By late summer of that same year, the battery began receiving its armament. In February 1862, Gnl. Robert E. Lee, then commander of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, authorized improvements of Ft. McAllister just before leaving to accept command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Fort McAllister was attacked 6 times by Union ironclads, gunboats and mortars, each time repelling the enemy. Damage to the fort was minimal, with repairs done usually over night. Injuries were few and mortality much less.
The seventh Yankee attack on Ft. McAllister on December 13, 1864 was land based, and was the only successful one.
Jan. 27, 1863.-Naval attack on Fort McAllister, Ga.
Report of General G.T. Beauregard, C.S.Army, commanding the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
CHARLESTON, S.C., January 28, 1863
Two enemy's gunboats and three steamers attacked for several hours yesterday Fort [McAllister], Genesis Point, on Great Ogeechee. Attack repulsed; nobody hurt in fort. Two steamers went out this harbor safely last night and one came in with various army supplies.
Adjutant and Inspector-General.
Feb. 1, 1863.-Naval attack on Fort McAllister, Genesis Point, Ga.
CHARLESTON, S. C., February 2, 1863.
General H. W. Mercer reports quite a success at Genesis Port yesterday after five hours' firing from one monitor, four gunboats, and one mortar boat*. Monitor came to 800 yards of battery-principally one rifled 32-pounder and one 8-inch columbiad; was compelled to retire apparently crippled. We lost 1 officer killed, 4 men wounded, and 1 gun disabled. Another monitor seen near Thunderbolt Battery, on Vernon River; fired once and retired.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector-General.
*The Union vessels engaged were the Moutauk, C. PO. Williams, Dawn, Seneca, and Wissahickon.
Fort McAllister, Ga., February 2, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor very respectfully to submit to the brigadier-general commanding the following report of the engagement of this battery with the Abolition fleet, which took place yesterday, the 1st instant:
At 7.45 a. m. the battery was attacked by one iron-clad of the monitor order, whose armament was one 15-inch and one 11-inch gun, three gunboats (wooden), and one mortar boat. Before the enemy's boats came within range I ordered Captain Arthur Shaaff, commanding the First Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters, to line the river bank with his riflemen. His right rested about a quarter of a mile in rear of and west of the battery. As soon as I was satisfied that there was no intention on the part of the enemy to land at Kilkenny on my right flank, and that his intention was restricted to passing the obstructions, I ordered him to deploy his battalion on his right file at ten paces intervals, which enabled him to cover the bank of the river for over a mile with his sharpshooters, who had excellent cover, and would have annoyed the enemy terribly had he succeed in passing the obstructions. Martin's light battery I held in reserve at Hardwick, which is about 1 1/2 miles in rear of the battery. Captain McAllister's troop I also held in readiness about a mile in rear of the battery. The two rifle guns of the Chatham Artillery, under Lieutenant Whitehead, I had placed in pits on a commanding bluff on the river, about a mile in rear of the battery; the two guns of the Confederate States steamer Rattlesnake, under the command of Captain Baker, I also ordered placed on Richmond Bluff, about 7 miles in rear of the battery. The steamer Rattlesnake according to your direction, was moved at a suitable point in the river and in readiness to be sunk had necessity required it.
