July 19, 1863–September 7, 1863
Location Charleston, South Carolina
Result Inconclusive
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Quincy Gillmore
John A. Dahlgren
P.G.T. Beauregard
Lawrence M. Keitt
Units involved
X Corps
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Fort Wagner garrison
Fort Sumter garrison
Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida
Casualties and losses
859 816

Second Battle of Charleston Harbor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Second Battle of Charleston Harbor, also known as the Siege of Charleston Harbor, Siege of Fort Wagner, or Battle of Morris Island, took place during the American Civil War in the late summer of 1863 between a combined Union Army/Navy force and the Confederate defenses of Charleston, South Carolina.

    1 Background
    2 Siege
    3 Aftermath
    4 Opposing Forces
        4.1 Union
        4.2 Confederate
    5 See also
    6 Notes
    7 Bibliography
    8 Further reading

After being repulsed twice trying to take Fort Wagner by storm, Maj. Gen. Quincy Adams Gillmore decided on a less costly approach and began laying siege to the fort.

In the days following the second battle of Fort Wagner, Union forces besieged the Confederate works on Morris Island with an array of military novelties. Union gunners made use of a new piece of artillery known as the Requa gun—25 rifle barrels mounted on a field carriage. While sappers dug zig-zag trenches toward Fort Wagner a second novelty was used—the calcium floodlight. Bright lights were flashed upon the defenders blinding them enough to decrease accurate return fire while the Union gunners fired safely behind the lights.

The Confederate defenders also had advantages. The ground the Union sappers were digging through was shallow sand with a muddy base. The trenching efforts also began to accidentally uncover Union dead from the previous assaults on Fort Wagner. Despite this, by mid-August Gillmore had his siege guns within range of Fort Sumter. On August 17, he opened fire and during the first day of the bombardment nearly 1,000 shells were fired. By August 23, the masonry had been turned to rubble and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard removed as many of the fort's guns as possible. Gillmore wired the War Department that "Fort Sumter is a shapeless and harmless mass of ruin".
Gillmore's attention returned to Fort Wagner. Despite the marshy conditions on Morris Island, Union forces had constructed powerful batteries to combat Fort Wagner. One such battery officially known as the Marsh Battery, was dubbed the "Swamp Angel". This 200-pound Parrott rifle hurled 35 shots into the city of Charleston itself, but on the 36th shot the gun exploded. On September 5, Gillmore and Dahlgren attacked with an intense bombing of Fort Wagner for 36 hours killing 100 of the remaining defenders. Gillmore's soldiers seized the rifle pits just outside the fort walls.  Conditions within the fort were becoming intolerable, and the garrison commander, Colonel Lawrence M. Keitt, informed General Beauregard that he now had only 400 men capable of defending the fort. Therefore on the evening of September 6–7, Beauregard ordered Confederate forces to abandon their positions on Morris Island. On September 7, Union troops occupied Fort Wagner.

Fort Wagner had withstood 60 days of constant bombing and held off a much larger Union army. Yet the Union army and navy had captured an important position at the mouth of Charleston Harbor and reduced its most formidable fortress to rubble. Despite this, the city of Charleston and Fort Sumter itself would remain in Confederate control until William T. Sherman's armies marched through South Carolina in 1865.

Opposing Forces
Dept. of the South – Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore

    Morris Island – Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry
        1st Brigade – Col. Henry R. Guss
        2nd Brigade – Col. Joshua B. Howell
        3rd Brigade – Brig. Gen. Thomas G. Stevenson
        4th Brigade – Col. James Montgomery
        5th Brigade – Col. William W. H. Davis

    North End of Folly Island – Brig. Gen. Israel Vogdes
        1st Brigade – Brig. Gen. Robert S. Foster
        2nd Brigade – Col. Samuel M. Alford
        3rd "African" Brigade – Brig. Gen. Edward A. Wild

    South End of Folly Island – Brig. Gen. George H. Gordon
        1st Brigade – Brig. Gen. Alexander Schimmelfennig
        2nd Brigade – Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames


Dept. of South Carolina, Georgia & Florida – General P.G.T. Beauregard
First Military District – Brig. Gen. Roswell S. Ripley

    1st Sub-division – Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro
    2nd Sub-division – Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Clingman
    3rd Sub-division (incomplete)
        Morris Island – Brig. Gen. Alfred Colquitt
    4th Sub-division (incomplete)
        Fort Sumter – Col. Alfred Rhett
    5th Sub-division – Brig. Gen. Wilmot G. DeSaussure
        Evans' Brigade – Brig. Gen. Nathan G. Evans
        Anderson's Brigade – Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson
        Wise's Brigade – Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise

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U.S. Civil War (Union) Gillmore Medal, the only specimen known to have been awarded to a Jewish soldier

Inscription on obverse of bar:

Capt. A. Mordecai
Chief of Ordinance
10th Army Corps

   Upon the reverse is this inscription, in raised letters:    "For gallant and meritorious conduct. Presented by Q.A. GILLMORE, Major-General."

