Part 3 out of 3
in reverse from mortars. * * * During Friday, the officers' barracks
were three times set on fire by the shells and three times put out under
the most galling and destructive cannonade.
"For the fourth time, the barracks were set on fire early on Saturday
morning, and attempts were made to extinguish the flames; but it was
soon discovered that red-hot shot were being thrown into the Fort with
fearful rapidity, and it became evident that it would be impossible to
put out the conflagration. The whole garrison was then set to work, or
as many as could be spared, to remove the powder from the magazines,
which was desperate work, rolling barrels of powder through the fire. *
* * After the barracks were well on fire, the batteries directed upon
Fort Sumter increased their cannonading to a rapidity greater than had
been attained before."
"About this time, the shells and ammunition in the upper service-
magazines exploded, scattering the tower and upper portions of the
building in every direction. The crash of the beams, the roar of the
flames, and the shower of fragments of the Fort, with the blackness of
the smoke, made the scene indescribably terrific and grand. This
continued for several hours. * * * "
"There was not a portion of the Fort where a breath of air could be got
for hours, except through a wet cloth. The fire spread to the men's
quarters on the right hand and on the left, and endangered the powder
which had been taken out of the magazines. The men went through the
fire, and covered the barrels with wet cloths, but the danger of the
Fort's blowing up became so imminent that they were obliged to heave the
barrels out of the embrasures."
Major Anderson's official report tells the whole story briefly and well,
in these words:
"STEAMSHIP BALTIC, OFF SANDY HOOK
"April 18, 1861, 10.30 A.M., VIA NEW YORK.
"Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters
were entirely burnt, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge walls
seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by flames, and its door
closed from the effects of heat; four barrels and three cartridges of
powder only being available, and no provisions remaining but pork, I
accepted 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 the Fort on Sunday afternoon, the 14th
instant, with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and
private property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns.
"Major 1st Artillery, Commanding.
"HON. SIMON CAMERON,
"Secretary of War, Washington."
During all this thirty-four hours of bombardment, the South rejoiced
with exceeding great joy that the time had come for the vindication of
its peculiar ideas of State and other rights, even though it be with
flames and the sword. At Charleston, the people were crazy with
exultation and wine-feasting and drinking being the order of the day and
night. But for the surrender, Fort Sumter would have been stormed that
Sunday night. As it was, Sunday was turned into a day of general
jubilation, and while the people cheered and filled the streets, all the
Churches of Charleston celebrated, with more or less devotional fervor
and ceremony, the bloodless victory.
At Montgomery, the Chiefs of the Confederate Government were serenaded.
"Salvos of artillery were fired, and the whole population seemed to be
in an ecstasy of triumph."--[McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p.
The Confederate Secretary of War, flushed with the success, predicted
that the Confederate flag "will, before the first of May, float over the
dome of the old Capitol at Washington" and "will eventually float over
Faneuil Hall, in Boston."
From Maryland to Mexico, the protests of Union men of the South were
unheard in the fierce clamor of "On to Washington!"
The Richmond Examiner said: "There never was half the unanimity among
the people before, nor a tithe of the zeal upon any subject, that is now
manifested to take Washington. From the mountain tops and valleys to
the shores of the sea, there is one wild shout of fierce resolve to
capture Washington City at all and every human hazard."
So also, the Mobile Advertiser enthusiastically exclaimed:
"We are prepared to fight, and the enemy is not. Now is the time for
action, while he is yet unprepared. Let the fife sound 'Gray Jackets
over the Border,' and let a hundred thousand men, with such arms as they
can snatch, get over the border as quickly as they can. Let a division
enter every Northern border State, destroy railroad connection to
prevent concentration of the enemy, and the desperate strait of these
States, the body of Lincoln's country, will compel him to a peace--or
compel his successor, should Virginia not suffer him to escape from his
It was on Friday morning, the 12th of April, as we have seen, that the
first Rebel shot was fired at Fort Sumter. It was on Saturday afternoon
and evening that the terms of surrender were agreed to, and on Sunday
afternoon that the Federal flag was saluted and hauled down, and the
surrender completed. On Monday morning, being the 15th of April, in all
the great Northern Journals of the day appeared the following:
"WHEREAS, the laws of the United States have been for some time past,
and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the
States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas, by Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by
the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in
the Marshals by law; now, therefore I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the
United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution
and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth,
the Militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number
of 75,000, in order to suppress said Combinations, and to cause the laws
to be duly executed.
