Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> The Pen as Sword: Simms and the Beginning of the War — Rediscovered Writings from 1861 >> Page 24

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Page 24

Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription Our eyes were specially drawn to the waters of Port Royal. This
magnificent estuary was abandoned, in early times, by French, Spaniards and
English, for the one single but sufficient reason in that day, that it was
difficult of defense, against a maritime power, in a season of general war.
Hence it was that Charleston, less accessible from the sea, became the
metropolis, under the British, of South Carolina.
The strait between Bay Point and Hilton Head is so wide, as to require,
between, a barrier of chevaux de fries. We were at the pains to suggest the
manner of constructing these of ranging timber, with projecting horns,
reaching nearly to. the top of the water, and working like the snags and
sawyers of the Mississippi, so that an entering fleet, coming in with the tide,
would be pierced inevitably, while their progress would be obstructed
sufficiently long, to enable the land or border batteries to play upon them. If
practicable, this plan was effectual.
Between Hilton Head and Bay Point a series of these sunken rafts, with
their sawyers, linked together by cables, would most effectually have
obstructed the progress of the enemy's fleet; while a battery flotant, in the
rear of a dozen guns, would, with the batteries on each wing, have sunk
every entering or assailing vessel. Whether the immense distance and great
depth of the channel did not render this, with our small means,
impracticable, is a question.
We urged that, in full tide, wind and weather permitting, Forts Moultrie
and Sumter would be inadequate to the defense of Charleston, and that the
sooner we make Castle Pinckney formidable, in heavy guns, the better. It is,
we believe, only within a few weeks that any effort has been made to give
Castle Pinckney an armament at all ! We were aware of some military
objections to the casemates of Castle Pinckney. They are, no doubt, badly
built. The reverberation will hurt the tympanum, and there is no sufficient
outlet, we are told, for the smoke. But patriotism endures much; and for a
temporary purpose, even the casemates of Castle Pinckney would be found
efficient and very tolerable for the endurance of nervous people. But, there is
the harbette of Castle Pinckeny, which, with a good supply of rifle cannon,
Dahlgrens or Columbiads, or Paixhans, can enter the combat with powerful
arms, as soon as an enemy's steamer shall pass Fort Sumter. We counseled,
also, a battery on the shore-line of Castle Pinckney, commanding the whole
eastern front, by which it would be rendered a most powerful fortress. This
might be run out from the base of the Castle. It is worthy of enquiry whether
we should have a fortress on Haddrill's Point, commanding Hog Island
Channel, and the area on the southeast. How far the old battery on James
Island, or one a little nearer to the city could be made to avail for its defense
is a question. If we are to defend the mouth of the Stono, which is designed
to guard that channel and prevent free ingress to those islands, Fort Johnson
would be quite safe so long as the forts on Cole's Island and Battery Island