awarded to Capt. Alfred Mordecai, Jr. (1841-1920)
whose loyalty to the Union helped to lead his father to spurn a Jefferson Davis offer of the command of the Confederate Corps of Artillery, and who was later a revered Professor at West Point;

JewishEncyclopedia.com entry on Alfred Mordecai (Jr.):
American soldier; officer in the United States army; son of Alfred Mordecai; born in Philadelphia June 30, 1840. He was graduated from the Military Academy at West Point June 24, 1861, and was brevetted second lieutenant of topographical engineers. Later, at the outbreak of the Civil war, he was selected as an aid to General Howard; he served at the first battle of Bull Run, and subsequently was transferred to the ordnance department. He was promoted first lieutenant on March 3, 1863, and captain on June 1, 1863; and was brevetted major in September, 1863, for gallant services at the siege of Fort Wagner, S. C. Two years later he was brevetted lieutenant-colonel for distinguished services on the field and in the ordnance department. Mordecai is one of the best-known ordnance officers in the United States army. He was twice instructor of gunnery at West Point; was in command of the arsenal at Leavenworth, Kans., and of New York Arsenal, Governors Island; twice in command of Watervliet Arsenal (1881-86 and 1898-99); superintendent of the armory at Springfield, Mass.; and in command of the arsenal at Benicia, Cal. Colonel Mordecai is now (1904) inspector of ordnance, being attached to the Ordnance Office in Washington, D. C.

  The Mordecais were prominent members of Mikveh Israel, the first Jewish congregation in Philadelphia; it is distinguished by having as an early member Haym Salomon, the banker and financial agent of the Continental Congress in the Revolution.    

  In October of 1863, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore issued an order creating "medals of  honor  for gallantry  and meritorious conduct during the operations before Charleston". He commissioned Ball, Black & Company of New York to strike a fine bronze medal.  400 were struck, and the awarded medals were named across the top bar to the recipient.  However, R. Bender's book Call to Duty suggests that as few as 20 were actually awarded.
This medal was considered an unofficial decoration by the U.S. Army, but was permitted for wear on a military uniform. In 1905, with the creation of the Civil War Campaign Medal, the Gillmore Medal was declared obsolete.          
The famous assault by Black troops on Ft. Wagner (depicted in “Glory”) was launched on 18 July 1863, one week after Union troops began attacks on the fort, and 15 days after Mordecai became Acting Chief of Ordnance for operations there. Confederate forces withdrew from the fort on 7 September 1863.

The Civil War caused a great divide among Americans, pitting brother against brother, relative against relative, friend against friend. Jews fought on both sides in this conflict, and they also found themselves beset with divided loyalties. Alfred Mordecai was one such individual who was forced to make a most difficult decision that cost him his career and alienated him from family and friends.
Mordecai was born on January 3, 1804 in North Carolina….  He was such an exceptional student that in 1819 at the age of 15 he was admitted to West Point and graduated at the top of his class at the age of 19.

Mordecai rose to the rank of major and, during the Mexican War, assumed command of the army's most significant arsenal, in Washington, DC. Mordecai became an assistant to the Secretary of War and to the Chief of Ordnance, wrote an excellent Digest of Military Laws and served on the Board of Visitors to West Point.
The year 1857 marked the peak of Mordecai's career. He traveled to Europe to observe the use of weaponry in the Crimean War. His report, written on his return, is considered a classic of American military science.
His mother, sisters and brothers lived in the South….  His wife and children had been brought up in the North and his son had entered West Point.
Pressure was put on Alfred by individuals from both the North and the South. In January 1861, before the conflict started, North Carolina Governor John W. Ellis urged him to resign his post and come to his native state to help prepare for war. Jefferson  Davis, who knew Alfred well, offered him the command of the Confederate Corps of Artillery.    
Thus, on May 2, 1861, Major Alfred Mordecai addressed this simple letter to Lt. Col. J. W. Ripley of the United States Army: “I hereby tender the resignation of my commission….”

                          From an essay by Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Medal celebrating the support for the Union in the Civil War by the Mordecai's Philadelphia temple (* Above depiction is only for illustrative purposes;  an original of which is not provided in the group for sale.)  

Jefferson Davis

breveted Major "for Gallant and Meritorious Services” in the 1863 Union siege of Fort Wagner, S.C., where black troops launched a famous charge which inspired the award-winning movie "Glory"

 From  http://digital-library.usma.edu/libmedia/archives/aogreports/V1920.PDF

Fifty-first Annual Report of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy
JUNE 14th, 1920

