In Virginia, “Lieut.Gov. Montague came in and announced the passage of the ordinance by the other Convention!”—Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

April 17th.—This was a memorable day. When we assembled at Metropolitan Hall, it could be easily perceived that we were on the threshold of momentous events. All other subjects, except that of a new political organization of the State, seemed to be momentarily delayed, as if awaiting action elsewhere. And this plan of political organization filled me with alarm, for I apprehended it would result in a new conflict between the old parties —Whig and Democrat. The ingenious discussion of this subject was probably a device of the Unionists, two or three of them having obtained seats in the Revolutionary Convention. I knew the ineradicable instincts of Virginia politicians, and their inveterate habit of public speaking, and knew there were well-grounded fears that we should be launched and lost in an illimitable sea of argument, when the business was Revolution, and death to the coming invader. Besides, I saw no hope of unanimity if the old party distinctions and designations were not submerged forever.

These fears, however, were groundless. The Union had received its blessure mortelle, and no power this side of the Potomac could save it. During a pause in the proceedings, one of the leading members arose and announced that he had information that the vote was about being taken in the other Convention on the ordinance of secession. “Very well!” cried another member, “we will give them another chance to save themselves. But it is the last!” This was concurred in by a vast majority. Not long after, Lieut.Gov. Montague came in and announced the passage of the ordinance by the other Convention! This was succeeded by a moment too thrilling for utterance, but was followed by tears of gladness and rapturous applause. Soon after, President Tyler and Gov. Wise were conducted arm-in-arm, and bare-headed, down the center aisle amid a din of cheers, while every member rose to his feet. They were led to the platform, and called upon to address the Convention. The venerable ex-President of the United States first rose responsive to the call, but remarked that the exhaustion incident to his recent incessant labors, and the nature of his emotions at such a momentous crisis, superadded to the feebleness of age, rendered him physically unable to utter what he felt and thought on such an occasion. Nevertheless, he seemed to acquire supernatural strength as he proceeded, and he spoke most effectively for the space of fifteen minutes. He gave a brief history of all the struggles of our race for freedom, from Magna Charta to the present day; and he concluded with a solemn declaration that at no period of our history were we engaged in a more just and holy effort for the maintenance of liberty and independence than at the present moment. The career of the dominant party at the North was but a series of aggressions, which fully warranted the steps we were taking for resistance and eternal separation; and if we performed our whole duty as Christians and patriots, the same benign Providence which favored the cause of our forefathers in the Revolution of 1776, would again crown our efforts with similar success. He said he might not survive to witness the consummation of the work begun that day; but generations yet unborn would bless those who had the high privilege of being participators in it.

He was succeeded by Gov. Wise, who, for a quarter of an hour, electrified the assembly by a burst of eloquence, perhaps never surpassed by mortal orator. During his pauses a silence reigned, pending which the slightest breathing could be distinctly heard, while every eye was bathed in tears. At times the vast assembly rose involuntarily to their feet, and every emotion and expression of feature seemed responsive to his own. During his speech he alluded to the reports of the press that the oppressors of the North had probably seized one of his children sojourning in their midst. “But,” said he, “if they suppose hostages of my own heart’s blood will stay my hand in a contest for the maintenance of sacred rights, they are mistaken. Affection for kindred, property, and life itself sink into insignificance in comparison with the overwhelming importance of public duty in such a crisis as this.” He lamented the blindness which had prevented Virginia from seizing Washington before the Republican hordes got possession of it — but, said he, we must do our best under the circumstances. It was now Independence or Death — although he had preferred fighting in the Union — and when the mind was made up to die rather than fail, success was certain. For himself, he was eager to meet the ordeal, and he doubted not every Southern heart pulsated in unison with his own.

Hon. J. M. Mason, and many other of Virginia’s distinguished sons were called upon, and delivered patriotic speeches. And finally, Gov. Letcher appeared upon the stage. He was loudly cheered by the very men who, two days before, would gladly have witnessed his execution. The governor spoke very briefly, merely declaring his concurrence in the important step that had been taken, and his honest purpose, under the circumstances, to discharge his whole duty as Executive of the State, in conformity to the will of the people and the provisions of the Constitution.

Before the sine die adjournment, it was suggested that inasmuch as the ordinance had been passed in secret session, and it was desirable that the enemy should not know it before certain preparations could be made to avert sudden injury on the border, etc., that the fact should not be divulged at present.


“All the papers from the North indicate but one feeling in reference to the coming contest.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.


Cold and windy day, fire in the office and as much in the house as on a winters day. Soldiers are now met with at every turn and the drum and bugle are heard almost all the time from some quarter of the City. Went down to the Hotels after dinner (Chas dined with us), the crowd not so great tonight and less excitement. All the papers from the North indicate but one feeling in reference to the coming contest. Men and money to any extent are offered to sustain the government. Came home before 9, City very quiet. Bed at 11.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of  Congress.


Captain J. G. Foster’s Journal of the Bombardment of Fort Sumter;–“The following observations may be made upon the bombardment:”

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

April 17.–Arrived in New York.

The following observations may be made upon the bombardment: The enemy’s fire on the second day, the 13th, was more rapid and more accurate than on the previous day. It seemed to be directed at the embrasures, and to set the quarters on fire. The latter object was fully attained, but not the former, for only two embrasures were struck–one at the right gorge angle by the rifled shot mentioned above, and the other at the left shoulder angle by a shot from the so-called floating battery, which struck the shutter, but without destroying it or entering the throat of the embrasure. The attempt to form a breach at the right gorge angle only succeeded in breaching around one embrasure to the depth of twenty-two inches, and in knocking off a large piece of one cheek, but without disabling the gun or rendering the embrasure inefficient. The barbette tier was not much injured by the second day’s firing, none of the guns being dismounted by it; and few of them struck. The fire, however, destroyed all the gun carriages and splinter-proof shelters on the gorge.

After the cessation of fire, about six hundred shot-marks on the face of the scarp wall were counted, but they were so scattered that no breached effect could have been expected from such fire, and probably none was attempted except at the right gorge angle. The only effect of the direct fire during the two days was to disable three barbette guns, knock off large portions of the chimneys and brick walls projecting above the parapet, and to set the quarters on fire with hot shot. The vertical fire produced more effect, as it prevented the working of the upper tier of guns, which were the only really effective guns in the fort, being columbiads, 8-inch sea-coast howitzers, and 42-pounders principally, and also prevented the use of the columbiads arranged in the parade to be used as mortars against Cummings Point. The shells that struck the stair towers nearly destroyed them, and filled the stairways with so much rubbish as to render them almost impassable. This, with the destruction of the stairs at the gorge by the explosion of the magazine of shells by the fire, made it almost impossible to get to the terre-plein.

The burning of the quarters and barracks produced a great effect on the defense while the fire lasted, inasmuch as the heat and smoke were almost stifling, and as the fire burned all around the magazines, obliging them to be closed, and thus preventing our getting powder to continue the firing. It also destroyed the main gates and the gun carriages on the parapet of the gorge. But we could have resumed the firing as soon as the walls cooled sufficiently to open the magazines, and then, having blown down the wall left projecting above the parapet, so as to get rid of flying bricks, and built up the main gates with stones and rubbish, the fort would actually have been in a more defensible condition than when the action commenced. In fact, it would have been better if the chimneys, roofs, and upper walls of the quarters and barracks had been removed before the firing begun, but the short notice and the small force did not permit anything of this kind to be done after the notice of the attack was received.

The weakness of the defense principally lay in the lack of cartridge bags, and of the materials to make them, by which the fire of our batteries was, all the time, rendered slow, and towards the last was nearly suspended. The lack of a sufficient number of men to man the barbette tier of guns at the risk of losing several by the heavy vertical fire of the enemy also prevented us making use of the only guns that had the power to smash his iron-clad batteries, or of throwing shells into his open batteries, so as to destroy his cannoneers.

The want of provisions would soon have caused the surrender of the fort, but with plenty of cartridges the men would have cheerfully fought five or six days, and if necessary much longer, on pork alone, of which we had a sufficient supply.

I do not think that a breach could have been effected in the gorge at the distance of the battery on Cummings Point, within a week or ten days; and even then, with the small garrison to defend it, and means for obstructing it, at our disposal, the operation of assaulting it, with even vastly superior numbers, would have been very doubtful in its results.

Respectfully submitted.


Captain, Engineers.


A Diary of American Events – April 17, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—The steamship Star of the West was taken near Indianola, Texas, by the Galveston Volunteers, without resistance. She has on board eight to nine hundred barrels of provisions.

The steamer Habana has been purchased by the Southern Confederacy, and will be transformed into a war steamer. She will carry eight guns and one pivot gun.—Times, April 22.

—General Cass made a speech at Detroit, Michigan, on the occasion of the Board of Trade unfurling the national flag over their rooms. He is strongly in favor of supporting the Union, the Constitution, and the country’s flag, under all circumstances. He said that, in a crisis like the present, it was the duty of every citizen to stand by the Government.— Louisville Democrat.

—Piqua, Ohio, to-day raised a company, and tendered its services to the Government.

A large and enthusiastic meeting was held last night at Michigan City, Ind. Democrats and Republicans are a unit for the Constitution and Union. Strong anti-secession resolutions were adopted, denouncing all as traitors whose views are not to sustain the Government. Salutes were fired to the Stars and Stripes, which were displayed in all parts of the city. A volunteer company was immediately organized. The first man who signed the roll is a prominent clergyman.

The first company of volunteers left Lafayette, Ind., for Indianapolis, at 2 o’clock P. M. to-day. They were escorted to the depot by the Lafayette Artillery; and two companies are nearly full, who will follow in a few days. —Buffalo Courier.

—An excited secession meeting was held at Baltimore, Md. T. Parkin Scott occupied the chair, and speeches denunciatory of the Administration and the North were made by Wilson C. N. Carr, Wiliam Burns, president of the National Volunteer Association, and others.—Baltimore Clipper, April 19.

