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tv   The Civil War Fort Sumter and First Shots of the Civil War  CSPAN  January 10, 2021 7:15pm-8:01pm EST

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cable television companies. today we're brought to you by these cable television companies to provide these programs to viewers as public -- as a public service. announcer: located in charleston harbor fort sumter was held in 1861. despite south carolina's secession in 1860. up next, mark malloy describes the events of april 12, 1861 when confederate guns around the harbor opened fire on fort sumter. this talk was part of a symposium on the war in the east hosted by the emerging civil war blog. chris: welcome back to the virtual symposium. glad to have you with us. my name is chris. our next speaker comes to us
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from our sister site, "emerging revolutionary war." mark malloy is a historian with the national park service and he is like, what can i do this revolutionary war? i said, this is the civil war. we decided we would let him talk about fort sumter because it is as close as we can get to the revolutionary war era. i say that because mark is a delightful historian, wonderful guy, wish i could get him to laugh on cue. his most distinctive feature is his laugh. we are delighted to have him come here today to speak about the first shots of the civil war at fort sumter. mark? mark: thank you so much for that introduction, chris. [laughter] it is a pleasure to be able to speak at this symposium for the emerging civil war. we would love to have done in person, but being able to do it digitally is a wonderful way to do it as well.
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as chris mentioned my main passion is the american revolutionary war. you know, i work for the national park service and we take care of a lot of important civil war sites. i started my career with the national park service as an intern down at fort sumter and formal tree national historical park. -- in charleston, south carolina. i worked there for about a year in charleston, south carolina, if you have never been, is a beautiful town. most people associate it with its important civil war history. the war started there in 1861 in april. over the next 45 minutes i'm going to go over the build-up of the civil war there. i'm going to tell you about the battle on april 12 and april 13 nd then i will tell you what
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happened to fort sumter the rest of the war. what is there today and what you can see and i encourage you to go down and visit at some point. hopefully after covid and check out a lot of these important historical sites that are pretty well preserved. i really love the battle at fort sumter and there is a lot of high-profile characters involved in the opening shots of the war. i am going to go through some of hose as we talk today. fort sumter is a microcosm of the civil war and how it started off as this kind of gentlemanly, chivalric engagement that was relatively bloodless that led to the bloodiest war in a american history. and the war really devolved in charleston where there's atrocities happening, and it becomes a very bloody war there in charleston harbor towards the
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end. it is also an important story to know and understand. if you are going to study the civil war, historians are often debating the causes of secession and why the south seceded. but it did not necessarily mean there would be a shooting war. it is important to understand how the first shots came to be fired to understand why the war broke out. fort sumter at time was a symbol. it was highly symbolic and it is still is to this day. it is really important to understand as well. the story of fort sumter starts with the secession of south carolina which happened december 0, 1860. after abraham lincoln was elected and they held their convention -- charleston was a hotbed for secession. they were very eager to leave
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the union and on december 20 they vote unanimously, 169-0 to secede from the union. charleston was filled with celebrations, fireworks, bonfires, military parades, all sorts of things they struck out on their own. as you can see in the broadside it was in the charleston mercury, the newspaper, proclaiming that the union is dissolved. in order to understand the military situation in charleston harbor, you have to see with the geography looks like. you can see this map from that time in 1861 showing the city of charleston. it is on a peninsula bounded by the ashley and cooper rivers. those in charleston like to say it is where the ashley and cooper rivers converged to form he atlantic ocean. but you could see, charleston harbor is surrounded
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by numerous islands. there were four main fortifications that were there to defend the city against foreign invasion. and so, you can see off of the side of he city a small little shoal with a little fortification named castle pick ni. let me see if i can use the pointer. you can see castle pickney to the south of the city of charleston, jane's island that had fort johnson. in the middle of the harbor on n island was fort sumter and over here on sullivan's island , the north van side end of the harbor was fort moultrie. that is where most soldiers were stationed. they are in charleston south carolina seceded. this is the commander of the
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union soldiers. his name was major robert anderson is in command of the first u.s. artillery. really only about 85 me that he's commanding that are in this -- in charleston. it is important to realize how small the united states army was at the outset of the war. you only have 15,000 union soldiers across the entire nation at a time. they were kind of spread across the country and less than 100 and charleston harbor. of the 85 men eight were musicians in the band. it was a pretty sleepy post and most of the men who were actually in the first u.s. artillery were immigrants that came from ireland and germany. major robert anderson is an interesting figure because he is actually a southerner. he is from kentucky and he was very much against the idea of
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secession, but he was not in avor of war. he says his heart was not in the ar that he foresaw coming. he was kind of in a tricky situation because it basically came down to property rights in charleston harbor where these federal forts, were they part of the republic of south carolina or were they part of the united states government? and that is where a lot of the argument will come over as far as who should fire the first shot. but he's -- he's a -- his father was a revolutionary war veteran who fought with george washington at the battle of the trenton in princeton. he had many officers under his command who would play important oles during the war. he had lieutenant norman hall who would go on to have an important role in gettysburg. same with samuel crawford who was a surgeon.
