tv The Civil War Fort Sumter and First Shots of the Civil War CSPAN October 11, 2020 2:25pm-3:11pm EDT
you get the idea. announcer: you can watch the entire lecture by historian william crawley sunday on american history tv at 8:00 p.m. eastern . announcer: located in charleston inbor fort sumter was held 1861. despite south carolina's secession in 1860. up next, mark malloy describes the events of april 12, 1861 when confederate guns around the harbor opened fire on fort sumter. this talk was part of a symposium on the war in the east hosted by the emerging civil war blog. welcome back to the virtual symposium. glad to have you with us. my name is chris. our next speaker comes to us from our sister site, "emerging
revolutionary war." mark malloy is a historian with the national park service and he is like, what can i do this revolutionary war? i said, this is the civil war. we decided we would let him talk about fort sumter because it is as close as we can get to the revolutionary war era. asay that because mark is delightful historian, wonderful guy, wish i could get him to laugh on cue. [laughter] his most distinctive feature is his laugh. we are delighted to have him come here today to speak about the first shots of the civil war at fort sumter. mark? mark: thank you so much for that introduction, chris. it is a pleasure to be able to speak at this symposium for the
emerging civil war. we would love to have done in person, but being able to do it digitally is a wonderful way to do it as well. mentioned my main passion is the american revolutionary war. work for the national park service and we take care of a lot of important civil war sites. i started my career with the national park service as an intern down at fort sumter and formal tree national historical park. for about a year in charleston, south carolina, if you have never been, is a full town. most people associate it with its important civil war history. in 1861 inrted there april. i'm going to go over the buildup to the first shots of the civil war. i'm going to tell you about the
battle on april 12 and april 13 and then i will tell you what happened to fort sumter the rest of the war. what is there today and what you can see and i encourage you to go down and visit at some point. hopefully after covid and check out a lot of these important historical sites that are pretty well preserved. battle at forthe sumter and there is a lot of high-profile characters involved in the opening shots of the war. i am going to go through some of those as we talk today. microcosm ofs a the civil war and how it started off as this kind of gentlemanly, that was engagement relatively bloodless that led to the bloodiest war in a mechanistic.
the war really developed, especially in charleston, where there are atrocities happening and it becomes a very bloody war in charleston harbor toward the end. it is also an important story to know and understand. if you are going to study the civil war, historians are often debating the causes of secession and why the south seceded. but it did not necessarily mean there would be a shooting war. it is important to understand how the first shots came to be fired to understand why the war broke out. at time was a symbol. it was highly symbolic and it is still is to this day. it is really important to understand as well. the story of fort sumter starts with the secession of south carolina which happened december 20, 1860. after abraham lincoln was
heldted and they their convention -- charlston was a hotbed for secession. they were very eager to leave the union and on december 20 9-0 toote unanimously, 16 secede from the union. charleston was filled with celebrations, fireworks, bonfires, military parades, all sorts of things they struck out on their own. as you can see in the broadside it was in the charleston mercury, the newspaper, proclaiming that the union is dissolved. in order to understand the military situation in charleston harbor, you have to see with the geography looks like. you can see this map from that time in 1861 showing the city of charleston. it is on a peninsula bounded by the ashley and cooper rivers. saye in charleston like to it is where the ashley and converged to
form the atlantic ocean. charleston harbor is surrounded by numerous islands. there werefour made fortifications that were there to defend the city against foreign invasion. side ofsee off of the the city a small little shoal with -- let me see if i can use the pointer. to can see castle pickney the south of the city of nes island that had fort johnson. in the middle of the harbor on an island was fort sumter and overhear on sullivan's island on the north end of the harbor was moltree. mostis where mor
