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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  November 22, 2014 10:00pm-11:11pm EST

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had a chance to ask a question. >> [indiscernible] >> common practice. it would be gross in tea, i think. >> was there any difference between the alcohol percentage? >> i am sure there is evidence for that. >> aside from food and drink, walking into a tyrant today, are there any traditions that have ?ranscended time before, if you go to colonial williamsburg, they try to make the recipes conform.
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there are other establishments in new york city, artisan :00 where they try to harken back to those older recipes. to get a taste of 18th-century tavern culture. the chamber of commerce, the new society, sons of revolution, only a little bit later, those kinds of club survive. the rituals that were invented in the 18th century still survive. think about freemasons or something like that. is a way people today can experience something i can do the drinking's culture in the 18th century. [applause] >> you're watching american history tv. 40 aid hours of programming on american history every week and on c-span3. at c-spanon twitter
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history for information on her schedule, upcoming programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. >> during the civil war, union forces repeatedly targeted the port of charleston, south carolina, using a variety of tactics, including new naval technology, ironclad warships. historian steven wise talks about the seize of charleston. the various artillery methods used and the role of blockade runners in keeping charleston supplied. this event was hosted by the south carolina historical society. it runs about an hour and 10 minutes. >> good evening. i'm faye jansen. on behalf of the south carolina historical society, i'd like to thank everyone for joining us. i'd also like to thank the board of managers of the society for sponsoring this event tonight. there will be refreshments afterwards and you can thank our
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board for those. in his war for the union series, historian alan nevin points out that the federal assault on charleston was planned for both political and military reasons. he writes that the seizure of the cradle of the confederacy, the proud capital of nullify or's and secessionists. would humiliate every follower of calhoun and exalt every northern heart. we're going to hear about this important campaign tonight from two of south carolina's finest historians. dr. walter edgar is professor emeritus at the university of south carolina where he began teaching in 1972. he has written or edited more than a dozen books on the american south and south carolina, including the south carolina encyclopedia,
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carolina a history partisans and red coats, the , southern conflict that turned the tide of the american revolution, and south carolina in the modern age. he has also contributed numerous essays and reviews to professional publications and has delivered hundreds of talks to school, civic and community groups. dr. edgar was the founder and first director of the university's public history program and served as the director of the institute for southern studies. since 2000, he has been the host of two popular weekly programs on south carolina e tv radio. walter edgar's journal and southern read. 08, we were 2080
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fortunate to have dr. edgar serve as president of the board of managers of the south carolina historical society. in 2009, he was inducted into the south carolina hall of fame in honor of his outstanding contributions to the state. and in 2010, he was inducted into the south carolina higher education hall of fame, which recognizes individuals who have made a lasting impact on university education. joining dr. edgar is dr. stephen wise. dr. wise received his master's degree from bowling green and his ph.d. from the university of south carolina. he is the director of the parris -- paris island museum and an instructor at the university of south carolina. a well-known civil war historian, dr. wise has authored a number of books and articles, including lifeline of the confederacy, blockade running during the civil war, and gate of hell, the campaign for charleston 1863. he is currently working on the second volume of the history of beaufort county. dr. wise is a popular lecturer who has appeared frequently on
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sce tv and the discovery channel. and fortunately for us, he also serves on the editorial board of the south carolina historical magazine. please welcome walter edgar and stephen wise. [applause] >> steve, before we get started, faye also mentioned the books. but somebody asked me, what books would they read about the siege of charleston? and i said, well, if you want to go back, first thing you need to do is look at burton's book, which has been around for a while. and then lifeline of the confederacy and gate of hell, by steve wise.
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and steve, the siege of charleston, now, when it began is a matter up for discussion. i discovered maybe eight of ten possible dates. did it start on december 26, with the union occupation of fort sumter? did it start when the blockade was proclaimed in april? or did it start in may 1861 when the first blockade ship came? some people have dates after that, but i think it gets a little bit dicey. >> everything is confusing, yes. >> you've got three possible dates. you're the man who is the expert in naval history and particularly the blockade. so when would you -- let's settle this once and for all in charleston. when did the siege actually begin? >> boy, i can't even answer that
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one. i like to put the siege starting when the federals occupied port royal, november 7, 1861. that places the federal troops within 40 air miles of charleston. it allows them to increase the blockade off charleston. it also gives them a base from which they can launch both land and sea assaults against charleston. almost immediately, when the federals occupied port royal sound. we have to remember, it's a whole new time of warfare. in order to carry out a blockade of the confederate coast, you need coaling stations. very early in the war, the united states actually set up -- you could argue -- the first chief of staff board to carry out a strategy to defeat the confederacy. one of the main things they did is they came up with a concept of blockading the south and establishing coaling stations
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from which vessels warships , could find refuge, be refueled and carry out a much tighter blockade of the coast. and they chose port royal as the site to establish a naval base, guarded by an army installation, to carry out this blockade. they actually chose it before the confederates even started building their fortifications to guard port royal sound. and on november 7, 1861, a fleet, the largest fleet up to this time in u.s. history, 15 warships, will seize port royal sound. the sea islands will be abandoned by their owners. beaufort will be abandoned. army troops will be landed on hilton head. then they will spread out among all the sea islands and then they'll establish this massive base from which they can launch attacks against charleston. and the commander of this expeditionary force was thomas west sherman. this is not "the" sherman. he's sometimes called the other sherman.