As Acting Chief of Ordnance of the Department until December, 1863, and Chief of Ordnance until May, 1864, he was in charge of arming, equipping and manning the batteries erected on Folly Island for the descent upon Morris Island, and of arming and equipping all batteries on Morris Island that operated against Forts Wagner, Gregg and Sumter. These duties called for incessant-labor day and night, generally under fire. In the reports to the Department Commander covering these operations, Brigadier-General J.. W. Turner, Chief of Artillery said:
"The immense labor of landing all this heavy artillery, putting it into position, equipping the batteries and supplying them with ammunition and projectiles was under the supervision of Captain Alfred Mordecai, Ordnance Department, to whose untiring industry, energy and ability you are indebted for so speedy a completion of your batteries."
Brigadier-General T. Seymour in his report of the first operations on Morris Island said:
"To the indefatigable Captain Mordecai, U.S. Ordnance, for his perfect preparation and systematizing of the complicated'ordnance supplies much praise is due."
Brigadier-General I. Vogdes in his report of the preparations for the descent upon Morris Island, July 10, 1863, said:
"The mounting of the guns and supplying the ammunition was entrusted to Captain Mordecai of the Ordnance Department. The energy, perseverance and knowledge displayed by this officer are deserving of the highest praise."
He was breveted Major, September 7, 1863, for "gallant and meritorious services" at the siege of Fort Wagner, S. C.

No. 1941. Class of June, 1861.

Died January 19, 1920, at Washington, D. C., aged 79 years.
Brigadier-General Alfred Mordecai was born in Philadelphia, June 30, 1840. His father was Major Alfred Mordecai, U.S. Army, who came from a North Carolina family and was a distinguished graduate of the Military Academy in the Class of 1823. His mother was Miss Sara Hays of Philadelphia.
General Mordecai entered the U. S. Military Academy in 1857, and graduated in June, 1861. He was assigned to the Topographical Engineers but was transferred to the Ordnance Department in October, 1861, and remained with that Corps throughout his service. The Civil War had just begun and many officers with southern home ties were joining the Confederacy, but General Mordecai was unfaltering in his loyalty to the Union. He at once proceeded to the Army of Northeastern Virginia and became Acting Assistant Adjutant-General on the Staff of Colonel O.O. Howard, who commanded a brigade. In his report of the first battle of Bull Run, Colonel Howard said:
"I wish particularly to speak of the ready and fearless manner in which my aides, Lieutenants Buel and Mordecai assisted me."

On August 31, 1861, General Mordecai was detailed as an instructor in mathematics at the U. S. Military Academy, where he remained until June, 1862. He was then assigned as Inspector of Ordnance at the West-Point Foundry, New York, until June, 1863, when, on account of his familiarity with the Parrott rifled cannon, he was selected for service with the Department of the South in the operations against Charleston, S. C. In the meantime, he had been promoted to First Lieutenant March 3, 1863, and to Captain June 1, 1863.

From May to September, 1864, he was Chief Ordnance'officer of the Army of the James and was engaged in the operations at Bermuda Hundred and Drury's Bluff. During October, 1864, he was Acting Chief of Ordnance Department and Army of the Tennessee and Chief of Ordnance Department and. Army of the Ohio with the armies in pursuit of the Confederate Forces after the fall of Atlanta.

From October, 1864, to July 10, 1865, he was Senior and Supervising Ordnance Officer and Chief of Ordnance, Department of the .Cumberland and Military Division of the Tennessee. In this position he was charged with the supply of all of the troops in the State of Tennessee and in northern Alabama and Georgia, and with the supervision of the Ordnance Depots at Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis. At the close of the war he had charge of collecting all of the vast amount of ordnance material within the command of Major-General G. H. Thomas. He was breveted Lieutenant-Colonel March 13, 1865, for "distinguished services in the field and faithful and meritorious services in the Ordnance Department during the rebellion."

In July, 1865, he became instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery and a member of the Academic Board at the U.S. Military Academy, being the youngest officer ever selected to occupy that position. He remained there until August, 1869, when he was assigned to station at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, where he was engaged in the construction of shops and in the development of the water power, until August, 1870. He then assumed command of Leavenworth Arsenal, Kansas, and at the same time became Chief Ordnance Officer, Department of the Missouri. He was promoted Major June 23, 1874. From June, 1874, to August 28, 1874, he was Assistant at Watertown Arsenal, Massachusetts. From August 28, 1874, to August 28, 1881, he was instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery and a member of the Academic Board at the U. S. Military Academy, and from August 28th to November 1, 1881, he was a member of the U. S. Ordnance Board at New York Arsenal. On November 2, 1881, he became Commanding Officer Watervliet Arsenal, New York, where he remained until May 12, 1886.
While there, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, December 4, 1882. From May 12, 1886, to January 7, 1887, he was a member of the Ordnance Board and of the Board for Testing Rifled Cannon, and he was President of these Boards until January-21, 1892.

On October 25, 1888, he was appointed Ordnance member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications which was first organized by Act of Congress on that date. On January 7, 1887, he was assigned to the Command of the New York Arsenal and of the Ordnance Proving Ground, Sandy Hook, N. J. He retained the former command until January 21, 1892, and the latter command until October, 27, 1890. He received his promotion to Colonel, January 31, 1891. From February 2, 1892, to February 21, 1898, he commanded the U.S. Armory, Springfield, Mass. During his administration he introduced new systems and methods which made the Armory equal to, if not the superior of any similar establishment in the world. While there he became a member of important boards, including the Board on Field and Siege Gun Carriages, the Board to determine details of construction of Magazine Rifle and Carbine and the Board of Visitors to the U. S. Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Va.

