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00000174-b11b-ddc3-a1fc-bfdbb1a20000The Schreiner University Department of History is honoring the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with a series of short vignettes focusing on events from 1861 through 1865. The Civil War was the most destructive conflict in American history, but it was also one of our most defining moments as a people and as a nation. Let us know what you think about "This Week in the Civil War." E-mail your comments to Dr. John Huddleston at jhuddles@schreiner.edu.Airs: Weekdays at 5:19 a.m., 8:19 a.m., 4:19 p.m. on KTXI and 4:49 a.m., 9:29 p.m. on KSTX.

This Week in the Civil War - 616

On Saturday July 18, 1863 six thousand Union troops, led by the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Colored Infantry, frontally assaulted Battery Wagner on Morris Island in Charlestown Harbor and its 1785 Confederate defenders. 

The attack was foolhardy; the attackers had to traverse open ground for several hundred yards under enemy fire even before they could reach Wagner.  One small angle of the earthwork fort was seized momentarily, but by evening the attack had been successfully repulsed, with massive Federal casualties.  Union losses totaled 1515 dead, wounded, or missing compared to only 174 Confederate casualties. 

In the face of such losses, the Union military quickly began a siege of Charlestown, featuring heavy batteries, including the huge “Swamp Angel—capable of firing a two hundred pound shot—which would, hopefully, blast Charlestown’s defenses into submission.