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this poor guy, he was under direction almost immediately to capture charleston. well, here he is with only 14,000 men at port royal. yes, the naval base. he's supposed to seize jackson, fernandina, saint augustine. move against savannah. but charleston was a symbol that the north won it. he almost immediately was given out instructions, carry out an attack against charlotte. >> actually, when faye quoted alan nevin, who quoted somebody -- when he talked about charleston in the revolution, he would say, talking about the battle of sullivans island, he said the british would find charleston a tough nut to crack. >> it was. i don't think the federal government ever understood how much it would take.
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they sent sherman out to his engineers. they came up with a plan that called for landing troops on sullivans island and morris island. >> sullivans island, didn't they fail once before? >> i'm sure they did. i'm sure they studied all of that. problem was, he only had about 14,000 men and the campaign called for about 30,000 men. and he wasn't going to get those 30,000 men. but it's going to be out of port royal that all attacks against charleston will come from. and of course, the naval blockade and even the naval attacks will originate. >> some things people forget. they think about the blockade. you've actually got the ships patrolling. but in december 1861, and january 1862, they sank, what, 30 ships loaded with stone to try to block various avenues and passes into charleston? >> yes. after they seized port royal, information or directives came down to admiral dupont, at that
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time captain dupont, saying we're going to be sending you a stone fleet. these were old whalers that the united states government had purchased, loaded them up with granite from new england. they were to come down and dupont was supposed to sink them in the channels off of charleston. dupont hated the idea. he called them white elephants. they didn't know really what to do with them. but he followed orders. went ahead and sank them in the main ship channel. then another group came down a little later and sank them off of sullivans island. as best as dupont could tell, the sinking of these vessels, the vessels quickly broke up, but the granite helped scour out the channels to make them even deeper. [laughter] so blockade runners could get in a little more easy. he turned them into machine shops which he thought was a much better purpose for them. >> you mentioned captain admiral dupont.
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in 1863, he made a stab at fort sumter. >> yes. dupont, fascinating individual. he was sort of the aristocrat of the united states navy. he was on that blockade board. he's one of the ones who helped design the blockade. he's given command of the expedition to come down and seize this area. married to his first cousin. no children. but he wrote her every day. and the letters are fascinating. you go back, and he even writes in french, if there's something he doesn't want everybody to read. but he leaves behind a tremendous amount of wonderful letters that describe it. he did not want to attack charleston. he said it's just like a porcupine hide turned inside out. you couldn't get into charleston.
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and he's also a man of the old navy. he was a midshipman about the age of 12 or 14. he believed in the big, tall, wooden vessels. he didn't like the ironclads. and he's being sent these monitors, these ironclads that are considered to be the weapon of the age. the united states naval department thought these ironclads could do anything. and he sent down -- this is the largest ironclad fleet ever assemblied by the united states during the civil war to come against charleston. there's a great description of when he's on his flagship, the frigate. he's standing there watching the first monitor come in. and he said this little tiny raft comes in. it's being swept over by water. he said the crew comes out onto the deck. and they look like drowned rats. [laughter] and he said we can never use iron ships unless we can come up with iron sailors. >> well, that leads into the
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whole area of naval -- the development of naval warfare and technology. and so let's back up a little bit, because i think we're going to talk about the monitor, if we're going to talk about that, we've got to talk about the engagement of hampton roads in virginia, when both the confederacy and the union were coming up with ironclads. the confederacy, to break the blockade, an attempt to break the blockade, not quite as good a design as the monitors. >> no. the first battle between steam-powered ironclad vessels will be the virginia and the monitor or more popularly known as the merrimack. >> if you're from the south, it's the virginia. >> yes. >> it's not the merrimack. if you're from new england, it's the merrimack. >> okay. yes, sir. >> for those who don't know, the merrimack was the frigate sunk at norfolk that they converted into the virginia. >> yes. >> that goes out. and she was designed as a large ram, though she didn't have very good engines, which was a problem with confederate ironclads.
