Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fort Sumter; The Beginning of the Civil War

Location: Old Federal Campground (el 1,085 ft); Buford, Georgia

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

I'm a couple days behind on the blog because of being tired from lots of driving. I'm camped in a great little Corps of Engineers campground on Lake Lanier just northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. The water is within a stones throw of Liberty and the views are great. It was a long tow of 300 miles to get here but it is something I like to do now and then. It is great to have a sudden change in landscape such as one day on the coast and the very next day 300 miles away in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. The route was along Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War. The interstate systems in Georgia and South Carolina are dramatically overloaded with 18 wheelers. Of all my travels, I've never seen so many trucks on the road at the same time.
My lakefront campsite

View out the door of Liberty

Nice empty campsite but too small

Sunset over the lake

Before I left the Savannah area, I took a day trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The round trip distance was 200 miles. The purpose was to visit Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston Harbor. My original travel plans when I first hit the road 2 years ago was to go from Louisiana to Savannah then up the east coast to Maine. I planned to see the fort along that travel route but I changed my mind around Birmingham and headed north to Chattanooga instead of east to Savannah. So, Fort Sumter was supposed to be one of the first things I explored but instead it had to wait two years.

Nice ferry ride to the fort. It was a little chilly with the wind blowing but not too bad. The girl on left was going to the fort with the man and woman sitting next to her. They met just before the ferry pulled out. The girl wanted to go see the fort but her parents didn't want to go, especially at $20.00 each. The girl was too young to go by herself, so the parents asked the two adults in this picture if they would take her to the fort. They agreed. I think the girl said she was 13 and I could tell she was very smart and mature by the way she talked. It must have been a little apprehensive for the parents though, I don't think I would have done it when my kids were 13.

Looking down into the fort

It used to be two stories was this
is all that is left.

Looking down the row of cannons

Flag row

Cannon perspective

Outside of the fort with flag flying

Receiving end of the cannon


View from the boat

Companion on the way back to shore

The construction of the fort began in 1829 and sits on a man-made island in the middle of Charleston Harbor. It was a very, very slow construction process and it wasn't fully completed by the time the Civil War began in 1861. The need of the man-made fort was due to the width of the entrance to Charleston. It was so wide that cannons on each bank couldn't reach the middle of the entrance to the city. Once the fort was completed to the point where cannons and men could be stationed there, the harbor was mostly secure from invasion. 

When I was in school back in the 60's and early 70's, we were taught that the southern states rebelled against the Union and attacked Fort Sumter which began the Civil War. Well, I guess that is literally true, but as with most things, there is a lot more to the story. As Paul Harvey used to say, "and now the rest of the story". As with all wars, the victors write the history.

First a few facts. I'm not an historian. I try to learn and understand all different points of view before making my mind up about a subject. It was hard to do that back in elementary and high school due to the lack of good resources. Although my family had a set of World Books, even they were written with a slant to the winning side of the war, the Union. Remember, starting at age 2, my family moved around the country while my father worked for a construction company. That meant we lived in both the north and south while I grew up. While living in the south, there were people that called the war by other names, such as The War for Southern Independence and equated it to the American Revolutionary War. Others called it the War of Northern Aggression since the majority of the battles were fought in the south and by the end of the war, most southern states lay in ruin. While living in the north, the name was The Civil War was the official name albeit a lot less descriptive than the southern names.

Fact: Slavery is wrong, always has been and always will be. Fact: Slavery has been around for thousands of years. In the past, as countries or groups of people went to war, the citizens of the losing side often became slaves of the winning side. People of all races have been both slaves and slave owners at one time or another. Repeat: Slavery is wrong!

Slavery was legalized in the colony of Massachusetts in 1641, more than 130 years before American Independence. It was the British, French and Spanish which brought slavery to this continent. The very sad and disappointing thing is that the founding fathers and states could not agree on the abolition of slavery during the writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1887. It should have been Freedom for All, but sadly it wasn't. The other part they left unclear in the constitution was whether a state could secede from the union at a future date. The good news is that the Constitution gave the means to handle both situations by way of Congressional Acts and the approval by the President. Less than 20 years after the Constitution was ratified by the states, President Jefferson signed into law the Congressional Bill, "The Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves". It didn't end slavery and only outlawed the import of slaves, but it was a start. The intent was to have slavery eventually end on its own. That didn't happen and the blackmarket of slavery flourished. Changing the laws of the land was purposely made difficult by the constitution probably in reaction to having lived under a kingdom where whatever the king said, was law.  

The process to end slavery was too slow. Several northern states outlawed it in their states and they refused to return runaway slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it a felony to not return runaway slaves. Some northern states and the federal government refused to vigorously enforce the law. The southern states, which still wrongly supported slavery, began to realize that the Constitutional way was not working. That's when they began thinking about secession. 

Lincoln, a Republican, was elected in November of 1860 with 40% of the popular vote. The Democrats could not decide on a single nominee, so three of them ran for the presidency which split the vote. This is similar to what happened when Clinton was elected and reelected with Ross Perot running as an Independent and splitting the Republican vote. It is not conclusive that it affected the election, but it may have. 

