The Surrender of Fort Sumter; First Union Dead

Sunday, April 14, 1861

News of the bombardment had spread to Washington, Boston and New York, where Walt Whitman purchased an extra near the Metropolitan Hotel. A crowd gathered around him as he read the news. Silence fell over them in the dark morning. After a minute or two, they faded away.1

In Washington, President Lincoln attended church services at his regular New York Avenue Presbyterian while the church bells of Charleston rang out the news of surrender.

Confederate General Beauregard wired Montgomery that the fort was theirs. Though nobody was killed in the battle, the fort, especially its interior, was in ruins.2

Major Anderson had agreed to surrender after realizing there was no other recourse. Captain Hartstene of the Confederate Navy arrived at Sumter with six bags of mail for the garrison. Anderson happily distributed the mail to his men as Abner Doubleday made ready the artillery for a 100-gun salute.

Sumter’s garrison packed their belongings while dodging small fires and burning, smoldering embers strewn throughout the fort. They loaded the private and company property onto small boats and rowed them to the steam ship Isabel, anchored 70 yards off of Sumter’s wharf. The process took all morning.

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Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Lincoln, aware of the bombardment and assuming the outcome, called a Cabinet meeting to issue a call for troops to be provided by the state militia system. Numbers were the key here. 100,000 were suggested, but it seemed to be too large. Would it really take 100,000 men? Where would they come from? Lincoln finally settled on 75,000.

Lincoln, however, could not raise an army. That was the job of Congress, which wouldn’t be in session until December. The Cabinet called for a special session to begin on the Fourth of July. Secretary of State Seward was against it, urging Lincoln to act on his own.

Nevertheless, the proclamation for troops was written and set to be published the following day.3

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At 2:30, all was ready. The belongings were loaded onto the ship while the white flag of surrender was taken down and the tattered United States flag was fixed to the pole, waiting to be hoisted over Fort Sumter once more.

As it was raised, Lieutenant Norman J. Hall ordered his top tier batteries to fire, quickly, one after another in salute to their banner. The men not tending the pieces had formed in the parade ground, around the flag as shot after shot rang out.

There was uneasiness in Charleston over the number of shots that would be fired. Twenty-seven shots would recognize the Confederacy, the Union having only that number of states remaining. Thirty-four guns would be an insult, a complete denial that the Confederacy even existed. When the number passed both, the uneasiness lifted. Anderson was taking a high road.4

As the 47th gun sounded, an ember had jumped to some ammunition lying in wait for the coming salutes. It exploded, claiming the arm and almost immediately after, the life of Private Daniel Hough. Another, Private Edward Galloway, was mortally wounded. They became the first two Union soldiers to die in the Civil War. This “honor” was too much for Major Anderson to bear. He ordered three more guns to fire, cutting the salute in half.5

Four others were hurt in the explosion. One, too critically to be moved, was left behind to be treated by Southern doctors.

The ceremonies at an end, the Palmetto Guard marched into Sumter to accept the surrender, raise the Southern flag and officially take Sumter as their own.

The accident caused some delay in leaving. The broken Union soldiers, now veterans of the War’s first battle, filed quietly onto the Isabella. They would be taken to the Baltic for passage back to the North the following day.6



  1. Specimen Days by Walt Whitman, 1883. []
  2. Official Records, Series I, Vol. 1, p314. []
  3. Team of Rivals by Dorris Kearns Goodwin. []
  4. Allegiance by David Detzer. []
  5. Days of Defiance by Maury Klein. []
  6. Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-’61 by Abner Doubleday. []
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The Surrender of Fort Sumter; First Union Dead by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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