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1863 September 12: News of Chattanooga and Charleston

September 16, 2013

The following round-up of the week’s war news comes from The Prescott Journal of September 12, 1863.

There were three battles of Chattanooga, the second of which took place on August 21, 1863, and was part of the Chickamauga Campaign.  Shelling continued periodically over the next two weeks and helped keep Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s attention to the northeast while the bulk of Union General William S. Rosecrans’ army crossed the Tennessee River well west and south of Chattanooga. On September 8, Bragg learned that the Union army was in force southwest of Chattanooga and he abandoned the city.

The end of the second Battle of Charleston Harbor came on September 7, 1863.  On the evening of September 6–7, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered Confederate forces to abandon their positions on Morris Island, and on September 7, Union troops occupied Fort Wagner.


Crittenden Takes Possession of Chattanooga—The Rebels Retreat.


General Crittenden’s [Thomas L. Crittenden] division of Gen. Rosecrans’ army took possession of Chattanooga to day.  The enemy evacuated yesterday, retreating south.


The War in Tennessee progresses favorably.  Knoxville succumbs to Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] and Chattanooga to Rosecrans.

The strong natural position of Chattanooga, and the immense preparations for its defence, renders it almost incredible that it should be abandoned without a struggle.  Nothing could point more strongly to the weakness of the rebellion than this last evacuation.

It is tottering from center to cir[c]umference, and a few more sturdy blows such as Northern soldiers are competent to give and the whole structure will crumble in ruins.


Reported Evacuation of Morris Island—
Bombardment of Wagner and Gregg—
[sic] Point Battery Attacked.


The steamer Daniel Webster arrived from City Point, and reports Morris Island evacuated by the Confederates.

The Richmond Examiner of the September 7th, says that on the 5th Charleston withstood another furious bombardment of Fort Wagner and Gregg¹ by the enemy’s fleet and batteries.  Firing began at day-light, and was maintained steadily until dark.  A Monitor is now firing on Moultrie, and another assault on Wagner is expected probably to-night.

Fort Moultrie as Seen from Fort Sumter (see footnote 1)

Fort Moultrie as Seen from Fort Sumter (see footnote 1)

CHARLESTON, Sept. 6—9:30 A. M.

The bombardment of Wagner and Gregg has been incessant for the last fifty-two hours.

The voice of cannonading is tremendous.

Last night the enemy attacked Comming’s [sic] Point.  The assault was repulsed.  No particulars.

Morris Island and Cumming's Point as Seen from Fort Sumter (see footnote x)

Morris Island and Cumming’s Point as Seen from Fort Sumter (see footnote 2)

NEW YORK, Sept. 9.

The transport City of Baltimore from Charleston bar, the 6th, has arrived.—She reports the siege of Wagner and Sumter still going on.

The iron-clads and land batteries were bombarding Wagner, which had not replied for two days.  The casualties were very few.

1. Fort Wagner is located on Morris Island in Charleston’s harbor and controls the southern approach to the harbor. The first Battle of Fort Wagner was fought on July 10 and 11, 1863. The Union forces were unable to take the Fort.  The second Battle of Fort Wagner was another attempt to take the Fort on July 18, 1863. The second battle included the 54th Massachusetts Infantry that is depicted in the movie Glory. About 1,515 Union soldiers were killed, captured, or wounded in the assault of July 18, although this number has never been accurately ascertained. The Confederate commander of Fort Wagner reported that he buried 800 bodies in mass graves in front of Wagner. Only 315 men were left from the 54th Massachusetts after the battle.
2.  Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published under the direction of Redfield Proctor, Stephen B. Elkins, and Daniel S. Lamont, Secretaries of War, by George B. Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph W. Kirkley, Board of Publication ; compiled by Calvin D. Cowles (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891-1895). Available in Special Collections, UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center (E 464 .U6), or digitally at Ohio State University’s eHistory.

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