—The main entrance to the harbor of Norfolk, Va., was obstructed by the sinking of small boats by order of Governor Letcher.—Idem.

—Governor Letcher, of Virginia, issued a proclamation, in which the independence of the Confederate States is recognized, and all armed volunteers, regiments, or companies, are commanded to hold themselves in readiness for immediate orders, and to prepare for efficient service.—(Doc. 59.)

—A meeting, composed of all parties, was held at Middletown, Orange county, N. Y. Speeches were made, and great enthusiasm prevailed.—Tribune, April 20.

—The Virginia State Convention passed the “ordinance to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said authorities.”—(Doc. 60.)

—Further precautions were taken at Washington to guard against a sudden raid of the rebels upon the city. The Long Bridge across the Potomac was patrolled by a party of dragoons, and at night a detachment of artillery, with guns posted to sweep the bridge, kept guard on the Washington side. Intense excitement prevailed.—Tribune

—Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation, offering to grant letters of marque and reprisal, to aid the Southern Confederacy “in resisting the wanton and wicked aggressions” of the Federal Government.—(Doc. 61.)


Reports of Brig. Gen. G. T. Beauregard, C.S. Army

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Charleston, S.C., April 17, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit by Col. R. A. Pryor, one of my aides (who like the others was quite indefatigable and fearless in conveying my orders, in an open boat, from these headquarters to the batteries during the bombardment), a general report of the attack of the 12th instant on Fort Sumter. This report would have been sent sooner if my other pressing duties had permitted me to devote my time to it, while the presence of the enemy’s fleet still led us to expect an attack along the coast at any moment. A more detailed account will be sent forward as soon as the returns of the commanders of batteries shall have reached this office. The great difficulty I will labor under will be to do full justice to all when so much zeal, energy, and gallantry were displayed by officers and soldiers in the execution of my orders. I wish, however, to record two incidents, which will illustrate the feelings that animated all here.

Whilst the barracks in Fort Sumter were in a blaze, and the interior of the work appeared untenable from the heat and from the fire of our batteries (at about which period I sent three of my aides to offer assistance in the name of the Confederate States), whenever the guns of Fort Sumter would fire upon Fort Moultrie the men occupying Cummings Point batteries (Palmetto Guard, Captain Cuthbert) at each shot would cheer Anderson for his gallantry, although themselves still firing upon him, and when on the 15th instant he left the harbor on the steamer Isabel the soldiers of the batteries on Cummings Point lined the beach, silent, and with heads uncovered, while Anderson and his command passed before them, and expressions of scorn at the apparent cowardice of the fleet in not even attempting to rescue so gallant an officer and his command were upon the lips of all. With such material for an army, if properly disciplined, I would consider myself almost invincible against any forces not too greatly superior.

The fire of those barracks was only put out on the 15th instant, p.m., after great exertions by the gallant fire companies of this city, who were at their pumps night and day, although aware that close by them was a magazine filled with thirty thousand pounds of powder, with a shot-hole through the wall of its anteroom.

I am now removing the tottering walls of the buildings within, and clearing away all the rubbish, &c., from the interior of the work, so as to render it still more formidable than it was before it was attacked.

In one or two days I will send forward to you photographs taken at different points of sight, from which you can clearly understand the condition of the fort within when first occupied by us.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Hon. L. P. WALKER,

Secretary of War, Montgomery, Ala.


Operations in Florida – Confederate Correspondence

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

PENSACOLA, April 17, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER:

Large steamer with troops joined the fleet last night. Send me instructed officers of Artillery for my batteries.



PENSACOLA, April 17, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER:

Another naval steamer arrived to-day. Col. Harvey Brown and several hundred men landed. Colonel B. informs me he will hold himself on the defensive.



“Here were these Southern gentlemen exulting in their power to control the policy of Great Britain, and it was small consolation to me to assure them they were mistaken;”–William Howard Russell.

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell

(April 16) Early next morning, soon after dawn, I crossed the Cape Fear River, on which Wilmington is situated, by a steam ferry-boat. On the quay lay quantities of shot and shell. “How came these here?” I inquired. “They’re anti-abolition pills,” said my neighbor; “they’ve been waiting here for two months back, but now that Sumter’s taken, I guess they won’t be wanted.” To my mind, the conclusion was by no means legitimate. From the small glance I had of Wilmington, with its fleet of schooners and brigs crowding the broad and rapid river, I should think it was a thriving place. Confederate flags waved over the public buildings, and I was informed that the Forts had been seized without opposition or difficulty. I can see no sign here of the “affection to the Union,” which, according to Mr. Seward, underlies all “secession proclivities.”

As we traversed the flat and uninteresting country, through which the rail passes, Confederate flags and sentiments greeted us everywhere; men and women repeated the national cry; at every station militia men and volunteers were waiting for the train, and the everlasting word “Sumter” ran through all the conversation in the cars.

The Carolinians are capable of turning out a fair force of cavalry. At each stopping-place I observed saddle-horses tethered under the trees, and light driving vehicles, drawn by wiry muscular animals, not remarkable for size, but strong-looking and active. Some farmers in blue jackets, and yellow braid and facings, handed round their swords to be admired by the company. A few blades had flashed in obscure Mexican skirmishes—one, however, had been borne against “the Britishers.” I inquired of a fine, tall, fair-haired young fellow whom they expected to fight. “That’s more than I can tell,” quoth he. “The Yankees ain’t such cussed fools as to think they can come here and whip us, let alone the British.” “Why, what have the British got to do with it?” “They are bound to take our part: if they don’t, we’ll just give them a hint about cotton, and that will set matters right.” This was said very much with the air of a man who knows what he is talking about, and who was quite satisfied “he had you there.” I found it was still displeasing to most people, particularly one or two of the fair sex, that more Yankees were not killed at Sumter. All the people who addressed me prefixed my name, which they soon found out, by “Major” or “Colonel”—”Captain” is very low, almost indicative of contempt. The conductor who took our tickets was called “Captain.”

At the Peedee river the rail is carried over marsh and stream on trestle work for two miles. “This is the kind of country we’ll catch the Yankees in, if they come to invade us. They’ll have some pretty tall swimming, and get knocked on the head, if ever they gets to land. I wish there was ten thousand of the cusses in it this minute.” At Nichol’s station on the frontiers of South Carolina, our baggage was regularly examined at the Custom House, but I did not see any one pay duties. As the train approached the level and marshy land near Charleston, the square block of Fort Sumter was seen rising above the water with the “stars and bars” flying over it, and the spectacle created great enthusiasm among the passengers. The smoke was still rising from an angle of the walls. Outside the village-like suburbs of the city a regiment was marching for old Virginny amid the cheers of the people—cavalry were picketed in the fields and gardens —tents and men were visible in the byways.

It was nearly dark when we reached the station. I was recommended to go to the Mills House, and on arriving there found Mr. Ward, whom I had already met in New York and Washington, and who gave me an account of the bombardment and surrender of the fort. The hotel was full of notabilities. I was introduced to ex-Governor Manning, Senator Chesnut, Hon. Porcher Miles, on the staff of General Beauregard, and to Colonel Lucas, aide-de-camp to Governor Pickens. I was taken after dinner and introduced to General Beauregard, who was engaged, late as it was, in his room at the Head Quarters writing despatches. The General is a small, compact man, about thirty-six years of age, with a quick, and intelligent eye and action, and a good deal of the Frenchman in his manner and look. He received me in the most cordial manner, and introduced me to his engineer officer, Major Whiting, whom he assigned to lead me over the works next day.

After some general conversation I took my leave; but before I went, the General said, “You shall go everywhere and see everything; we rely on your discretion, and knowledge of what is fair in dealing with what you see. Of course you don’t expect to find regular soldiers in our camps or very scientific works.” I answered the General, that he might rely on my making no improper use of what I saw in this country, but, “unless you tell me to the contrary, I shall write an account of all I see to the other side of the water, and if, when it comes back, there are things you would rather not have known, you must not blame me.” He smiled, and said, “I dare say we’ll have great changes by that time.”

That night I sat in the Charleston club with John Manning. Who that has ever met him can be indifferent to the charms of manner and of personal appearance, which render the ex-Governor of the State so attractive? There were others present, senators or congressmen, like Mr. Chesnut, and Mr. Porcher Miles. We talked long, and at last angrily, as might be between friends, of political affairs.

I own it was a little irritating to me to hear men indulge in extravagant broad menace and rhodomontade, such as came from their lips. “They would welcome the world in arms with hospitable hands to bloody graves.” “They never could be conquered.” “Creation could not do it,” and so on. I was obliged to handle the question quietly at first—to ask them “if they admitted the French were a brave and warlike people!” “Yes, certainly.” “Do you think you could better defend yourselves against invasion than the people of France?” “Well, no; but we’d make it a pretty hard business for the Yankees.” “Suppose the Yankees, as you call them, come with such preponderance of men and materiel, that they are three to your one, will you not be forced to submit?” “Never.” “Then either you are braver, better disciplined, more warlike than the people and soldiers of France, or you alone, of all the nations in the world, possess the means of resisting physical laws which prevail in war, as in other affairs of life.” “No. The Yankees are cowardly rascals. We have proved it by kicking and cuffing them till we are tired of it; besides, we know John Bull very well. He will make a great fuss about non-interference at first, but when he begins to want cotton he’ll come off his perch.” I found this was the fixed idea everywhere. The doctrine of “cotton is king,”—to us who have not much considered the question a grievous delusion or an unmeaning babble—to them is a lively all-powerful faith without distracting heresies or schisms. They have in it enunciated their full belief, and indeed there is some truth in it, in so far as we year after year by the stimulants of coal, capital, and machinery have been working up a manufacture on which four or five millions of our population depend for bread and life, which cannot be carried on without the assistance of a nation, that may at any time refuse us an adequate supply, or be cut off from giving it by war.