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she fought the monitor, which was the brainchild of the swedish inventor. so you had this very unusual, huge confederate ironclad, big armored casement coming out of the water. and this little tiny monitor with a turret that just spun around. couldn't fire straight ahead or it would take off the pilot house, but it could fire in other directions. the merrimack had a big ram but it had already broken off the day before when it attacked some wooden vessels. and they sparred for an entire day. it was a very inconclusive battle. but after this point, each side begins building these styled ironclads. the confederacy, smaller versions of the virginia. the north turns out between 60 and 80 of these monitors during the war. the confederacy turns out between 50 and 60 smaller versions of the virginia. and charleston is a port where they have an ironclad squadron. before the war is out, there will be four active ironclads in charleston harbor with two or
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three more on the stocks.
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>> and two of the -- >> they had two. the first two they built, one was the palmetto state. the other was the jacora. both were vessels built in charleston. engines were taken out of other ships. they didn't have very good engines. the jacora was particularly slow, a very slow vessel. it was said that the jacora took four hours to steam from the battery to fort johnson. [laughter] one said that a log floating in the tide could outrun it. but they were ironclads. and they will actually go out and attack the federal fleet, january 30, 1863. there were no union ironclads out there. and they had plenty of time. i think they had six hours to get from the cooper river out to the mouth of the harbor. put on a minstral stroll. and they attack the federal fleet. the palmetto state damages the union blockader. the jacora takes on a large steamer called the keystone state. and i have to do this. i'm sorry. i have to do this story. side-wheel vessels do not make the best warships, because you can imagine, you know -- >> i knew he was going to work it in.
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>> i have to do this. and like comedians, historians steal from other historians, so i have to say i'm stealing this from craig simmons. but the first warships, the united states and most nations had, were side-wheel vessels. of course, if you hit a side wheel, it was a shot. it hurts. you can't do much. the jacora damaged the keystone state paddle wheel. so the keystone state is coming along, loses a paddle wheel, so it's kind of going like -- [laughter] the jacora was so slow, she wouldn't catch the one paddle of the keystone state. but, again, they could take on wooden vessels. and if wooden vessels could get into the harbor, they would be very formidable. they had very good armament. called brook cannons, massive rifled guns. the confederate navy believed in rifle guns, fired like a bullet-like projectile, weighing
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up to 200, 300 pounds that could pierce the side of an enemy ship, hit engines, magazines and such. the north believed in firing great big round balls, weighing up to 440 pounds. they didn't care if they broke the armor of an enemy vessel. they just were going to pound it into submission. if you can imagine being inside an iron case and a 440-pound ball hits the side of your ship, knocks out half the crew, splinters are thrown all over the interior of the ship. >> that's the main thing, because behind that iron are oak timbers. just like the danger in the navy on the wooden ships, it was not so much from the shot itself but from the splinters. you mentioned the engines which were a weakness in southern ironclads. tell us about the smokestack. >> yeah. smokestack would get riddled. then you didn't have the draw
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coming back in and that would there was slow you down grately as well -- greatly as well. in texasgreatly as well. in some battle, the smokestack would literally fall off, it had been hit so many times. i've never heard of an earthquake in texasbeen hit so many times. >> one thing is, yes, the i was born and raised that my whole life and
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in some battle, the smokestack would literally fall off, it had been hit so many times. >> one thing is, yes, the confederate ironclad is above water, but most of the ship is below water and all of the union ship is below water. no port holes. you've got that turret and that's it. you're off charleston harbor in the summer. just stop and think about that. and the monitors were always wet. you could not stay dry in the monitors. always -- i mean, they were built -- erikson had this theory that rafts could ride over waves. it worked well in a wave vat. doesn't work in reality. and waves go right over them. and it just floods these vessels. and they're small crews, anywhere from 80 to a little over 100 men. they got special pay for serving on monitors, because they were constantly wet. they couldn't see down in the hulls of these vessels, as walter says. they had some dead lights, some glass on the deck that brought in some light. but it didn't do much at all. one officer who was stationed off charleston wrote his wife and said, we have some interesting times when we have our messes. we're given bowls of food. and you can't see the roaches in them. and he said the bigger ones, you can pick out. but the smaller ones, you just eat normally as you go through. it was suggested that the navy had given up the rum ration. by this time, for the sailors. the officers still had their wine mess. but the sailors did not. and it was thought maybe we
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should bring this back for the men serving on board the monitors. the chief surgeon of the united states navy said, no, no, no. a mixture of warm oatmeal and coffee would be much better. i think they would have preferred the rum. i think they would have. >> all right. we've got port royal. we've got the blockade. we've got dupont decides to at least have a foray against fort sumter. >> what scares dupont the most and scares the men on the monitors -- and these are top officers. one thing dupont had was top officers. the draiton family of charleston. one is bankhead, who took over the monitor after the commander of the monitor was wounded in the action against the virginia. but they're scared to death because these monitors have very little buoyancy. and they know the confederates -- the general comes and takes over in charleston in september of 1862. he's willing to try anything. one thing they do is place lace in the harbor and out in the main channel. mines, floating -- what they then called torpedoes.