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he had lieutenant jefferson davis, not the president of the confederate states, but jefferson c davis who would fight in the western theater of the war. captain truman seymour who would go on to lead troops at the battle of lusty later. it is interesting how many of his officers have important roles later in the war. his is one of the officers under his command who would have a big role in the war as well. captain abner doubleday would have a big role in ettysburg. he is more famous today because people think he started the game of baseball. that is not true, but that is how he was remembered. he is interesting because most of the officers were under robert anderson and they were not abolitionists and were not really republicans.
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abner doubleday was and he is very outspoken about it. a lot of the people in charleston did not like that so he was singled out in the newspapers for the vitriol. he is going to be outspoken in his defense of the union and in wanting to get rid of slavery. well robert anderson felt -- what happened was the south carolina militia flowed into the city of charleston and anderson did not think he would be able to hold his position at fort moultrie. and r and on december 26 he is going to make a bold move and move his entire force into fort umter. this act of itself some saw as an act of war because south carolinians viewed this installation as belonging to south carolina. moving troops into that fort hey were very much opposed to. anderson did not think he could hold fort moultrie because it was close to the mainland and he
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felt houses and things around the fort, the southerners would be able to get in there and fire into his men. he moves over to fort sumter. this is an image showing them raising the american flag and set fort sumter. the painting done later, but it is very interesting because it gives you a glimpse on the nside. fort sumter was started in 1829 and was still under construction when anderson moves his men there in 1860. they are still working on it 30 years after they started. as you can see inside the fort it was on was 90% complete. there are imposing walls that tood 50 feet high. three tiers of artillery placements, the fort was pretty massive for that time. it was originally built to hold over 600 men. anderson does not have that many. he will not even be able to use
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ll the canons. it was built to hold 135 cannons and there are only 60 in the fort at this time. he will only be able to man 10 cannons during the battle. this is what it looked like from the outside. fort sumter was a pretty imposing fortress sitting in the iddle of the harbor. what is going to happen is once the charlestonians see an american flag over fort sumter and they are outraged. pickens is rancis ordering that all of the installations around the harbor will be seized by south carolina trips. you can see some of the south carolina militia taking over castle pickney. at this time they did not even have a symbol for their state yet.
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they are carrying a flag with the star they took off the boat. but quickly, the south carolinians are going to adopt the palmetto tree and that is fort moultrie where the famous revolutionary war of 17 -- 1776. it was made out of palmetto trees and the soft wood of the palmetto tree absorbed the shock of cannon balls and a british invasion force was pushed back in june of 1776. and south carolina is going to adopt this as their symbol. and you'll still see it to this day on the south carolina flag as the palmetto tree. this is the actual flag carried by the palmetto guards which was a local charleston militia group that will be stained on morris sland during the initial ombardment of fort sumter.
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this gives you a good map. the american battle gave you a good view of what it looked like in charleston harbor in 18 of 1. fort moultrie and you can see the canon they could float in the harbor. they are going to take for johnson and castle pickney in this island in the south, more ilent, would play an important role -- morris island would play an important role. not during the first battle but laettner the war as well. and that position they're going to fortify that island as well. and there's a battery there that's manned by some students from the citadel. there was a military college there in charleston. and in january 1861, president buchanan is going to send a ship to resupply and reinforce fort sumter. as the ship is entering -- the
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ship was called star of the west. as it was entering charleston harbor the citadel cadet battery fires on the ship and they are going to fire a few rounds as warning shots and then actually hit the ship. the ship does not fire back. it is going to turn around and leave. but some -- and this is a drawing of the citadel cadets firing on the star of the west -- some people claim these are the first shots of the civil war. that would probably be citadel cadets and alumni of the college. there is no return fire. what basically happens is it goes back to a stalemate in charleston harbor. trying to figure out what is oing to happen next. asically what happens as the stalemate continues six more southern states are going to secede from the union in january, february, march of 1861. they come together in february in montgomery, alabama