"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the
State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal
citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the
honor, the integrity, and existence of our National Union, and the
perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long
enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned
to the forces hereby called forth, will probably be to repossess the
forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and
in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the
objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or
interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of
any part of the Country; and I hereby command the persons composing the
Combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peaceably to their
respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.
"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested
by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. The Senators and
Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective
chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th day of July next,
then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their
wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.
"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
"By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
While in the North the official responses to this Call for troops were
prompt and patriotic, in the Border and Slave States, not yet in
Rebellion, they were anything but encouraging.
The reply of Governor Burton, of Delaware, was by the issue of a
proclamation "recommending the formation of volunteer companies for the
protection of the lives and property of the people of Delaware against
violence of any sort to which they may be exposed; the companies not
being subject to be ordered by the Executive into the United States
service--the law not vesting him with such authority--but having the
option of offering their services to the General Government for the
defense of its capital and the support of the Constitution and laws of
Governor Hicks, of Maryland, in like manner, issued a proclamation for
Maryland's quota of the troops, but stated that her four regiments would
be detailed to serve within the limits of Maryland--or, for the defense
of the National Capital.
Governor Letcher, of Virginia, replied: "The militia of Virginia will
not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose
as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States,
and a requisition made upon me for such an object--an object, in my
judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the Act of 1795
--will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate Civil War,
and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the
Administration has exhibited toward the South."
Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, replied to Secretary Cameron: "Your
dispatch is received, and, if genuine--which its extraordinary character
leads me to doubt--I have to say in reply that I regard the levy of
troops made by the Administration, for the purpose of subjugating the
States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution and a
usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the
laws of the country, and to this War upon the liberties of a free
people. You can get no troops from North Carolina. I will reply more
in detail when your Call is received by mail."
Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied: "Your dispatch is received. In
answer I say emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the
wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States."
Governor Harris, of Tennessee, replied: "Tennessee will not furnish a
single man for Coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the
Defense of our rights or those of our Southern brethren."
Governor Jackson, of Missouri, replied: "Your requisition is illegal,
unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical and cannot be
Governor Rector, of Arkansas, replied: "None will be furnished. The
demand is only adding insult to injury."
Discouraging and even insulting as were most of these replies, the
responses of the Governors of the Free States were, on the other hand,
full of the ring of true martial Patriotism evoked by the fall of Sumter
and the President's first call for troops. Twenty millions of Northern
hearts were stirred by that Call, as they had never before been stirred.
Party and faction became for the moment, a thing of the past.
The Governors of the Free States made instant proclamation for
volunteers, and the People responded not by thousands but by hundreds of
thousands. New York, the Empire State, by her Governor and her
Legislature placed all her tremendous resources at the service of the
Union; and the great State of Pennsylvania, through Governor Curtin, did
the same. Nor were the other States at all behind.
The Loyal North felt that Law, Order, Liberty, the existence of the
Nation itself was in peril, and must be both saved and vindicated. Over
half a million of men--from the prairies of the West and the hills and
cities of the East--from farms and counting houses, from factories and
mines and workshops--sprang to arms at the Call, and begged to be
enrolled. The merchants and capitalists throughout the North proffered
to the Government their wealth and influence and best services. The
press and the people responded as only the press and people of a Free
land can respond--with all their heart and soul. "Fort Sumter," said
one of the journals, "is lost, but Freedom is saved. Henceforth, the
Loyal States are a unit in uncompromising hostility to Treason, wherever
plotted, however justified. Fort Sumter is temporarily lost, but the
Country is saved. Live the Republic!"
