Fort Sumter (6): Taking Morris Island

Samuel F. Du Pont took Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, in November 1861. Now, in April 1863, the Union wanted to send Du Pont, at the helm of their most powerful naval fleet, to attack Fort Sumter, and the surrounding batteries around Charleston.  The majority of ships in Du Pont’s fleet were iron-clads.  The attack was a disaster: Du Pont’s ironclads lost their formation, and became easy targets for the Confederate defenses.  After taking Folly Island, the next plan the North had was to take Fort Wagner, on Morris Island.  Several assaults by the Union were repelled by Confederate defenses at Battery Wagner. One of these assaults was by the famous Massachusetts 54th, under command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.  Life during the siege of Morris Island was grueling for soldiers on both sides. Problems included food and water shortages, and intense heat.  On September 5, 1863, the Confederates ordered Battery Wagner to be abandoned, in order to save the men stationed there.