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to form the confederate states of america. they are going to create their own constitution, elect jefferson davis as president and vice president and they start forming an army. the new confederate states are going to appoint this man, pierre beauregard, as the general in command of the confederate forces in charleston harbor. he is a really interesting character as well. he actually resigned from being superintendent of west point joined the confederacy and when he was a student at west point who was his professor? none other than major robert nderson. so now you have the pupil and the teacher on opposite sides of this what will turn out to be the first battlefield of the civil war. sumter is going to continue to sit there as a symbol of the impasse in the country. there is a woman, mary chestnut, ho has a wonderful civil war
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diary that was in charleston during this time. mary chestnut writes, there stands for sumter and there stands peace or war. there was this constant fear that war would break out in charleston harbor. basically what's happening is nobody's sure of what's going to happen with the situation once president lincoln becomes president. d that happens on march 4th, 1961. abraham lincoln is inaugurated president of the united states. how was he going to handle the situation differently than buchanan? now, there are numerous political attempts to avert war. there's a peace convention in washington, d.c. there are numerous compromises to try to push off war, and peace delegation from the
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confederate states to send to washington, but all of these are rejected and lincoln is going to reject acknowledging the confederate states of america. believing a secession was illegal and they had no actual authority, so all of the communications between the united states government and south carolina and the confederates is going to be through francis pickens. who they viewed as legitimate. but lincoln believed that the united states should hold the fort. now, something was happening on the ground there though because anderson was running o out of food and supplies. he was not going to be able to stay there forever. what is lincoln going to do? lincoln is going to send a relief force that would just deliver food and supplies to nderson's men. but if they were opposed, if they were fired on, they were going to bring reinforcements as well. the confederate government views this, delivering the food. but as an act of war because
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again, they didn't believe they had the right to the fort. so on april 4th, the relief expedition is sent by lincoln to charleston harbor. on april 10th, president jefferson davis tells beauregard to tell anderson to evacuate the fort immediately and if he does not, to reduce the fort. the next day on april 11, 1861 this man, james chestnut, who sed to be senator from south choirnl who had resigned, was a colonel in the confederate army, he along with captain stephen d lee and alexander chisel row out there, meet with anderson, and tell him his options. anderson says he is going to be starved out in four days and he
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will leave then. chestnut is going to take that and ge back to beauregard, they discuss it and around midnight they are going to go back one more time. they say they would need to leave immediately. anderson does not agree and so chestnut tells anderson, we will fire on you in one hour. and the time was 3:30 in the morning. and his wife is back this charleston. she writes in her diary that time, i do not pretend to go to sleep. how can i? if anderson does not accept the terms at 4:00, the orders are he shall be fired upon. i count four bells that chime and i begin to hope at half past 4:00 the heavy coming of cannon. i spring out of bed and on my knees i prayed as i never prayed before." right after chestnut meets with
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anderson he and his group are going to go over to fort johnson. at fort johnson they are joined also by a former virginia congressman, over on the right side named roger prior. roger prior was a fire eater. he was really pushing to get virginia to secede. but they hadn't at that point. what's going to happen is chestnut is going to tell the commander of the mortar battery there, who is this man on the eft, captain george james who would actually die later at the battle of south mountain, he gives him the command to fire the first shot. james is going to give roger prior the opportunity to fire the first shot and prior says, he cannot fire the first gun of the war. instead a lieutenant, henry farley, is given the command to fire. he will fire the cannon and it explodes over fort sumter. that was the signal for the batteries to open fire on fort
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sumter. this was the first shot of the civil war. some people said that was not the first shot. often you hear it that the first shot was this man who fired. this guy is edmund ruffin who is a fascinating historical figure. he was very much a fire eater. he gained national fame for being an agricultural list before the civil war. he was from virginia and from 1855 on he devoted himself to nothing but preaching secession. sometimes known as the father of secession, he traveled all across the country giving speeches, he writes pamphlets, lways looking to provoke secession, and he actually snuck in and was able to witness the hanging of john brown.