He assumed command of the Watervliet Arsenal, New York, on February 23, 1898, and remained 'there until May of 1899, when he was assigned to the command of Benicia Arsenal, California. During a portion of this period he was President of a Board of Army, Navy and Marine Corps officers to consider the question of the adoption of a uniform caliber for small arms and machine guns for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. In November, 1902, he became assistant to the Chief of Ordnance and remained on this duty until his retirement, at his own request, after forty years' service, on January 20, 1904. At the same time, he was appointed a Brigadier-General. During his long career in the army, his thoroughness and technical knowledge had a marked influence upon the policies of the War Department as to equipment and munitions. From his retirement until his death he voluntarily gave his services to the Ordnance Department, where during most of the time he went daily to his office. His varied experience and this thorough knowledge of the Department was of great assistance in many of the important questions that were presented, both before and during the war. He died at the Westmoreland Apartments, Washington, D.C., January 20, 1920, after an acute illness lasting but a few days.

General Mordecai was married in 1866 to Sally Sanford Maynadier, daughter of the late Brigadier General William Maynadier. She died in 1885. In 1892 he married Dora Varney, who survives him.
He is also survived by two daughters, Mrs. J. D. Miley, widow of the late Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. Miley, U. S. Army, and Mrs. C. P. Summerall, wife of Major-General C. P. Summerall, U. S. Army.

In his service of more than forty years, General Mordecai occupied nearly all of the most important positions in the Ordnance Department. He sought and acquired a thorough knowledge of the details connected with his duties and was always faithful, conscientious and untiring in the interests of his Government. He devoted his entire time and mind to his profession and to the betterment of the Ordnance Department and of the Army, and from the time of his entry into the Army, he filled every position with distinguished ability. The posts commanded by him were models of discipline and care and of good administration and efficiency.

As a man, he was an example of uprightness, strength of character and fidelity-loyal in all things and kind in all ways. He had a genius for friendship, and his generous nature, as well as his superior judgment, made him a clearing house for the troubles of others. He was ever thinking of, and seeking to help those about him. His unselfishness and loyalty attracted warm friendships, and his sympathy and lofty ideals won the admiration of all with whom he came in contact. A loving husband and father, a helpful friend and a faithful servant of his country, his life and his example are an inspiration to many who mourn him and who cherish his memory.


1941      (Born Pa.)      Alfred Mordecai   (Ap'd at Large)

Born June 30, 1840, at Philadelphia, PA.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1857, to June 24, 1861, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., Top. Engineers, June 24, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-65: in drilling Volunteers at Washington, D. C., June 25 to July 9, 1861; as Acting Asst. Adjutant-General of Brigade, July 9 to Aug. 31, 1861, in the Defenses of Washington and the Manassas Campaign, being engaged in the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; at the Military Academy, as Asst.

(Second Lieut., Top. Engineers, Aug. 3, 1861)

Professor of Mathematics, Sep. 4, 1861, to June 28, 1862; as Inspector

(Transferred to Ordnance, Oct. 23, 1861)
 of Ordnance at the West Point Foundry, N. Y., June 28, 1862, to June 1,

(First Lieut., Ordnance, Mar. 3, 1863)

(Captain, Ordnance, June 1, 1863)

1863; as Asst. Ordnance Officer, June 11 to July 3, 1863, Acting Chief of Ordnance, July 3 to Sep. 22, 1863, and Chief of Ordnance, Sep. 22, 1863, to Apr. 22, 1864, Department of the South, being engaged in the Operations against Charleston, S.C., comprising the Descent upon Morris Island, July 10, — Bombardment of Ft. Sumter, Aug. 17-23, and Nov. 1-10, — and Siege of Ft. Wagner, July 10 to Sep. 7, 1863; as

(Bvt. Major, Sep. 7, 1863, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Siege of Ft. Wagner, S. C.)

Chief of Ordnance, Army of the James, May to Sep. 2, 1864; as Asst. Ordnance Officer at Watervliet Arsenal, N. Y., Sep. 7-‘17, 1864; as Acting Chief of Ordnance, Department and Army of the Tennessee, Oct. 22 to Nov. 6, 1864; as Chief of Ordnance, Department and Army of the Ohio, Oct. 23 to Nov. 7, 1864; as Senior and Supervising Ordnance Officer of the Army of the Cumberland, Nov. 7, 1864, to June 24, 1865; and as Chief of Ordnance, Department of the Cumberland, Nov. 28, 1864, to June 24, 1865, — and of the Military Division of the Tennessee,

(Bvt. Lieut.Col., Mar. 13, 1865, for Distinguished Services on the Field, and Faithful and Meritorious Services in the Ordnance Department during the Rebellion)

June 24 to July 10, 1865.