Political economy, we are well aware, is a fine science, but its followers are capable of tremendous absurdities in practice. The dependence of such a large proportion of the English people on this sole article of American cotton is fraught with the utmost danger to our honor and to our prosperity. Here were these Southern gentlemen exulting in their power to control the policy of Great Britain, and it was small consolation to me to assure them they were mistaken; in case we did not act as they anticipated, it could not be denied Great Britain would plunge an immense proportion of her people—a nation of manufacturers— into pauperism, which must leave them dependent on the national funds, or more properly on the property and accumulated capital of the district.

About 8-30 p.m. a deep bell began to toll. “What is that?” “It’s for all the colored people to clear out of the streets and go home The guards will arrest any who are found out without passes in half an hour.” There was much noise in the streets, drums beating, men cheering, and marching, and the hotel is crammed full with soldiers.


“This announcement was received with the wildest shouts of joy. Young men threw up their hats, and old men buttoned their coats and clapped their hands most vigorously.”—A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary.

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

April 16th.—This day the Spontaneous People’s Convention met and organized in Metropolitan Hall. The door-keeper stood with a drawn sword in his hand. But the scene was orderly. The assembly was full, nearly every county being represented, and the members were the representatives of the most ancient and respectable families in the State.

David Chalmers, of Halifax County, I believe, was the President, and Willoughby Newton, a life-long Whig, among the Vice-Presidents. P. H. Aylett, a grandson of Patrick Henry, was the first speaker. And his eloquence indicated that the spirit of his ancestor survived in him. But he was for moderation and delay, still hoping that the other Convention would yield to the pressure of public sentiment, and place the State in the attitude now manifestly desired by an overwhelming majority of the people. He was answered by the gallant Capt. Wise, who thrilled every breast with his intrepid bearing and electric bursts of oratory. He advocated action, without reference to the other Convention, as the best means of bringing the Unionists to their senses. And the so-called Demosthenean Seddon, and G. W. Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson), Lieut.-Gov. Montague, James Lyons, Judge Robertson, etc., were there. Never, never did I hear more exalted and effective bursts of oratory. And it was apparent that messages were constantly received from the other Convention. What they were, I did not learn at the moment; but it was evident that the Unionists were shaking in their shoes, and they certainly begged one — just one — day’s delay, which was accorded them. The People’s Convention agreed to adjourn till 10 o’clock A.M. the next day. But before we separated a commotion was observed on the stage, and the next moment a Mr. P., from Gov. Wise’s old district, rushed forward and announced that he had just arrived from Norfolk, where, under instructions, and with the acquiescence of Gov. Letcher, he had succeeded in blocking the channel of the river; and this would either secure to us, or render useless to the United States, certain ships of the navy, stores, armament, etc., of the value of millions of dollars. This announcement was received with the wildest shouts of joy. Young men threw up their hats, and old men buttoned their coats and clapped their hands most vigorously. It was next hinted by some one who seemed to know something of the matter, that before another day elapsed, Harper’s Ferry would fall into the hands of the secessionists.

At night the enthusiasm increases in intensity, and no further opposition is to be apprehended from the influence of Tim Rives, Baldwin, Clemens, etc. etc. It was quite apparent, indeed, that if an ordinance of secession were passed by the new Convention, its validity would be recognized and acted upon by the majority of the people. But this would be a complication of the civil war, now the decree of fate.

Perhaps the occurrence which has attracted most attention is the raising of the Southern flag on the capitol. It was hailed with the most deafening shouts of applause. But at a quiet hour of the night, the governor had it taken down, for the Convention had not yet passed the ordinance of secession. Yet the stars and stripes did not float in its stead; it was replaced by the flag of Virginia.


“There are now about three thousand men under arms in the City, all in the service of the U.S.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 1861.

Another rainy day, a continuation of the Easterly Storm. The public buildings are all strongly guarded, from 150 to 300 men being quartered in each. There are now about three thousand men under arms in the City, all in the service of the U.S. Some thousands more from the North will be here this week The excitement at the Hotels is not quite so great tonight. I was at the “National” and “Willards.” NY papers scarce, could get only the Tribune. Came home about 9, read till 11. Cold wet evening. Everything looks gloomy.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of  Congress.


Operations In Charleston Harbor

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Charleston, April 16, 1861.

SIR: From the returns received from the various posts I have the unexampled and happy privilege of stating that no serious casualty has occurred during the vigorous action of thirty-three hours in reducing Fort Sumter. Four trifling contusions are reported at Fort Moultrie, but none at other posts, and it is a subject of equal gratification that even in the management of heavy ordnance by new recruits and unpracticed volunteers no accident to life or limb has occurred.

Immediately upon the flag of Fort Sumter being struck I proceeded to that fortress to tender my assistance and hospital at Mount Pleasant to Major Anderson, and received from him the pleasing intelligence that only four cases of slight injuries had resulted to his men. On Sunday a sad casualty occurred in saluting his flag, when the explosion of some loose cartridges beneath a gun struck down seven men. One was instantly killed, and another so seriously wounded that he died soon after reaching my hospital in Charleston; one remaining in the hospital, doing well under the care of Prof. G. G. Chisolm, of the medical college of the State, and four were removed with the garrison. The precipitation suddenly of several regiments upon me during the past few days, totally without any preparation of their surgeons, has required a large supply of medicines, instruments, hospital stores, &c., but I am happy to say they have received promptly all their requisitions.



Surgeon-General South Carolina Army.

Adjutant-General JONES.


Operations in Florida

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

FLA., April 16, 1861.

Department of the East:

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 14th instant it was reported to me that a small boat had landed at the wharf with a flag of truce, and that the bearer solicited an interview with the commanding officer of the post. I requested Lieutenant Slemmer, of the First Artillery, to accompany me, and repaired to the wharf. On my arrival the gentleman bearing the flag informed me that he was the bearer of a message from General Bragg, and that he was his adjutant-general. He then inquired whether I was the commanding officer of the fort. I replied that I was. He then stated that he was directed by General Bragg to inquire why the armistice in respect to re-enforcing Fort Pickens had been violated by throwing re-enforcements into it. I replied that I had never been a party to any armistice; that I had been sent by the General Government to take command of the post, and had entered under the orders of the General Government. He then addressed himself to Lieutenant Slemmer, and stated that he was directed to inquire of the former commanding officer why the armistice had been violated, to which Lieutenant Slemmer replied that he always obeyed the orders of his superiors. This ended our official interview. After exchanging the usual civilities customary among gentlemen previously acquainted, we parted, and Colonel Wood left the post. I would mention that Lieutenant Ingraham, formerly of the Marine Corps, was present during the interview as a witness on the part of Colonel Wood, and that Lieutenant Slemmer, at my request, performed the same duty on my part.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, First Artillery, Commanding Fort Pickens.


Reports of Brig. Gen. G. T. Beauregard, C.S. Army

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Charleston, S.C., April 16, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following summary statement of the circumstances of the surrender of Fort Sumter: —

On the refusal of Major Anderson to engage, in compliance with my demand, to designate the time when he would evacuate Fort Sumter, and to agree meanwhile not to use his guns against us, at 3.20 o’clock in the morning of the 12th instant I gave him formal notice that within one hour my batteries would open on him. In consequence of some circumstance of delay the bombardment was not begun precisely at the appointed moment, but at 4.30 o’clock the signal gun was fired, and within twenty minutes all our batteries were in full play. There was no response from Fort Sumter until about 7 o’clock, when the first shot from the enemy was discharged against our batteries on Cummings Point.

By 8 o’clock the action became general, and throughout the day was maintained with spirit on both sides our guns were served with skill and energy.  The effect was visible in the impressions made on the walls of Fort Sumter. From our mortar batteries shells were thrown with such precision and rapidity that it soon became impossible for the enemy to employ his guns en barbette, of which several were dismounted. The engagement was continued without any circumstance of special note until nightfall, before which time the fire from Sumter had evidently slackened. Operations on our side were sustained throughout the night, provoking, however, only a feeble response.

On the morning of the 13th the action was prosecuted with renewed vigor, and about 7½ o’clock it was discovered our shells had set fire to the barracks in the fort. Speedily volumes of smoke indicated an extensive conflagration, and apprehending some terrible calamity to the garrison I immediately dispatched an offer of assistance to Major Anderson, which, however, with grateful acknowledgments, he declined. Meanwhile, being informed about 2 o’clock that a white flag was displayed from Sumter I dispatched two of my aides to Major Anderson with terms of evacuation. In recognition of the gallantry exhibited by the garrison I cheerfully agreed that on surrendering the fort the commanding officer might salute his flag.

By 8 o’clock the terms of evacuation were definitely accepted. Major Anderson having expressed a desire to communicate with the United States vessels lying off the harbor, with a view to arrange for the transportation of his command to some port in the United States, one of his officers, accompanied by Captain Hartstene and three of my aides, was permitted to visit the officer in command of the squadron to make provision for that object. Because of an unavoidable delay the formal transfer of the fort to our possession did not take place until 4 o’clock in the afternoon of the 14th instant. At that hour, the place having been evacuated by the United States garrison, our troops occupied it, and the Confederate flag was hoisted on the ramparts of Sumter with a salute from the various batteries.

The steamer Isabel having been placed at the service of Major Anderson, he and his command were transferred to the United States vessels off the harbor.

The urgency of immediate engagements prevents me from giving at present a more circumstantial narrative of the incidents connected with the capture of Fort Sumter. When the reports from the various commanders of batteries are received I will hasten to forward you a more detailed account.

In conclusion, I am happy to state that the troops, both officers and soldiers, of the Regulars, Volunteers, Militia, and Navy, by their energy, zeal, perseverance, labor, and endurance before the attack, and by their courage and gallantry during its continuance, exhibited all the characteristics of the best troops; and to my staff, Regular and Volunteer, I am much indebted for the prompt and complete execution of my orders, which had to be communicated in open boats during the bombardment to the different batteries then engaged.