soldiers were stationed. they are in charleston south carolina seceded. major robert anderson is in the first u.s. artillery. commanding areis in charleston. it is important to realize how small the united states army was at the outset of the war. you only have 15,000 union soldiers across the entire nation at a time. they were kind of spread across the country and less than 100 and charleston harbor. of the 85 men eight were musicians in the band. it was a pretty sleepy post and most of the men who were actually in the first u.s. artillery were immigrants that came from ireland and germany. major robert anderson is an
interesting figure because he is actually a southerner. he is from kentucky and he was very much against the idea of secession, but he was not in favor of war. he says his heart was not in the war that he foresaw coming. he was kind of in a tricky situation because it basically came down to property rights in charleston harbor where these federal forts, were they part of the republic of south carolina or part of the united states government? the is where a lot of argument will come over as far as who should fire the first shot. his father was a revolutionary war veteran who fought with george washington at the battle of the trenton and princeton. -- in princeton. he had many officers under his command who would play important
roles during the war. he had lieutenant norman hall who would go on to have an important role in gettysburg. same with samuel crawford who was a surgeon. he had lieutenant jefferson davis, not the president of the confederate states, but jefferson c davis who would fight in the western theater of the war. captain truman seymour who would go on to lead troops at the battle of lusty later. it is interesting how many of his officers have important roles later in the war. this is one of the officers under his command who would have a big role in the war as well. doubleday would have a big role in gettysburg. he is more famous today because people think he started the game of baseball. that is not true, but that is how he was remembered. he is interesting because most of the officers were under
robert anderson and they were not abolitionists and were not really republicans. abner doubleday was and he is very outspoken about it. a lot of the people in charleston did not like that so he was singled out in the newspapers for the vitriol. be outspoken in his defense of the union and in wanting to get rid of slavery. robert anderson felt -- what happened was the south carolina militia flowed into the city of charleston and anderson did not think he would be able to hold his position. on december 26 he is going to make a bold move and move his entire force into fort sumter. itself some saw as an act of war because south carolinians viewed this installation as belonging to south carolina.
moving troops into that fort they were very much opposed to. anderson did not think he could hold fort moultrie because it was close to the mainland and he felt houses and things around the fort, the southerners would be able to get in there and fire into his men. he moves over to fort sumter. this is an image showing them raising the american flag and set fort sumter. the painting done later, but it is very interesting because it gives you a glimpse on the inside. fort sumter was started in 1829 and was still under construction when anderson moves his men there in 1860. they are still working on it 30 years after they started. as you can see inside the fort it was on was 90% complete. there are imposing walls that stood 50 feet high. three tiers of artillery
placements, the fort was pretty massive for that time. it was originally built to hold over 600 men. anderson does not have that many. he will not even be able to use all the canons. it was built to hold 135 cannons and there are only 60 in the fort at this time. he will only be able to man 10 cannons during the battle. like fromat it looked the outside. fort sumter was a pretty imposing fortress sitting in the middle of the harbor. onceis going to happen is the charlestonians cf leg over fort sumter their outraged -- see a flag over fort sumter they are outraged. all of the installations around the harbor will be seized by south carolina trips.
you can see some of the south carolina militia taking over castle pickney. at this time they did not even have a symbol for their state yet. they are carrying a flag with the star they took off the boat. south carolinians are going to adopt the palmetto tree and that is fort moultrie where the famous revolutionary war battle 17 sunday six was held. -- south carolina will adopt this as their symbol and you will see on the state flag. this is the actual flag carried by the palmetto guards which was a local charleston militia group
that will be stained on morris island during the initial bombardment of fort sumter. this gives you a good view of what looked like in charleston harbor in 1861. you, can see sullivan's island , fort moultrie and you can see the canon they could float in the harbor. they are going to take for johnson and castle pickney in this island in the south, more silent, would play an important role -- morris island would play an important role. they are going to fortify that island as well. this will be manned by college students from the citadel.