At 7.45 a. m. the bombardment commenced; our battery opened fire first, but not until the iron-clad had approached and taken a position north of and within 800 or 1,000 yards of the battery; their wooden boats lay about 2 miles from and to the east of the fort. The enemy fired steadily and with remarkable precision; at times their fire was terrible. Their mortar firing was unusually fine, a large number of their shells bursting directly over the battery. The iron-clad's fire was principally directed at the 8-inch columbiad, and at about 8.15 o'clock the parapet in front of this gun was so badly breached as to leave the gun entirely exposed. The detachment did not leave the gun or evince the slightest fear, but in a most gallant and determined manner fought their gun to the close of the action, refusing to be relieved. The name of the brave officer who commanded this gun is First Lieutenant W. D. Dixon, of the Republican Blues, Company C, First Georgia Volunteer Regiment. At 8.30 a. m. one of the 32-pounders was disabled, one of the trunnions being knocked off. The same shot also killed Major John B. Gallie [Twenty-second Battalion Georgia Artillery], the gallant commander of the battery. Prior to this he had been wounded in the face by a fragment of shell, but refused to be relieved, and continued, notwithstanding his suffering, inspiring the men with his own gallant and unconquerable spirit up to the time he was killed. Thus perished nobly a brave, good, and gallant soldier. Captain G. W. Anderson, jr., upon Major Gallie's death, succeeded to the command of the battery, and displayed during the whole action the utmost coolness and gallantry,as did Captain [Robert] Martin, commanding the 10-inch mortar, Captain G. A. Nicoll [Company F, Twenty-second Battalion Georgia Artillery], and each and every officer of the battery. At 12.15 p. m. she ceased firing and dropped down the stream out of reach of our guns. I think she was damaged, for the reason that just before backing down the stream we could hear them hammering on the turret, which ceased to revolve; neither did she again returned our fire, which at this juncture was very severe.
I have entered into particulars, for the reason that this attack was one of no ordinary character, as will be readily admitted, when the class of the enemy's vessels and their superior armament is taken into consideration, as well as the close proximity of the iron-clad to the battery. I think that the brave and heroic garrison of Fort McAllister have, after a most severe and trying fight, demonstrated to the world that victory does not as a matter of course always perch itself on the flag by stout and gallant hearts. In commemoration of this gallant action I respectfully recommend that the garrison be allowed to have "Fort McAllister" inscribed on their standard. I beg leave to call the attention of the brigadier-general commanding particularly to my adjutant, First Lieutenant Robert Wayne, who in the most gallant and heroic manner bore all of my orders in the battery during the whole action. He was as much, if not more, exposed than any one during the action, and his conduct won the admiration of all. I would also express my indebtedness to Captain McAllister, who by his gallantry, energy, and soldier-like appreciation of what I required of him, did much to facilitate my arrangements for the defense of the river.
Our total list of casualties are 8-Major Gallie killed, and 7 privates wounded, none of them severely.
The damage to the work has been already repaired; all that remains to be done is to mount another gun in the place of the 32-pounder disabled. This we will done as soon as the one you have ordered to be brought here from Savannah arrives.
Enclosed you will please find the report of Captain G. W. Anderson, jr., the immediate commander of the battery, as well as that of Captain Robert Martin, commanding the 10-inch mortar.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. H. ANDERSON,
FORT McALLISTER, GA., February 2, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: Through you I have the honor of reporting to Colonel R. H. Anderson, commanding forces on Ogeechee River, the result of yesterday's engagement:
At 7.45 a. m. the battery was attacked by an iron-clad (which anchored about 1,000 yards abreast of the battery and immediately opposite the chamber of our 8-inch columbiad), three gunboats, and mortar boat. The enemy fired steadily and with great precision; at time it was exceedingly severe. They fired unusually well with their mortar, a number of shells bursting directly over the battery. The iron-clad's chief aim was at the columbiad; she fired 11 and 15 inch shell. The parapet in front of the 8-inch was breached and the gun was left almost entirely exposed. Notwithstanding their critical position not a man composing the squad evinced the slightest fear, but continued to work the gun with as much energy and as much composure as could be desired.
It would be invidious to institute a comparison when all alike exhibited the utmost gallantry; but I would respectfully beg leave to call the colonel's attention to the 8-inch and to the 42-pounder squads.
The damage to the work can be repaired in forty-eight hours. Early in the day (8.30 o'clock) the iron-clad disabled one of my 32-pounders, knocking one of the trunnions off. It was this shot which killed the heroic Major Gallie. Prior to this he was badly cut in the face, while standing by the 8-inch gun, inspiring the men with his own indomitable spirit. He refused to be relieved, saying he would "be able to attend to duty in a few minutes." Shortly afterward he fell, while discharging his duties under the most trying circumstances, pierced through the head.