I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Hon. L. P. WALKER,

Secretary of War, Montgomery, Ala.


Measured for a Uniform Suit–Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry)

favillTuesday, April 16th. To-morrow we are to meet at the armory, fall in, and march in a body to Develin’s clothing store, lower Broadway, there to be measured, each and all of us, for a uniform suit, to consist of dark blue jacket and sky-blue trousers. The jacket will have light blue shoulder-straps and cuffs, and will be made as quickly as possible, and forwarded to us wherever we may be. It is a thousand pities we cannot have them by Sunday, there will be such an enormous crowd to see us off, and in our every-day rig we shall look anything but soldierly.


Statement of POW Worden – Confederate Correspondence

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies


April 16, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery:

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following statement in relation to my recent visit to Pensacola to your attention:

I left Washington City on the morning of April 7, with a communication from the Secretary of the Navy to Captain Adams, of the United States ship Sabine, and was informed by the Secretary that I would have no difficulty in making the communication to Captain Adams under the existing agreement. I arrived at Pensacola on the morning of the 11th instant, announced myself to Mr. LeBaron as an officer of the U. S. Navy, who sent an officer with me to General Bragg. I informed General Bragg that I had come from Washington, and desired to communicate with Captain Adams, of the Sabine. He wrote me a pass authorizing me to go to the Sabine, and upon handing it to me he asked if I had dispatches for Captain Adams. I replied that I had not written ones, but that I had a verbal communication to make to him from the Navy Department. I then asked him if I would be permitted to land on my return towards Washington. He replied that I would, provided Captain Adams or myself did nothing in violation of the agreement existing between them. I remarked that I knew nothing of the agreement he mentioned. I then left General Bragg and went to the navy-yard, from whence I embarked for the Wyandotte about 4 o’clock p.m. On reaching her I was informed by her commander that he could not carry me out to the Sabine that night, in consequence of the strong wind and rough sea on the bar.

During that evening Lieutenant Slemmer, of Fort Pickens, came on board, and I had a few moments’ social conversation with him. I had no dispatches for him whatever, and I gave him no information as to the nature of the communication which I had to make to Captain Adams. Of course he knew, as did every officer on board, that I came from the Navy Department to communicate with Captain Adams. On the next morning, the 12th instant, while waiting for the sea to subside on the bar, so that the Wyandotte could go out, one of the officers suggested that we should go on shore and take a look at Fort Pickens, to which I assented. We accordingly, about 9 o’clock a.m., landed there, and walked about the ramparts for half an hour, and then returned on board. During my visit to the fort I did not see Lieutenant Slemmer, as he was asleep and I did not desire to disturb him, as I had no object in seeing him, except to pay him the proper visit of courtesy on going within the limits of his command.

At about 10.30 or 11 o’clock a.m. the Wyandotte went out of the harbor and put me on board the Sabine, somewhere near 12 o’clock. I made my communication to Captain Adams, and stated to him what General Bragg had said in relation to the agreement between them. He, nevertheless, gave me a written order to return to Washington as “special messenger,” which order you have. Of course I proceeded to obey the order, and was landed by the Wyandotte at Pensacola about 5 o’clock p.m. I was told by Captain Adams that it was not necessary for me to see General Bragg on my return, and therefore I did not stop at his quarters.

I make this statement, ready with the solemnity of an oath to be confirmed. It is made, not with regard to personal safety, or of any consequences that might result to me personally, but purely in defense of my honor as an officer and a gentleman. Several officers in the Confederate service–among them I will mention Capt. D. N. Ingraham and Surg. W. F. Carrington–I think I can appeal to with confidence.

I respectfully submit this statement to the consideration of the honorable Secretary of War.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.


Train trip through the “Dismal Swamp.”–William Howard Russell

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell
Note: This particular diary entry—a document written in 1861—includes terms that are offensive to many today.  No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material to today’s standards.

Monday, April 15.—Up at dawn. Crossed by ferry to Portsmouth, and arrived at railway station, which was at no place in particular, in a street down which the rails were laid. Mr. Robinson, the superintendent, gave me permission to take a seat in the engine car, to which I mounted accordingly, was duly introduced to, and shook hands with the engineer and the stoker, and took my seat next the boiler. Can any solid reason be given why we should not have those engine sheds or cars in England? They consist of a light frame placed on the connection of the engine with the tender, and projecting so as to include the end of the boiler and the stoke-hole. They protect the engineer from rain, storm, sun, or dust. Windows at each side afford a clear view in all directions, and the engineer can step out on the engine itself by the doors on the front part of the shed. There is just room for four persons to sit uncomfortably, the persons next the boiler being continually in dread of roasting their legs at the furnace, and those next the tender being in danger of getting logs of wood from it shaken down on their feet. Nevertheless I rarely enjoyed anything more than that trip. It is true one’s enjoyment was marred by want of breakfast, for I could not manage the cake of dough and the cup of bitter, sour, greasy nastiness, called coffee, which were presented to me in lieu of that meal this morning.

But the novelty of the scene through which I passed atoned for the small privation. I do not speak of the ragged streets and lines of sheds through which the train passed, with the great bell of the engine tolling as if it were threatening death to the early pigs, cocks, hens, and negroes and dogs which walked between the rails — the latter, by-the-bye, were always the first to leave—the negroes generally divided with the pigs the honour of making the nearest stand to the train—nor do I speak of the miserable suburbs of wooden shanties, nor of the expanse of inundated lands outside the town. Passing all these, we settled down at last to our work: the stoker fired up, the engine rattled along over the rugged lane between the trees which now began to sweep around us from the horizon, where they rose like the bank of a river or the shores of a sea, and presently we plunged into the gloom of the primaeval forest, struggling as it were, with the last wave of the deluge.

The railroad, leaving the land, boldly leaped into the air, and was carried on frailest cobweb-seeming tracery of wood far above black waters, from which rose a thick growth and upshooting of black stems of dead trees, mingled with the trunks and branches of others still living, throwing out a most luxuriant vegetation. The trestle-work over which the train was borne, judged by the eye, was of the slightest possible construction. Sometimes one series of trestles was placed above another, so that the cars ran on a level with the tops of the trees ; and, looking down, we could see before the train passed the inky surface of the waters, broken into rings and agitated, round the beams of wood. The trees were draped with long creepers and shrouds of Spanish moss, which fell from branch to branch, smothering the leaves in their clammy embrace, or waving in pendulous folds in the air. Cypress, live oak, the dogwood, and pine struggled for life with the water, and about their stems floated balks of timber, waifs and strays carried from the rafts by flood or the forgotten spoils of the lumberer. On these lay tortoises, turtles, and enormous frogs, which lifted their heads with a lazy curiosity when the train rushed by, or flopped into the water as if the sight and noise were too much for their nerves. Once a dark body of greater size plashed into the current which marked the course of a river. “There’s many allygaitors come up here at times” said the engineer, in reply to my question; “but I don’t take much account of them.”

When the trestle-work ceased, the line was continued through the same description of scenery, generally in the midst of water, on high embankments which were continually cut by black rapid streams, crossed by bridges on trestles of great span. The strange tract we are passing through is the “Dismal Swamp,” a name which must have but imperfectly expressed its horrors before the railway had traversed its outskirts, and the canal, which is constructed in its midst, left traces of the presence of man in that remnant of the world’s exit from the flood. In the centre of this vast desolation there is a large loch, called ” Lake Drummond,” in the jungle and brakes around which the runaway slaves of the plantations long harbored, and once or twice assembled bands of depredators, which were hunted down, broken up, and destroyed like wild beasts.

Mr. Robinson, a young man some twenty-seven years of age, was an excellent representative of the young American — full of intelligence, well-read, a little romantic in spite of his practical habits and dealing with matters of fact, much attached to the literature, if not to the people, of the old country; and so far satisfied that English engineers knew something of their business, as to be anxious to show that American engineers were not behind them. He asked me about Washington politics with as much interest as if he had never read a newspaper. I made a remark to that effect. “Oh, sir, we can’t believe,” exclaimed he, “a word we read in our papers. They tell a story one day, to contradict it the next. We never know when to trust them, and that’s one reason, I believe, you find us all so anxious to ask questions and get information from gentlemen we meet travelling.” Of the future he spoke with apprehension, “but,” said he,”I am here representing the interests of a large number of Northern shareholders, and I will do my best for them. If it comes to blows after this, they will lose all, and I must stand by my own friends down South, though I don’t belong to it.”

So we rattle on, till the scene, at first so attractive, becomes dreary and monotonous, and I tire of looking out for larger turtles or more alligators. The silence of these woods is oppressive. There is no sign of life where the train passes through the water, except among the amphibious creatures. After a time, however, when we draw out of the swamp and get into a dry patch, wild, ragged-looking cattle may be seen staring at us through the trees, or tearing across the rail, and herds of porkers, nearly in the wild-boar stage, scuttle over the open. Then the engineer opens the valve; the sonorous roar of the engine echoes through the woods, and now and then there is a little excitement caused by a race between a pig and the engine, and piggy is occasionally whipped off his legs by the cow-lifter, and hoisted volatile into the ditch at one side. When a herd of cattle, however, get on the line and show fight, the matter is serious. The steam horn is sounded, the bell rung, and steam is eased off, and every means used to escape collision; for the railway company is obliged to pay the owner for whatever animals the trains kill, and a cow’s body on one of these poor rails is an impediment sufficient to throw the engine off, and “send us to immortal smash.”