This, in a nutshell, was the feeling everywhere expressed, whether by
the great crowds that marched through the streets of Northern cities
with drums beating and banners flying--cheering wildly for the Union,
singing Union songs, and compelling those of doubtful loyalty to throw
out to the breeze from their homes the glorified Stars and Stripes--by
the great majority of newspapers--by the pulpit, by the rostrum, by the
bench, by all of whatever profession or calling in Northern life. For
the moment, the voice of the Rebel-sympathizer was hushed in the land,
or so tremendously overborne that it seemed as if there was an absolute
unanimity of love for the Union.
Of course, in Border-States, bound to the South by ties of lineage and
intermarriage and politics and business association, the feeling could
not be the same as elsewhere. There, they were, so to speak, drawn both
ways at once, by the beckoning hands of kindred on the one side, and
Country on the other! Thus they long waited and hesitated, praying that
something might yet happen to save the Union of their fathers, and
prevent the shedding of brothers' blood, by brothers-hoping against
hope-waited, in the belief that a position of armed neutrality might be
permitted to them; and grieved, when they found this could not be.
Each side to the great Conflict-at-arms naturally enough believed itself
right, and that the other side was the first aggressor; but the judgment
of Mankind has placed the blame where it properly belonged--on the
shoulders of the Rebels. The calm, clear statement of President
Lincoln, in his July Message to Congress, touching the assault and its
preceding history--together with his conclusions--states the whole
matter in such authentic and convincing manner that it may be said to
have settled the point beyond further controversy. After stating that
it "was resolved to notify the Governor of South Carolina that he might
expect an attempt would be made to provision the Fort; and that if the
attempt should not be resisted there would be no effort to throw in men,
arms, or ammunition, without further notice, or in case of an attack on
the Fort," Mr. Lincoln continues: "This notice was accordingly given;
whereupon the Fort was attacked and bombarded to its fall, without even
awaiting the arrival of the provisioning expedition."
The President then proceeds: "It is thus seen that the assault upon and
reduction of Fort Sumter was, in no sense, a matter of self-defense on
the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the
Fort could, by no possibility, commit aggression upon them. They knew--
they were expressly notified--that the giving of bread to the few brave
and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be
attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more.
They knew that this Government desired to keep the garrison in the Fort
--not to assail them--but merely to maintain visible possession, and
thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution--
trusting, as hereinbefore stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot-
box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the Fort for
precisely the reverse object--to drive out the visible authority of the
Federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution.
"That this was their object, the Executive well understood; and, having
said to them, in the Inaugural Address, 'you can have no conflict
without being yourselves the aggressors,' he took pains not only to keep
this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power
of ingenious sophistry as that the World should not be able to
"By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that
point was reached. Then and thereby the assailants of the Government
began the Conflict of arms, without a gun in sight or in expectancy to
return their fire, save only the few in the Fort sent to that harbor
years before for their own protection, and still ready to give that
protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else,
they have forced upon the Country, the distinct issue: 'Immediate
dissolution or blood.'
"And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It
presents to the whole family of Man the question whether a
Constitutional Republic or Democracy--a government of the People by the
same People--can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against
its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented
individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to
organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this
case, or on any other pretences, or arbitrarily without any pretence,
break up their Government, and thus practically put an end to free
government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: 'Is there in all
republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?' 'Must a Government of
necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak
to maintain its own existence?'
"So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the War power
of the Government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction,
by force, for its preservation."
The Call for Troops was made, as we have seen, on the 15th day of April.
