Sumter 150 Years Ago

150 years ago today, as I write this, the ‘War between the State’s began as Rebel forces began the unprovoked bombardment of Fort Sumter. Following is a selection of press releases and articles concerning this fateful day;(image is an exterior view of Sumter taken sometime after the bombardment, LOC image)

April 10.—The floating battery, finished, mounted, and manned at Charleston, was taken out of the dock last evening, and anchored in the cove, near Sullivan’s Island.

The people are not excited, but there is a fixed determination to meet the issue. The Convention has just adjourned, subject to the call of the president. Before adjourning, it passed resolutions approving the conduct of General Twiggs in resigning his commission and turning over the public property under his control to the authorities.

Governor Pickens was in secret session with the Convention. About 1,000 troops were sent to the fortifications to-day; 1,800 more go down to-morrow.

Messrs. “Wigfall, Chesnut, Means, Manning, McGowan, and Boyleston, have received appointments in General Beauregard’s staff. A large number of the members of tho Convention, after adjournment, volunteered as privates. About 7,000 troops are now at the fortifications. The beginning of the end is coming to a final closing. Fort Sumter will be attacked without waiting for the fleet. Everything is prepared against a land attack. The enthusiasm is intense, and the eagerness for the conflict, if it must come, unbounded.—JV”. Y. Day Boon.

—The officers of the District of Columbia militia were ordered to meet at 10 o’clock AM in consequence of information relative to a contemplated movement for the seizure of the city of Washington by the secessionists under Ben McCullough. Orders were issued for the militia to assemble at their armories.

Seven militia companies reported to General Scott, and between six and eight hundred of them volunteered for any service in which the President might desire them to act.—Times, April 11.

April 11.—The steamship Coatzacoalcos arrived at New York this morning, bringing home the Federal troops who were left in Texas without a commander, after the treason of General Twiggs.

—The Government at Washington is acting on positive information in taking all possible precautionary measures for the defense of, and the maintenance of peace at, that point.

A company of military were marched inside the capitol to-night, and a picket of guards is stationed on each of the roads leading into the city. This was done on no new information, but is among the signs of the revolution. A military company has not been within the walls of the capitol before since the war of 1812.

The oath of fidelity was administered to several companies of volunteers today. — World, April 12.

—Unusual activity now prevails in military circles in Pennsylvania. New companies are forming, and the old organizations are drilling frequently. The prospect of active service in the event of the breaking out of actual hostilities in the South, is exciting much discussion among the volunteer companies, and it is understood that several have already tendered their services to the Secretary of War, in case the Government should need their aid. It is also understood that in the event of an attack on the Government, the latter will make an early call upon Pennsylvania for men. Our volunteers labor under great disadvantages in respect to arras, and in a case of emergency many more men would be forthcoming than there are arms to place in their hands. —Phila. Press.

—This morning the Commissioners of the Confederate States left Washington. They are satisfied that no recognition of the Southern Confederacy will ever take place under the administration of President Lincoln. In their final communication they reflect severely on the Administration, taking the ground they have exhausted every resource for a peaceful solution of the existing difficulties, and that if civil war results, on the head of the Federal Government will rest the responsibility. They charge the Administration with gross perfidy, insisting that under the shelter of the pretext and assertion that Fort Sumter was to be evacuated, an immense armada has been dispatched to provision and reinforce that fort. They repeat they had almost daily indirect assurances from the Administration that Fort Sumter was positively to be abandoned, and that all the Government’s efforts were to be directed toward peace. The commissioners allege that the Government at Montgomery was earnestly desirous of peace; and that, in accordance with its instructions, as well as their own feelings, they left no means unexhausted to secure that much-desired end; but all their efforts having failed, they were now forced to return to an outraged people with the object of their mission unaccomplished; and they express the firm conviction that war is inevitable.—(Doc. 51.)— World, April 12.

—at 2 P. M. Colonel Chesnut and Major Lee, aids to General Beauregard, conveyed to Fort Sumter the demand that Major Anderson should evacuate that fort. Major Anderson replied at 6 P. M. that his “sense of honor and his obligations to his Government would prevent his compliance” with the demand. He informed the gentlemen verbally that he would be “starved out in a few days.”

It was stated that there were at this time 7,000 men around Fort Sumter under arms, and 140 pieces of ordnance of heavy caliber in position and ready for use.—Charleston Mercury.

April 12.—At 1 A. M. a second deputation from General Beauregard conveyed to Fort Sumter the message that if Major Anderson would name the time when he would evacuate, and would agree not to fire in the mean time upon the batteries unless they fired upon him, no fire would be opened upon Fort Sumter. To this Major Anderson replied that he would evacuate at noon on the 15th, if not previously otherwise ordered, or not supplied, and that he would not in the mean time open his fire unless compelled by some hostile act against his fort or the flag of his Government. At 3.30 A. M. the officers who received this answer notified Major Anderson that the batteries under command of General Beauregard would open on Fort Sumter in one hour, and immediately left.

The sentinels in Sumter were then ordered from the parapets, the posterns were closed, and the men ordered not to leave the bombproofs until summoned by the drum.

At 4.30 A. M fire was opened upon Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie, and soon after from the batteries on Mount Pleasant, Cummings’ Point, and the floating battery; in all 17 mortars and 30 large guns for shot—mostly Columbiads. Meantime the garrison of Sumter took breakfast quietly at their regular hour, were then divided into three reliefs, each of which was to work the guns for four hours; and the fire of Sumter was opened at 7 A. M. from the lower tier of guns, upon Fort Moultrie, the iron battery on Cummings’ Point, two batteries on Sullivan’s Island, and the floating battery simultaneously. “When the first relief went to work, the enthusiasm of the men was so great that the second and third reliefs could not be kept from the guns.