It was long before we saw any workmen or guards on the line; but at one place I got out to look at a shanty of one of the road watchmen. It was a building of logs, some 20ft. long by 12ft. broad, made in the rudest manner, with an earthen roof, and mud stuffed and plastered between the logs to keep out the rain. Although the day was exceedingly hot, there were two logs blazing on the hearth, over which was suspended a pot of potatoes. The air inside was stifling, and the black beams of the roof glistened with a clammy sweat from smoke and unwholesome vapors. There was not an article of furniture, except a big deal chest and a small stool, in the place; a mug and a tea cup stood on a rude shelf nailed to the wall. The owner of this establishment, a stout negro, was busily engaged with others in “wooding up” the engine from the pile of cut timber by the roadside. The necessity of stopping caused by the rapid consumption is one of the désagrémens of wood fuel. The wood is cut down and stacked on platforms, at certain intervals along the line; and the quantity used is checked off against the company at the rate of so much per chord. The negro was one of many slaves let out to the company. White men would not do the work, or were too expensive; but the overseers and gangsmen were whites. “How can they bear that fire in the hut?” “Well. If you went into it in the very hottest day in summer, you would find the niggers sitting close up to blazing pine logs, and they sleep at night, or by day when they’ve fed to the full, in the same way.” My friend, nevertheless, did not seem to understand that any country could get on without negro laborers.

By degrees we got beyond the swamps, and came upon patches of cleared land—that is, the forest had been cut down, and the only traces left of it were the stumps, some four or five feet high, “snagging” up above the ground; or the trees had been girdled round, so as to kill them, and the black trunks and stiff arms gave an air of meagre melancholy and desertion to the place, which was quite opposite to their real condition. Here it was that the normal forest and swamp had been subjugated by man. Presently we came in sight of a flag fluttering from a lofty pine, which had been stripped of its branches, throwing broad bars of red and white to the air, with a blue square in the upper quarter containing seven stars. “That’s our flag,”—said the engineer, who was a quiet man, much given to turning steam cocks, examining gauges, wiping his hands in fluffy impromptu handkerchiefs, and smoking tobacco—”That’s our flag! And long may it wave,—o’er the land of the free and the home of the ber-rave!” As we passed, a small crowd of men, women, and children, of all colors, in front of a group of poor broken-down shanties or log huts, cheered—to speak more correctly—whooped and yelled vehemently. The cry was returned by the passengers in the train. “We’re all the right sort hereabouts,” said the engineer. “Hurrah for Jeff Davis!” The right sort were not particularly flourishing in outward aspect, at all events. The women, pale-faced, were tawdry and ragged; the men, yellow, seedy looking. For the first time in the States, I noticed bare-footed people.

Now began another phase of scenery—an interminable pine forest, far as the eye could reach, shutting out the light on each side by a wooden wall. From this forest came the strongest odor of turpentine; presently black streaks of smoke floated out of the wood, and here and there we passed cleared spaces, where in rude-looking furnaces and factories people more squalid and miserable looking than before were preparing pitch, tar, turpentine, resin, and other naval stores, for which this part of North Carolina is famous. The stems of the trees around are marked by white scars, where the tappings for the turpentine take place, and many dead trunks testified how the process ended.

Again, over another log village, a Confederate flag floated in the air; and the people ran out, negroes and all, and cheered as before. The new flag is not so glaring and gaudy as the Stars and Stripes; but, at a distance, when the folds hang together, there is a considerable resemblance in the general effect of the two. If ever there is a real sentiment du drapeau got up in the South, it will be difficult indeed for the North to restore the Union. These pieces of colored bunting seem to twine themselves through heart and brain.

The stations along the roadside now gradually grew in proportion, and instead of a small sentry-box beside a wood pile, there were three or four wooden houses, a platform, a booking office, an “exchange” or drinking room, and general stores, like the shops of assorted articles in an Irish town. Around these still grew the eternal forest, or patches of cleared land dotted with black stumps. These stations have very grand names, and the stores are dignified by high-sounding titles; nor are “billiard saloons” and “restaurants” wanting. We generally found a group of people waiting at each; and it really was most astonishing to see well-dressed, respectable-looking men and women emerge out of the “dismal swamp,” and out of the depths of the forest, with silk parasols and crinoline, bandboxes and portmanteaux, in the most civilized style. There were always some negroes, male and female, in attendance on the voyagers, handling the baggage or the babies, and looking comfortable enough, but not happy. The only evidence of the good spirits and happiness of these people which I saw was on the part of a number of men who were going off from a plantation for the fishing on the coast. They and their wives and sisters, arrayed in their best—which means their brightest, colors—were grinning from ear to ear as they bade good-bye. The negro likes the mild excitement of sea fishing, and in pursuit of it he feels for the moment free.

At Goldsborough, which is the first place of importance on the line, the wave of the secession tide struck us in full career. The station, the hotels, the street through which the rail ran was filled with an excited mob, all carrying arms, with signs here and there of a desire to get up some kind of uniform—flushed faces, wild eyes, screaming mouths, hurrahing for “Jeff Davisand “the Southern Confederacy,” so that the yells overpowered the discordant bands which were busy with “Dixie’s Land.” Here was the true revolutionary furor in full sway. The men hectored, swore, cheered, and slapped each other on the backs; the women, in their best, waved handkerchiefs and flung down garlands from the windows. All was noise, dust, and patriotism.

It was a strange sight and a wonderful event at which we were assisting. These men were a levy of the people of North Carolina called out by the Governor of the State for the purpose of seizing upon forts Caswell and Macon, belonging to the Federal Government, and left unprotected and undefended. The enthusiasm of the “citizens” was unbounded, nor was it quite free from a taint of alcohol. Many of the Volunteers had flint firelocks, only a few had rifles. All kinds of head-dress were visible, and caps, belts and pouches of infinite variety. A man in a large wideawake, with a cock’s feather in it, a blue frockcoat, with a red sash and a pair of cotton trousers thrust into his boots, came out of Griswold’s hotel with a sword under his arm, and an article, which might have been a napkin of long service, in one hand. He waved the article enthusiastically, swaying to and fro on his legs, and ejaculating “H’ra for Jeff Dav’s— H’ra for S’thern E’r’rights !” and tottered over to the carriage through the crowd amid the violent vibration of all the ladies’ handkerchiefs in the balcony. Just as he got into the train, a man in uniform dashed after him, and caught him by the elbow, exclaiming, “Them’s not the cars, General! The cars this way, General!” The military dignitary, however, felt that if he permitted such liberties in the hour of victory he was degraded for ever, so, screwing up his lips and looking grave and grand, he proceeded as follows:

“Sergeant, you go be —. I say these are my cars! They’re all my cars ! I’ll send them where I please—to if I like, sir. They shall go where I please—to New York, sir, or New Orleans, sir! And— sir, I’ll arrest you.” This famous idea distracted the General’s attention from his project of entering the train, and muttering, “I’ll arrest you,” he tacked backwards and forwards to the hotel again.

As the train started on its journey, there was renewed yelling, which split the ear—a savage cry many notes higher than the most ringing cheer. At the wayside inn, where we dined—piece de resistance being pig— the attendants, comely, well-dressed, clean negresses were slaves — “worth a thousand dollars each.” I am not favorably impressed by either the food or the mode of living, or the manners of the company. One man made very coarse jokes about “Abe Lincoln” and “negro wenches,” which nothing but extreme party passion and bad taste could tolerate. Several of the passengers had been clerks in Government offices at Washington, and had been dismissed because they would not take the oath of allegiance. They were hurrying off full of zeal and patriotism to tender their services to the Montgomery Government.

*            *            *             *            *             *             *             *

I had been the object of many attentions and civilities from gentlemen in the train during my journey. One of them, who told me he was a municipal dignitary of Weldon, having exhausted all the inducements that he could think of to induce me to spend some time there, at last, in desperation, said he would be happy to show me “the antiquities of the place.” Weldon is a recent uprising in wood and log houses from the swamps, and it would puzzle the archaeologists of the world to find anything antique about it.

At nightfall the train stopped at Wilmington, and I was shot out on a platform under a shed, to do the best I could. In a long, lofty, and comfortless room, like a barn, which abutted on the platform, there was a table covered with a dirty cloth, on which lay little dishes of pickles, fish, meat, and potatoes, at which were seated some of our fellow-passengers. The equality of all men is painfully illustrated when your neighbor at table eats with his knife, dips the end of it into the salt, and disregards the object and end of napkins. But it is carried to a more disagreeable extent when it is held to mean that any man who comes to an inn has a right to share your bed. I asked for a room, but I was told that there were so many people moving about just now that it was not possible to give me one to myself; but at last I made a bargain for exclusive possession. When the next train came in, however, the woman very coolly inquired whether I had any objection to allow a passenger to divide my bed, and seemed very much displeased at my refusal; and I perceived three big-bearded men snoring asleep in one bed in the next room to me as I passed through the passage to the dining-room.

The ‘artist’ Moses, who had gone with my letter to the post, returned, after a long absence, pale and agitated. He said he had been pounced upon by the Vigilance Committee, who were rather drunk, and very inquisitive. They were haunting the precincts of the Post-office and the railway station, to detect Lincolnites and Abolitionists, and were obliged to keep themselves wide awake by frequent visits to the adjacent bars, and he had with difficulty dissuaded them from paying me a visit. They cross-examined him respecting my opinion of secession, and desired to have an audience with me in order to give me any information which might be required. I cannot say what reply was given to their questioning; but I certainly refused to have any interview with the Vigilance Committee of Wilmington, and was glad they did not disturb me. Rest, however, there was little or none. I might have as well slept on the platform of the railway station outside. Trains coming in and going out shook the room and the bed on which 1 lay, and engines snortcd, puffed, roared, whistled, and rang bells close to my keyhole.