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if these torpedoes hit and detonated against a monitor, you probably had less than a minute to get out. they would flip over and sink. one hit a mine in charleston harbor, went down with 64 of her men. i mean, it went over. it wasn't even a minute. they just flip and go down. the buoyancy is so bad. so they're very brave men. well, wait an minute. so when dupont sends his vessels in, the lead ship, she has a -- something designed by erikson, this wild contraption on her bow to try to catch and blow up the mines, the torpedoes, as they come into the harbor. we're not quite sure exactly what happened. it seems that it hit one mine. blew up. and that was enough. nobody was going to attempt to go into charleston harbor. the commander eventually cuts
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loose this contraption and it floats off. and the ironclads don't even try to enter charleston harbor, because of the mines. they take up a position to bombard fort sumter. it's a very uneven match. the monitors do have these huge cannons. and, again, if you think about world war ii and such, when we had 16-inch guns on board the new jersey and the later classes of our battleships. monitors during the civil war carried 15-inch guns. and they could fire, again, a shot weighing up to 440 pounds, which they fired against fort sumter. >> i just -- i know that, and i've read that. you've got that. but how does the crew load a 400-pound cannonball into that gun? >> the monitors are all
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steam-propelled, steam-operated. so they had designed inside them steam lifts that would lift up the powder and, again, the powder is quite heavy. and steam lifts to bring these shot and shells up from the hulls to the turrets. and the turrets, you had around the turret, a block-and-tackle system that would actually snap onto these -- they had little grooves in them. they would snap onto these balls and be manhandled over and loaded into these huge guns. it took a long time, almost five minutes, to fire one of these guns. that's sort of what happened to them, when they come into charleston harbor. they get off 162 shots, about 16,000 pounds of metal against fort sumter. the confederates get off from their cannons, which are just ringing the harbor, over 2,000
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rounds, 160,000 pounds of metal. and it's just raining down on these monitors. they hold up under the bombardment. but it hits their decks, rips up a their decks, jams their their decks, jams their turrets. again, as walter mentioned, the vibrations inside these vessels are knocking bolts loose. bolts about this big are breaking off in the turret and whizzing around the turret, hitting the gunners. after about four, five hours of this, they withdrew. and dupont gets these reports back from his officers. the monitors have all been quite roughly handled. a couple of them dropped out of the battle. there was one vessel, she was not a monitor. she was what they call a tower ironclad. had two towers. she had much weaker armor than the monitors. she was shot through over a
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dozen times. she was such a -- she was a lighter draft vessel so she could get closer to fort sumter. the commander, a fellow named ryne, told his pilot, i want you to get as close to fort sumter as you can, because i want to prove this is a lousy ship. his pilot was robert smalls, the fellow who took the planner out of charles carver. harbor. she sank that night. the monitor survived. but it was a tremendous -- i mean, dupont was just so upset at this. he was very worried about it. he had a tremendous reputation for his capture of port royal. now, suddenly, he's being -- how dare you stop this attack? the navy department. the monitors cannot be turned back. what do you mean? a huge political war basically breaks out between dupont and his backers and the navy department.
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and in the end, dupont is relieved of command. the monitors are redesigned. the ones that attack charleston are reworked to give them more protection. but they never, ever try to run into charleston harbor. the idea of hitting the torpedoes is just -- >> do they do that refitting or -- >> they could do most of the refitting at port royal. only one vessel got sent back, because the gear -- the monitors, again, are all steam-operated. when they went into battle, they would actually rise up, to turn the turret. and one of the gears that turned the turret broke. but that they couldn't do in port royal. >> and they've established not just a -- basically a u.s. naval ship-yard at buford. >> it was fascinating. they had the hard hat divers there. they would go down to clear the underside of the vessels and in one case bushels of oysters were taken off the hull of a monitor.
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some of the officers were a little upset, because, what, they could just go out and grab oysters whenever they needed them. and now they cleaned them all off. afterouple of months dupont and the monitor fiasco -- the movement from port royal. it may be realized he was not the man to lead the attacks. the hugee inventor of canyons, which are on the monitors. .e had very little experience he was head of the washington arsenal, naval yard.