Served at the Military Academy as Instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery, July 12, 1865, to Aug. 2, 1869; as Assistant Ordnance Officer at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., Aug. 2, 1869, to Aug. 12, 1870; in command of Leavenworth Arsenal, Kan., and Chief Ordnance Officer of Department of the Missouri, Aug. 12, 1870, to May 28, 1874; as Assistant Ordnance Officer at Watertown Arsenal, Mas., June 6 to July 25, 1874; at

(Major, Ordnance, June 23, 1874)

the Military Academy, as Instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery, Aug. 30, 1874, to Aug. 28, 1881; and as Member of Board on new Cavalry Outfit, Nov. 29, 1873, to May 5, 1874, — and to examine Officers for transfer to Ordnance Department, Mar. 11 to July 22, 1875, and Apr. 1-7, 1876, — of Ordnance Board, Aug. 28 to Nov. 2, 1881, and since May 24, 1886

(Lieut.Colonel, Ordnance, Dec. 4, 1882)

(also for testing rifled cannon), and of Board of Ordnance and Fortification, since Oct. 25, 1888; in command of Watervliet Arsenal, N. Y., Nov. 2, 1881, to May 24, 1886, — and of New York Arsenal, May 25 to Jan. 30, 1886,º and since Jan. 10, 1887.º

[Supplement, Vol. IV: 1890-1900]

p130 (Colonel, Ordnance, Jan. 31, 1891)

Military History. — Served: Member Ordnance Board, May 12, 1886 to Jan. 7, 1887, and President of Board to Jan. 21, 1892. — Member Board Testing Rifled Cannon, May 12, 1886 to Feb. 26, 1891, and President of Board till Jan. 21, 1892. — Member of Retiring Board, Governor's Island, 1887 to 1891. — Member of Boards for Examination of Officers for Promotion, Jan., 1887 and June, 1891. — Member of Board on locating and making preparations for the establishment of the Army Gun Factory, April, 1887. — Appointed Oct. 25, 1888, Ordnance Member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification, then first organized by Act of Congress, and served thereon till Jan. 21, 1892. — In command of the New York Arsenal and of the Ordnance Proving Ground, Sandy Hook, N. J., from Jan. 7, 1887 till Oct. 27, 1890, and of the frm till Jan. 21, 1892. — In command of the U. S. Armory, Springfield, Mas., from Feb. 2, 1892 to Feb. 21, 1898. — Member of Board on Field and Siege Gun Carriages, May, 1892. — Member of Board of Visitors to U. S. Artillery School at Fortress Monroe, Va., June, 1892. — President of Board to determine details of construction of magazine rifle and carbine, Sept., 1892. — In command of the Watervliet Arsenal, N. Y., from Feb. 23, 1898 to May 5, 1899. — President of a Board of Army, Navy, and Marine Officers, to consider the question of the adoption of a uniform calibre for small arms and machine guns for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Dec., 1898 to —; In command of Benicia Arsenal, Cal., from June 1, 1899 to —; Member Retiring Board, San Francisco, Cal., from July 1, 1899 to —.

[Supplement, Vol. V: 1900-1910]

p103 Military History. — President of a Board of Army, Navy, and Marine Officers, to consider the question of the adoption of a uniform calibre for small arms and machine guns for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Dec., 1898. — In command of Benicia Arsenal, Cal., from June 1, 1899 to Oct. 27, 1902. — Member Retiring Board, San Franccisco, Cal., from July 1, 1899 to July 23, 1901. — On duty in Office of Chief of Ordnance, U. S. A., Nov. 12, 1902 to Jan. 19, 1904.

(Brigadier-General, U. S. A., Jan. 19, 1904.)

Retired from Active Service Jan. 20, 1904, at his own request, after 40 Years' Service.

— Residence, Washington, D. C.

Died, Jan. 20, 1920, at Washington, D. C.

Buried, Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, DC.
From http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Army/USMA/Cullums_Register/1941*.html

Mordecai Sr.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate armies

 By United States. War Dept






Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida.--June 12-December 31, 1863.

No. 2.--Report of Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, U.S. Army, commanding Department of the South, with congratulatory orders.  (November 15, 1863)

158. The Parrott guns are not without defects, the most serious of which we found to be their very unequal endurance. Some of our most valuable batteries were disabled at a very early stage in the operations. The 8-inch rifle in the Marsh Battery burst at the 36th discharge, at a constant elevation of 31° 30 and a constant charge of 16 pounds. The projectile weighed 150 pounds.
For the purpose of comparison, take two 100-pounders which burst as follows: One of them at the 122d round at 3° 15' elevation, the greatest elevation having been 3° 20', and the average 3° 18', while the other burst at the 1,151st round at 12° 30' elevation, the greatest elevation having 13° 55', and the average 13°. Ten pounds of powder was the charge for both pieces.