“I learned from the Northern exchange papers, which still came to hand, that my office in Philadelphia, “The Southern Monitor,” had been sacked by the mob. It was said ten thousand had visited my office, displaying a rope with which to hang me.”—A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

April 15th.—Great demonstrations made throughout the day, and hundreds of secession flags are flying in all parts of the city. At night, while sitting with Captain O. Jennings Wise in the editorial room of the Enquirer, I learned from the Northern exchange papers, which still came to hand, that my office in Philadelphia, “The Southern Monitor,” had been sacked by the mob. It was said ten thousand had visited my office, displaying a rope with which to hang me. Finding their victim had escaped, they vented their fury in sacking the place. I have not ascertained the extent of the injury done; but if they injured the building, it belonged to H. B., a rich Republican. They tore down the signs (it was a corner house east of the Exchange), and split them up, putting the splinters in their hats, and wearing them as trophies. They next visited the mansion of Gen. P., who had made his fortune dealing in cotton, and had been a bold Northern champion of Southern rights. But the general flinched on this trying occasion. He displayed the stars and stripes, and pledged “the boys” to lead them in battle against the secessionists.

During the evening, a procession with banners and torch-lights came up the street and paused before the Enquirer office. They called for Captain Wise, and I accompanied him to the iron balcony, where he made them a soul-stirring speech. At its conclusion, he seized me by the arm and introduced me to the crowd. He informed them of the recent proceedings in Philadelphia, etc., and then ceased speaking, leaving me to tell my own story to the listening multitude. That was not my fault; I had never attempted to make a public speech in my life; and I felt that I was in a predicament. Wise knew it, and enjoyed my embarrassment. I contrived, however, to say to the people that the time for speaking had gone by, and there was no time left for listening. They proceeded up the street, growing like a snow-ball as they rolled onward. At every corner there were cheers uttered for Davis, and groans for Lincoln.

Upon returning to my boarding-house (the hotel being found too expensive), kept by Mrs. Samuels, and her sister, Miss Long, I found the ladies making secession flags. Indeed, the ladies everywhere seem imbued with the spirit of patriotism, and never fail to exert their influence in behalf of Southern independence.

To-day the secession fires assumed a whiter heat. In the Convention the Union men no longer utter denunciations against the disunionists. They merely resort to pretexts and quibbles to stave off the inevitable ordinance. They had sent a deputation to Washington to make a final appeal to Seward and Lincoln to vouchsafe them such guarantees as would enable them to keep Virginia to her moorings. But in vain. They could not obtain even a promise of concession. And now the Union members as they walk the streets, and even Gov. Letcher himself, hear the indignant mutterings of the impassioned storm which threatens every hour to sweep them from existence. Business is generally suspended, and men run together in great crowds to listen to the news from the North, where it is said many outrages are committed on Southern men and those who sympathize with them. Many arrests are made, and the victims thrown into Fort Lafayette. These crowds are addressed by the most inflamed members of the Convention, and never did I hear more hearty responses from the people.


Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry)

(April 15, 1861)

I have actually joined the army and am going to the war as a high private in Company C of the Seventy-first New York Regiment, commanded by Captain Coles. The regiment has been accepted for three months’ service by the general government, and is to start for the front on Sunday next, April 21, 1861.

It was not so easy to join this regiment, as the armory was crowded with men, mostly fine young fellows, all crazy to be enrolled. Finding myself getting left, I went up to the Captain, who sat near by, and asked him if he would not make a point to squeeze me in. I told him I was very anxious to go, and gave him an account of my acquirements in the military line, which I urged might be of service to him. After some questions and agreeable chatting, he directed the clerk to take down my name, saying some one would be certain to back out at the last moment, and there would be room enough for all who really wanted to go.

I left the armory rejoiced to find myself a real soldier, and could hardly realize that in less than a week’s time I should be leaving home and marching to the front. I have always dreamed of a soldier’s life as an ideal one, and have been enthusiastic on all things military since I was old enough to read. Charles O’Malley, Tom Burke of Ours, and the Three Musketeers are mainly responsible for it, I think, but however that may be, I have learned to drill, to fence, to ride, and to shoot, and devour every kind of military history that comes in my way. During the Crimean War I was absorbed in the details of the siege of Sebastopol, and sought everywhere for anything published relating to it. I followed the British troops at the Alma Balaclava and Inkerman with breathless excitement, and at the storming of the great redan became satisfied that a soldier’s career was the only honorable and satisfactory one to follow. But alas, in our own country there were no wars, nor any likelihood of there being any, and the situation seemed hopeless from every point of view, but now most unexpectedly the opportunity presents itself, and I have done what I could to enter the service promptly. True, it is not much to be a private soldier, and I have always looked at war through the commissioned ranks, but in this particular case it will not make so much difference, as men in all conditions of life, rich men, scholars, professional men, and young fellows from college and school are all anxious to go as privates, so I shall trust to luck to gain promotion by attention to duty and by my knowledge of military affairs.

The Seventy-first is a swell city regiment, called the American Guard, none but native Americans ordinarily being enlisted, and in its ranks are many very rich men, several of them taking private servants along. The Colonel, Vosburg, is a distinguished military man, and no doubt the regiment will make itself an enviable reputation.

There is no necessity for me here to say anything about the cause of the war, as everybody knows the South desired to extend their pet institution, Slavery, into the new states and territories. This the people of the North will not consent to, as they are bitterly opposed to the institution, and determined to keep it within its present limits. In order to facilitate their plans, the South have jealously maintained the upper hand in the general government, and being thoroughly united, have up to this time succeeded in keeping the reins in their own hands, but at last they have lost control, as they judge by the election of Mr. Lincoln; and rather than submit to the will of the majority when it does not suit them, they propose to disrupt the Union, destroy the country, and set up for themselves with the few slave-holding states. Of course if these states are allowed to go, the remainder may be divided and subdivided again, which means an utter disintegration of the federal government.

These reckless Southerners commenced operations by bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, on the 11th of April, and capturing it, and they are now busily at work throughout all their states raising, equipping, and drilling a military force, with the avowed object of restraining the federal authorities from any control of their affairs.

What an excitement we have all been in since these people fired on Fort Sumter! Every one is anxious to do his utmost and determined to raise a force strong enough to go down there and thrash the conceit out of the rascals. The feeling runs mountains high, and thousands of men are offering their services where hundreds only are required. These hot-headed rebels will surely find themselves more than accommodated in the matter of fighting, and will before long bitterly repent their foolish actions. We are more numerous and have more money, have command of the sea, and have besides just as much courage and pluck as they.

On the 15th of April President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve for three months, and the militia regiments of the various Northern states are offering themselves, filled to the maximum by the enlistment of new members. As soon as they are properly armed and equipped they will rendezvous in Washington to protect the capital at first, and subsequently march into the rebellious states and give the rebels a sound thrashing. There is no reasonable doubt that a great battle will have to be fought, and therefore we shall have an opportunity to see what actual war really is. Nobody dreams of fear, but it is a great pity these Southern people do not appreciate the earnestness and power of the North; if they did, surely they would not court certain disaster; however, this is to be a diary, continued throughout the campaign, and therefore must not be too prolix.


A Diary of American Events – April 15, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—Major Anderson evacuated Fort Sumter, going out with the proper honors to his flag. While the salute of fifty guns was being fired, a gun exploded, and killed one man and wounded four others. Major Anderson and his command were conveyed on board the Baltic steam transport.—Times, April 16.

—The President of the United States called by proclamation for 75,000 volunteers to suppress insurrectionary combinations; and commanded “the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days.” In the same proclamation, an extra session of both houses of Congress was called for the 4th of July.—(Doc. 57.)—Times, April 15.

—At Alexandria, Va., the publication of President Lincoln’s proclamation has greatly increased the secession feeling. Business of all kinds is completely suspended. Merchants are engaged in discussing the probability of a prolonged sanguinary civil war. The impression is that the Virginia Convention will instantaneously pass the ordinance of secession, or call a Border State Convention.

—At Mobile, Ala., President Lincoln’s response to the Virginia Commissioners is regarded as a declaration of war.

—At Richmond, Va., the President’s proclamation is received with general execration.

The public mind is fearfully excited. The secessionists declare that nothing is more favorable to their cause, and that military men would sooner die than respond to such a call.

—At Wilmington, N. C., the proclamation is received with perfect contempt and indignation. The Union men openly denounce the Administration. The greatest possible unanimity prevails. There was great rejoicing there Saturday on the reception of the news of the reduction of Fort Sumter.—Tribune, April 16.

—Large Union meetings were held at Detroit, Mich., Westchester and Pittsburgh, Pa., Lawrence, Mass., and Dover, N. H. At Pittsburgh the meeting was opened by the Mayor, who introduced the venerable William Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson was made President of the meeting. About twenty-five Vice-Presidents were also appointed. Resolutions were adopted, declaring undying fealty to the Union, approving the course of the Legislative and Executive branches of the State Government in responding to the call of the President, disregarding all partisan feeling, and pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in the defence of the Union, and appointing a Committee of Public Safety.

A resolution approving the action of the Philadelphia banks in the prompt offer of money to the Government, was also passed.

The meeting was addressed by Judge Wilkins, Thomas M. Marshall, the Hon. P. C. Shannon, Dr. McCook, Ex-Governor Johnston, the Hon. A. W. Loomis, and other prominent citizens of all parties. The speeches elicited great applause.—Tribune, April 16.

—Governor Yates, of Illinois, issued a proclamation to convene the Legislature at Springfield, on the 23d of April, for the purpose of enacting such laws and adopting such measures as may be deemed necessary upon the following subject, to wit: The more perfect organization and equipment of the militia of the State, and placing the same upon the best footing, to render efficient assistance to the General Government in preserving the Union, enforcing the laws, protecting the property and rights of the people, and also the raising of such money, and other means, as may be required to carry on the foregoing objects.—Commercial Advertiser.

—A large meeting of citizens, irrespective of party, was held at Erie, Pa., this evening. Resolutions were adopted, pledging the hearts and hands of Erie city and county to maintain the integrity of the Government and honor of the flag.

The Wayne Guards, of Erie, and other companies, will offer their services to the Governor.—Evening Post, April 17.

—This afternoon, a coasting schooner was discovered lying in Newark Bay, with a palmetto flag flying at its masthead. A party of “glass-house boys” procured a boat, and proceeding to the vessel, ordered the captain to lower the flag and substitute in its place the Stars and Stripes. The captain, refused, when they threatened to pitch him overboard and sink the vessel. The American flag was soon spread out to the breeze, when it was heartily cheered, and the palmetto was stowed away below.—N. Y. Times.

