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In Their Own Words

April 05, 1862

Attack on Fort Pulaski Anticipated

Theodore Montfort, a Confederate defender of Fort Pulaski near the mouth of the Savannah River, wrote to his family prior to the attack by Union forces. His April 5th letter shows sad but reluctant acceptance of horrible death and injury that is anticipated by the fort’s garrison:

“Yesterday was the day we were to have been attacked, but from some cause it has been delayed, which we were all glad of, as we could be glad to have about three days more to complete and finish strengthening our position… . We must prepare for an unequal and unjust struggle and conflict forced upon us by our Yankee enemy. They are about fifty to our one, with superior arms, vessels, &c. Their heavy cannon and mortars are frowning upon us from seven batteries and a quantity of boats - all intended for our destruction, the destruction of men that have never wronged them or sought to divest them of a right. What a comment upon this enlightened and Christian age!

“Yet we do not believe the race is to the swift or the battle to the strong. We are nerved for the contest by the recollection of our homes, our families and our rights… . I think the garrison is determined without regard to the superior numbers of the enemy to strike until the walls of our fort is battered down or he falls. If the fort is taken, we want them to find nothing to take but crumbled and ruin[ed] walls and mangled corpse[s].

“Yet amidst all of our vindictive feelings and bitter hatreds to our enemy, there is something sad and melancholy in the preparation for battle, to see so many healthy men preparing for the worst by disposing of their property by will, to see the surgeon sharpening his instruments and whetting his saw to take off when necessary those members of our body that God has given us for our indispensable use, to see men engaged in carding up and preparing lint to stop the flow of human blood from cruel and inhuman wounds - is awful to contemplate. Yet there is still another preparation for battle still more sickening. The casements are cleared. Nothing is allowed to remain that is combustible or would be in the way during the engagement. Listen! The floor is covered around each gun with sand, not for health or cleanliness, but to drink up human blood as it flows from the veins and hearts of noble men, from those that love and are beloved! This is necessary to prevent the floor from becoming slippery with blood, so as to enable the men to stand and do their duty. These are some of the preparations for battle. How sad to contemplate, yet how awful must be the realization! What a calamity is war!”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History Written by Those Who Lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 150-151.