Monday, March 3, 2014

Impenetrability But No Corresponding Destructiveness

Rear Admiral Samuel F DuPont
The First Battle of Fort McAllister in Bryan County, Georgia was on March 3rd 1863.

Union Rear Admiral Samuel F DuPont ordered four ironclads, the USS Montauk, Nahant, Passaic, and Patapsco to fire on the small three gun earthworks battery located within the Confederate defenses of Fort McAllister.  The goal of this firing was to test the ships guns and determine their effectiveness against an earthen shore battery.

Fort McAllister was ordered to be built on July 7th 1861, using available materials, mostly sand and mud.  It was armed with one rifled 32 pounder a 42 pounder and an eight inch Columbiad.

On March 3rd 1863 at about 8:30 in the morning, the four ironclads opened fire with an eight hour long bombardment.  The shelling did some damage to the battery, but did not destroy it.  Two Confederates in the Fort were slightly wounded. The ships held up well under the return fire from the fort, suffering only a few minor dents.  It also showed that the Fort wouldn't fall to a strictly naval attack, as most the damage was repaired by the next day.  DuPont, reported that, "Whatever degree of impenetrability the monitors might have, there was no corresponding quality of destructiveness against forts."

Fort McAllister would finally fall into Union hand on December 13th 1864, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman captured the Fort by land. 

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