On the evening of the following day several companies of a Pennsylvania
Regiment reported for duty in Washington. On the 18th, more
Pennsylvania Volunteers, including a company of Artillery, arrived
On the 19th of April, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment--whose progress
through New York city had been triumphal-was suddenly and unexpectedly
assailed, in its passage through Baltimore, to the defense of the
National Capital, by a howling mob of Maryland Secessionists--worked up
to a pitch of States-rights frenzy by Confederate emissaries and
influential Baltimore Secession-sympathizers, by news of the sudden
evacuation of the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, and other exciting
tidings--and had to fight its way through, leaving three soldiers of
that regiment dead, and a number wounded, behind it.
[At a meeting of the "National Volunteer Association," at Monument
Square, Baltimore, the previous evening, says Greeley's History of
the American Conflict, page 462, "None of the speakers directly
advocated attacks on the Northern troops about to pass through the
city; but each was open in his hostility to 'Coercion,' and
ardently exhorted his hearers to organize, arm and drill, for the
Conflict now inevitable. Carr (Wilson C. N. Carr) said: 'I do not
care how many Federal troops are sent to Washington; they will soon
find themselves surrounded by such an army from Virginia and
Maryland, that escape to their homes will be impossible; and when
the 75,000 who are intended to invade the South shall have polluted
that soil with their touch, the South will extermninate and sweep
them from the Earth.' (Frantic cheering and yelling). The meeting
broke up with stentorian cheers for 'the South' and for 'President
Ten companies of Philadelphia troops, reaching Baltimore at the same
time, unarmed, were also violently assailed by the crazy mob, and, after
a two hours' fight, reached the cars and returned to Philadelphia.
Washington City--already, by the Secession of Virginia, cut off from the
South--was thus practically cut off from the North as well; and to
isolate it more completely, the telegraph wires were cut down and the
railroad bridges burned. A mere handful of regulars, the few volunteers
that had got through before the outbreak in Baltimore, and a small
number of Union residents and Government department clerks--these, under
General Winfield Scott, constituted the paltry force that, for ten days
after the Call for troops, held the National Capital.
Informed, as the Rebels must have been, by their swarming spies, of the
weakness of the Federal metropolis, it seems absolutely marvelous that
instant advantage was not taken of it.
The Richmond Examiner, of April 23d, said: "The capture of Washington
City is perfectly within the power of Virginia and Maryland, if Virginia
will only make the effort with her constituted authorities; nor is there
a single moment to lose. * * * The fanatical yell for the immediate
subjugation of the whole South is going up hourly from the united voices
of all the North; and, for the purpose of making their work sure, they
have determined to hold Washington City as the point whence to carry on
their brutal warfare. Our people can take it--they will take it--and
Scott, the arch-traitor, and Lincoln, the Beast, combined, cannot
prevent it. The just indignation of an outraged and deeply injured
people will teach the Illinois Ape to repeat his race and retrace his
journey across the borders of the Free Negro States still more rapidly
than he came. * * * Great cleansing and purification are needed and
will be given to that festering sink of iniquity, that wallow of Lincoln
and Scott--the desecrated city of Washington; and many indeed will be
the carcasses of dogs and caitiff that will blacken the air upon the
gallows before the great work is accomplished. So let it be!"
But despite all this fanfaronade of brutal bluster, and various
movements that looked somewhat threatening, and this complete isolation
for more than a week from the rest of the World, the city of Washington
was not seized by the Rebels, after all.
This nervous condition of affairs, however, existed until the 25th--and
to General Benjamin F. Butler is due the chief credit of putting an end
to it. It seems he had reached the Susquehanna river at Perryville,
with his Eighth Massachusetts Regiment on the 20th--the day after the
Sixth Massachusetts had been mobbed at Baltimore--and, finding his
further progress to Washington via Baltimore, barred by the destruction
of the bridge across the Susquehanna, etc., he at once seized a large
ferry steamer, embarked his men on her, steamed down the river and
Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, took possession of
the frigate Constitution, the Naval Academy, and the city itself,
gathered supplies, and being reinforced by the arrival by water of the
famous New York Seventh, and other regiments, repaired the branch
railroad to Annapolis Junction (on the main line of railroad between
Baltimore and Washington), and transferred his column from thence, by
cars, on the 25th, to the National Capital--soon thereafter also taking
military possession of Baltimore, which gave no further trouble to the
Union Cause. In the meantime, however, other untoward events to that
Cause had happened.