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he was a friend of abraham lincoln. >> so he was just a political admiral? >> some people argue that. he got seasick. he was promoted over a lot of other officers, never well-liked, kept to himself. he wanted glory, and never really achieved it. he was a technician, and he was not really the first choice the united states navy had to take over after dupont. they wanted andrew foote. the fellow who commanded the union fleet on the mississippi river, working with grant. but he had been wounded at fort donaldson, and he never really recovered from that. he was referred to as a stonewall jackson type of naval officer. but he died, and dahlgren succeeded him. >> farragut was pretty good,
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too. my question. admiral dahlgren was a political admiral? >> in many ways. he was named by lincoln. he was a favorite of lincoln. the secretary of the navy did not want him, but under pressure from lincoln he went down. there was hope his knowledge of weaponry and that he knew more about the technology of the monitors. he joins with general gilmore, and general gillmore replaces a political officer, general hunter, at port royal. he will lead the army in the attack against charleston. gillmore is the top engineer in the united states army, the man who used rifle cannons. it is thought between these technicians, dahlgren and gillmore, they can carry out a campaign that can destroy fort
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sumter, capture fort sumter, remove those obstructions and torpedoes between fort sumter and sullivans island, and that would have allowed the monitors to go into the harbor and capture charleston. it was that between these commanders, this could be done. the idea again is to come down and use the island, which had been occupied earlier in the war, use folly island as a jumping off to establish the batteries. bombard fort sumter from half a mile away, destroy the fourth, capture the fort, then the navy could go in. initially they worked well to try to pull this off. >> talking about the siege of charleston, the campaign around battery wagner is a big part of
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that. >> if you want to start your count, follow with your count, a lot of charleston newspapers said the siege began july 10, 1863, when federal troops landed. starting the count of 587 days of union forces right on the outskirts of charleston. this movement to morris island starts on july 10, 1863. if you look at the newspapers, that's what the charlestonians call the beginning of the siege. >> the beginning of the
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campaign, when the confederate abandoned battery wagner. and of course, you have the charge, the assault at battery wagner using african-american troops. many of the soldiers were recruited in beauford. >> you have three black regiments in gillmore's army. the famous 54th, but also the first and second south carolina, both of which were raised from the beaufod area, making up a number of former slaves from south carolina and also florida and georgia as well. later they are joined by the third south carolina. it is made up of a lot of escaped slaves from the charleston area. it also sees service here. >> the siege, i am going to call it the siege of battery wagner. for those of us in later wars,
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world war ii, they had bunkers in the sand. again, when they were being shelled they would go in. when it stopped, they would get out. but july 10 to december 26, the confederate soldiers are going underground for hours at a time. think what these young men are putting up with. there are humorous stories, talking about how the union fleet would skip the shells in, like a stone across a pond, and sometimes they would bring in fish for supper. >> robert pringle said you could sit and watch these
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ever-enlarging disks coming at you. in one case they brought in a school of fish. wagner in the sense is one of the first earthen forts to undergo these attacks, and it changes military concepts. gillmore was thinking about fort sumter, fort pulaski, big forts that could be pulverized by rifled artillery. an earthen fort gets chewed up, but not weakened. they were watching shells crashing into the fort, and cannot believe anyone is surviving. they have a bomb proof inside wagner that can house 1,000 men, so when the bombardment stops,
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they can come out and take positions along the wall and have time to prepare for the attack on the evening of july 18th. only 22 people were hurt in the bombardment, leaving almost 1600 men inside wagner to stop the assault. the federals send 5000 men. the lee brigade would hit wagner. some would get over the walls, then be driven back. the second brigade cannot go into the interior. they have to pull back. before it's over, the federals lost almost 1800 men, the confederates losing under 200. the power of these earthen
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fortifications, what starts gillmore to carrying out siege operations against wagner. digging in the beach at morris island, zigzag trenches. it takes six weeks to get to the moat of battery wagner. >> and the confederate abandoned it on september 6th. >> a remarkable evacuation. they only lose 20 men, get out the entire garrison from all of morris island. >> one of the few things the colonel kitt ever did right. >> talk about political officers.
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he's one of the few people douglas freeman takes to task as being the best or worst example of a political officer in the confederate army. he also had the, if you were in his unit, a unit defending the coast was only supposed to have a certain percentage. his unit was many times over. he put his friends' sons in the unit so they would not have to go to the virginia theater, and when they abandoned battery wagner they go to virginia. kitt's regiment, where did that division come from? it's so much larger than the regiments serving in virginia. kitt did not realize you were not supposed to be riding a horse at the head when you
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engage the enemy. if you read the history of kershaw's brigade, they did not like him taking command. he also was shot in the back. [laughter] i will let you draw your own conclusions. >> against a fortified position, it's not exactly a sensible thing to do. >> not in 1864. most people knew better. >> the story of kitt and his political shenanigans. freeman has pages on that. >> he has a wonderful line from battery wagner after the heavy bombardment. beauregard sent a telegraph, can you hold off? he said, send some sugar with lime and rum and i will hold another day. [laughter]
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he thought that would make a nice political campaigns someday after the war. >> while they are besieging battery wagner, the union sets up the infamous swamp angel, a large mortar to lob shells into the city. we have a very interesting letter from thomas lockwood, written august 23rd, the day after the swamp angel began. this is what mr. lockwood, writing to cousins, says " the papers made light of the shelling. i do not regard it so. 23 shells were thrown into the city and several houses completely ruined. one house on the corner, one opposite, one on atlantic wharf, have been cleaned out. two of them burned.