159. By far the most remarkable example of endurance furnished by any of our guns, and perhaps the most remarkable on record, was that of a 30-pounder Parrott rifle. The following history of the piece is furnished by Captain Mordecai, chief of ordnance of this department:
The gun was cast at the West Point Foundry in 1863; its ordnance number is 193; it was mounted on *******'s Point in December, 1863, for the purpose of throwing shells into the city of Charleston; it was placed on a plain wooden carriage manufactured on Morris Island. Sixty-nine days elapsed between the first and last discharge of the gun. It was being fired the 4,606th round when it burst. There were fired 4,594 rounds with 3 3/4 pounds of powder, and percussion shells of 29 pounds charged with 1 ½ pounds of powder, with an elevation of 40°. One round with the same as above excepting the elevation, which was 49° 45'; 7 rounds with the same as above, excepting that time fuses were used with 40° elevation; 4 rounds with 3¼ pounds of powder, time fuse, 4 1/2-inch shells, weighing 29 pounds and charged with 1 ½ pounds of powder; elevation, 2° 50'.
Of these rounds, 4,253 shells reached the city; 259 tripped and fell short; 10 took the rifling and fell short; 80 exploded prematurely, but none in the gun; and 4 were fired at Fort Sumter, and reached it, the distance being 1,390 yards.
The first 2,164 rounds were fired at intervals of five minutes, but the firing was not continuous, 237 rounds being the greatest number fired in any one twenty-four hours, and 2 rounds the least. The average per day was 127 rounds.
The last 2,442 rounds were fired at intervals of fifteen minutes, not continuously, 157 rounds being the greatest number fired in any one day, and 7 the least; the daily average being 97 rounds.
All the shells were swedged and greased. The gun was cleaned after each discharge, first with a dry sponge and then with an oiled one; it was washed out with water and cooled after every ten fires. After the gun was loaded, and while waiting to be fired, a canvas cap was placed over the muzzle to keep out drifting sand, and every <ar46_33> care was taken that the gun should be clear from sand and dirt when fired. The vent of the gun was bushed twice during the time it was used; the bushing in use when the gun gave out was somewhat eaten, but very regularly and not badly, the diameter of vent at the exterior being .25 of an inch, and at the interior .375.
The gun when it burst went into seven pieces, the muzzle and chase back to the axis of trunnions being one piece, that part of the cast-iron re-enforce from 6 inches in rear of the front of the wrought-iron band, with the band, breach, and cascabel, being a second piece. The metal between these two pieces went into five fragments, two below the axis of the gun and three above, one of the latter being quite small, and located in front of the trunnions. The fracture within the band took place nearly in two planes, each being perpendicular to the axis of the gun. Three cracks extended back to the bottom of the bore, each along the junction of a band and groove, one immediately to the left of the vent, but not through it, one 1 ½ inches to the right, and the third 3 ½ inches to the left of the vent. The locality of the above fracture is at the point where the ring of the projectile rested when the gun was discharged.
The upper side of the bore, over and in front of the projectile when at rest, is much eaten by the gas. In some places along the junction of a band and groove, these gutters are one-half inch in depth and 12 inches long. The surfaces of both bands and grooves are much guttered, though not deeply. On the lower side, 9 inches from the bottom of the bore, the edge of the lower band is entirely worn away, and this extends forward 12 inches. From 12 inches in rear of the trunnions to within 4 inches of muzzle, the grooves are apparently unworn. At the muzzle, on the lower side, the band is entirely worn away, down even below the bottom of the grooves. This wearing took place mostly to the right of a vertical plane through the axis of the piece.
The diameter of the wrought-iron band at the front is increased about .375 of an inch, caused by the fragments in escaping from within it. It is presumed that mortar powder was used in this gun, as that was the order. The records are not explicit on this point. Plates ---- to ----, inclusive, each exhibit drawings and a brief history of a bursted gun. They were prepared by Captain Mordecai.

Greek fire.
160. The composition of Short's solidified Greek fire, the only incendiary material called Greek fire which we attempted to use, I am unable to give.
Captain Mordecai reports as follows upon it:
It was furnished in tin tubes, closed at one end, about 3 inches long and 3¼ inches in diameter. These tubes were covered with one layer of paper, such as is commonly used for cartridges. The paper was folded down over the ends of the tube, that part covering the open end having upon it a priming of powder and coal-tar.
The directions for using this fire were furnished from the manufactory, and were as follows: "As many of the cases containing the composition must be dropped into the shell, with as much powder as can possibly be shaken among them." After the failure of shell filled in this manner to give satisfactory results, Mr. Short visited Morris Island. He altered the manner of filling the shell, putting several inches of powder in the shell before inserting the cases. He also covered some cases with several thicknesses of thick cartridge paper, and others with several layers of muslin.
Into all the shell filled by him, powder was first placed.

To the best of my knowledge, the only cases in which shell were fired containing the solidified Greek fire are enumerated below:
178. As an open assault would be necessary to get "Sumter in our possession," and as we could not expect to hold it, if we got it, until after the navy achieved success inside the harbor, occupying, as the work did, the center of a circle, with the enemy's batteries on three-fifths of the circumference thereof, unapproachable by land, and having not only a direct but a reverse fire upon each of its five faces, and as the only object to be gained in "possessing it" was to relieve parties operating against the obstructions from the annoyance of its musketry fire, I made an offer to the admiral in my letter of September 27 to undertake the removal of the obstructions myself. This offer the admiral with great candor declined, saying that that <ar46_39> was his "proper work," and that all he desired was to have Sumter rendered incapable of its musketry fire by the fire of *******'s Point, when he was ready to move in, which might not be for a couple of weeks. There were no guns in the fort to fear, and the practicability of keeping its musketry fire entirely silent with the powerful armament we had ready on the north end of Morris Island was not doubted for a moment. The occasion to use the guns for that purpose never presented itself.
All of which is respectfully submitted.

