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At this time the fleet was in the offing quietly riding at anchor, and could clearly be distinguished. Four vessels were ranged in line directly over the bar, apparently blockading the port. Their long, black hulls and sn oke-stacks proved them to be Federal steamers. Every one anxiously waited'to see what they would do. The suspense was very exciting. On all sides could be heard,

"Will the. vessels come in and engage the batteries? If they do not they are cowardly poltroons." •.

Every person on the battery fully expected that the engagement would become general. By the aid of glasses, it was believed that a movement was being made to this end by two of the war ships, and it was thought that the sand would soon begin to fly from the Morris Island batteries.

At ten o'clock in the morning, attention was again rivetted on Fort Sumter, which was now beyond a doubt on fire. The flames were seen to burst from the roofs of the houses within its walls, and dense columns of smoke shot quicklj upward.

At this time Major Anderson scarcely fired a shot. The guns on the ramparts of Fort Sumter had no utterance in them. Burst shells and grape scattered like hail over the doomed fort, and drove the soldiers under cover.

From the Iron Battery at Cummings Point a continuous fire was kept up. Its rifled cannon played, sad havoc with that portion of Fort Sumter facing it. The firing from the Floating Battery and from Fort Moultrie continued very regular and accurate. Standing on the Charleston battery; and looking seaward, you have on the right a mortar battery and Fort Johnson, distant from the city two and a half miles. Half a mile from Fort Johnson is the Iron Battery of Cummings Point, mounting three ten-inch columbiads, three sixty-four-pounders, three mortars, and one rifled cannon. Cummings Point is only fifteen hundred yards from Fort Sumter, and so any one can imagine what havoc the regular fire of the Cummings Point battery must have created.

The men working the guns made them terriby effective. The sand redoubt was scarcely injured by the weak fire Major Anderson kept up on the battery. It was commanded by Major Stevens, of the Citadel Cadets. Under his direction each shell that was fired found a destination withm Fort Sumter, and during the entire bombardment scarcely one missile of this character missed its mark.

On the other side of the harbor, directly opposite Fort Sumter, is one' of the strongest sides of Fort Moultrie. During the last three months it has been strengthened by every appliance that military art could suggest. Its marlons, moats, glaces, and embrasures are perfectly protected. The weak walls of the fort were madt perfectly secure for the gunners while at work. From this point throughout the engagement vast numbers of shot and heavy balls were discharged.

Behind this, and near Sullivan's Island, the Floating Battery was stationed, with two sixty-four and two forty-two pounders. Its sides of iron and palmetto logs were impenetrable. Every shot from it told on Fort Sumter, and-the men in charge of it were so secure in their position, that some of them indulged in soldiers' pastimes, while others played five cent ante, euchre and bluff.

The Mortar Battery at Mount Pleasant was five hundred yards from the Floating Battery, and was mounted with two mortars within excellent range of Fort Sumter. The shells from this mortar were thrown with great precision. You now have all the positions of the works bearing directly on Fort Sumter.

All through Friday morning the greatest activity at all points was displayed. Three times Major Anderson's barracks were set on fire, and twice he succeeded in putting out the flames, and to do this it was necessary to employ all his force in passing along water. To get^water it was necessary for some of his men to go Outside the walls, and hand the buckets in through the port-holes, during all which time they were exposed to a most terrific fire from the various batteries.

This last expedient was not resorted to until the fort was on fire for the third time, and the flames had increased to an alarming pitch. Meantime, Major Anderson's guns were silent. He allowed his men to be exposed to-the galling fire upon them but for a few moments, and then ordered them in yid shut the batteries as the smoke was too thick to work them. At noon the flames burst, from every qua#er of Fort Sumter, and its destruction appeared inevitable.

NAVAL EXPEDITION FOR THE RELIEF OF SUMTER.

The Government had sent a well-laden fleet to the relief of Fort Sumter, a portion of which arrived in Charleston harbor time enough to witness the bombardment of the fort, without the power to help its heroic garrison.

This fleet left New York and Washington from the 6th to the 9th of April. It consisted of the sloop-of-war, Pawnee, 10 guns, and 200 men; Pocahontas, 5 guns, 110 men; cutter Harriet Lane, 5 guns, 110 men; accompanied by the transport Baltic, and the steam-tugs Yankee and Uncle Ben, with additional men and stores. Owing to stormy weather, the vessels were unable to reach the Charleston coast at the appointed time. The Pawnee, Harriet Lane, and the Baltic arrived at the rendezvous on the morning of the 12th April, but the Pocahontas did not join them until the next day. The steam-tug Yankee lost her smoke-stack in the storm which dispersed the fleet, and did not reach the neighborhood of Charleston till after the departure of her consorts, and eventually returned to New York. Nothing was heard of the Uncle Ben until the 30th of April, when intelligence was received that she had been captured by the insurgents off the coast of North Carolina.

