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“B” is for Battery Wagner.

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“B” is for Battery Wagner. Battery Wagner was the principal fortification on Morris Island during the Civil War. It was constructed during the summer of 1862 and named for Lieutenant Colonel Thomas M. Wagner. The powerful earthwork stretched across the island and was designed to keep the enemy from Cummings Point, the closest land to Fort Sumter. In the summer of 1863, a U.S. Army division—spearheaded by the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, a regiment of Black soldiers attacked Battery Wagner. Although a portion of the battery was initially overrun after a daylong bombardment, the Federals were forced back after suffering heavy casualties. The attack showed the ability of earthen fortifications to absorb bombardments and retain their ability to resist attacks. The siege continued, however, and on the evening of September 6, 1863, the Confederates were forced to evacuate Battery Wagner.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.