Major-General of Volunteers.

Mordecai's unit:  Union Army 10th Corps

Organized under General Orders No. 123, September 3, 1862, which designated the forces in the Department of the South as the Tenth Army Corps, and assigned Major-General O. M. Mitchel to its command. These troops were stationed principally at Hilton Head, S.C., and Beaufort, S.C., the order including also the troops at Fort Pulaski, Ga., Key West, Fla., Fernandina, Fla., and St. Augustine, Fla.; in all, 14,602, present and absent, with 10,190 present for duty. There were 14 regiments of infantry, 1 of engineers, a battalion of cavalry, and the usual compliment of light batteries.

General Mitchel died, October 30, 1862, and was succeeded by General J. M. Brannan. In January, 1863, General David Hunter relieved Brannan, and assumed command of the department; Hunter was relieved on June 3, 1863, and General Quincy A. Gillmore was assigned to the command of the corps. The total, present for duty, in June, 1863, was 16,329, including artillery and cavalry. The troops at Hilton Head were commanded by General Alfred H. Terry; those on Folly Island, by General Israel Vogdes; those at Beaufort, by General Rufus Saxton; at Seabrook Island, by General T. J. Stevenson; at St. Helena Island, by Colonel H. R. Guss.

These forces were all under General Gillmore, and participated in the various operations about Charleston Harbor in the summer of 1863, the principal event being the bloody assault on Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863. This assault was made by a column of three brigades,--Strong's, Putnam's, and Stevenson's, the whole undercommand of General Truman H. Seymour. General Strong's brigade led the assault, with the 54th Massachusetts (Colored) at the head of his column. The attack was a failure, resulting in a loss of 246 killed, 880 wounded, and 389 missing; total, 1,515. The most of the missing were killed or wounded, but few of them ever returning. To this loss should be added 339 casualties, which occurred in an attack on Fort Wagner, July 11th, a week before, an attempt made by three regiments only. Two of the three brigade commanders, General Strong and Colonel Putnam, were killed in the assault of the 18th, Putnam falling after he had effected an entrance into the fort. Stevenson's Brigade was held mainly in reserve.

From http://www.civilwararchive.com/CORPS/10thcorp.htm

Second Battle of Ft. Wagner
Fort Wagner, or Battery Wagner as it was known to the Confederates, controlled the southern approaches to Charleston Harbor. It was commanded by Brigadier General William B. Taliaferro. An attempt was made on July 11 to assault the fort, the First Battle of Fort Wagner, but it was repulsed with heavy losses to the attackers because of artillery and musket fire. Brig. Gen. Quincy Gillmore intended to repeat his assault, but first executed feints to distract the Confederates attention, the Battle of Grimball's Landing on July 16. Gillmore also ordered an artillery bombardment of the fort. The fort was on a very narrow island so the Union could only assault the fort with one regiment at a time.

The approach to the fort was constricted to a strip of beach 60 yards (55 m) wide with the ocean to the east and the marsh from Vincent's Creek to the west. Upon rounding this defile, the Union Army was presented with the 250-yard south face of Fort Wagner, which stretched from Vincent's creek to the sea. Surrounding the fort was a shallow moat riveted with sharpened palmetto logs, as abatis, and the moat on the seaward side had planks with spikes positioned beneath the water. The armament of Fort Wagner on the night of July 18 consisted of one 10-inch seacoast mortar, two 32 lb. carronades, two 8-inch shell guns, two 32 lb. howitzers, a 42 lb. carronade, and an 8-inch seacoast mortar on the land face. Company A of the 1st South Carolina Artillery also had two guns positioned outside of Wagner's southern face by Vincent's creek to provide enfilading fire. The sea face of Wagner was armed with one 32 lb. carronade, one 10-inch Columbiad, and two 12 lb. howitzers. The garrison of Battery Wagner consisted of the 1st South Carolina Artillery, the Charleston Battalion, the 31st North Carolina, and the 51st North Carolina.


Gilmore ordered his siege guns and mortars to begin a bombardment of fort on July 18 and they were joined by the naval gunfire from six monitors that pulled to within 300 yards of the fort. The bombardment lasted eight hours, but caused little damage against the sandy walls of the fort, and in all, killed only about 8 men and wounded an additional 20, as the defenders had taken cover in the bombproof shelter.