The orders of the expedition were, that unarmed boats should first be sent to the fort with stores only; but if these were fired upon, every effort was to-be made to relieve the fort by stratagem or force. The vessels of war and the Baltic proved of too heavy draft for any hopes of passing the bar, and the steam-tugs which were to have been sent in with supplies, failed to make their appearance. The attack on the fort, before any measures of a peaceable character could be adopted tor its relief, left no alternative but force, to the commandant of the fleet, if the object of his expedition was to be accomplished. A consultation of officers was held at four o'clock on the afternoon of the 12th, and the following plan was agreed upon: the Pawnee and the Harriet Lane were to remain at anchor ^during the night; at dawn, on the 13th,'the Pawnee was to hoist out her armed launches, and the Baltic was to put her boats alongside, freighted with the provisions and troops designed for the fort. The war vessels were then to tow the boats as far as possible on their perilous journey, when they were to be cast off, and allowed to pursue their course toward the fort, relying upon the guns of the men-of-war, and what aid might be extended from Sumter, to protect them from the batteries and flotilla of armed boats, which were in readiness to dispute their advance. During the night the Baltic went aground on Rattlesnake Shoals, and the plan agreed upon was, from necessity, relinquished. The conflagration of the barracks of the fort having precipitated its evacuation earlier than was anticipated, the officers of the fleet abandoned other plans for ha relief.

At two o'clock on the 14th of April, Major Anderson and the garrison of Fort Sumter were received oti board the Baltic, and the fleet shortly after sailed for New York. The flag of the fort was borne at the'mast-head of the Baltic as she entered the bay of New York, where it was saluted by guns from every fort in the harbor, and hailed by the shouts of more than a hundred thousand people, who lined the wharves of the city. It was also raised over the equestrian statue of Washington in Union Square, in that city, when the great Union meeting was held on the afternoon of Saturday, April 20.

THE NATION'S EESPONSE.

The first gun that boomed against Fort Sumter struck the great American Union with a shock that vibrated from the centre to its outer verge. Every heart, true or false to the great Union, leaped to the sound, either in patriotism or treason, on that momentous day.

The North and South recoiled from each other; the one in amazement at the audacity of this first blow against the Union, the other rushing blindly after a few leaders, who had left them little choice of action, and no power of deliberation. The first news, of the attack took the Government at Washington almost by surprise. President Lincoln and his Cabinet had not allowed themselves to believe that a civil war could absolutely break out in the heart of a country so blessed, so wealthy, and so accustomed to peace. True, political strife had waged fearfully; sections had clamored against sections, factions North had battled with factions South; but in a country where free speech and a free press were a crowning glory, a war of words and ideas could hardly have been expected to culminate in one of the most terrihle civil wars that will crimson the world's record.

The first boom of the cannon's blackened lips—the first shot hurled against the stars and stripes, aroused the Government from its hopes of security. Scarcely had the telegraph wires ceased to tremble under the startling news, before the Cabinet assembled in President Lincoln's council chamber, and when it broke up, a proclamation, calling for seventy-five thousand troops, had been decided upon, and Congress was* to be convened on the Fourth of July.

The startling news, this prompt -action, and the defenceless state of Washington, filled the country with wild excitement. It was known that the South had been for months drilling troops; that large portions of Virginia and Maryland wer* ready for revolt, and many believed that bodies of men were organized and prepared for an attack on the capital. Had this been true, had a considerable number of men marched upon Washington any time within four days after the news from Fort Sumter reached it, nothing could have saved it from capture, and probably, destruction. With only a handful of troops, and exposed at every point, no effectual resistance could have been made The news reached Washington on Sunday; the next day such troops as could be mustered, appeared on parade. Pickets were stationed outside the town; horses were galloped furiously from point to point, and the first faint indication of this most awful civil war dawned upon a people so used to peace, that its import could not be wholly realized.

Smothered alarm prevailed in the city; a military guard was placed each night in the White House, and great anxiety was felt for the arrival of troops, which had been hastily summoned from the North.

That week the near friends of the President were under painful apprehensions for his safety. It was known to a few persons that the very gang of men who had planned his death at Baltimore, were in the neighborhood of the capital, plotting against him there. It was even known that a design existed by which a sudden descent of swift riders was to be made on the White House, with the bold object of killing Lincoln in his cabinet, or carrying him off by force into Virginia. The night-guard in the Presidential' mansion was but small, and by day Lincoln had always been imprudently accessible.

The persons believed to be in this plot were brave, reckless men, ao. • customed to adventures of every kind, and quite capable of carrying out a programme of abduction or bloodshed under more difficult circumstances than surrounded this enterprise. But men of reckless action are seldom prudent in speech; the wild project was too exciting for proper reticence. By a few incautious words, dropped here and there, this treasonable design was fathomed; the friends of President Lincoln warned, and the whole thing quietly defeated, for the gang soon ascertained that their treason had been discovered, and, as its success depended on a surprise of the President's household, the project was abandoned.

Meantime the news of Fort Sumter, and the call for troops, had shot its lightning along every telegraph in the Union; the response was an instantaneous uprising of the people, such as no country on earth ever witnessed before.

The great majesty of the Union had been insulted and set at defiance, and as one man, thousands Upon thousands rushed around the worshipped banner of their country, firm in their patriotism, and terrible in their determination that it should never be trailed in the dust, or torn with hostile shot, unavenged.

The proclamation of President Lincoln calling for volunteers, was answered by the voices of freemen from every hill-top and valley, and almost fabulous numbers stood ready and anxious to devote themselves to the vindication of the national honor. Wild indeed was the enthusiasm that ran from heart to heart, linking the great west and the east together. But one sentiment found expression from any Up among the excited populace, and that sentiment was, the Union should be sustained at all hazards. Wealth, life, everything must be counted as dust till the Union had redeemed itself. Who in New York does not remember how the city was ablaze with flags and tri-colored bunting on the memorable day, when, "the Seventh regiment," responded t« the call? Never did a finer or braver body of young men pass down

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