in january 1861, president buchanan is going to send a ship to resupply and reinforce fort sumter. as the ship is entering -- the ship was called star of the west. as it was entering charleston harbor the citadel cadet battery fires on the ship and they are going to fire a few rounds as warning shots and then actually hit the ship. the ship does not fire back. it is going to turn around and leave. but some, and this is a drawing of the citadel cadets firing on the star of the west. some people claim these are the first shots of the civil war. that would probably be citadel cadets and alumni of the college. there is no return fire. what basically happens is it goes back to a stalemate in charleston harbor. trying to figure out what is going to happen next. basically what happens as the stalemate continues six more
southern states are going to secede from the union in january, february, march of 1861. they come together in montgomery, alabama to form the confederate states of america. they are going to create their own constitution, elect jefferson davis as president and they form an army. the new confederate states are man, to appoint this pierre beauregard, as the general in command of the confederate forces in charleston harbor. he is a really interesting characters well. he actually resigned from being superintendent of west point joined the confederacy and when he was a student at west point who was his professor? none other than major robert anderson. you have the people and teacher on opposite sides of this what will turn out to be the first battlefield of the civil war. sumter is going to continue to
sit there as a symbol of the impasse in the country. chestnut, woman, mary who has a wonderful civil war diary that was in charleston during this time. writes, thereright stands for sumter and there stands peace or war. there was this constant fear that war would break out in charleston harbor. is --ly what is happening basically what is happening no one knows what is going to happen once president lake and becomes president and that happens in 1861. abraham lincoln is inaugurated president of the united states. how was he going to handle the situation differently than buchanan? there are numerous political attempts to try dover war.
there is a peace convention in washington, d.c., numerous war,omises to try push off and peace delegation from the confederate states to send to washington, but all of these are rejected and lincoln is going to reject acknowledging the confederate states of america. believing a secession was illegal and they had no actual authority, so all of the communications between the united states government and south carolina in the and the confederates is going to be through francis pickens. something was happening on the ground because anderson has money are running out of food and supplies. he was not going to be able to stay there forever. what is lichen going to do? lincoln -- what is lincoln going to do? lincoln is going to send a really force that would just deliver food and supplies to anderson's men. but if they were opposed, if
they were fired on, they were going to bring reinforcements as well. the confederate government views delivering food as an act of war because again, they did not believe they have the right to the fort. 4 the relief expedition is sent by lincoln to charleston harbor. 10 president jefferson davis tells beauregard to tell anderson to evacuate the fort immediately and if he does not, to reduce the fort. on april 11, 1861 this man, james chestnut, who used to be senator from south carolina who have resigned it was a colonel in the confederate army, he along with captain lee andd alexander chisel row out there,
meet with anderson, and tell him his options. he is going to be starved out in four days and he will leave then. chestnut is going to take that back to beauregard and they discuss it and around midnight they are going to go back one more time. they say they would need to leave immediately. soerson does not agree and chestnut tells anderson, we will fire on you in one hour. this was 3:30 a.m. in the morning. his wife is back in charleston and she writes, at that time, i do not pretend to go to sleep. how can i? if anderson does not accept terms, the orders are he shall be fired upon. i count for bells that china. . and i begin to hope at half past four the heavy coming of cannon.
i spring out of bed and on my knees i prayed as i never prayed before. after chestnut meets with anderson he and his group are going to go over to fort johnson. at fort johnson they are joined also by a former virginia congressman, over on the right side named roger prior. roger prior was a fire eater. he was really pushing to get virginia to secede. what is going to happen is chestnut is going to tell the commander of the mortar battery, who is this man on the left, captain george james who would actually die later at the battle of south mountain, he gives him the command to fire the first shot. james is going to give roger prior the opportunity to fire the first shot and prior says, he cannot fire the first gun of the war.
instead a lieutenant, henry farley, is given the command to fire. fire the cannonyo and it explodes over fort sumter. that was the signal for the batteries to open fire on fort sumter. this was the first shot of the civil war. some people said that was not the first shot. often you hear it that the first shot was this man who fired. ruffin who is a fascinating historical figure. he was very much a fire eater. he gained national fame for being an agricultural list before the civil war. he was from virginia and from 1855 on he devoted himself to nothing but preaching secession. sometimes known as the father of secession, he traveled all across the country giving speeches, he writes pamphlets,
always looking to provoke secession, and he actually snuck in and was able to witness the hanging of john brown. he went down to charleston to watch the secession of south carolina. he goes out to morris island and here he is on the 70 years old and the palmetto guard allow him into their company. he is wearing the uniform of palmetto guards. they are going to give him the opportunity to fire the first shot after the signal went off. he is at the iron battery which is on morris island. lanyard and his shop will hit fort sumter. he fires and hits the fort. abner doubleday actually remembers hearing the first blast hitting the fort and he believed that came with complements from mr. ruffin. ed been ruffin is going to keep -- edmund ruffin is going to keep a diary throughout the work.
