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Chapter 9:

The commissioning of the Sumter, the first Confederate States' ship of war.

Fort Sumter surrendered on the 13th of April. The next day was a gala day in Montgomery. We had driven an insolent enemy from one of the strongest positions in the South, and the people were all agog to hear the news. A large Confederate flag was displayed from a balcony of the War Office, and the Hon. L. P. Walker, the Secretary of War, announced in a brief speech, to the assembled multitude below, amid repeated cheering, and the waving of hats, and handkerchiefs, the welcome tidings. The Union men, who have become so numerous since the war, had, if any of them were in the city, slunk to their holes, and corners, and the air was redolent, alone, of Southern patriotism, and Southern enthusiasm.

The driving of the enemy from Charleston harbor, decided the fate of Virginia, which had been trembling in the balance for some days. The grand old State could no longer resist her generous impulses. Under a proclamation of President Lincoln the martial hosts of an enraged and vindictive North were assembling, to make war upon her sisters, and this was enough—her ordinance of secession was passed, by a very gratifying majority. Patrick Henry had become a prophet, and the beautiful, and touching apostrophe of James Madison to the ‘kindred blood,’ and the ‘mingled blood’ of the American people, which was given to the reader a few pages back, had proved to be the mere chimera of an excited imagination.

The effect of the surrender of Sumter in the North was beyond conception. A prominent leader of the public press of that section had said of the American flag:—

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