Major Anderson Grows Impatient, Georgia’s Day of Prayer

Wednesday, November 28, 1860

Being five days since Major Richard Anderson sent his assessment of the forts in Charleston Harbor, he was growing anxious to hear back from Washington. So like anyone waiting for a reply that simply wasn’t coming, he tried again.

“I presume that my letter of the 23d has been received, and that the Department is now in possession of my views in reference to the measures I deem advisable and necessary for keeping this work and this harbor.” wrote Anderson, hopefully.

Now that he had five more days to better understand the situation in South Carolina, he could restate his premise (more troops) without really repeating himself. In his first letter, he wrote about what needed to be done to the forts themselves, but in this letter, he immediately wrote of reinforcements. “I cannot but remark that I think its security from attack would be more greatly increased by throwing garrisons into Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter than by anything that can be done in strengthening the defenses of this work.”

He noted that some intelligent men in Charleston had prior been allowed access to the forts and thus knew their weaknesses too well. This could be a problem. Also, Anderson seems to understand that South Carolina has some sort of sentimental attachment to the forts. “There appears to be a romantic desire urging the South Carolinians to have possession of this work, which was so nobly defended by their an- cestors in 1776….”1

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The Christy Minstrels, a wildly popular traveling blackface minstrel show, was playing all week at Richmond’s Mechanics Institute. The Richmond Daily Dispatch reviewed one of the shows: “Their instrumental and vocal music is No. 1, and the burlesques are of the most mirth provoking sort.”

Typically, these shows featured white performers dressed as very black performers doing jigs, singing songs and exploiting pretty well every stereotype one could think of. They were, however, very popular in both the north and the south, as well as in England, where The Christy Minstrels had played for several years.

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This day, as ordained by Governor Joseph E. Brown, was Georgia’s day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, “invoking the people of the State to meet at their respective places of worship, and unite in humble prayer to Almighty God for wisdom and strength to meet the crisis through which we are called to pass.”

An Atlanta diarist remembered that “most of the stores were closed and as the weather was wet and unpleasant very little business would have been done anyhow. We had a prayer meeting at our church between nine and eleven o’clcock and prayers were offered for our country and the Union, but Dick Branham [choir director of the First Baptist Church] made a secession prayer.”2



  1. Official Records Vol.1, p78-79, Government Printing Office, 1880. []
  2. From Sam Richards’s Civil War Diary: A Chronicle of the Atlanta Home Front By Samuel Pearce Richards, University of Georgia Press, 2009. []
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Major Anderson Grows Impatient, Georgia’s Day of Prayer by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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