Page images



ercised that the spare material which could have been used for that purpose had not been turned into cartridge bags.

For many months the assailants had been permitted to construct their works unmolested. They had now 14 batteries of 30 heavy guns and 17 mortars which they could bring into play. One of these batteries on Morris Island was sheathed with railroad iron, and a floating structure was protected in the same manner. It was intended to be used as a battering raft, but, being found unsuitable, was grounded on Sullivan's Island and used as a fixed battery.

Strength of the assailants.









[blocks in formation]












[ocr errors][merged small]





[merged small][ocr errors]

At the expiration of the notified hour fire was opened on the fort from a battery on James Island. Soon


Fire opened on the fortress,

afterward all the guns were in operation. In the course of thirty-four hours there were thrown into the work 2360 shot and 980 shell. There were about 3000 men engaged, and 4000 or 5000 in reserve.

and answered by it,

Fort Sumter made no reply for nearly three hours. At 7 o'clock on Friday morning, April 12th, 1861, Captain Abner Doubleday fired the first shot in the Civil War in defense of the American


But the means of defense fail.



It was very soon found that, in consequence of the severity of the Confederate vertical fire, the

barbette guns from which alone, under the circumstances, shell could be thrown-could not be used. Anderson was restricted to his lower tier. In five hours he had exhausted his cartridges, and new ones had to be made out of blankets and articles of clothing. There were only six needles which could be used for sewing cartridge bags.

About noon on Friday the relief fleet was seen off the Bar from the fort, and signals were ex

changed with it. At dark the embrasures were closed, and no answer was made to the Confeder ate fire.

The relief fleet at hand.

The fort surrenders.

On Saturday the reply of the fort was necessarily very The barracks fired languid. At about 9 o'clock the barracks by hot shot. were set on fire by the red-hot shot of the Confederates, and so dense was the smoke that the men could not see each other, nor breathe except through wet cloths. The flag-staff was repeatedly struck.

As the conflagration spread, the garrison found it necessary to close the magazine, and eventually to throw most of the powder brought from it into the sea. All but five barrels were thus disposed of. The flag, which again had been shot away, was nailed



to a temporary staff and raised on the ramparts. At the time when it was down, Mr. Wigfall, who had formerly been a United States Senator from Texas, appeared at one of the embrasures, and, representing himself as a messenger from Beauregard to offer terms, was admitted. He was shortly after succeeded by other officers, who stated that he had acted without Beauregard's knowledge. Terms of evacuation were, however, agreed upon.

In his letter to the Secretary of War, Anderson says, "Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters were entirely burned, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge wall seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by flames, and its door closed from the effects of the heat, four barrels and three car


Anderson's report. tridges of powder only being available, and no provisions but pork remaining, I accepted the terms of evacuation offered by General Beauregard, being the same offered by him on the 11th inst., prior to the commencement of hostilities, and marched out of Fort Sumter on Sunday afternoon, the 14th inst., with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns."

Rejoicings in

In Charleston the bells were chiming, the guns were firing, the ladies waving handkerchiefs, the Charleston. people cheering. It was regarded as the greatest day in the history of South Carolina. The gov ernor of the state, in a speech which he made to the citi zens on the evening of the evacuation, exultingly said, "We have humbled the flag of the United States. I say unto you it is the first time in the history of the country that the stars and stripes have been humbled. We have defeated their twenty millions; we have brought down in humility the flag that has triumphed for seventy years; but to-day-on this thirteenth day of April-it has been humbled, and humbled before the glorious little state of South Carolina."



Not one of the combatants on either side had been

killed, and hence the defense of Fort Sumter did not pass without public criticism. In Virginia it gave rise to bitter disappointment. The Unionists said, "Anderson has made a feeble defense, or no defense of Sumter. He told Beauregard on the first summons that he would evacuate the fort in two days." They inquired "how many shell were thrown from Sumter in these two days of terrific cannonading, and nobody hurt on either side, and the flag of the United States lowered to King Cotton?" In Europe the enemies of the republic already began to sneer: they said, "An American battle is not as dangerous as an American steam-boat." Captain Foster, the engineer officer of the fort, in his report to the Secretary of War, remarks, "After the cessation of fire, about 600 shotmarks on the face of the scarp wall were counted, but they were so scattered that no breached effect could have been expected from such a fire. The only effect of the direct fire during the two days was to disable three barbette guns, knock off large portions of the chimneys and brick walls projecting above the parapet, and to set the quarters on fire with hot shot. The vertical fire produced more effect, and it prevented the working of the upper tier of guns, which were the only really effective ones in the fort.

Public criticisms of the defense.

Report of the engineer.


"But we could have resumed the firing as soon as the walls cooled sufficiently to open the magazines, and then, having blown down the walls left projecting above the parapet so as to get rid of flying bricks, and built up the main gates with stones and rubbish, the fort would actually have been in a more defensible state than when the action commenced. The weakness of the defense lay principally in the lack of cartridge bags. The want of provisions would soon have caused the surrender of the fort;




but, with plenty of cartridges, the men would have cheerfully fought five or six days, and, if necessary, much longer, on pork alone, of which we had a sufficient supply. I do not think that a breach could have been effected in the gorge at the distance of the battery on Cummings's Point within a week or ten days, and even then, with the small garrison to defend it, and means for obstructing it at our disposal, the operation of assaulting it with even vastly superior numbers would have been very doubtful in its result."

the government, not with Ander


The commandant of the fort, however, did all that was The fault lay with possible in the circumstances of the case. His apparent indecision was in truth the necessary consequence of the irresolution of the government. How was it possible for him to act when the government could not determine what it would order him to do? The fort was in fact surrendered when the Confederates were permitted to establish batteries within reach of its guns, and the garrison left unprovis ioned and unre-enforced for fear that the Charlestonians might be angry.

The engineer officer whom I have just quoted, in his report to the Committee on the Conduct of been relieved with the War, remarks, "Almost every day we

The fort have

out difficulty.

saw new batteries in progress, intended to destroy the fort that we were placed to defend. In addition, after these works were completed and armed, their garrisons practiced the guns with shot and shell to obtain our range, and frequently burst their shells on differ ent sides of the fort, and sometimes over it. Not content with this, the iron-clad battery on Morris Island, in its morning practice on the 8th of March, 1861, fired a solid shot at the sally-port of the fort, barely missing it by striking the sea wall."

"Thus terminated the siege of Fort Sumter after over

« PreviousContinue »