The following is given by an officer on board the United States steamer Richmond, after the bombardment of Fort Pickens:
I went, by invitation of Lieut.—, of the Engineers, to visit the fort. Took a circuit first of the covered way, then of the parapet and ramparts. All around the Fort, inside and out, were marks of the enemys shot and shell. On the glacis, here and there, are deep grooves, ending in a large hole, where the shot had plumped into it, and where there had been shell which had burst. The hole was a great excavation, into which you could drive an ox-cart. Where the projectiles have struck the standing walls, they have clipped off patches of the brick-work (it is a brick and not a stone fort) perhaps eight or ten feet deep, and, where they struck the corners, larger portions have been removed; but in no case has any part of the fortifications received an injury tending in the least to weaken it, and this after two days heavy firing. The only man who was killed outright during the two days action, was an artilleryman, who was passing into the casemates with some bread from the bake-house. A shell exploded at the other side of the area, and one piece, flying a distance of some two or three hundred feet, passed through his body, under his arms. He walked a few steps and fell dead. There were many almost miraculous escapes. A shell was heard coming towards a gun on the parapet, and the men dodged under their bomb-proofs. The shell hit fair on top of the bomb-proof, went through, and dropped into a pail of water beside the officer, where it exploded. When the men came out again to resume their work, all they saw of the officer was his heels sticking out of a pile of rubbish. After digging him out, they stood amazed to see that he was not even hurt. He rose up, shook the sand from his hair and clothes, and coolly said: “Come, come! what are you standing there gaping at? Load that gun there.” At it they went again, as if nothing had happened. Another officer, who had charge of a battery of mortars, had no less than seventeen shells strike within ten yards of him. I saw the ground ploughed up in every direction, and yet not a man was hurt. About twenty of the men, who had been relieved from their guns, were sitting smoking and watching the firing in a corner protected from shot by the walls, when half of a huge shell struck, and buried itself right in the middle of the group, without disturbing them in the least. “Whats that?” asked one. “The devil knows, and he wont tell,” indifferently responded another, and went on smoking. A ten-inch columbiad came rolling towards a group, the fuse whizzing and smoking. “Wonder if thatll hit us?” “Guess not; were too near it!” Crack went the shell! flying in every direction, but fortunately injuring none of them. The rebel powder was poor; as also their shot, except that portion which they succeeded in stealing before the rebellion broke out. Their practice, however, was said to be good–how could it have been otherwise? Uncle Sam taught them at his unparalleled school at West Point, but with little thought that the teaching would be thus employed.
Originally posted 2008-05-04 23:57:22.