Two days after the Call for troops, the Virginia Convention (April 17th)
secretly voted to Secede from the Union. An expedition of Virginia
troops was almost at once started to capture the Federal Arsenal at
Harper's Ferry, which, as has already been intimated, was evacuated
hastily on the night of the 18th, by the handful of Union regulars
garrisoning it, after a futile effort to destroy the public property and
stores it held. Another expedition was started to seize the Federal
Navy Yard at Norfolk--a rich prize, containing as it did, between 2,000
and 3,000 pieces of heavy ordnance (300 of them Dahlgrens), three old
line-of-battle ships and a number of frigates, including the Cumberland
and the fine forty-gun steam frigate Merrimac, together with thousands
of kegs of powder and immense stores of other munitions of war, and
supplies--that had cost in all some $10,000,000. Without an enemy in
sight, however, this fine Navy Yard was shamefully evacuated, after
partly scuttling and setting fire to the vessels--the Cumberland alone
being towed away--and spiking the guns, and doing other not very
So also, in North Carolina, Rebel influence was equally active. On the
20th of April Governor Ellis seized the Federal Branch Mint at,
Charlotte, and on the 22d the Federal Arsenal at Fayetteville. A few
days thereafter his Legislature authorized him to tender to Virginia--
which had already joined the Confederacy--or to the Government of the
Confederate States itself, the volunteer forces of North Carolina. And,
although at the end of January the people of that State had decided at
the polls that no Secession Convention be held, yet the subservient
Legislature did not hesitate, on demand, to call one together which met
in May and ordained such Secession.
Thus, by the end of May, 1861, the Confederacy had grown to comprise
nine instead of seven States, and the Confederate troops were
concentrating on Richmond--whither the Rebel Government was soon to
remove, from Montgomery.
By this time also not only had the ranks of the regular Union Army been
filled and largely added to, but 42,000 additional volunteers had been
called out by President Lincoln; and the blockade of the Southern ports
(including those of Virginia and North Carolina) that had been
proclaimed by him, was, despite all obstacles, now becoming effectual
Washington City and its suburbs, by the influx of Union volunteers, had
during this month become a vast armed camp; the Potomac river had been
crossed and the Virginia hills (including Arlington heights) which
overlooked the Federal Capital, had been occupied and fortified by Union
troops; the young and gallant Colonel Ellsworth had been killed by a
Virginia Rebel while pulling down a Rebel flag in Alexandria; and
General Benjamin F. Butler, in command at Fortress Monroe, had by an
inspiration, solved one of the knottiest points confronting our armies,
by declaring of three Negroes who had fled from their master so as to
escape working on Rebel fortifications, that they should not be returned
to that master--under the Fugitive Slave Law, as demanded by a Rebel
officer with a flag of truce--but were confiscated "property," and would
be retained, as "contraband of war."
It was about this time, too, that the New Orleans Picayune fell into
line with other unscrupulous Rebel sheets, by gravely declaring that:
"All the Massachusetts troops now in Washington are Negroes, with the
exception of two or three drummer boys. General Butler, in command, is
a native of Liberia. Our readers may recollect old Ben, the barber, who
kept a shop in Poydras street, and emigrated to Liberia with a small
competence. General Butler is his son." Little did the writer of that
paragraph dream how soon New Orleans would crouch at the very feet of
that same General!
And now, while the armed hosts on either side are assembling in hostile
array, or resting on their arms, preliminary to the approaching fray of
battle, let us glance at the alleged causes underlying this great
Rebellion against the Union.