« PreviousContinue »
was magnificently terrible. It was estimated that two thousand shots were fired, and that ten thousand men were under arms in the harbor and on the coast. Fort Moultrie was badly damaged. The officers' quarters and barracks were torn to pieces. The frame-houses on the island were riddled with shot in many instances, and whole sides of houses were torn out. The other fortifications sustained but little injury.
THE REBEL FORTIFICATIONS.
The nearest point of land to Fort Sumter is Cumming's Point - distance one thousand one hundred and fifty yards. On this point is a railroad iron battery. It consists of a heavy frame-work of yellow pine logs. The roof is of the same material, over which dovetailed bars of railroad iron of the T pattern are laid from top to bottom - all of which is riveted down in the most secure
On the front it presents an angle of about thirty degrees. There are three port-holes, which open and close with iron shutters of the heaviest description. When open, the muzzles of the columbiads fill up the space completely. The recoil of the gun enables the shutters to be closed instantly. The guns of the work bear on the south wall of Sumter, the line of fire being at an angle of about thirty-five degrees.
The Fort Johnson batteries consist of two huge sand works, containing mortar and siege-gun batteries.
These works are one and one-fourth of a mile from Fort Sumter, and at present manned by two companies of regular artillery.
The Fort Morris battery, on Morris Island, has three columbiads and four mortars, which can be used either for Fort Sumter or for the channel, being en barbette.
Green's battery has four columbiads and two forty-two pounders en barbette, which will sweep the whole island. There are on this island twelve batteries in all. Besides these are Castle Pinckney, on the lower end of Shute's Folly Island, Fort Moultrie, on a peninsula opposite Fort Sumter, and several works lower down to guard the entrance of the port.
A rather amusing anecdote is told of an old slave, who 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 hurt dis chile or dis boat, massa see him about it shuah." His sloop received four shots.
Still, as in battle's fiery front,
I saw my country's flag unrolled,
The news of the attack on Fort Sumter created a profound sensation throughout the entire North. It would be impossible to give even a faint idea of the excited state of the public mind,-- words are inadequate to express anything like the reality.
We pause to contemplate the terrible event, the commencement of actual warfare between two portions of the United States, - brother against brother. But the great fact is upon us.
Civil war has been commenced, and there are few among us who are ready to see this glorious government prostrate in the dust at the feet of traitors. Fraternal blood must be shed, the government must be sustained
Coincident with the surrender of Fort Sumter, the slumbering patriots of the free States awoke to the fearful reality that war was inaugurated. Party divisions and political factions were immediately sunk in one common grave; love for their country and loyalty to the government was the all-pervading spirit, - every countenance was wild with enthusiasm.
The “smell of battle” seemed to put new nerve into the sons of New England, and they arose in their might, and, with one heart, rallied around the standard for the defence of the “ Constitution,” irrespective of “party."
They came, as one man, ready to lay their lives on the “ altar" of their country.
Telegraph and newspaper offices were crowded to repletion, eager for the least item of intelligence from the seat
The streets were literally black with human beings wandering up and down discussing the probable 6 attack upon the national capital,” and the final result; while here and there an excited crowd, with tearful eyes, dwelt with generous ardor upon the picture of the long vigil in Sumter; the midnight transfer from Fort Moultrie; and recounted the weary watch of the little garrison for reinforcements, which an imbecile and vacillating President ordered to-day and recalled to-morrow. They pictured the eighty men looking out daily upon the vast preparations made for their destruction ; obedient to their orders to act only on the defensive; daily giving of their failing strength to add what little they might to the defences of their post; watching with anxious eyes their decreasing store of provisions, their brave hearts never faltering from duty. They spoke of the calm Sabbath morning (February 3) on which the women and children belonging to the garrison took their sad farewell of husbands and fathers, and sailed for New York, to find shelter from the coming storm. Over and over again did they describe the attack, made hastily, in fear of the arrival of reinforcements; the first guns, at early day, from Fort Moultrie; the reply from Sumter; the growing circle of fire around the devoted garrison; the crowds gathered in the city's front to witness the unequal strife, and rejoice in the attempt of six thousand men to slay eighty of their countrymen, - that in that solemn moment a late United States senator “fired a gun by way of amusement;" and that five thousand South Carolinian women, denying the gentle instincts of womanhood, gathered to view the bloody, spectacle, ready to respond to any sacrifice that might be required of them; not forgetting to
relate, with wondering scorn, that even in this great crisis of the nation's history there was here and there to be found at the “ North” a handful of pitiful traitors to glory in the progress of treason.
The 12th of April, 1861, is a day ever memorable in our annals, – treason has risen from blustering words to cowardly deeds. They have deliberately chosen the issue of battle; he who hesitates in his allegiance is a traitor with them. But there was no hesitation. The country responded as one man to the call upon its resources, and thousands on thousands of freemen only waited for the
war note” to be sounded from the national capital, to take up arms and march to the battle-field. The glorious old“ stars and stripes” were simultaneously thrown to the breeze from millions of dwellings, stores, and public buildings, and suspended across the principal streets and avenues in the greatest profusion; some large buildings displayed miniature “flags” from each and every window; many public buildings, stores, etc., were decorated with festoons of red, white, and blue, bearing appropriate mottoes, surmounted by an eagle, shield, or some other emblem of liberty. Union rosettes and badges were universally adopted by men, women, and children. The greatest enthusiasm was manifested throughout the entire free States.
When slumbering Treason woke at last
On South Carolina's soil,
To avert the fatal broil ;
When the first white smoke that curled above
The cannon on the beach,
To make the deadly breach;
Then Northern heroes went to arms,
Looking to God above
And shield them with his love.