As the fire of the enemy became warm, it was found that there was no portion of the fort not exposed to the fire of mortars. Shells from every direction burst against the various walls. Cartridges soon run out; there were no cartridge bags, and men were set to make them out of shirts. There was no instrument to weigh powder, and this, with the absence of breech-sides and other implements necessary to point guns, rendered an accurate fire impossible.

Fire broke out in the barracks three times, and was extinguished. Meals were served at the guns. At C P. M. the fire from Sumter ceased. Fire was kept up from the enemy’s batteries all night, at intervals of twenty minutes.—Tribune, Times, and Herald, April 13, 14, 15.

April 13.—Fire from the enemy’s batteries was resumed at daylight and from Fort Sumter at 7 A. M. At about 8 the officers’ quarters in Sumter took fire from a shell, and the work at the guns was necessarily somewhat slackened, as nearly all the men were taken away to extinguish the flames. Shells from Moultrie and Morris’ Island fell now faster than ever. Dense volumes of smoke still poured out of the barracks at 9, when the men were again sent to the guns. At 10 o’clock the halyards on the flag-staff were cut by a shell, and the flag ran down a little and stuck, so that it appeared to be displayed at half-mast. Several ships, one a large steamer, were in the offing at 10.30, and shots were fired at them from Morris’ Island and Fort Moultrie. About 11 o’clock the fire in the barracks again burst forth fiercely. Three piles of hand-grenades and shells, placed ready for use, became heated by it and exploded at intervals. The day was oppressively warm, and the heat of the fire added, made the atmosphere of the fort almost insufferable. At 12 the whole roof of the barracks was in flames and soon after men were set to work to take the powder out of the magazine, lest the heat should reach and explode it there. Ninety barrels were rolled out and the doors closed. The fire of Fort Sumter was now almost entirely relinquished, though from the other forts it was rather increased. Cartridges were nearly all gone, and owing to the flying sparks no more could be made. Smoke from the fire was blown into the fort so thickly that the men could not see one another. As the fire in the barracks spread from the officers’ to the men’s quarters, it became necessary to throw overboard the powder that had been taken from the magazines. All was thrown over but three barrels, which were wrapped around with wet cloths and left. From these the garrison was soon separated by the fire, and now only the cartridges in the guns were left. These were fired now and then to indicate that the fort was not silenced. Thus in truth the work was held while there was a cartridge to fire or powder enough accessible to make one. The flagstaff, which had been hit nine times, was cut at about 1, and the flag was then nailed to the cut piece, and so raised upon the ramparts. At this time both officers and men were compelled to lay flat upon their faces in the casemates, and hold wet cloths to their mouths to escape suffocation. Soon after Ex-Senator “Wigfall came to the fort with a flag of truce, which he wished held up while he spoke; but the batteries did not respect it. He, however, represented himself as an aid of General Beauregard, and agreed for the evacuation of Fort Sumter. It was afterward learned that he had spoken falsely, and had no authority whatever from General Beauregard.

At 12.55 P. M. the flag of Fort Sumter was drawn down, and the fort was surrendered soon after upon honorable terms; the garrison to carry away the flag of the fort, and all company arms and property, and all private property; and all proper facilities to be afforded for their removal to any post in the United States the commander might elect.

No men were hurt in Sumter by the fire of the enemy. It is reported by the secessionists that no men were either killed or wounded upon their side.

A boat from the United States squadron outside, with a flag of truce, arrived at Morris’ Island, with a request to be allowed to come and take Major Anderson and his forces. — {Doc. 52.)—Tribune, Times, Herald, and World.

—A Dispatch from Montgomery, Ala., says that Fort Pickens was reinforced last night. — {Doc. 53.)

—To-day the President expelled from the Federal army, for refusing to act on a particular service, Captain William B. St. Johns, of the Third Infantry, and First Lieutenant Abner Smead, of the First Artillery.

—The Legislature of Pennsylvania passed the war bill without amendment last evening. Previous to its passage, the news of the bombardment of Fort Sumter was announced, and produced a profound sensation. The bill appropriates five hundred thousand dollars for the purpose of arming and equipping the militia; authorizes a temporary loan; provides for the appointment of an Adjutant-General, Commissary-General, and Quartermaster-General, who, with tho Governor, aro to have power to carry the act into effect. —Philadelphia Enquirer

—To-day the Virginia Commissioners were formally received by the President at Washington, when they presented the resolutions under which they were appointed.—{Doc. 54.)

—The attack upon Fort Sumter, and its surrender, instead of depressing, fires and animates all patriotio hearts. One deep, strong, overpowering sentiment now sweeps over the whole community—a sentiment of determined, devoted, active loyalty. The day for the toleration of treason—treason to the Constitution in defiance to the laws that we have made!—has gone by. The people have discovered that what they deemed almost impossible has actually come to pass, and that the rebels are determined to break up this Government, if they can do it. With all such purposes they are determined to make an end as speedily as may be.—{Doe. bo.)—Times, April 15.

—Bishop Lynch, Eoman Catholic, at Charleston, S. 0. celebrated the bloodless victory of Fort Sumter with a Te Deum and congratulatory address. In all the churches allusions were made to the subject.

The Episcopal Bishop, wholly blind and feeble, said it was his strong persuasion, strengthened by travel through every section of South Carolina that the movement in which the people were engaged was begun by them in the deepest conviction of duty to God; and God had signally blessed their dependence on him. If there is a war, it will be purely a war of self defense.—Tribune, April 16.

—General Beauregard, in general orders to-day, congratulates “the troops under his command on the brilliant success which has crowned their gallantry, by the reduction of the stronghold in the harbor of Charleston.”— {Doc. 56.)

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