Gate of Hell: Campaign for Charleston Harbor, 1863

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Sons of Privilege traces the wartime experiences of a unique Confederate cavalry unit drawn together from South Carolina's most prestigious families of planters, merchants, and politicos. Examining the military exploits of the Charleston Light Dragoons, W. Eric Emerson finds that the elite status of its membership dictated the terms of the dragoons' service. For much of the war, the dragoons were stationed close to home and faced little immediate danger. As the South's resources waned, however, such deference ...
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Overview


Sons of Privilege traces the wartime experiences of a unique Confederate cavalry unit drawn together from South Carolina's most prestigious families of planters, merchants, and politicos. Examining the military exploits of the Charleston Light Dragoons, W. Eric Emerson finds that the elite status of its membership dictated the terms of the dragoons' service. For much of the war, the dragoons were stationed close to home and faced little immediate danger. As the South's resources waned, however, such deference faded, and the dragoons were thrust into the bloody combat of Virginia.

Recounting the unit's 1864 baptism by fire at the Battle of Haw's Shop, Emerson suggests that the dragoons' unrealistic expectations about their military prowess led the men to fight with more bravery than discretion. Thus the unit suffered heavy losses, and by 1865 only a handful survived. Emerson tracks the return of the survivors to ruined homes and businesses, the struggle to rebuild lost fortunes, and the resurrection of exclusive social organizations that would separate them from Charleston's more prosperous newcomers. He chronicles efforts of veterans to reestablish the unit and evaluates the influence of writings by survivors on the postwar veneration of the dragoons.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Understand the intricacies of the fierce, bloody siege of Fort Sumter and Charleston, South Carolina, by Union forces in 1863, and the fundamentals of the Civil War become clear. A historian, teacher and author (Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War, LJ 1/89), Wise paints a dramatic picture of gruesome, dreary trench warfare; ironclad ships; petty squabbles between commanders; and the heroism of many. Clara Barton nursed here; the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an African American regiment under Capt. Robert G. Shaw, fought shoulder to shoulder with white troops, finding acceptance, death, and glory on the ramparts. The Confederacy ultimately held fast; both sides created new weapons and tactical innovations to be used in future battles. Wise captures it all, from the taste of battle to the pounds of shot fired per skirmish. Highly recommended as an in-depth resource for larger history collections.-Nancy L. Whitfield, Meriden P.L., Ct.
Roland Green
The Charleston campaign of 1863 is currently best known for the role in it of the 54th Massachusetts in vindicating the effectiveness of African American soldiers, as was delineated in the movie "Glory". There was, however, much hard fighting before the 54th's assault on Battery Wagner, and there was even more afterward, with heavy losses on both sides and eventual Union failure, due as much to Union interservice rivalries as to Confederate tenacity. Among other features of the siege were the largest naval operations of the war, technologically advanced use of artillery, and trench warfare anticipating World War I. It is a compelling story that Wise handles with high competence, clarity, and scholarly thoroughness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872499850
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1994
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author


W. Eric Emerson is director of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia. The coeditor of Faith, Valor, and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher DuBose, Emerson has also served as director of the Charleston Library Society and the South Carolina Historical Society.
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Table of Contents

Maps
Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 The Prize and Its Defenses 6
Ch. 2 The Plan for Morris Island 33
Ch. 3 The Initial Assault 63
Ch. 4 The Grand Assault 92
Ch. 5 The Siege Begins 119
Ch. 6 The Siege Continues 137
Ch. 7 The Bombardment of Fort Sumter 154
Ch. 8 The Campaign Ends 180
Conclusion 205
Appendix: The Roll of Battle 221
Table 1: Department of the South, June 30, 1863 221
Table 2: Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, June 1863 222
Table 3: Confederate Troop Distribution in the Charleston Area, July 9, 1863 225
Table 4: Union Forces on James Island, July 9-16, 1863 227
Table 5: Union Forces for the Assault on Morris Island, July 10, 1863 227
Table 6: Union and Confederate Casualties, July 10, 1863 228
Table 7: Confederate Forces at Battery Wagner, July 11, 1863 229
Table 8: Union and Confederate Casualties, July 11, 1863 229
Table 9: Confederate Reinforcements to the Charleston Area, July 10-18, 1863 230
Table 10: South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, July 15, 1863 230
Table 11: Confederate Assault Force on James Island, July 16, 1863 231
Table 12: Union and Confederate Casualties on James Island, July 16, 1863 232
Table 13: Union Forces, July 18, 1863 232
Table 14: Confederate Forces on Morris Island, July 18, 1863 233
Table 15: Union and Confederate Casualties, July 18, 1863 233
Table 16: Department of the South, July 31, 1863 234
Table 17: Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, August 1, 1863 235
Table 18: Union Batteries For Bombardment of Fort Sumter, August 1, 1863 236
Table 19: Department of the South, August 31, 1863 238
Table 20: Union Assault Column, September 6, 1863 239
Table 21: Damage to Monitors, July 10-September 7, 1863 240
Table 22: Union Casualties, July-September 1863 240
Table 23: Confederate Casualties, July-September 1863 241
Table 24: Department of the South, September-October 1863 242
Table 25: Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, September-October 1863 243
Table 26: Confederate Commanders of Morris Island, July 9-September 7, 1863 244
Table 27: Confederate Garrison of Morris Island, July 9 September 7, 1863 245
Table 28: Stations of U.S. Ironclads, July 9 September 7, 1863 250
Table 29: Vessels of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, July 15 September 7, 1863 251
Table 30: Commanders of Union Ironclads, July 10-September 7, 1863 253
Table 31: Confederate Naval Forces at Charleston 253
Notes 255
Bibliography 282
Index 298
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