Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XIII >> Page 138

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Page 138

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
The larger vessels of the British fleet were three days
employed in getting over the bar. On the 28th day of
June �a day which should be famous to all succeeding
time in the annals of Carolina�this fleet, under the com-
mand of Sir Peter Parker, consisting of two fifty gun
ships, four frigates, and a number of smaller vessels, ad-
vanced to the attack. The first object which drew their
attention, was the little fort of colonel Moultrie, a mere
speck upon Sullivan's island, which, it was not supposed,
could maintain any protracted conflict. Such was the
opinion, not of the British merely, but of general Lee, who
commanded in Charlestown. He called it a mere slaugh-
ter house, and asserted that a couple of British frigates
would knock it about the ears of its defenders in half an
hour. It was built of palmetto logs, placed in sections,
which were filled in with earth. The merlons were six-
teen feet thick, and sufficiently high to cover the men
against the fire from the tops of the enemy's vessels.
One part of the fort was unfinished ; but this part, most
fortunately, was not attacked by the assailants. The pal-
metto is a tree peculiar to the southern states, the wood
of which, being remarkably soft and spongy, is singularly
suited to the purposes of defence against cannon. ,A bul-
let entering it makes no splinters nor extended fractures,
but buries itself in the wood, without doing hurt to the
parts adjacent. Within the fort was a morass, which
favored the defenders, as it extinguished the matches of
such shells as fell within the enclosure. Some of the
shells thrown on this occasion, were found fifty years
after, unexploded, with the fuse unconsumed, and the
missiles with which they were charged, still in their orig-