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[407]

XXVI. the Union—the Confederacy.


if Hudibras was right in his assumption, that there is and can be no fighting where one party gives all the blows — the other being content with meekly and patiently receiving them — then it might be plausibly contended that our great Civil War was initiated by the bombardment of Fort Sumter, or by the attempt to supply its famishing garrison, some weeks after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. But Wit stands opposed to Reason in this case, as in many others. The first attempt in the interest of Secession to dispossess the Union, by force, of any property or position held by it, even though not seriously opposed, was as truly an act of war as though it had been desperately resisted, at the cost of hundreds of lives.

The Secession of South Carolina1 was hailed with instant and general exultation by the plotters of Disunion in nearly every Slave State. There were celebrations, with parades, music, cannon-firing, speeches, etc., on that evening or the following day, at New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis, etc. Even at Wilmington, Del., where the Secessionists were few indeed, the event was honored by a salute of a hundred guns. Senator Andrew Johnson was still more honored, on the 22d, by being burned in effigy by the Secessionists of Memphis. While the Northern cities were anxious, apprehensive, and paralyzed, it was noted that at Baltimore, though no formal celebration was had, people seemed relieved and cheerful; the streets were gayly crowded, and business was better. At Washington, Mr. Garnett, of Virginia, exultingly announced the fact of South Carolina's secession in the House; whereupon, three or four Southrons clapped their hands. There was no further public manifestation in Congress; and none north of the Virginia line, save in Wilmington, as aforesaid.

A mere handful of Federal troops, under Maj. Robert Anderson, watched rather than garrisoned the forts in Charleston harbor. Of these, Fort Moultrie, though the older and weaker, was mainly tenanted by the soldiers, being the more convenient to the city; but it could not have been held a day against a serious assault. Its garrison found themselves suddenly surrounded by scowling, deadly foes,2 too numerous to be resisted. During the night of the 26th, Maj. Anderson properly and prudently transferred his entire command to Fort Sumter, taking with them, or after them, all provisions, munitions, etc., that could conveniently be transported. The removal was effected by means of two schooners, which made several trips during the night, passing directly by the harbor guard-boat

1 December 20, 1860.

2 The Charleston Mercury of the 22d said:

The garrison in our harbor will not be strengthened. The reinforcement of the forts, at this time and under present circumstances, means coercion — war. When the forts are demanded and refused to be delivered up to those in whom is invested the title of eminent domain, and for whose defense and protection alone they were ceded and built up; and when, the Federal Government showing a hostile purpose, it shall become necessary and proper for us to obtain possession, then it will be right for the world and Black Republicanism to expect that the State, by her authorities, will move in the premises. The people will obey the call for war, and take the forts.

The Charleston Courier of December 4, 1860, has a speech by Mr. Edward McCrady at a Secession meeting in that city a few days previously, which concludes as follows:

I do not counsel any precipitate action; nor do I fear anything from the forts — they are ours, not merely in part. They were placed there on our soil for our protection; and, whenever the separation comes, they must fall into our possession. They will be ours as surely as we secede; and we will secede as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow.

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