Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fort Sumter Is Attacked: The War Begins, April 12-19, 1861

April 12, 1861: BATTLE OF FORT SUMTER, SC: South Carolina artillery batteries under command of Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard in Charleston Harbor open fire on Ft. Sumter at 4:30 AM. An artillery duel commences and lasts through the day and night. The Relief Expedition appears off the harbor bar, but does not enter, since they are not warships.

Pensacola, Florida - Federal troops are landed by the USS Powhatan at Ft. Pickens, Florida. The fort holds, and is not taken by Confederate forces.

George Templeton Strong, a New York lawyer of some social prominence, writes in his journal:

"The streets were vocal with newsboys–‘Extry–a Herald! Got the bombardment of Fort Sumter!!!’ We concluded it was probably a sell and that we would not be sold, and declined all invitations too purchase for about four blocks. But we could not stand it longer. I sacrificed sixpence and read the news to Ogden and that galvanized pumpkin Mr. Dunscomb by the light of the corner gas lamp. The despatch is a column long, from Charleston, in substance to this effect. The rebel batteries opened on Sumter at ‘twenty-seven minutes after four’ this morning. Major Anderson replied only at long intervals till seven or eight o’clock when he began firing vigorously. At three P.M. (date of telegram) he had produced no serious effect. ‘No men hurt’ in the rebel batteries. . . . Fort Sumter suffering much. ‘Breaches, to all appearance, are being made.’ The Harriet Lane in the offing, but no other government ships on hand. ‘Troops are pouring in,’ and ‘within are area of fifty miles, where the thunder of the artillery can be heard, the scene is magnificently terrible.’ That magnificent and terrible sentence sounds as if it belonged to a genuine despatch from the South. Yet I doubt its genuineness vehemently. I can hardly hope that the rebels have been so foolish and thoughtless as to take the initiative in civil war and bring matters to a crisis. If so, they have put themselves in a horribly false position."

April 13, 1861: After an exhausting 2-day artillery duel wherein 40,000 projectiles were fired, and in which neither side has lost anyone killed, Maj. Robert Anderson surrenders the 80 or so men of the two under-strength companies of US Army artillerists to the Confederates. Accepting the surrender is Gen. Beauregard, who studied artillery at West Point under the tutelage of Robert Anderson.

George Templeton Strong writes, "So Civil War in inaugurated at last. God defend the Right."

April 14, 1861: At surrender ceremonies at Ft. Sumter, ammunition is inadvertantly ignited, killed 2 U.S. soldiers and wounding 4 others.

April 15, 1861: Pres. Lincoln issues a call to all of the states for 75,000 volunteers to repress the rebellion in the Southern States. The slave states still in the Union react negatively. The states of Kentucky and North Carolina both issue statements refusing to raise troops for Federat service.

April 17, 1861: Missouri and Tennessee announce refusal to supply troops. Virginia's State Convention votes 88-55 in favor of secession--with a public referendum to be held May 23 to make it official. But Virginia immediately begins to act as a member of the Confederacy from this day.

April 18, 1861: Having been offered field command of the United State Army, Col. Robert E. Lee officially and formally turns it down.

April 19, 1861: Lincoln orders a blockade of the Southern Coast.

April 19, 1861: The 6th Massachuestts Infantry, a militia unit on its way to protect Washington, is attacked by an angry mob in the streets of Baltimore while changing trains. Shots are fired at the troops, who shoot back. Killed are 9 civilians and 4 soldiers, with many dozens badly wounded. The Baltimore Massacre raises a firestorm of outrage in the North, and sympathy in the South. James Randall writes the famous song Maryland, My Maryland! which becomes a favorite Confederate rally song, even though Maryland does not eventually secede. Rioting continues in Baltimore (which long before had acquired the nickname "Mobtown") for several more days.

George Templeton Strong, in his journal, writes: "There has been a serious disturbance in Baltimore. Regiments from Pennsylvania or Massachusetts assailed by a mob that was repulsed by shot and steel. . . . It’s a notable coincidence that the first blood in this great struggle is drawn by Massachusetts men on the anniversary of Lexington. This is a continuation ofo the war that Lexington opene–a war of democracy against oligarchy. God defend the Right, and confound all traitors. Amen and amen."

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