toilets, filled the windows, or stood awe-struck upon the streets and balconies. Another and another followed in quick succession, and then came an earthquake shock from Flagler's 10-inch mortars, which made the windows rattle and weak-kneed mortals stand aghast! Before the smoke had cleared sufficiently to mark the spot from which this belching volcano had issued, puffs of white smoke rose from the right, and in advance of the rest. It was Lieutenant Prouty putting in the exclamation points to his new oration from his 8-inch mortar battery. Thus opened the bombardment of Fort Macon. For twenty minutes not a sign of life was to be seen upon the fort. The sentinel, suspended in his usual eyrie upon the flag-staff, had dropped from the cross-trees as if the halyards that held him up had been shot away, and he disappeared no more to return. Still the firing continued. At last heads of moving objects were seen cautiously stealing in the direction of the barbette guns on the lower parapet, and in another moment the fort gave out its first answering shot. Taking courage from this infantile effort, and finding they still lived, others crawled out from their coverts, and another gun was manned. They had already guessed at the location of the Parrot battery, and directed their fire upon it, but their practice at first was unsteady and faltering. Their solid 32-pound shot generally struck short, throwing up clouds of sand, while an occasional shot passed over their heads, and went bowling in among the sand-hills half a mile beyond our lines. A three weeks' practice had taught our boys to dodge these missiles with comparative ease.

Many of the shells from the heavy mortar battery, during the first part of the firing, went over the fort, exploding on the beach at the eastward or in the water—the same was true of the 8-inch shells—but it was not long before they obtained the range, when their firing was made with greater precision. Lieutenant Flagler stood at the right of his battery, in a position so as to enable him to see the effect of each shell, and directed the adjustment of every fuse and the training of the guns. At eight o'clock the firing from the fort became very sharp and well sustained, one gun after another being manned, until apparently half a dozen were at work at once. The Parrot battery kept up a continuous discharge, their shells exploding over the parapets, and their solid bolts plowing up the works in all directions. When one of these shots struck the parapets, the fort, for an instant, would be enveloped in heavy clouds of black mould, which were thrown almost to the top of the flagstaff, while fragments of brick, stone, and lumber, from the wooden covering of the ramparts, filled the air, hiding the enemy's gunners from view.

It was now apparent that the rebels were doing their utmost to dismount Captain Morris's battery, whose open embrasures afforded the only visible point of attack. Lieutenant Flagler's battery being nearly in a direct line with the Parrot guns, the shots which were aimed at it would generally ricochet and expend their force near that beyond. Lieutenant Prouty, whose position was at the extreme right, near the south beach, continued his fire for a considerable time before attracting much attention from the enemy's guns. Later in the action the received a good share of the rebel shot in return for his well-directed fire.

Up to 9 o'clock A.M. the fire from our batteries and from the fort was kept up with nearly equal spirit and determination, the advantages, if any, being on the side of the fort, which outnumbered us in guns. The rebel gunners won much admiration from many sympathizing spectators in Beaufort and Morehead for their daring and bravery.

About 9 o'clock A.M. the United States gun-boats came into position, one after the other, and opened fire, their shots enfilading those from our batteries on the beach. Their long-range guns sent their shot and shell in some cases clear over the fort, which burst within half a mile of the town. The majority of them, however, raked the east and west parapets with effect, and did great execution upon the south face of the fort. Added to the continuous fire from the mortar and Parrot batteries, they sent a perfect storm of exploding projectiles into the fort, and for a time the rebel gunners stood appalled. They fled from the lower parapets and most exposed positions, taking shelter behind the breast-works or in the casemates. While this timely contribution was being added to the common stock of Union arguments, our land batteries took a moment's breathing spell, and prepared to renew the firing with vigor. The rough sea which prevailed outside, however, rendered all attempt at accurate range impossible, and after firing for about two hours they hauled off. During this time a large number of good shots were thrown at the ships. One of these, a 32-pounder, struck the United States gun-boat Daylight near the gangway, passing through the engine-room, the Captain's room, and lodging in the celing on the port side. It carried away a portion of the iron stairway, which struck the Engineer, Mr. Eugene J. Wade, breaking his left arm. Another hot shot passed through the ensign of the State of Georgia, but did no other damage. The Albatross and Chippewa had some of their rigging carried away.

The bark Gemsbok also did some effective firing, and all demonstrated what they would have done had the weather been smooth. In the afternoon our batteries obtained the exact range, and poured a continuous hail-storm of bursting shell into the fort. The rebel guns were gradually deserted, and at 2 o'clock only two or three guns were fired at intervals of five minutes. On our side the fire continued with little abatement, every shell telling with terrible effect.

At 3 o'clock the gun in the water-battery, which had kept up a constant discharge, was silenced by the bursting shells, and only an occasional discharge was made from the 10-inch Columbiad on the south parapet.

Shortly after 4 o'clock the firing, which had been constantly growing weaker, ceased, and a white flag was displayed on the west front of the fort. Our batteries immediately ceased firing, and the fact was announced to General Parke, and was also signaled to General Burnside.

The effects of the bombardment are thus described by the same correspondent:

The inner walls and parade-ground of the fort bore witness to the terrific force of the shells which had exploded within. Deep holes indented in the brick-work; the stone steps torn from their foundations; the water-tank stove in, and rendered useless; casemate window shattered to fragments; and even the ends of upright bars of railroad iron, set up to protect the entrance to the casemates, broken off, and the solid shot buried to their heel in the brick walls—were some of the visible effects of the iron store. Thousands of fragments of shells lay scattered over the ground. The ramparts were breached and plowed up on all sides; the wooden coping scattered in fragments along the parapets; chimney, knocked flat, and gun-carriages split and broken to pieces. Fifteen out of eighteen guns pointing up the Spit were disabled, and several dismounted. Over 400 shot and shell fell in the fort, and about 100 shells burst in the inner fort.

Seven persons were killed at the guns and in the fort, and eighteen wounded, one mortally. One man had his leg cut off by the fragment of a shell while sitting on his bunk in the casemate. Another hail his knee badly crushed. Two of the killed, viz., J. P. Willis and James Stanton, belonged in Beaufort.

The dead were carried out in rough boxes as the Union troops entered the fort.

The garrison consisted of 450 men, 250 being effective.

So our troops are repossessing, one by one, the forts belonging to the United States.


 

 

  

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