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map of Fort Pulaski batteries
Gillmore's plan for the bombardment.
Courtesy National Archives.

Eve of Battle

On March 31, when preparations for the bombardment were almost complete, General Sherman was relieved of his command, and responsibility for the campaign in the Department of the South was turned over to Maj. Gen. David Hunter. While this move undoubtedly led to greater harmony of action between Army and Navy leaders, Sherman deserves much of the credit for the successful operations against Pulaski. Neither General Hunter nor Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, whom he had placed in command of the Northern District of the Department, suggested a single change in the siege works under construction on Tybee, and Gillmore was retained to conduct the bombardment. On the afternoon of April 9, everything was in readiness to open fire. General orders were issued, the Navy alerted, and the battle set for the following morning.

On Cockspur Island, meanwhile, the Confederates were engaged in making final arrangements to defend Fort Pulaski. The garrison had worked long hours, and the men were weary and apprehensive. In accord with the instructions of General Lee they tore down the light veranda in front of the officers' quarters and replaced it with a traverse or covered passage made of timbers and earth. They piled sandbags between the guns on the ramparts and dug "rat holes" in the terreplein for the protection of the gunners. To prevent round shot and shell from rolling, they cut the entire parade ground into wide traps and trenches.

In Savannah, on the eve of the battle for Pulaski, a large audience unaware of the impending event, was entertained by Blind Tom, famous Negro pianist, who played his original composition, "The Battle of Manassas."

preparing Fort Pulaski for battle
Confederates prepare Fort Pulaski for battle.
Contemporary drawing made after bombardment for
Harper's Pictorial History of the War of 1861.

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