—At Philadelphia the Union pledge is receiving the signature of all classes of citizens. It responds to the President’s proclamation, and declares an unalterable determination to sustain the Government, throwing aside all differences of political opinion.

An excited crowd assembled this morning before the printing office on the corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets, where The Palmetto Flag, a small advertising sheet, is published, and threatened to demolish it. The proprietor displayed the American flag, and threw the objectionable papers from the windows; also, The Stars and Stripes, another paper printed at the same office, restoring the crowd to good humor. The crowd moved down to The Argus office in Third street, opposite Dock street, ordering that the flag should be displayed.

After visiting the newspaper offices and Government property, they marched in a body up Market street, bearing a flag. At all points on the route, well-known Union men were obliged to make all haste to borrow, beg, or steal something red, white, and blue, to protect their property with. Searches were made for the publication rooms of The Southern Monitor; but as that paper has suspended, the mob were unable to carry out their intention of destroying the forms. They satisfied themselves with breaking the signs to pieces. The ring-leaders were furnished with ropes with which to hang the editor if caught.

During the afternoon, General Patterson’s mansion, corner of Thirteenth, and Locust streets, was mobbed and threatened with destruction. A servant answered their call, and unfortunately slammed the door in their faces. The crowd became uproarious and violent, and made an attempt to force open the door. General Patterson finally appeared at the window, bearing the colors of the regiment. The crowd then moved away. It is understood that General Patterson, who is charged with secessionism, intends throwing up his commission.

They then visited General Cadwallader, who made a Union speech and threw out a flag. Several prominent Southerners, with secession proclivities, including Robert Tyler, have received warnings from a so-called Vigilance Committee.

The following is the speech that was made by Mayor Henry to the excited mob which threatened The Palmetto Flag building:

Fellow-Citizens: By the grace of Almighty God, treason shall never rear its head or have a foothold in Philadelphia. [Immense cheering.] I call upon you as American citizens to stand by your flag and protect it at all hazards—at the point of the bayonet, if necessary; but, in doing so, remember the rights due your fellow-citizens and their private property. [Immense cheering.] That flag is an emblem of the Government, and I call upon all good citizens who love their country and its flag, to testify their loyalty by going to their respective places of abode, leaving to the constituted authorities of the city the task of protecting the peace, and preventing every act which could be construed into treason to their country.”

The Mayor then hoisted the stars and stripes. —Tribune, April 16.

—Seventeen vessels were seized in the port of New York from ports in southern States, their clearances being improper, and not signed by United States officers. They were fined $100 each, and some were held subject to forfeiture.— World, April 18.

—Jefferson Davis replies to President Lincoln’s proclamation as follows:

“Fort Sumter is ours, and nobody is hurt. With mortar, Paixhan, and petard, we tender ‘Old Abe’ our Beau—regard.” — Charleston Mercury.

—At Albany, N. Y., popular sentiment grows stronger and stronger. Several prominent citizens, particularly among the young men, have sent in applications as volunteers, and some are already organizing companies among those who are friends at home. The capital has presented an unusual appearance all day, the whole building having been filled with citizens who have apparently left their business to gather at head-quarters, and watch eagerly the progress of events. The spirit of the masses is decidedly aroused, and from present indications Albany will be behind no city in the State or Union in evincing her patriotism and her determination, as the crisis has come, to stand firmly by the Government of the country, without pausing to charge upon any the responsibility of the present terrible events.— Tribune.

—Fernando Wood, Mayor of New York, issued a proclamation, calling upon the people of the city to avoid turbulence and excitement, and to rally to the restoration of the Constitution and Union.—(Doc. 58.)

—An enthusiastic Union meeting was held at Cleveland, Ohio. Speeches were made by Senator Wade and other prominent gentlemen. Resolutions were adopted to sustain the Government, approving of the President’s call for volunteers, recommending the Legislature to make appropriations of men and money, and appointing a committee to ascertain the efficiency of the Cleveland militia. The greatest unanimity of feeling prevailed, and the speakers were constantly interrupted by wild cheers and responses. A similar meeting was held at Norwalk, Ohio.—Buffalo Courier.

—The Directors of the Bank of Commerce, of Providence, R. I., advanced a loan of $30,000 to the State for aiding in the outfit of troops. Large offers from private citizens have also been made to Governor Sprague for a similar purpose. The Globe Bank tendered to the State a loan of $50,000.—Tribune.

—An immense Union meeting was held at Troy, N. Y. Resolutions were adopted, sustaining the Government, and pledging the city to raise a regiment of volunteers. Hon. John A. Griswold presided, and Isaac McConihee, Jonas C. Heartt, Henry Ingraham, Judge Gould, and Judge Robinson were made Vice-Presidents. Secretaries were also appointed. The meeting adjourned in a body to the residence of General Wool, where, on behalf of the citizens, an address was made by Martin J. Townsend, to which General Wool responded that his heart was rejoiced at this glorious demonstration of patriotism. Never, by any former compliment bestowed upon him, had he been thrilled by such a measure of joy. It is true that he had fought under the old flag, but he had done no more than his duty towards the best Government that ever existed. He had fought under the stars and stripes that were carried in triumph by Washington, and under which Jackson closed the second war for independence at New Orleans in a halo of glory. Will you permit that flag to be desecrated and trampled in the dust by traitors now? Will you permit our noble Government to be destroyed by rebels in order that they may advance their schemes of political ambition and extend the area of slavery? No, indeed, it cannot be done. The spirit of the age forbids it. Humanity and manhood forbid it, and the sentiments of the civilized world forbid it. My friends, that flag must be lifted up from the dust into which it has been trampled, placed in its proper position, and again set floating in triumph to the breeze. I pledge you my heart, my hand, all my energies to the cause. The Union shall be maintained. I am prepared to devote my life to the work, and to lead you in the struggle.—Times, April 17.

—The Governor of Kentucky, in reply to Secretary Cameron’s call for troops from that State, says: “Your despatch is received. In answer, I say emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister southern States.

B. Magoffin.”
Louisville Journal.

—At New York, Philadelphia, Trenton, and other places, journals were compelled to display the American flag. Happily no damage was done to persons or property.—Herald, Tribune, Times, World, April 16.

April 16.—The Ringgold Flying Artillery, of Reading, Pa., Captain James McKnight, 180 men, with four field-pieces, received a requisition from the Governor this morning to set out this evening, at 6 o’clock, for Harrisburgh, a place of rendezvous for the first Pennsylvanians in the field.

There was a large and enthusiastic Government meeting at Tyrone, Blair county, to-night. Speeches were enthusiastically received. Ex-Senator Bigler arrived after the adjournment, and expressed himself unequivocally for the Government, and he was determined to sustain it to the last. Two military companies from Tyrone, two from Altoona, and two from Hollidaysburgh, will leave to-morrow for Harrisburgh.—Times, April 17.

—The Mechanics’, Elm City, Fairfield County, Thames, and other banks of Connecticut, voted large sums of money to assist in equipping the troops, and the support of their families.—Idem.

—Governor Buckingham, of Connecticut, issued a proclamation calling for volunteers, to rendezvous at Hartford.—Idem.

—The session of the New York East Methodist Conference was opened by the following prayer:

“Grant, O God, that all the efforts now being made to overthrow rebellion in our distracted country, may be met with every success. Let the forces that have risen against our Government, and Thy law, be scattered to the winds, and may no enemies be allowed to prevail against us. Grant, O God, that those who have aimed at the very heart of the republic may be overthrown. We ask Thee to bring these men to destruction, and wipe them from the face of the country “—Tribune, April 17.

—New Hampshire responds to the President’s proclamation, and will furnish the troops required. The Concord Union Bank tendered a loan of $20,000 to the Governor, and all the Directors, with the Cashier, agree to contribute $100 each to the support of such families of the volunteers of Concord, as may fall in defending the flag of the country.—N. H. Statesman.

—A Union meeting was held at the Hudson House, Jersey City, N. J., for the purpose of taking action to raise volunteers, whose services are to be tendered to the Federal Government. J. W. Scudder, Esq., was chosen President; two Vice-Presidents from each ward were also chosen, and C. H. Dummer acted as Secretary.

Stirring speeches were made by Dr. H. D. Holt, Hon. N. C. Slaight, Benjamin Van Riper, and John H. Low.

During the speaking, cheers were given for the Stars and Stripes, the Federal Government, Major Anderson, &c.

Benjamin Van Riper advocated the striking down of every northern man who advocated secession, and all traitorous newspapers.

Mr. John Low proposed that at some future period they call upon the proprietors of the American Standard, in Jersey City, “the editor of which had so much maligned the Government, and make them hoist the American flag, or make them leave the town.” This proposition was received with tremendous cheering, and cries of “Let’s do it to-night.”—Times, April 17.

—Four regiments, ordered to report for service in Boston, Mass., commenced arriving there before 9 A. M. this morning, the companies first arriving not having received their orders until last night. Already about thirty companies have arrived, numbering over 1,700 men in uniform, and with these are several hundred who are importunate to be allowed to join the ranks.

The bark Manhattan, which arrived at Boston this forenoon from Savannah, had a secession flag hoisted. A crowd proceeded to the wharf, and compelled Captain Davis to take it down and hoist the stars and stripes.

The City Government of Lawrence, Mass., appropriated $5,000 for the benefit of the families of those who have volunteered to defend the country’s flag.—Boston Transcript.

—One of the largest meetings ever held in Delaware was held this evening at Wilmington, the Mayor presiding. The following resolution was adopted unanimously:

Resolved, That we censure and condemn the course of Senator Bayard, in the United States Senate, for not advocating a compromise between the North and South, and that we feel confident that his course has placed us in a false position before the world; that we repudiate his teachings, as having an Anti-Union tendency, and are unworthy of a patriot and Delawarian.—Times, April 17.

—Governor Letcher , of Virginia, in reply to the call of the President of the United States, refuses to furnish troops for the support of the Federal Government. In his letter to Secretary Cameron, he remarks:

“I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object—an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the Act of 1795—will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited towards the South.”—World, April 20.

—Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, telegraphed the President that he could not respond to the call for troops, as he had doubts of his authority and right to do so.

A war bill, with an appropriation of $3,000,000, was passed in the New York Legislature, and signed by the Governor.

The Government of the Southern Confederacy called for 32,000 men; 2,000 from Florida, and 5,000 from each of the other States.—Times, April 17.

—A large meeting of German workingmen was held at Newark, N. J., this evening. An attempt was made to disorganize the body, which was soon suppressed by earnest and loud repeated cries for the Constitution and the Union. Several speeches were made, and it was declared that the only hope for the workingmen was to be found in the preservation of the Government. The meeting broke up with cheers for the Union. This is a sample of the spirit which pervades the German population.

“The German Turners’ Society,” numbering about a hundred men, also met, and unanimously resolved to form a military corps of riflemen, and offer their services to the Government. They also resolved to send delegates to the various Turner associations in the State, and to recommend a plan of organization.— Evening Post.


“Washington will soon be a great Military Camp.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

taft_horatio_nelsonMONDAY 15

It seems pretty probable that “Sumpter” is taken but I think that we cannot rely entirely upon the news. There seems to be a great war spirit up throughout the Country. Washington will soon be a great Military Camp. My wife is not so much frightened today. I think we will not hurry in getting the family off. It has rained some today, and it [is] threatening a storm tonight. Applicants for office are less pertinacious than they were and many have left for their homes. I was down at Willards. The same crowd seems to be there still.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of  Congress.


“When we had calmed down, Colonel Chesnut (the diarist’s husband), who had taken it all quietly enough, if anything more unruffled than usual in his serenity, told us how the surrender came about.”—A Diary From Dixie.

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

April 15th.—I did not know that one could live such days of excitement. Some one called: “Come out! There is a crowd coming.” A mob it was, indeed, but it was headed by Colonels Chesnut and Manning. The crowd was shouting and showing these two as messengers of good news. They were escorted to Beauregard’s headquarters. Fort Sumter had surrendered! Those upon the housetops shouted to us “The fort is on fire.” That had been the story once or twice before.

When we had calmed down, Colonel Chesnut, who had taken it all quietly enough, if anything more unruffled than usual in his serenity, told us how the surrender came about. Wigfall was with them on Morris Island when they saw the fire in the fort; he jumped in a little boat, and with his handkerchief as a white flag, rowed over. Wigfall went in through a porthole. When Colonel Chesnut arrived shortly after, and was received at the regular entrance, Colonel Anderson told him he had need to pick his way warily, for the place was all mined. As far as I can make out the fort surrendered to Wigfall. But it is all confusion. Our flag is flying there. Fire-engines have been sent for to put out the fire. Everybody tells you half of something and then rushes off to tell something else or to hear the last news.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Preston,¹ Mrs. Joe Heyward, and I drove around the Battery. We were in an open carriage. What a changed scene—the very liveliest crowd I think I ever saw, everybody talking at once. All glasses were still turned on the grim old fort.

Russell,² the correspondent of the London Times, was there. They took him everywhere. One man got out Thackeray to converse with him on equal terms. Poor Russell was awfully bored, they say. He only wanted to see the fort and to get news suitable to make up into an interesting article. Thackeray had become stale over the water.

Mrs.Frank Hampton³ and I went to see the camp of the Richland troops. South Carolina College had volunteered to a boy. Professor Venable (the mathematical), intends to raise a company from among them for the war, a permanent company. This is a grand frolic no more for the students, at least. Even the staid and severe of aspect, Clingman, is here. He says Virginia and North Carolina are arming to come to our rescue, for now the North will swoop down on us. Of that we may be sure. We have burned our ships. We are obliged to go on now. He calls us a poor, little, hot-blooded, headlong, rash, and troublesome sister State. General McQueen is in a rage because we are to send troops to Virginia.

Preston Hampton is in all the flush of his youth and beauty, six feet in stature; and after all only in his teens; he appeared in fine clothes and lemon-colored kid gloves to grace the scene. The camp in a fit of horse-play seized him and rubbed him in the mud. He fought manfully, but took it all naturally as a good joke.

Mrs. Frank Hampton knows already what civil war means. Her brother was in the New York Seventh Regiment, so roughly received in Baltimore. Frank will be in the opposite camp.

Good stories there may be and to spare for Russell, the man of the London Times, who has come over here to find out our weakness and our strength and to tell all the rest of the world about us.


¹ Caroline Hampton, a daughter of General Wade Hampton, of the Revolution, was the wife of John S. Preston, an ardent advocate of secession, who served on the staff of Beauregard at Bull Run and subsequently reached the rank of brigadier-general.

² William Howard Russell, a native of Dublin, who served as a correspondent of the London Times during the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the War of Secession and the Franco-German War. He has been familiarly known as “Bull Run Russell.” In 1875 he was honorary Secretary to the Prince of Wales during the Prince’s visit to India.

³ The “Sally Baxter” of the recently published “Thackeray Letters to an American Family.”


“We shall have nothing but rub-a-dub and rumors for some time to come.”—Rutherford B. Hayes

Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes

CINCINNATI, April 15, 1861.

DEAR UNCLE:—. . . We are all for war. The few dissentients have to run like quarter-horses. A great change for two weeks to produce. As the Dutchman said, “What a beeples.” Poor Anderson! What a chance he threw away. The Government may overlook or even whitewash it, but the people and history will not let him off so easily. I like it. Anything is better than the state of things we have had the last few months. We shall have nothing but rub-a-dub and rumors for some time to come.

All pretty well. Mother thinks we are to be punished for our sinfulness, and reads the Old Testament vigorously. Mother Webb quietly grieves over it. Lucy enjoys it and wishes she had been in Fort Sumter with a garrison of women. Dr. Joe is for flames, slaughter, and a rising of the slaves. All the boys are soldiers.





Village Life in America.

Village Life in America, 1852 – 1872, by Caroline Cowles Richards

April 15.—The storm has broken upon us. The Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, just off the coast of South Carolina, and forced her on April 14 to haul down the flag and surrender. President Lincoln has issued a call for 75,000 men and many are volunteering to go all around us. How strange and awful it seems.


Operations in Florida – Confederate Correspondence

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

MONTGOMERY, ALA., April 15, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery:

SIR: Very unexpectedly I find myself a prisoner of war at this place. May I be permitted to request that you will do me the kindness to inform me of the grounds upon which I am so detained?

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.


PENSACOLA, April 15, 1861.


Mail steamer Galveston from New Orleans this morning. I have taken possession of her. One United States ship arrived last night.




MONTGOMERY, April 15, 1861.

General BRAGG, Pensacola:

Merchant vessels belonging to citizens of United States must be permitted to depart without interruption. Strict surveillance, however, regarding dispatches from fort and fleet to Washington Government. Caution your own men against writing, or sending, as to what you are doing.



Operations in Florida

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Off Pensacola, April 14, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington :

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that immediately on the receipt of your order by Lieutenant Worden, on the 12th instant, I prepared to re-enforce Fort Pickens. It was successfully performed, on the same night, by landing the troops under Captain Vogdes, and the marines of the squadron under Lieutenant [John C.] Cash. No opposition was made, nor do I believe the movement was known on shore until it was accomplished.

A strong party of officers and seamen were sent to assist in case of resistance, who afterwards returned to their ships. The marines remained in the fort, at the request of Captain Vogdes, a copy of which I inclose. The whole expedition was under the charge of Commander Charles H. Poor, assisted by Lieutenant [Albert N.] Smith, of the Brooklyn, Lieutenants [R. F. R.] Lewis and [L. H.] Newman, of the Sabine, and Lieutenant [G. E.] Belknap, of the St. Louis; and it is highly creditable to these officers that this service was performed without accident or disorder under unfavorable circumstances. The Brooklyn, Captain [W. S.] Walker, and the Wyandotte, Lieutenant Commanding [J. R. M.] Mullany, were very skillfully managed. They carried the landing party to the designated spot with accuracy in spite of the darkness of the night, and not having the light-house to guide them, the light having been extinguished early in the evening.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, Senior Officer Present.


Operations in Florida

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Transport Steamship Atlantic, April 15, 1861.

Bvt. Maj. L. G. ARNOLD,
Commanding Fort Jefferson, Fla.:

MAJOR: My short stay at your post and the hurry of business prevented my conversing with you so freely as I could have wished on the defense of the fort. The importance of Fort Jefferson can hardly be overestimated, nor can I too strongly impress on you the importance of the constant exercise of every precaution and of the most unceasing vigilance against surprise. Your post may not improperly be considered the Gibraltar of America, and you should guard it with the same jealous vigilance you would if we were at war with a strong maritime power. No vessel, Government or merchant, should be allowed to approach without being boarded, and, if necessary, required to heave to for the purpose. Your guns should habitually be kept loaded and ready at a moment’s notice to be fired; a sufficiency of ammunition always prepared for immediate service, and the officers and men assigned to their positions, so that by day or night each can at a moment’s notice be at his post. Your drawbridge should always be raised at night, the embrasures closed and fastened, and the guards by day and night required to the observance of the greatest possible vigilance. The troops must be impressed with the necessity of almost constant fatigue in mounting guns, erecting batteries, laying platforms, &c., and other necessary work, and encouraged to a cheerful compliance with the exigencies of the service.

I am aware, major, of your zeal and ability, and of the excellent discipline that has characterized your command, and I doubt not that you will have anticipated these suggestions. If so, no harm is done, and I wish, if any here made may have escaped you, that you will without delay give them your attention.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.