Fort Wagner, Morris Island, SC

[The Storming of Fort Wagner by Kurz and Allison - Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Date(s): July 18-September 7, 1863

Location: Battlefield Unavailable - Lost Integrity

Campaign(s): Operations against Defenses of Charleston [1863]

Battles in Campaign:


  • Fort Wagner (also called Battery Wagner) was a fortification on Morris Island, South Carolina, that covered the southern approach to Charleston harbor.

  • On July 10, Union artillery on Folly Island together with Rear Adm. John Dahlgrenís fleet of ironclads opened fire on Confederate defenses of Morris Island.

  • The bombardment provided cover for Brig. Gen. George C. Strongís brigade, which crossed Light House Inlet and landed by boats on the southern tip of the island.

  • Strongís troops advanced, capturing several batteries, to within range of Confederate Fort Wagner.

  • At dawn, July 11th, Strong attacked the fort.

  • Soldiers of the 7th Connecticut reached the parapet but, were thrown back.


  • Union: Maj. Gen. Quincy Gillmore

  • Confederate: Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 5,000

  • Confederate: 1,800


  • After the July 11th assault on Fort Wagner failed, Major General Quincy Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island.

  • At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment.

  • The unitís colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed.

  • Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties.

  • The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort.

  • This was the fourth time in the war that black troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.

Slide Presentation: None [Battlefield Lost Integrity- See Save Morris Island]

Classification2: B


  • Union: 1,515

  • Confederate: 174

Results: Confederate Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: South Carolina Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

2 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 04/06/2013