Between the time of Lincolns election and his inauguration on March 4, 1861, 8 states had seceded from the union and set up the Confederate States of America. As each state seceded, they would take over the Army and Navy bases within their state. The soldiers and sailors were given a choice to join the south or they could safely and peacefully go back to the north. Some joined the Confederacy while others joined the Union. There were a few places that resisted the occupation of military assets by the southern states. One such place was in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Six days after South Carolina formally seceded, Major Robert Anderson and 85 Union men occupied Fort Sumter which was the day after Christmas in 1860. South Carolina objected and asked the Federal Government to leave Charleston Harbor. The President at the time, James Buchanan refused and instead sent a ship with supplies and 200 reinforcements to Fort Sumter. When the ship arrived, warning shots were fired by the Confederates which forced the ship to leave and return to New York. No shots were fired on the fort and the south decided to just wait until Anderson ran out of supplies and gave up. War was still not imminent and the south was hoping that nothing more would happen. 

Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. One month later, on April 4th, he sends another supply ship to Fort Sumter but this time he sends war ships to protect it. He also notifies the Confederacy about the ships. The south sees this as an act of aggression and orders the local General, P.G.T. Beauregard to prevent the resupply and to take the fort. On April 12th, Beauregard gives Anderson on hour to surrender. Anderson refuses and one hour and ten minutes later the bombardment begins. After one of the shells sets fire to some of the living quarters in the fort, Anderson realizes he can not defend the fort with only 85 men, so he surrenders. Nobody on either side has been killed in the action. Anderson requests and is granted a ceremony for the surrender. He requests a 100 cannon salute to formalize the surrender. Around the 30 something shot, a cannon blows up and injuries a northern soldier by blowing his arm off. Anderson changes his mind and says, 50 shots will be enough. After the ceremony, Anderson and his men load onto a boat and head to New York. 

Fort Sumter remained in Confederate hands until February of 1865 when it was abandoned due to the approach by General Sherman from Savannah. Sherman had just completed his "scorched earth" March to the Sea which was intended to break the spirit of the south. The war ended a couple months later on April 9, 1865 when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House. Four years of bloody war had finally ended. 

Today, there is a big move in many of the southern states to remove any reminder of the confederacy. One such event was by South Carolina when it removed a Confederate flag from the state capital grounds. Their reasoning was some people were being hurt by it being there and since it was on public property, it needed to be removed. It was flying on a confederate war memorial. I'm conflicted with this situation. I don't want anyone to feel offended or hurt by something that is in a public place where they need to go to take care of business that can't be done anywhere else. An example would be the confederate flag flying by the door to the DMV. That shouldn't happen since the people do not have a choice to go elsewhere. But, on a confederate war memorial? There is also talk of removing statues that are on public ground and scattered around the country such as General Lee in Lee Circle in New Orleans. Memphis is talking about digging up the remains of confederate soldiers. This is a very slippery slope we are about to go down. Remember, Arlington Cemetery is on land once owned by Robert E. Lee's family. The Union took it at the beginning of the war and started burying Union soldiers with the hope that General Lee would not want to return to such a place. Should the soldiers be dug up since visitors may be offended by being on property once owned by General Lee. What about "The Fighting Tigers" of LSU? Should they have to change their name since it is referring a confederate military company called the fighting tigers. Where does it end? Why didn't Lincoln just let the south secede? Why did the south want to hang onto slavery while the rest of the world was abolishing it? Why didn't the south stay in the Union and fight in Congress some more? Why don't we hear people complaining about the slavery going on today in countries like Russia, China and India? Is the cheap labor that is manufacturing Apple products overseas just another form of slavery? When people become more and more dependent on government, are they themselves slaves? Questions are all that remain. 
The U.S.S. Yorktown is on display at the point
where you board the ferry to Fort Sumter.

This is the second aircraft carrier with the name

Obviously she is sitting on the bottom since
you can see the marks from high and low
tide with barnacles growing. A sight like that
would make a Boatswain's Mate sick.

This Yorktown is CV 10 and saw duty
in the last half of WW2 after the other
Yorktown CV 5 was sunk in the Battle
of Midway
The other interesting thing I learned was that the Nazi's mined the Charleston Harbor during World War 2. The American minesweepers cleared them before any damage was done. 

This has become a very long post as I rambled on and on. Tomorrow is moving day as I head farther north and west into Tennessee.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.                   


  1. very well writen

  2. Excellent writing. Thank you.

  3. Darrell, I really love to read your blog. You are not afraid to take on difficult subjects. We both love to study history as we travel. As a person from the northern US that is married to a girl from Texas, I have had many discussions about the subject of the "Stars and Bars" with my wife's family. In my opinion, if that flag was last used as a confederate battle flag, I would not have any issue with it. The problem is that the flag has been overtaken and used by "White Supremacy" groups as their symbol over the past 150 years. That along with the Nazi swastika have become symbols of evil. I certainly respect the right of southerners to fly the flag to celebrate their heritage. I also like to see the American flag flown along next to it on a higher standard. The subject of public places is a difficult one as you have stated in your well written post.

    Enjoy your travel and keep up your excellent writing.

  4. Hello Darrell
    I enjoy reading your blog. Haven't seen anything recent and hope you are well. I am glad you stopped at the East Bank COE and that you have found other Corp parks as well. We have enjoyed them also but have found there are some differences by state. I served on Minesweepers during my Navy service but never knew we had used them here on our own waterways. As with many things Military these days the Navy has cut way back on the minesweeping service none of the MSO or MSC vessels I was on are still in service, in fact the MineRon 5 base in California isn't there anymore.
    Safe Travels