The First shot against the flag.
The passage of the Ordinance of Secession of the State of South Carolina
found the General Government
in possession of certain pieces of property ceded to the United States
, in accordance with law, and mainly used for military purposes.
An arsenal had been built within the corporate limits of the city of Charleston
; it was a depot of supplies, and contained valuable stores.
Within the same city were the custom-house and post-office.
Of the three forts in the harbor, Fort Moultrie
alone was garrisoned, and this by two companies of artillery, numbering about eighty men. Castle Pinckney, an old and crumbling work, close to the city, was the station of an ordnance sergeant only, whose principal duty consisted in the care of an harbor light that shone nightly from its parapet.
Four miles down the bay, and commanding the channel entrance, stood Fort Sumter
, in process of construction, and wholly defenseless.
A large number of workmen, principally inhabitants of Charleston
, were employed on its completion, which was conducted by the Engineer Department, under authority of an act of Congress.
The importance of its position was early recognized by all, and the determination to possess it was, beyond all other considerations, the direct cause of hostilities.
It was claimed that the State
could not be said to have resumed her sovereignty until she exercised undisputed control over all the dependencies of her territory.
This question entered into every speech that was made, to keep up the spirit that was carrying the State
onward, and in every