At 12.30 o'clock the enemy slowly backed out of range of our guns. The tower of the iron-clad was struck several times. We could hear them hammering distinctly, evidently mending something which had been broken by our shot. The turret finally ceased to revolve; whether designedly or not is left to conjecture. We were unable to reach the wooden vessels. Our rifle projectiles are miserable. As soon as they leave the muzzle of the gun they commence to revolve over and over.
I am, lieutenant, very respectfully,
GEO. W. ANDERSON, JR.,
Captain, Commanding Fort McAllister.
Charleston, S. C., February 6, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the War Department. The results related within of the obstinate attack by an iron-clad of the monitor clads on our battery at Genesis Point are important and encouraging. The armament of the battery in question unfortunately was not heavy, or such as I should have placed at that point had the proper guns been at my disposition. It consisted of but one 8-inch columbiad, one 42-pounder, five 32-pounders, and one 10-inch mortar, which has been placed there recently. But, thanks to the intrepidity of the garrison and supporting force of officers and men, the battery withstood the formidable attack and the enemy was beaten back. I beg to commend to the notice of the President the names of all mentioned in these papers.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
GENERAL ORDERS,}HDQRS.DEPT. OF S.C., GA.,AND FLA.,
Charleston, S. C., February 6, 1863.
The commanding general announces to the forces with satisfaction and pride the results of the recent encounter of our battery at Genesis Point, Ga., with an iron-clad of the monitor class; results only alloyed by the life-blood of the gallant commander, the late Major John B. Gallie.
For hours the most formidable vessel of her class hurled missiles of the heaviest caliber ever used in modern warfare at the weak parapet of the battery, which was almost demolished; but, standing at their guns, as became men fighting for homes, for honor, and for independence, the garrison replied with such effect as to cripple and beat back their adversary, clad though in impenetrable armor and armed with 15 and 11-inch guns, supported by mortar boats whose practice was of uncommon precision.
The thanks of the country are due to this intrepid garrison, who have thus shown what brave men may withstand and accomplish, despite apparent odds.
"Fort McAllister" will be inscribed on the flags of all the troops engaged in the defense of the battery.
By command of General Beauregard:
Chief of Staff.
The people of this State have with pride and gratitude witnessed the unavailing efforts of our enemy to invade our soil by means of his iron clad fleet. And whereas, the heroic garrison at Fort McAllister, on Georgia soil, was the first to demonstrate the failure of iron clad gunboats against the determination of a brave people struggling for the protection of their homes; and whereas it is befitting that a free and grateful people should recognize and commend the heroic action of her brave defenders, in resisting the assaults of a ruthless invader:
Be it therefore resolved by the General Assembly of Georgia, That the thanks of the people of Georgia are hereby extended to the heroic garrison of Fort McAllister for the gallant and successful defense of a land Battery from the assaults of the boasted invulnerability of the iron fleet of our enemy; that they did demonstrate to the world, that the "will to be free gives the necessary power to accomplish it," and that under the protection of a just God, we need fear no demonstration of power or numbers of a foe, seeking our subjugation.
Resolved, That the determined bravery and resolute courage of the late Major John B. Gallie, the first commander of that post, have written his name upon a lustrous page of Georgia's history, and his sublime death in that same engagement, has left a bright example of heroism to which every Georgian will always point with pride and admiration.
Resolved, That Capt. Geo. W. Anderson, Jr., who succeeded Major Gallie in command of that post, for the cool courage and successful defense of Fort McAllister, and the noble band under the wise orders of this youthful Commander, deserve the kind remembrance and grateful feelings of the people of this State.
Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be requested to transmit copies of these resolutions to the surviving family of Major Gallie, to Capt. Anderson and through him to the officers and men constituting the garrison of Fort McAllister, at the time of its severe assaults by the abolitionists.
Feb. 28, 1863.- Engagement at Fort McAllister, Ga., and destruction of the Nashville.
Report of Captain George W. Anderson, jr., Georgia Artillery, commanding Fort McAllister.
Fort McAllister, Ga., February 28, 1863.