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while i write, shells are falling and a house is on fire. another shell is just exploding, and crowds are pushing uptown. four people are now homeless." one of the first accounts of how citizens were reacting to the bombardment. if you were living close to the battery, shells falling around you, it was more -- >> you did not know they were coming, either. the shells they were using were designed to start fires when they hit, to incinerate homes and such. the swamp angel, it's still there if you go out, you can see the site of the swamp angel, built in the marsh between morris island and james island.
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the federals, when gillmore sent out where he wanted it built, and don't know which officer was tasked with building it, but supposedly he came back and said, this is impossible, you cannot build a battery in the marsh. no, you can do it, you just need to come up with a way to do it. supposedly the next day the engineer officer sent a request for 20 men 18 feet tall. [laughter] to work in the marsh. and sent a request to the chief surgeon asking him to slice together three six-foot men to create this man who could work in the marsh. the parapet floated independent of the platform. so the platform with the
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carriage and the gun pushed down in the marsh to help elevate the parapet. this unbelievable piece of engineering. it fired into charleston, and the actual swamp angel only lasted a short period before that piece of artillery cracked and had to be replaced, but it starts a tremendous exodus out of downtown charleston that becomes known as the "gillmore district" because of bombardment. >> that continues until charleston surrenders. 17,000 rounds were fired into charleston. below calhoun street it became a ghost town. people refugeeing in the upstate.
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sumter, columbia. columbia's population goes from 8000 to 25,000, mostly refugees from charleston. the citadel becomes a tent city for refugees. 16,000 people in charleston, almost half the population of the city. not only were folks evacuated. columbia was considered the safest city in the confederacy. the bells of saint michaels were sent for safekeeping. when sherman went into the town, 17 bank vaults were crammed with securities, gold, jewelry, art, books.
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all of that was shipped out to columbia. we mentioned, 25,000 people, last week when i gave a talk in columbia on that they said, where did they house them? everyone moved in with her cousin or their kinfolk. most of these are women, children, and the elderly. the columbia story is another one. that is connected to the siege, and comes back to what is occurring here. the bombardment will continue until the actual evacuation. the same time, they continuously bombard fort sumter. they began firing on fort sumter before they took over all of morris island. you had a tremendous bombardment, followed by a second great bombardment in october, then in the summer of 1864 the third occurs.
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fort sumter is the most bombarded site in the western hemisphere. 3500 tons of artillery was fired into fort sumter. broke down the walls of fort sumter. the confederates basically turned it into a world war i bunker with tunnels throughout. a miserable place to be. rats, roaches. but it ceased to be an artillery position and became an infantry position. as long as they held fort sumter, the federals could not break or take up those obstructions. as long as the obstructions and torpedoes were there, even baldwin was not going to send his monitors in. the torpedoes, like many things in the confederacy, they were somewhat makeshift.
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they started using beer kegs and wine kegs with tar around them. as they found out in mobile bay, one blew up, but the rest of the torpedoes, he took his fleet right through the torpedo minefield, and none of them exploded. they got waterlogged. you could hear them bouncing off the ships, and they did not explode. they were continuously swapping out torpedoes because they would be waterlogged or the ignition systems would not work properly. they were trying other things. beauregard, fascinating individual. he never had an idea he did not want to try, or at least like. [laughter] he was fascinated by torpedoes
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and wanted a way to attack the union command on morris island. to do that, he had to drive off the union fleet. one idea was, we have to come up with torpedo boats, and use the torpedoes as an offensive weapon, ram them into enemy vessels, sink the vessels, and once the union fleet is gone we can recapture morris island. he hired, you may be familiar with him, francis d. lee, one of the architects of charleston, was designing an army torpedo boat called "the torch." it did not do very well. she went out. what inspired this, there were bounties on union vessels. the biggest union ironclad was the "new ironsides."
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a $100,000 bounty, to sink the "new ironsides." they came close. it's a great story. wabash, the flagship of the u.s. fleet, $100,000. a monitor, $50,000. you could always find crew members to go out. i always heard it was in gold, which was preferred. in today's money, around $25 million if you sank the new ironsides. the company put out these bounties. >> before we get to the final bombardment, we need to talk about the blockade runners.
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part of that, once battery wagner goes, what happens? >> they move. charleston was the premier blockade running port for the confederacy from the beginning of the war to summer 1863. over 100 roundtrips of these vessels, primarily out of nassau and bermuda, sometimes havana, would go into charleston, carrying everything from handkerchiefs, wine, billiard tables, to vital confederate munitions, cannons and weapons. and the majority of your blockade running companies, southern blockade running companies, were formed in charleston. one of the largest was established by a man who had an office in liverpool and an office in charleston.
