Who fired the First gun on the Fort?
Roger A. Pryor
declined, and Captain James
was allowed the distinction.
Since the publication of the claim made by Major W. M. Gibbs
, of South Carolina
, that he was the man who fired the first shot on Fort Sumter
, there has been a great deal of discussion over the subject, says the New York World
Few people know that a distinguished citizen and an official of New York could have had that questionable privilege had he desired.
Roger A. Pryor
, then a distinguished young Virginian, afterwards a general in the Confederate army, and now a judge of the New York Court of Common Pleas, declined to fire on the flag of his country.
An Associated Press dispatch from New Orleans gives a statement made by General G. T. Beauregard
, which would seem to settle the dispute.
's statement also discloses that another prominent citizen of New York was concerned in the preliminaries to the bombardment-Banker A. R. Chisholm
, of No. 61 Broadway.
denies Major Gibb
's claim and points out that Captain George S. James
, who was in charge of Fort Johnson
, where General Beauregard
was in command of the Confederate forces, fired the first shot.
The General wrote to Colonel Chisholm
about the affair, calling attention to Major Gibb
's claim, and Colonel Chisholm
sent back a letter, which, he said yesterday, was his recollection of the occurrence.
My recollections of the firing of the first or signal gun on Fort Sumter
April 12, 1861, are as follows: First, as my private boat and six negro oarsmen, with myself as your aide-de-camp, were the principal means of communication between you and the forts on the islands around Charleston harbor
, it fell to my lot, in company with Senator James Chestnut
and Captain Stephen D. Lee
, afterwards lieutenant-general, to deliver to Major Robert Anderson
, in command of the United
forces in Fort Sumter
, your final note for the demand of the surrender of that work, and the specific authority for us to notify Major Anderson
that your guns would not open on him if he would agree not to fire on our batteries as on a previous visit to Fort Sumter
under a flag of truce.
He had stated to us that he was about starved out. General Roger A. Pryor
, who was on a visit to Charleston
, accompanied us. After being detained in the guardroom of the fort, we notified Major Anderson
that we could not wait any longer for his reply.
He then came from the consultation with his officers to the guard-room, and stated to us that he would not agree not to fire on our battery, that his flag had been fired upon twice, and if this was done again, he would open his batteries.
This left us no alternative but to carry out General Beauregard
's instructions, which were that his batteries would open on Fort Sumter
in an hour.
said to us: “Gentlemen, I will await your fire.”
With Captain Foster
he accompanied us to the outside of the sallyport,
when we entered the boat and proceeded to Fort Johnson
, then in command of Captain George S. James
, who met us on the wharf.
We delivered to him, as per your instructions, the order to fire the signal gun. Captain James
seeing General Pryor
in the boat, said to him: “Mr. Pryor
, I have always been a great admirer of yours, and now offer you the honor of firing the first shot at Fort Sumter
felt flattered, but, with many thanks, declined the honor.
I asked him why he did not accept it. His reply was that it would not do for him to fire that shot, as his State had not yet seceded.’
then said: “ I will not give that privilege to any other man.”
When Judge Pryor
was asked about the matter yesterday he said:
‘I haven't bothered about the thing; it's too old and the war's been over too long.
Since you mention the circumstance, though, I believe the facts are as General Beauregard
and Colonel Chisholm
However, I am too much engrossed with the present and future to talk about ancient history of that kind.’