Monday, April 7, 2014

Like The Fires Of Hell

On April 7th 1863 nine Union ironclads neared Fort Sumter to attack the Confederate held structure.

Nine Union ironclads, outfitted with the heaviest cannon to be used in naval warfare up to that time, steamed slowly into Charleston Harbor on April 7th 1863.  They were moving in for an attack on Fort Sumter.  At about 3 pm the Fort under the command of Confederate Colonel Alfred Rhett opened up on the Union ships, in what one Union man said was like "the fires of hell were turned upon the Union fleet. The air seemed full of heavy shot, and as they flew they could be seen as plainly as a base-ball in one of our games."

The Confederate batteries in the Forts of Charleston Harbor fired off more than 2,200 rounds during the battle, while the Union ironclads only fired 139 shots.  The Union guns hit Fort Sumter 55 times during the fight, leaving the Fort pretty much intact.  The ironclads didn’t make out as well during the roughly hour long battle, one of the ships, the USS Keokuk received over 90 hits, and it was only with dedication and skill that her sailors and commander Alexander C Rhind, kept her afloat until the next morning.  Among the remaining ironclad there were disabled guns, and damaged smokestacks and turrets.  Union Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont who led the fleet, withdrew ships and did not renew the fight.


The Union side reported 23 casualties, while the Confederates in the Forts had 14.  The Confederates were even able to salvage one of the Dahlgren guns from the wreck of the Keokuk, which would be mounted on the Fort. 

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