-- throughout the war. when he finds out about the defeat of general lee's army and the defeat of the army, rather than submit to yankee rule, he's going to put his rifle in his mouth and shoot himself in the head and commit suicide. some argue he fired the first and last shot of the civil war. once the battery opens up on fort sumter there was no response. candidates3 running fort sumter all firing on the fort and major anderson tries to conserve powder. it is not until 7:00 a.m. the union are going to fire back. that was fired by abner doubleday. he fires the first shot in return. all of a sudden you have both sides firing back and forth at each other. this is going to go on for hours and hours. every two minutes the
confederates are firing from different batteries all around the entire island. here you can see an image of them firing on the fort. the bombardment is going to last a total of 34 hours. in the city of charleston, you can see people ran to the rooftops and they ran up to watch the bombardment. similar to what you will see were civilians are watching this battle, some are celebrating, some weeping, and you can see the batteries firing on all sides. you will see smoke billowing out of fort sumter as well. in addition to just artillery shells and artillery shot, they are also firing hotshot, which is basically where they take cannonball, put it in a furnace until it was red-hot, and these were used to fire it ships to catch them on fire. they are using them on fort sumter to get the buildings inside caught on fire. they start cutting successful and hit some of the buildings.
anderson's men are trying to fire back and put out fires within the fort. it starts getting pretty chaotic inside the fort. hadrson at one point only six cannons firing back at everybody. meanwhile, while this bombardment is going on, who appears on the coast but the expedition that was sent to relief major anderson. the confederates were scared this group is going to try and land and attack them or join in on the fight, but they do not join at all. much to the consternation of the defenders of fort sumter because they are wondering if they are going to get any relief or help during this battle. does not happen. you can see an image of the fire . doubleday writes memoirs after the war where he describes everything that happens and he has a great quote that showed you how chaotic was.
"showers of balls ported to the fort and one ssn stream causing flakes of masonry to fall in all directions. the immense mortar shells, after sailing high in the air, came down in a vertical direction embarrass themselves in the parade grounds. their explosions shook the fort like an earthquake." overnight the union is going to stop firing to conserve ammunition, but they're going to resume on the morning of the 13th. on the 13th they are going to fire and they're going to catch the officer's quarters on fire. that leads to a larger fire and there is fear that this is going to get to the powder magazine which would blow the entire fort. 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon on april 13 20 flagnball hits the union and knocks it to the ground and some of the union defenders, including sergeant peter hart,
climb up and replace the american flag at the top of the fort. during this time, when the confederates see the flakka down, a cheery reps and they think -- a cheery wraps and they think anderson is surrendering. a former senator quickly hops into a rowboat, rose up to the startsnd he immediately negotiating with major anderson. he's basically saying, are you surrendering the fort? anderson at first does not want to, but quickly realizes that he should surrender. he puts up a white flag. when beauregard's men see the white flag, chestnut goes back out there and there is confusion no authorityll had to negotiate a surrender.
