Fall of Fort Sumter and Reaction

The federal government had a number of forts and military installation in the South. As Southern states seceded, many of them were quickly turned over by state forces. One of the major exceptions was the federal facilities in and around Charleston. 

Federal troops there were concentrated in Fort Moultrie. In the middle of Charleston harbor sat Fort Sumter, unoccupied and still under construction. On November 15th Major Robert Anderson was named commander of Federal troops in Charleston. He quickly came to the conclusion that Fort Moultrie was not defensible. The unoccupied Fort Sumter was defensible as it was situated in the middle of the harbor surrounding by deep water.

On the night of December 26th Major Anderson, mustered his command and moved in the stealth of night to Fort Sumter. The Southerner felt betrayed. They believed that they had an understanding with Anderson to maintain the status quo.

When Lincoln took office the issue of Ft Sumter arose and he was forced to come to grips with the problem. On one hand reinforcing the fort seemed increasingly difficult. Lincoln was afraid of using force, since this might sway those Southern states such as Virginia that had not yet seceded to secede. On the other hand Major Anderson was becoming a hero in the North.

Finally after receiving varied advise from his advisors Lincoln decided to resupply the fort.

The Confederate government under Davis felt that they could not allow the fort to be resupplied, and Davis despite opposition from the Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs – he stated “Mr. president at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornets nest which extends from mountains to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm our and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it put us in the wrong it is fatal.”

On the afternoon of April 11th, General Beaulegrad issued a formal demand of surrender to Major Anderson. When major Anderson received it he refused it, however he stated to the Confederate representatives, that if they had only waited another few day the fort would be forced to surrender, as it would be without food. Colonel Chesnut one of the Confederate representatives asked if he could include that in his report. Anderson assented. 

Beauregard then asked for direction from President Davis. Davis agreed to call off the bombardment if he could get a firm commitment as to the time of the surrender from Anderson. At midnight on the 12th Confederate representatives again demanded the surrender of the garrison. Anderson answered that they would surrender by the 15th, but with an important proviso, that only if the fort was not resupplied. This was not considered a sufficient answer for the Confederates. As the confederates began to leave, Anderson stated” If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next.”

Thus at 4:30 AM confederate batteries began their bombardment of Fort Sumter. The confederate bombing was effective, and included a floating battery, in a makeshift boat. Anderson’s counter fire was limited by the his lack of munitions and by his limited number of soldiers. Finally 34 hours after the bombardment began, Anderson surrendered.

Reaction:

Sumter had fallen- now it was Lincoln’s turn to respond. He did so by a call for troops: Lincoln stated, “Now I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of several States of the Union, to aggregate number of seventy thousand.

The nation responded by a series of meetings in every part of the North. Thousands came forth with enthusiasm. A New York mother of five sons who enlisted stated:” I was startled by the news referring to our boys, and, for the moment felt as if a ball had pierced my own heart. For the first time I was obliged to look things full in the face. But although I have always loved my children with a love that none but a mother can know, yet when I look upon the state of my country, I cannot withhold them; and in the name of their god and their mothers god, and their country’s god I bid them to go. If I had ten sons instead of five I would give them all sooner than have our country rent in fragments.”

While the call for militia succeeded in raising an army, it was the final blow in the attempts to keep the Virginia and other wavering states in the Union. The Border states and the states of the Upper South all responded with words similar to those of Kentucky: “Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister southern states.”

Virginia was the first Southern state to secede, and with her the man who was to become the South leading General – Robert E. Lee. Lee was a reluctant sessionist, he had stated two months earlier “I fear the liberties of our country will in the tomb of the great nation. If Virginia stands by the old Union so will I. But if she secedes ( though I do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution) then I will sill follow my native State with my sword, and if need be, with my life.”

Next Arkansas joined the confederacy, they were followed in May by North Carolina and Tennessee.

Immediately following the riots secessionists in Baltimore destroyed the railroads bridges and the telegraph lines thus cutting off Washington. For days Washington was cut off, with no additional replacement troops coming. Panic reined in Washington- Lincoln looked out the White House windows wondering when reinforcements would show. Finally in April 25th the 8th Mass Infantry and the 7th New York Regiment, landed at Annapolis Maryland. The New York Regiment managed to repair a branch line of the B&O that had been sabotaged and soon they arrived in the capital, whose citizens breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Haunted South: Sloss Furnaces (Birmingham, Alabama)

Considering how many workers lost their lives at Sloss Furnaces’ in Birmingham, Ala. when it was in operation, is it any surprise that the former industrial site is said to be haunted?

Working at the furnace, which was in use for nearly 100 years, was considered to be very dangerous, and employees met grisly deaths — either by being incinerated, poisoned by carbon monoxide or falling victim to steam pipes that often burst unexpectedly — on a regular basis.