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they had over 40 blockade runners. the charleston blockade running company, the b company, was the south carolina import and exporting company. george williams, very important individual on the city council, helping to run relief programs in charleston during the war, was a big backer of these blockade running companies. they brought in what i felt was needed to sustain the confederacy. enough munitions that the troops always had uniforms, shoes, accoutrements, weapons, powder to meet the federal adversaries. gave them a chance for victory. they also brought in items for the commercial market. anything from corsets to handkerchiefs, china. if you have the money, you could order anything from great britain. his partner suggested that they run in a glass greenhouse, complete with a british gardener.
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[laughter] just to show what a mockery this blockade was. his home was ashley hall at the time. when the attack occurred at battery wagner and the north seizes morris island, they could set up batteries to fire over the channel and put ships into the main channel. so the blockade running companies shift to wilmington. and for about a year there is no blockade running business in charleston. then the last year of the war, they start coming back, and they come back with a vengeance. they come up with smaller vessels that come in the channel on sullivan's island. the lucy, the fox, they could sneak in. there was one vessel, the little hattie. to show you how audacious they could be, the little hattie ran the blockade in daylight. usually you would run at night, when no one could see you.
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>> they were painted dark gray or black. >> very quick and very fast, and the little hattie could make more money and a quicker run. the commander ran her right in, right out of monitor. very slow, got off two shots. she ran right into charleston. at the end of the war, the evacuation of charleston, blockade runners came back. one vessel alone brought 400,000 pairs of shoes, more than the number in the confederate army at the time. >> it was extremely profitable, especially if you invested in bonds in great britain, invested your money.
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the blockade running captains and crews, in bermuda and nassau, wine, drink, women, lost money quickly. you put your money in confederate bonds, that was a mistake. some individuals came out very well after the war. he put his money into real estate. we don't know about george williams. but he came out quite well at the end of the war. those of you familiar with the calhoun house in charleston, what people call the calhoun house, which was built by george williams for his daughter after the war. so williams, a fascinating individual. we do not hear a great deal about him. lands on his feet quite well after the war. and we have not even gotten to hundley yet -- >> these are vessels they are using to break the blockade.
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beauregard is told, we heard from the commander of mobile, we have a vessel you might be interested in. it's shipped from mobile to charleston. they are not overly successful in the trials. >> maybe one of the few people still alive who set foot in a machine shop where the hundley was built. i sat on the bank of where it was launched. you cannot go to the machine shop anymore because it is under i-10, but when i was five years old my grandfather took me there. it was still a machine shop. he said, son, i want you to see where our sub was built.
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>> that's wonderful. we are coming towards the end now. charleston is ringed. you have sherman in savannah, and everyone thinks he will go for charleston. >> they did, there were suggestions coming from the union war department. the chief of staff for the u.s. army sent a message to sherman basically saying, should you happen to go by way of charleston, i hope you will sow a little salt into the streets to head off any more nullifiers and secessionists rising. sherman responded, you will see the 15th corps is usually on my right. they would be the first to enter charleston, and they usually do the work well. but sherman had no intention of coming to charleston. charleston is still a very difficult nut to crack.
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the marshes, the rivers. imagine moving from savannah to beaufort, then coming up the rivers, the marshes, then you get to charleston and have to undertake the seige. sherman was not going to allow his army to do that. he feared it would sap their vigor. charleston's importance was as a machine shop, munitions center, a blockade running port. to negate that, where does sherman go? to the connection between charleston and the interior of the state and the rest of the confederacy, grantville. once you cut the railroads, charleston is no longer valuable. >> everybody things about
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atlanta as the great railroad center. >> you could not get stuff out of alabama and georgia unless it came out of columbia first. thosegton, the railroad, blockade runners dropped their supplies at wilmington and came to columbia. then they went north. columbia was a major railroad. railroad. >> major, major. >> and that's what sherman is going after. he's going after the railroads. sherman is thinking logistics. and once he cuts these railroads, charleston is -- >> see, all of this is connected. it's not just the physical siege of charleston. he's looking at the big picture. he cuts those railroads and taking his army inland. but february 17, also the same day that charleston -- the confederate troops have been withdrawn. >> yeah. there was an interesting little scenario there. charleston -- the general, in command of a much larger district that includes
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charleston, orders the charleston commander, hardy, to abandon charleston and bring his troops to columbia. hardy gets directives from president jefferson saying, no, don't leave charleston. charleston symbolically is still very important to us. indeed, the governor of south carolina basically stated once charleston falls, that's the death knell of the confederacy. because the symbolism of charleston, which is so important throughout this whole story from the beginning, the fort sumter being captured, as walter started, with nullify case, succession. it's a symbol to the north, a symbol to the south. both sides see it, to capture richmond would be grand. to capture charleston would be glorious. and so both sides see charleston as this very important symbol. so confederate troops in charleston were supposed to come to columbia to help defend
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columbia. they didn't go. >> yeah. well, nor did any folks from georgia come to help. >> no. no. >> that's an interesting and sad commentary on relations between different states, when sherman was in georgia, the governor of georgia asked the governor of south carolina to please send some local troops, militia, across the river to help defend georgia. and the governor said, absolutely not. and so when sherman is coming, our governor sent a telegram and the comment is, where were you six months ago? our boys aren't going to cross the savannah either. and so it's a wonderful essay on that, the democracy. the governors just weren't going
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to help one another. not that it would have made a whole lot of difference, i don't think. >> probably wouldn't. may have slowed sherman down a day or two, but he would have maneuvered around them actually eventually. >> charleston surrenders. but the last shots were fired in the siege on february 18 by a union monitor that fired two shots. the flag -- when the confederates abandoned, they left flags flying to give the impression that the forts were still occupied. and so this union monitor fired two shots at the fort. no response. then the fleet steamed on into charleston harbor. and folks, that's the end of the siege of charleston. we'll now be happy to take questions from the audience, if you have some. and they're going to be -- folks, to help with mics, in the back, jenny, faye. questions, anybody?