anderson agrees to surrender the fort again to chestnut. they would be given generous terms. they would be able to take their flag down and saluted with a cannon salute. it would be able to go back to new york and take their personal possessions and flags. they agree to this. the next day is when the union prepares to leave and while they are firing their salute -- he was supposed to be a 100 gun salute -- when they get to number 47 disaster happens. private daniel howe is loading the canyo can when it goes off d rips off his arm. he is going to bleed out and die, but some of the powder ignites around the canon and an explosion happens. half a dozen are wounded and one of the other men wounded would be mortally so. these are the first fatalities, military fatalities, of the
civil war. when anderson surrendered he had asked did the confederates have casualties? they said no. anderson did not have casualties during the actual battle either which is remarkable. anderson also cries out, thank god, because he did not want to be responsible for these first steps. this is the accident that happens and they are the first deaths. they are going to stop it at 50 rather than 100 gun salute. they file out of the fort onto a ship and go back with the relief expedition back to new york. the confederates margin, edmund ruffin at the head carrying the palmetto flag. they will raise the flag and the new confederate states of america flag over fort sumter. what was the response to this? all, sumterirst of becomes a rallying cry. the confederates fired on fort sumter, the fired on the american flag. communities in the north people
are rallying to join with the union army. lincoln is going to immediately call, on april 15, 75,000 volunteers to suppress the confederacy. is only that the army 15,000. you can imagine how big the army is now. just calling up volunteers is going to drive virginia to secede in three other upper south states. thus the civil war began. because of that focus on the war goes to virginia where a lot of the fighting is going to happen such as manassas. before sumter stood as the symbol of where the first shot was fired. what happens to anderson and his men? they are greeted as heroes. thousands come to see the actual flag that they brought back with them that have been fired on by the confederates. like i said many of them are going to go off and do much
bigger things during the civil war. some of them are going to die of disease and other things like that. one of the more interesting stories is the man you see in the back row second from the right. and hee was richard mead was a virginian who fought with anderson's men during the battle. but when virginia succeeds on april 17 he resigns and joins the confederate army. he will actually fight against the union before he dies of disease during the war. the union is going to come back in 1861 to south carolina and the confederates are quick to fortify the entire harbor. you can see the massive amount of earthworks around the harbor. the union is going to eventually make that one of their headquarters. they will get onto morris island to get a foothold. they are going to try taking
charlston by land and they are going to meet utter disaster at the battle of secession ville in which dan gave a wonderful presentation at last year's conference. they are going to keep trying to capture fort sumter by sea. they're going to do an ironclad attack in april 1863 that is repulsed. islandey get on morris they're going to try multiple attempts to try and capture the whole island. you have seen the famous movie "glory" where the battle of wegner happens. that is repulsed as well. eventually the confederates are going to abandon morris island. once the union captures morris island they are less than half a mile from fort sumter. grown leaps and bounds by this time. the artillery they were using during the first battle was only
accurate up to a mile. by this time they have rifles, artillery accurate up to four or five miles. the union have a large cannon, the swamp angel, firing rounds into the city of charlston. that was a distance of about four miles. islandey get onto morris the union is going to hammer fort sumter. they are going to fire on it almost continuously all throughout 1864 and 1865. it is just going to be an unrelenting attack to try capture fort sumter. the new rifle artillery demolishes the wall. this is what it looks like by that point. the rifle artillery smashes through the brick walls, but with a did not realize is it is making it stronger. this message down and basically turned fort sumter into one giant earthwork. the confederates are going to be living like rats on the inside
and fighting back to put in groups on there to capture it. those are going to be repulsed as well. they just resort to that. devolving ins south carolina refuses to get symbolic imports of fort sumter and give up on fort sumter. conrad whoimage by painted all sorts of scenes around charlston harbor. you can see this loan confederate century spanning the second national confederate flag. in the distance, you can see the union blockade, all the vessels arrayed, and you can see morris island where they were shelling fort sumter. not only were they shelling fort sumter, they were hitting the city of charlston. they're going to put union prisoners of war in charlston in
the city. in retaliation, the union is going to take confederate prisoners and they are going to put them on the edge of morris island to use them as human shields. again, how this war had to warfare by the end, literally prisoners down and put them on the edge of morris island to use them as human shields. so, here again, how this warhead devolved from this gentleman's warfare to, by the end, they're literally using prisoners as human shields. but over the course of -- and this is another shot after the war, but fort sumter looked like. over the course of two years, the union is going to fire 3500 tons of metal into the island. and like i said, just turn it into one giant earthwork. but they never do capture it. they're never able to capture fort sumter. confederates are going to hold charleston until february, 1855.