While the furnace, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1981, may have closed up shop in 1971, it seems not all of its former employees left, according to The Travel Channel. At night, visitors have claimed to hear the screams of those who died, seen shadowy figures and heard the calls of a foreman deriding his crew.

Haunted South: St. Louis Cemetery (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Like a lot of ghost stories, the tale of Henry Vignes, who is said to haunt New Orleans’ St. Louis Cemetery, is a sad one.

Vignes, a sailor during the nineteenth century, trusted the wrong person with keeping his important documents, including the deeds to his family tomb, according to Ghost City Tours’ website.

The swindler sold the deeds and Vignes died before he could reclaim ownership. Instead of being placed in his family tomb, the sailor was buried in an unmarked grave in the St. Louis Cemetery.

Since his death, visitors of the cemetery have claimed to see Vignes looking for his grave. Some even say his ghost will approach the living and ask if they know where the Vignes tomb is. Others said his apparition can be heard saying “I need to rest!” as he wanders through the tombs.

Mr. Selfridge

The central character in Mr. Selfridge is none other than Harold Gordon Selfridge, the British-American retail magnate and founder of the eponymous department store. The show begins with the store’s founding in 1908 and follows the trials and triumphs of the Selfridge family and their staff through 1929.

While Selfridge’s early history is true to life, the workers at the store are fictional. Nonetheless, viewers may appreciate the realistic accounts of life behind the store counter, as well as Jeremy Pivens’ subtle performance in the title role.

Peaky Blinders

The highest-rated period drama on IMDb is Peaky Blinders. The part-fiction part-history show stars Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby, leader of the Peaky Blinders, a gang that ruled Birmingham at the end of World War I.

Shelby is cunning and ambitious, with plans to expand his organization beyond its current stronghold. Peaky Blinders is told from the gang’s point of view, making Chief Inspector Campbell (played by Sam Neill) the primary antagonist. The show also features numerous empowered female characters, as well as characters of diverse backgrounds.

House of Eliott

After the sudden death of their father, sisters Evangeline and Beatrice have no prospects and no hope for a future in society. That is, until they put their talents in dressmaking to use and become the most celebrated fashion designers in London.

New opportunities for women are at the forefront of this series, which aired from 1991 to 1994. Audiences loved the entrepreneurial main characters and their gorgeous costumes, as well as the cutthroat world of fashion.

Upstairs, Downstairs

The original Upstairs Downstairs that aired in the 1970s follows the Bellamy family and their servants at 165 Eaton Place. Although the house is run by a member of Parliament and his socialite wife, the show gives the downstairs characters their due with rich storylines and characterizations.

The fifth and final season is set between 1919 and 1930 and works real-life events into the story such as the post-war recovery and the 1926 general strike.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Phryne Fisher is a woman of many talents. She can fly a plane, drive a car, speak a million languages, and even wear trousers on occasion. She is also a formidable private detective who solves all manner of crimes in 1920s Melbourne, with the help of her maid Dot and detectives Jack Robinson and Hugh Collins.

Phryne might appear frivolous, but her priority has always been to bring justice for those who can’t help themselves. The show has been described as great fun, with a strong, independent, and inspiring female lead whose wardrobe many fashionistas will covet.

Notable Books of the Twenties: Passing – Nella Larsen (1929)

Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)

Passing is not just about a black woman who lives her life ‘passing’ as a white woman. It’s also about secrecy and hypocrisy and the universally human fear of being ‘found out’. It was a very important book of the time, when conversations about race, class and gender were beginning to open up, despite prejudice still seeming, to many, a stone-set human right.

The story follows Irene and Clare, two mixed-race friends who reunite in a Chicago hotel after years of not seeing each other. Clare, Irene learns, has been living as a white woman with a racist husband who has no idea of his wife’s background. Clare, on the other hand, remained in the African-American community but refuses to acknowledge the racism that holds back her family’s happiness. They soon become consumed by the other’s chosen path – until events conspire to make them confront their lies.

Notable Books of the Twenties: All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

All Quiet on the Western Front was a ground-breaking book that changed how the world saw the First World War. There is little glory to be found in it: war is hell, no matter what side you’re on. And Remarque’s remarkably humane account of life in the German trenches during the early days of the Western Front showed the English-speaking world, for the first time, what it was like for the soldiers who lived in the same mud but spilled different blood from the other side of the barbed wire.

Remarque became one of the most articulate spokesmen for his generation, one that, in his words, was ‘destroyed by war, even though it might have escaped its shells.’ It is widely thought to be one of the greatest books about the experiences of war ever written.