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and if you don't ask them here, we'll answer them out there. yes, sir. >> i understand that two of the ships in the fleet were actually new. they had been sieged in shipyards in connect because they were being built as -- [inaudible] if true, why in the world would -- i mean, slave ships. >> well, they probably weren't -- the question is that two of the stone fleets had been seized by the federal government because it was thought to be slavers. well, they wouldn't have been advertising that. so i'm not quite sure -- >> they weren't building the ship. the last slaves to be run into america happened in december 1816. it happened on the gulf coast with the matild. and that was on a bet. a guy won a bundle of money.
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he said, i can sneak a slave ship in the united states still in 1860. >> well, sailing ships would have been awful tough to be using. >> they were sailing ships. >> my understanding is that these ships used for the stone fleet, they were obsolete worn-out ones. it may have been that one of these had previously been a slaver, because all the better slave ships were built in new england. and, well, it's an old ship. what else are you going to do for it? >> in the back there. >> pardon me. george williams -- the same george williams who was so active in the phosphate industry down by buford. >> yes. fascinating fellow. he was considered to be one of the richest men, richest men in the united states at the start of the war. he moved a number of his slaves up into north georgia, if you're
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familiar with that sort of strange german town, helen, georgia, up in that area, where they could actually produce food that could be shipped down to charleston. he was in charge of the relief under the confederate government in charleston for the city of charleston. then when the federals take over, they direct him to take care of the relief programs in charleston. so he's handling the relief programs for both the confederacy and the united states. he and george trennam immediately set up a committee to try to revive charleston at the end of the war. and george williams was head of the committee that sent
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condolences to mrs. abraham lincoln upon the assassination of the president. we can't see with the lights so -- >> he's coming. >> any other questions? yes, over there. >> i just wondered -- can you hear me? >> yes. >> i was just wondering where the financing came at the end of the war. these 400,000 pairs of shoes, and with the slaves being freed, and that was certainly a big portion of the economic value of everybody's estates and so on at that time, so who is financing all of this at the end? >> cotton. >> still growing cotton? >> well, they have enough cotton to sustain their programs in great britain. some of it is borrowed money on the promise of shipping cotton out after the war. but the confederacy uses cotton as a medium of exchange during the civil war. a $50 cotton bail in charleston is worth $500 in liverpool.
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so they're using cotton as a way to finance the war. >> and of course, the secretary of the treasury, the confederacy, is mr. trenam. >> i always wanted to find out, the christmas day ambush, wasn't that part of the siege of charleston? didn't they try it before they came through -- i think it was orangeburg that the kids went to from the orphanage. i'm almost positive of that. >> i didn't hear the question. >> the second part of the question was about the -- >> i'm sorry. what? >> the second part of the question is about the orphanage going to orangeburg. >> the orphans -- i think it was to orangeburg. >> yeah. >> george trennam paid for that. he bought a school in orangeburg and had the orphans moved there.
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>> but also i was wondering about the christmas day ambush. it was part of that siege of charleston. and also i thought they came down to start off with. >> they did a lot of movement along the river. i think you're referring to the confederates would sometimes install mass batteries along the river and try to ambush union vessels. they caught one, the isaac smith. she was caught in that ambush. and then she later became a warship for the confederacy. and then became a blockade runner. and unfortunately for the south, ran aground off of sullivans island. but there were movements in the summer of 1864. there was like a five-prong
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attack not directly on charleston but against james island, johns island. and these federals did send units up the river, and, again, as you mentioned, to break the railroad between charleston and savannah. >> but they never broke the railroad between charleston and savannah during the war. >> yes. they never were able to do that. >> thank you so much! wasn't this wonderful? [applause] >> the civil war airs here every saturday at 6 and 10 p.m. eastern time. to watch more of our civil war programming anytime, visit you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span 3.


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