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[43]

Thus was ‘Reveille’ sounded in Charleston and its harbor on this eventful morning. In an instant all was bustle and activity. Not an absentee was reported at roll-call. The citizens poured down to the battery and the wharves, and women and children crowded each window of the houses overlooking the sea-rapt spectators of the scene. At ten minutes before five o'clock, all the batteries and mortars which encircled the grim fortress were in full play against it.

Round after round had already been fired; and yet, for nearly two hours, not a shot in response had come from Fort Sumter Had Major Anderson been taken by surprise? Or was it that, certain of his ability to pass unscathed through the onslaught thus made upon him, it mattered not how soon or how late he committed his flag in the war ‘in which his heart was not’? At last, however, near seven o'clock, the United States flag having previously been raised, the sound of a gun, not ours, was distinctly heard. Sumter had taken up the gage of battle, and Cummings's Point had first attracted its attention. It was almost a relief to our troops — for gallantry ever admires gallantry, and a worthy foe disdains one who makes no resistance.

The action was now general, and was so maintained throughout the day, with vigor on both sides. Our guns were served with admirable spirit, and the accuracy of our range was made evident by the clouds of dust that flew as our balls struck the fort, and by the indentations hollowed in its walls. The precision with which solid shot and shells were thrown from our batteries, mainly Fort Moultrie, was such that the enemy was soon compelled to abandon the use of his barbette guns, several of which had been dismounted in the early part of the bombardment.

The iron-clad battery at Cummings's Point, Fort; Moultrie proper, and that end of Sullivan's Island where the floating battery, the Dahlgren gun, and the enfilade or masked battery had been placed, were the points which attracted Major Anderson's heaviest firing. No better proof could he have given us of the effects of our fire on his fort. An occasional shot only was aimed at Fort Johnson, as if to remind the battery there that the explosion of its first shell was not yet forgiven. Captain Butler's mortar battery, east of Moultrie, had also a share of the enemy's wrath.

The engagement was continued with unceasing vigor until nightfall, although Sumter's fire had evidently slackened before that

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