Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Fall of Fort Sumter - 1861

As Reported in the April 17, 1861 edition of the Daily Dispatch - Richmond Va.

Incidents of the surrender of Sumter.
A Charleston dispatch relates the following incidents:
Major Anderson stated that he surrendered his sword to General Beauregard, as the representative of the Confederate Government. General Beauregard said he would not receive it from so brave a man. He says Major Anderson made a staunch fight, and elevated himself in the estimation of every true Carolinian.

During the fire, when Major Anderson's flag-staff was shot away, a boat put off from Morris' Island, carrying another American flag for him to fight under — a noteworthy instance of the honor and chivalry of the South Carolina seceders and their admiration for a brave man.

During the raging of the flames in Fort Sumter, the officers and soldiers were obliged to lay on their faces in the casemates to prevent suffocation.

Major Anderson expressed himself much pleased that no lives had been sacrificed, and says that to Providence alone is to be attributed the bloodless victory. He compliments the firing of the Carolinian, and the large number of exploded shells lying around attest their effectiveness.

The number of soldiers in the fort was about seventy, besides twenty-five workmen, who assisted at the guns. His stock of provisions was almost exhausted, however. He would have been starved out in two more days.

The entrance to the fort is mined, and the South Carolina officers who visited it after the surrender were told to be careful on account of the heat, lest it should explode.

The scene in the city after the raising of the flag of truce and the surrender is indescribable; the people were perfectly wild. Men on horseback rode through the streets proclaiming the news, amid the greatest enthusiasm.

The forces of Major Anderson were entirely inadequate to effectually work the guns and attend to the incidental requirements. It is not to be wondered at, under the circumstances, that Fort Sumter surrendered. The men were on duty thirty-six hours, with balls or shells striking the casemates and guns of the fort constantly. Competent military men state that the intense vibration or shock produced on the brain and nervous system of those in the vicinity is terribly exhausting.

At the siege of Sebastopol the men who worked the guns were relieved every twenty minutes, and groomed with whiskey and flannel to enable them to endure the concussion produced by the firing of their own guns and the shock of the enemy's balls and shells striking the fortification. The concussion attending the firing of a columbiad in the enclosed casemate of a fort is said to be terrible.

In contrast with the conduct of the inaction of the war fleet, it is stated that an old slave passed through the hottest fire, with a sloop load of wool, on Friday evening, and came safely to the city. Somebody told him he would be killed in the attempt. ‘"Can't help dat, "’ said he, ‘"must go to de town to night. If anybody hurts dis chile or dis boat, massa see him about it shuah."’ His sloop received four shots.

It is reported that Major Anderson sent in his resignation, to take effect on the inauguration of the Lincoln Government, but no notice was taken of it.

The fort is burned into a mere shell; not a particle of wood-work can be found, The guns on one side of the parapet are entirely dismounted, others split, while the gun carriages are knocked into splinters.

Major Anderson says the accuracy of the firing surprised him, and that if he had had two hundred more men, one-half would have been killed for want of suitable protection.

Major Anderson says it is preposterous to fight such a people. One of the officers in the fort remarked that they had endeavored not to fire on exposed individuals. ‘"Yes,"’ said Major Anderson, ‘"I gave orders not to sight men, but to silence batteries."’

Both men and officers were begrimed with smoke and powder. The batteries which have done the most mischief are the Dahigrea battery, Stevens' battery, and the rifle can non.

As regards harbor defence, the fort is just as good as ever. The casemates are perfect, the guns there in prime condition, and bear on both sides. Major Anderson was obliged to throw overboard a large quantity of powder to prevent explosion, and it was floating around the fort to-day.

One of the aids carried brandy to Major Anderson in a boat, after the fire, and the latter said it was very acceptable, as the men were completely exhausted by their labors. I mention this to show the kind and chivalrous relations between the officers.

Before going into action, Major Anderson sent word by an aid of General Beauregard to the Governor, thanking him for kind attentions during the past two months, and very solemnly said, ‘"Farewell, gentlemen. If we do not meet again here, I hope we shall meet in a better world."’

The fort has been garrisoned by the Palmetto Guards and put under command of Lieutenant Colonel Ripley, who commanded Fort Moultrie after the departure of Major Anderson.

The city is resuming its usual quiet. Everybody is exchanging congratulations over the successful termination of the fight; but soldiers are itching for a hand-to-hand brush.-- The Confederate flag and the Palmetto flag were hoisted on separate spars simultaneously.

Dr. S. Wylie Crawford, the surgeon at Fort Sumter, who was slightly wounded, is a son of the Rev. Dr. Crawford, of Philadelphia.

W. Porcher Miles, of Charleston, telegraphs to Mrs. Doubleday, at Washington, that a report of her husband's insanity is without foundation. It is believed that Capt. Doubleday, who is a strong Republican, refused to obey Major Anderson's command to surrender, and was consequently placed in irons.


The Daily Dispatch: April 17, 1861. Richmond Dispatch. 4 pages. by Cowardin & Hammersley. Richmond. April 17, 1861. microfilm. Ann Arbor, Mi : Proquest. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm.
Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant provided support for entering this text.

No comments: