Skedaddle — the e-journal
Four Years Under Fire at Charleston
by W.F.G. Peck
Originally published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, August 1865
The first overt act of hostility which followed the passage of the ordinance of secession was the firing upon the Star of the West. It is true that, previous to this, Major Anderson had been compelled through threats of violence to evacuate Fort Moultrie, and that it had been taken possession of by the South Carolina Militia; but no gun had yet been fired, no act had been committed which might be regarded as a direct and open defiance of the United States Government. This was reserved for the following 9th of January. The resident in the lower part of the city, looking out of his window that morning, at first saw nothing particularly noticeable in the bright blue bay which lay stretched out before him, flanked by the low, shelving shores of Sullivan's and Morris islands, and embracing the grim, gray walls of Sumter. Soon, however, the top-masts of a vessel were seen to rise slowly above the horizon. As it approached every eye was strained to catch its form, and every ear opened to hear the reception which its arrival might evoke. Soon a white puff of smoke was seen arising over the gray sands of Morris Island, and the ear caught the faint report of a gun. Another, and then another, till the farsighted of us could see the balls ricocheting over the waves in the direction from which the steamer was approaching. Had it kept on its course Sumter, whose ramparts were now glistening with bayonets, and whose shotted guns were protruding from every port, might have made the attempt to protect her, and there would have been enacted, though doubtless with greater honor to the United States Government, the combat which occurred three months later. But the Star of the West turned its prow and sped back to the open sea whence it came.
Entire article on-line at http://www.pddoc.com/skedaddle/articles/four_years_under_fire_at_charleston.htm
January 8, 1861
New York Herald
Secret Movements of United States Troops.
The rumors which prevailed in this city on Sunday last that there was in the winds about Governor’s Island, were the cause of great excitement and public concern. The report, which it now appears was not altogether unfounded, was to the effect that a considerable body of federal troops had been quietly removed from the island garrison to some unknown point. The peculiar situation of affairs in South Carolina, of course, very naturally pointed to that region of country as the destination of the troops. The embarkation and transfer of the soldiers, it is said, were effected during Saturday night last with as little noise as possible. The steamer Star of the West, which arrived at this port from Havana on Monday last, was, as far as we have learned, the capacious vessel selected for the conveyance of the military and warlike stores which were to be sent south. According to the usual practice and in accordance with public advertisement, this steamer should have left New York for Havana and New Orleans yesterday, or this morning; but instead of this, she suddenly disappeared from the harbor at a time when no one expected her departure. The fact is that private arrangements are said to have been made for the charter of the vessel, and the preliminary management had been conducted with so much skill and prudence that nothing was known to the public until the steamer was far away on her trip. It was not long, however, before a ubiquitous reporter got upon the scent. All the secrecy and mystery of the Governor’s Island folks were useless to blind his clear vision. But as all communication with the island was positively interdicted, it was next to impossible to obtain anything like reliable information. That the troops had been embarked during Saturday night, and that the steamer had slipped her cables and put to sea early on Sunday morning, there was scarcely any doubt at all expressed. There were wakeful watchers enough between the Battery and Hamilton avenue to observe the stealthy midnight movement of blue coated soldiery, but the only difficulty was to ascertain their destination. Some people thought that they were sent to Washington, others that they were intended to garrison and protect unoccupied federal forts, but the majority were very clearly of opinion that Fort Sumter and Major Anderson had something to do with the movement.
The Staunton Spectator
A correspondent of the Alexandria Gazette, writing from the county of Marion, under date of December the 22nd says:
Western Virginia is becoming aroused on the great question of disunion. Groaning under a burden of unequal taxation, the people are wide awake to their interest. The forum of the Legislature at Richmond this winter will present an interesting scene for demanding and conceding rights, long withheld, to the west, and long cherished by our eastern brethren in their enjoyment. The west is uncompromisingly in favor of the Union, not merely for the sake of the Union, but for the sacred and inestimable rights it guarantees to the people.
“If a State Convention is called, the first question to be settled is the basis of representation. The west will accept of nothing but the white basis as now represented in the lower House.
“The Convention, when called, must have power to amend the Constitution of the State, at least in that part which exempts a large portion of the slave property from taxation.
“If delegates are to be appointed to a Southern Convention, those delegates must be appointed by districts, arranged on the basis of the white population of the State.
“The obvious justice of these demands must commend them to the approval of all just thinking men. If our eastern brethren withhold these rights from the west at this juncture it will take one hundred thousand bayonets from a Southern Confederacy to force western Virginia into a union with the Cotton States. We want all these questions settled before we join co-partners with South Carolina.”
Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office
by Horatio Nelson Taft
TUESDAY 8—The weather has been moderate today M[ercury]. 44 — Streets muddy, and the crossings bad. Statements that troops have been sent to reinforce Maj Anderson at Fort Sumpter created much excitement, a collision is expected. It is reported tonight that the Sec'y of Interior Mr Thompson has resigned, and also that a collision has occured at Charleston. U. S. troops have been ordered to this City to defend it if necessary. Genl Scott is here and will remain until after 4th March. 100 guns were fired today in remembrance of the Battle of New Orleans. I was at the "National" this evening, called with wife at Mr Fenwick's on I St.
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