The 54th Massachusetts, an infantry regiment composed of African-American soldiers led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, led the Union attack at dusk. They were backed by two brigades composed of nine regiments. The first brigade was commanded by Gen. George Crockett Strong and was composed of the 54th Massachusetts, 6th Connecticut, 48th New York, 3rd New Hampshire, 76th Pennsylvania, and the 9th Maine regiments. The second brigade was commanded by Col. Haldimand S. Putnam of the 7th New Hampshire as acting brigade commander. His brigade consisted of the 7th New Hampshire, 62nd Ohio, 67th Ohio, and the 100th New York regiments. A third brigade under Gen. Stevenson was in reserve, with General Truman Seymour commanding on the field, but did not enter action.

The assault began at 7:45 p.m. and was conducted in three movements. The 54th Massachusetts attacked to the west upon the curtain of Wagner, with the remainder of Gen. Strong's brigade and Col. Putnam's brigade attacking the seaward salient on the south face. As the assault commenced and bombardment subsided, the men of the 1st South Carolina Artillery, Charleston Battalion, and 51st North Carolina Infantry took their positions. The 31st North Carolina, which had been completely captured during the battle of Roanoke Island and later exchanged, remained in the bombproof shelter and did not take its position in the southeast bastion. When the 54th Massachusetts reached about 150 yards from the fort, the defenders opened up with cannon and small arms, tearing through their ranks. The 51st North Carolina delivered a direct fire into them, as the Charleston Battalion fired into their left. The 54th managed to reach the parapet, but after a fierce struggle, including hand-to-hand combat, they were forced back. The 6th Connecticut continued the assault at the weakest point, the southeast, where the 31st had failed to take its position. General Taliaferro quickly rounded up some soldiers to take the position, while the 51st North Carolina and Charleston Battalion fired obliquely into the assailants. Behind the 6th Connecticut, the 48th New York also successfully reached the slopes of the bastion. The remainder of Strong's brigade did not reach that far, as three of the defending howitzers were now in action and firing canister into their flanks, bringing them to a halt. Colonel Putnam quickly brought up his brigade, but only about 100 or 200 men from the 62nd and 67th Ohio reached the bastion. The Confederates attempted to counter-attack twice, but were beaten back after having the officers leading the charge shot down. As the Union assault continued to crumble, due to lack of reinforcements from General Stevenson, Taliaferro was reinforced by the 32nd Georgia Infantry, which had been transported to the island by Brigadier General Johnson Hagood. The fresh troops swept over the bastion, killing and capturing the rest of the Union troops that remained.

By 10 p.m. the bloody struggle had concluded with heavy losses. Gen. George Crockett Strong was mortally wounded in the thigh by grape shot while trying to rally his men. Col. Haldimand S. Putnam was shot in the head and killed in the salient while giving the order to withdraw. Col. John Lyman Chatfield of the 6th Connecticut was mortally wounded. The 54th Massachusetts's colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed upon the parapet early in the action. Some confederate reports claim his body was pierced seven times, with the fatal wound a rifle bullet to his chest.

In all, 1,515 Union soldiers were killed, captured, or wounded in the assault of July 18, although this number has never been accurately ascertained. Gen. Hagood, the commander of Fort Wagner on the morning of July 19, stated in his report to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard that he buried 800 bodies in mass graves in front of Wagner. Only 315 men were left from the 54th after the battle. Thirty were killed in action, including Col. Shaw and Captains Russel and Simpkins, and buried together in a single grave. Twenty-four later died of wounds, fifteen were captured, and fifty-two were reported missing after the battle and never seen again. The men of the 54th Massachusetts were hailed for their valor. William Carney, an African-American sergeant with the 54th, is considered the first black recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions that day in recovering and returning the unit's U.S. Flag to Union lines.[6] Their conduct improved the reputation of African Americans as soldiers, leading to greater Union recruitment of African-Americans, which strengthened the Northern states' numerical advantage. Confederate casualties numbered 174.

The fort was reinforced by Brig. Gen. Johnson Hagood's brigade shortly after the assault had ended. The garrison of Fort Wagner was then changed during the night, and Gen. Hagood assumed command. He was relieved by Col. Laurence M. Keitt, who commanded the fort until it was abandoned on September 7. Gen Hagood wrote a book titled Memoirs of the War of Secession, in which he states that the constant bombardment from the Union guns had unearthed such large numbers of the Union dead buried after the assault of July 18, and the air was so sickening with the smell of death, that one could no longer stand to be in the fort. The constant bombardment caused Confederate soldiers who were killed during the siege to be buried in the walls of Wagner, and they were also constantly being unearthed. Following the Union repulse, engineers besieged the fort. The Confederates abandoned the fort on September 7, 1863, after resisting 60 days of shelling, it having been deemed untenable because of the damage from constant bombardment, lack of provisions, and the close proximity of the Union siege trenches to Wagner.


This photo of Mordecai is from a USMA class photo album (1881), and was made by Pach Brothers Studio, NY. The photo is approx.
4 x 6, on a 5 x 7 mount

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Fort_Wagner

"Mordecai... was in charge of... arming and equipping all batteries on Morris Island that operated against Forts Wagner, Gregg and Sumter. These duties called for incessant-labor day and night, generally under fire."
           -- West Point's 1920 Annual Report