Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blog in Real Time - Prologue - Post #1

Friday, April 12, 1861

(From the Civil War Day by Day by E.B. Long & Barbara Long)
(abridged - B.F.)

     At 11 P.M. the night of April 11 Gen. [P.G.T.] Beauregard's messengers returned to Maj. [Robert] Anderson at Fort Sumter, prompted by the telegram of Confederate Sec. of War [Leroy Pope] Walker expressing a wish to avoid firing if Anderson would state time at which, due to lack of supplies, he would have to evacuate.  They reached Fort Sumter at 12:45 A.M., April 12, and at 3:13 A.M. received Anderson's reply.  The major said he would evacuate on the fifteenth at noon if he did not receive additional supplies or further orders from his government.  Anderson added that he would not fire unless fired upon.  These terms were obviously unsatisfactory to the Confederates as it was common knowledge supplies and possibly reinforcements were coming, probably along with further orders.  The officers had to refuse Anderson's proposal and notified him in writing that Confederate batteries would open in an hour's time.  They proceeded to Fort Johnson, arriving at 4 A.M.

     At 4:30 A.M. the signal shot was fired from the post of Capt. George S. James at Fort Johnson, with other batteries opening according to previous orders.  Capt. James gave the order and, probably, one Henry S. Farley actually fired the signal shot that arched in the night sky over Charleston Harbor.

     .....For a while, until near 7 A.M. the forty-eight guns of Fort Sumter were silent, and then some of them replied, manned by eighty-five officers and men and some of the forty-three workmen employed at the fort.  Opposing the Federal garrison were well over four thousand Confederates and seventy or more guns.  ...All day the Confederate bombardment was constant and heavy.

     ...For the Confederates it was said a thrill went through the city of Charleston - the issue had been met.  Crowds of people watched from the battery and many others perched on rooftops for a better view.  ...Out at sea the vessels of the Federal relieving fleet could be seen.  Would they attempt to come in?

The Following is from "The  History of Westborough, Massachusetts," By H.P. DeForest & E.C. Bates, 1891.  From the chapter "The Civil War."  It presents the view of events from a Massachusetts perspective.  Westborough would raise a rifle company in response to President Lincoln's call for troops.  The rifle company mustered into Federal Service as Co. K, 13th M.V.I.

     The story of the growth and development of Westborough now turns from matters strictly local to her humble, though loyal and earnest, share in suppressing a great rebellion.  At the outbreak of the war the town had increased to a population of about three thousand.  Agriculture was still the main occupation of her people, though the manufacture of sleighs, and of boots and shoes, was to some extent carried on.  It was a quiet village. The busy hum of machinery was little heard, and the era of "modern improvements" in buildings, highways, sidewalks, and the rest had not yet begun.  But while the people of Westborough were quietly attentive to their various local interests, - their farms and shops, churches and schools, - stirring events were occurring in the great world outside.  The cloud of Secession, which had been lowering over the country for nearly half a century, was growing blacker and more threatening.  Slavery was the cause of the disturbance.  As long as the cherished institution of the South had been confined to its original boundaries, the indulgent North had made little protest.  But with the rapid growth of the South in industrial importance and wealth, - following Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton-gin, which made cotton "king," and slave labor profitable, -  the extension of slavery became the question of the day;  and the extension of slavery into new territory aroused vigorous opposition.  The solution of the troublesome question was delayed for a while by a series of humiliating compromises ; but the increasing power of the slaveholders made each demand more bold, and more dangerous to grant.  A sectional war was inevitable.  The pecuniary interests of the South were too great to be voluntarily surrendered, and the moral judgement of the North could never sanction the growth of slavery as a national institution.  The weak and vacillating administration of President Buchanan gave the South an opportunity to prepare for the approaching conflict.  Arms and ammunition were sent to Southern forts ; ships of war were despatched to distant parts of the world ; the army was weakened and scattered ; in fact, before the grand crisis arrived, every possible means had been taken to make secession an easier talk.

     In the Presidential election of 1860 the Republican party presented as its candidate Abraham Lincoln, and pledged itself to oppose the further encroachment of slavery.  The Democratic party, which was more friendly toward the system, became hopelessly divided. The more moderate Democrats nominated Stephen A. Douglas, while John C. Breckenridge represented the extreme slavery sentiment of the South.  In the midst of the excitement, a party favoring conciliation and compromise nominated John Bell.  On the 6th of November, Abraham Lincoln was elected President.  His election was hailed with joy in the North, and with bitterness and rage throughout the South.  The Slave States had boldly threatened that they would secede from the Union in case of Lincoln's election, and it was soon seen that their threats were more than idle bluster.  On the 20th of December South Carolina passed her ordinance of secession ; and before the inauguration of President Lincoln, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had followed her example.

     The first act of open hostility took place on January 9, 1861, when the steamer "Star of the West," bearing supplies to the Federal garrison, was fired upon off Charleston harbor.  On April 12, Fort Sumter, which was garrisoned by eighty men under Captain Anderson, was bombarded by South Carolina troops.  Two days later - Sunday, April 14 - the fort surrendered.  The next morning came President Lincoln's famous call for seventy-five thousand men for three month's service.

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