CAPTAIN: Through you I have the honor of reporting to Brigadier-General Mercer the result of this morning's engagement:
At 7.25 a. m. three gunboats, one mortar-boat, and an iron-clad came in sight of our battery. The gunboats and mortar-boat took the same positions as in the former engagements. The iron-clad anchored between 800 and 1,000 yards abreast of our battery and directed her entire fire at the Rattlesnake, [Nashville], which was abound about three-fourths of a mile from her. The wooden vessels directed their fire at the battery; did not damage, but slightly injuring the quarters of the Emmett Rifles and plowing up the dirt in our parade. At 7.40 o'clock the Rattlesnake was set on fire-whether by her commander (Captain Baker) or by the shells of the enemy I am unable to say. If by Captain Baker, I think it was entirely unnecessary, circumstances not demanding her destruction. The iron-clad was struck by several of our shot; the wooden vessels were struck once by our 32-pounder rifle.
Officers and men acted with their accustomed bravery and only regretted the brevity of the fight.
At 9.30 o'clock the vessels ceased firing and dropped down the river. The iron-clad apparently passed and re-passed with impunity over the spot where the torpedoes were sunk.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. W. ANDERSON, JR.,
Captain GEORGE A. MERCER,
The Rattlesnake, a big loss.
MARCH 3, 1863.- Naval attack on Fort McAllister, Ga. .
CHARLESTON, S. C., March 4, 1863.
Fort McAllister has again repulsed enemy's attack. Iron-clads retired at 8 p.m. yesterday; mortar-boats shelled until 6 o'clock this morning. All damages repaired during night; 8-inch columbiads mounted and fort good as ever. No casualties reported. Result is encouraging. Enemy's vessels still in sight.
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
CHARLESTON, S. C., March 4, 1863.
Brigadier General W. H. MERCER, Savannah:
I congratulate again the defenders of Fort McAllister. Hope gallant example will be followed by all the other batteries. Clingman's troops will be sent, but must be ready to support Walker at Pocotaligo as required.
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
CHARLESTON, S. C., March 6, 1863.
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
All quiet at Fort McAllister; four iron-clads still in sight yesterday; another attack anticipated. We had only four effective guns and one 10-inch mortar against six (11 and 15 inch) guns and several 13-inch mortars of the enemy. Only 2 men slightly wounded on our side. Fort now in good condition; result brilliant to our arms.
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
ENGINEER OFFICE, C. S. ARMY,
Savannah, March 8, 1863.
MAJOR: The following report of the engagement with three of the enemy's monitor fleet, which occurred at Fort McAllister on Tuesday, March 3, is founded upon the notes and observations of Assistant Engineer McAlpin, and the statements of Captain [G. W.] Anderson, [jr.], Captain J. L. McAllister, Lieutenant E. A. Elarbee, and Mr. Motte Middleton.
Three of the monitor fleet took position off the battery at 8.45 a. m., opened fire at 8.45 a. m., and ceased at 4.15 p. m., the action, so far as these vessels were concerned, lasting seven hours and twenty-four minutes. Another monitor lay near the bend of the river below Harvey's Cut, but took no part in the action. ............The three iron-clads were drawn up in line of battle at distances varying from 1,400 to 1,900 yards from the battery. At these distances they appeared to be all so nearly of the same model as to render it impossible to distinguish them by differences of form our proportion. .............. the number of shot fired by each and the number which took effect upon the battery. The whole number fired was 224, and of these not more than 50 struck any part of our works. Of the 27 which struck the traverses and superior slope only 12 shells exploded, and they did no serious damage.............
The fire of our battery was concentrated exclusively on Monitor Numbers 1. No shots whatever were fired at Nos. 2 and 3. The men on Numbers 3 watched the engagement from the deck of their vessel without fear of being fired at................ The firing of the 10-inch mortar (Captain Martin) was very accurate, all the shells falling near Numbers 1, and one filled with sand striking her deck and breaking to pieces. The 32-pounder rifled gun with charges of 7 pounds of powder did well. The 8-inch gun fired with its usual accuracy until dismounted at 11 o'clock. the firing of the 42-pounder, always accurate, was only interrupted for thirty minutes, when the traverse-wheel, being broken by a fragment of shell, it required that time to replace it................... It will be thus seen that the 42-pounder and the rifle gun were those which principally maintained the action on our part..................
The following are the circumstances which have caused a belief that Numbers 1 was injured in the engagement: The last shot fired at her was from the 42-pounder. It was reported to have struck near the turret and low down toward the water line. Immediately after she was struck a volume of smoke or steam issued from her side in a manner not witnessed in precious engagements, and which caused a remark that she was on fire; at the same time 3 men rushed out of her turret, but shortly returned.................... Captain McAllister's pickets at Cottenham report that the enemy were working on one of their iron-clads all night after the engagement.
Lieutenant Elarbee and 4 men of Captain McAllister's company went over into the marsh opposite the fort the night before on a call for volunteers for that purpose. They attained a position from 200 to 250 yards from Monitor Numbers 1. On the officer stepping out of the turret to ascertain the effect of his shot one rifle was fired at him, but missed, upon which he immediately turned to re-enter the turret, but was shot in the act, stumbling forward, and at last entering only with difficulty. Numbers 1 fired grape or canister at the men in the marsh immediately after this and once subsequently, but without hurting one of them. Lieutenant Elarbee, from his position, had a nearer view of Numbers 1 than any one has yet had of one of the monitor fleet. Numbers 1 is supposed to be the Montauk..................
The mortar fire of the enemy did no damage to the works during the day. They resumed firing at 6 p. m. and continued their bombardment until 6 a. m. the next day. Only one shell struck any part of the works, and that opened a crater of about 4 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep in the top of the covered way leading from the main work to the mortar battery. To sum up the effect of the seven hours' bombardment on Fort McAllister by three iron-clads, carrying each two guns of the heaviest caliber, and three mortar boats, I make the following statement of damage:
Earthwork.- No material damage nor any that could not be repaired in one right.
Guns.- One gun-carriage shattered; two traverse-wheels broken.
Men.- Two men slightly wounded.
On account of the continued bombardment the negroes could not be worked during the night, and a working party was detailed for that purpose from the sharpshooters. With these men and the assistance of their officers Assistant Engineer McAlpin had all the damage repaired by morning,..................
A fresh supply of ammunition was received from Savannah during the night, and the following morning the garrison were as well prepared to renew the fight as they had been to begin it; but the enemy did not come up to time..................
I desire to make special mention to the general commanding of the coolness, courage, and presence of mind of Asst. Engr. J. W. McAlpin, who, while under fire, sketched the positions of the vessels, and kept, whit the assistance of others, a tally of the shots fired by the enemy, besides taking notes and collecting the principal facts upon which this report are founded.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain and Chief Engineer State of Georgia.
March 9, 1863.-Affair at Fort McAllister, Ga..
Nov 27, 1863.-Naval attack on Fort McAllister, Genesis Point, Ga.
Yankee Naval forces agreed that their efforts should not include Fort McAllister since they had been repelled repeatedly.
Life at the fort was pretty much uneventful until Sherman's "March to the Sea".
The Fall of Fort McAllister
On December 13, 1864, General Sherman, having near 60,000 troops in the Savannah area, sent a force of 4,500 men by land to capture Fort McAllister which had an effective force of less than 200. The fort had been completely isolated a few days earlier, with no hope for reinforcements from nearby Savannah. The Union forces charged from three directions suffering many casualties. Fort McAllister never surrendered but was overrun by the sheer number of bluecoats storming the fort.
The words of Gnl. Hazen, leader of the assault:
"....the line moved on without checking, over, under, and through abatis, ditches, palisading, and parapet, fighting the garrison through the fort to their bomb-proofs, from which they still fought, and only succumbed as each man was individually overpowered."
Some pics of the Fort to come soon.
located a few miles south at Richmond Hill, Ga.