by that point, sherman continued his march to the sea. he goes to columbia instead of charleston. it basically made indefensible the city of charleston. so in february 17, 1865, the confederates evacuate charleston and fort sumter. the next day, union soldiers finally get fort sumter and they raised the american flag over it. general sherman, charleston had been ravaged by being shelled during the war. they suffered a fire in 1861 that burned out a lot of the city. general sherman and many union soldiers wanted revenge for having started the war. he wrote, "i doubt any city was more terribly punished than charleston. but as for people had been agitating for war and discord and finally inaugurated the civil war, the judgment of the world would be charleston
deserved the fate that befell her." on april 14, anderson returns to fort sumter to reraise the american flag over fort sumter. and the celebration was overshadowed that same night when president abraham lincoln was shot in washington, d.c. at ford's theater. so, what's fort sumter today? today, if you go visit the fort -- it was used by the u.s. military in the 1940's and now is a national park service site. the immediate thing you notice is there is no more of those three tiers of walls. there's only one level of the brick wall around the island. you'll see this large, black battery built during the spanish-american war. it now sits in the middle. numerous changes over there and very little fabric from the
original 1861 still exists, but it does exist on different places on the island. inside the battery is a wonderful museum that has a lot of objects related to the battle. this is what it looks like inside today. some of the case mates are surviving, so you can check those out. you can see the ruins over here of the different barracks and officers quarters, as well as monuments to the defenders of the fort. you can still see some of the actual, you know, artillery that was fired inside that siege from 1863-1865 from morris island, still embedded in the brick walls. amazing you can still see that piece of history. inside the museum there, you will see the actual flag. this is the storm flag anderson's men flew during the battle.
they also had a larger garrison flag, which is another site run by the national park service down there. fort sumter, of course it's not the only site to see. this is what fort moultrie looks like. this is where the first shots were fired by the confederates, the site of the revolutionary war battle. you can check out that. they interpret all of coastal defense from 1776 on up to world war ii. probably one of the neatest sites is to go to fort johnson, where that first initial shell was fired by. captain george s james. there's a marker denoting that as the first shot of the civil war. morris island is really cool. that's where fort wegner was. but that has changed a lot due to the tides, so there's nothing out there. all the earthwork has been washed away.
there's no monuments or markers. it's only accessible by boat, so it's difficult to get out there. you have multiple sites to check out, but charleston overall is a beautiful city. a lot of people associate it with this initial story of what happened there during the civil war but the history goes all the , way back, even before the revolutionary war, and a lot of the original buildings and sites still exist, so it's a wonderful place to visit and involve yourself in a lot of history there. yeah, thank you very much. if you want to read more about this, read more about the initial battle, i recommend "allegiance," very good overview of that first battle. if you want to know about the siege, greed gate of hell by stephen wise. hopefully next year, the former historian, rick hatcher, who i had the privilege of working
with, is going to have an emerging civil war series book called "thunder in the harbor" that should cover all of this. hopefully include a lot of sites you can visit. but thank you all very much. i appreciate the opportunity to speak here today. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this week we are looking back to this date. >> i'm going to try to into the question again. this is the fourth time i've had this question. i will try to answer it again for you as clearly as i can, because the question you're asking is -- what kind of qualifications does dan quayle have to be president? what kind of qualifications do i have and what would i do in this kind of situation? what i do in this situation? that theake sure people in the cabinet and the people and the advisors to the president call in and i will
talk to them and work with them. i will know them on a first-hand basis, because as vice president i will sit on the national security council and i will know the money first name basis because i will be coordinating effort. vice president george bush is going to re-create the space council and i will be in charge of that. i will have day-to-day activities with all the people in government. and then if that unfortunate situation happens about -- happens, if that happens, i will be prepared to carry out the responsibilities of the presidency of the united states of america. and i will be prepared to do that. i will be prepared not only because of my service in the congress, but because of my lead,y to communicate, to it is not just age, it is accomplishments and experience. i have far more experience than
sought the that office of vice president of this country. i have as much experience in the congress as a check kennedy did when he sought the presidency. i will be prepared to deal with the people in the bush administration if that unfortunate event would ever occur. >> senator benson? simple benson: i served with jack kennedy -- sen. bennet: sin benson: i served with jack kennedy and senator, you are no jack entity. [applause] -- no jack kennedy. [applause] for clips and posts. >> this is american history tv
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