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he went down to charleston to watch the secession of south carolina. he goes out to morris island and here he is on the 70 years old and the palmetto guard allow him into their company. he is wearing the uniform of palmetto guards. they are going to give him the opportunity to fire the first shot after the signal went off. he is at the iron battery which is on morris island. he yanks the lanyard and his shop will hit fort sumter. e fires and hits the fort. abner doubleday actually remembers hearing the first blast hitting the fort and he believed that came with complements from mr. ruffin. -- edmund ruffin is going to keep a diary throughout the war. -- which is a great resource to not only think what he's thinking butity villian's perspective of the whole war. but when he finds out about the defeat of general lee's army and the defeat of the army, rather
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than submit to yankee rule, he's going to put his rifle in his mouth and shoot himself in the head and commit suicide. some argue he fired the first and last shot of the civil war. once the battery opens up on fort sumter there was no response. there are 43 cannons firing on fort sumter that are firing on the fort, and major anderson tries to conserve powder. it is not until 7:00 a.m. the union are going to fire back. that was fired by abner doubleday. so he fires the first shot in return. all of a sudden you have both sides firing back and forth at each other. this is going to go on for hours and hours. every two minutes the confederates are firing from different batteries all around the entire island. here you can see an image of them firing on the fort. the bombardment is going to last
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a total of 34 hours. meanwhile, in the city of charleston, you can see people ran to the rooftops and they ran up to watch the bombardment. similar to what you will see were civilians are watching this battle, some are celebrating, some weeping, and you can see the batteries firing on all sides. you will see smoke billowing out of fort sumter as well. in addition to just artillery shells and artillery shot, they are also firing hotshot, which is basically where they take cannonball, put it in a furnace until it was red-hot, and these were used to fire it ships to catch them on fire. they are using them on fort sumter to get the buildings inside caught on fire. they start cutting successful and hit some of the buildings. anderson's men are trying to fire back and put out fires within the fort. it starts getting pretty chaotic inside the fort.
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anderson at one point only had six cannons firing back at everybody. meanwhile, while this bombardment is going on, who appears on the coast but the expedition that was sent to relief major anderson. the confederates were scared this group is going to try and land and attack them or join in on the fight, but they do not join at all. much to the consternation of the defenders of fort sumter because they are wondering if they are going to get any relief or help during this battle. ut that does not happen. you can see an image of the fire. doubleday writes memoirs after the war where he describes everything that happens and he has a great quote that showed you how chaotic was. "showers of balls poured into the fort in one incessant stream causing flakes of masonry to all in all directions. the immense mortar shells, after sailing high in the air, came
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down in a vertical direction to embed themselves in the parade grounds. their explosions shook the fort like an earthquake." overnight the union is going to stop firing to conserve ammunition, but they're going to resume on the morning of the 3th. on the 13th they are going to fire and they're going to catch the officer's quarters on fire. hat leads to a larger fire and there is fear that this is going to get to the powder magazine which would blow the entire ort. it is around 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon on april 13, one cannonball hits the union flag and knocks it to the ground and some of the union defenders, including sergeant peter hart, climb up and replace the american flag at the top of the ort.
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during this time, when the confederates see the flag down, a cheer erupts and they think anderson is surrendering. louis wigfall, a former senator, quickly hops into a rowboat, ose up to the fort, and he immediately starts negotiating with major anderson. he's basically saying, are you surrendering the fort? anderson at first does not want to, but quickly realizes that he hould surrender. he puts up a white flag. when beauregard's men see the white flag, chestnut goes back out there and there is confusion because wigfall had no authority to negotiate a surrender. anderson agrees to surrender the ort again to chestnut. wig fall had no authority to negotiate a surrender. but after discussing with chestnut, you know, anderson agrees again to sur rend tore fort. but they would be given pretty generous terms. they would be able to take their flag down an salute it with a
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cannon salute. they would be able to back to new york and take their personal ossessions an their flags. they agree to this. the next day is when the union prepares to leave and while they are firing their salute -- he was supposed to be a 100 gun salute -- when they get to number 47 disaster happens. private daniel howe is loading the cap nonwhen it goes off, rips off his arm. he's going to bleed out and die. but some of the powder ignites powder around the cannon and an explosion happens and about half a dozen are wounded and one of the other men who is wounded would be mortly so. these are the first fatalities, military fatalities, of the civil war. because when anderson surrendered he had asked did the confederates have casualties? they said no. anderson did not have casualties
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during the actual battle either which is remarkable. anderson also cries out, thank god, because he did not want to be responsible for these first steps. -- deaths. but this accident that happens, like i said, are the first deaths. so they're going to stop at the 50 gun salute rather than 100 gun salute. they file out of the fort onto a ship and go back with the relief expedition back to new york. the confederates march in, edmund ruffin at the head carrying the palmetto flag. they will raise the flag and the new confederate states of america flag over fort sumter. what was the response to this? lincoln -- first of all, sumter becomes a rallying cry. the confederates fired on fort sumter, the fired on the american flag. all across communities people are rallying to join up with the union army. lincoln is going to immediately call, on april 15, 75,000 volunteers to suppress the confederacy.
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by doing that the army is only 15,000. you can imagine how big the army is now. just calling up volunteers is going to drive virginia to secede in three other upper south states. thus the civil war began. because of that focus on the war goes to virginia where a lot of he fighting is going to happen such as manassas. before sumter stood as the symbol of where the first shot was fired. what happens to anderson and his men? they are greeted as heroes. thousands come to see the actual flag that they brought back with them that have been fired on by he confederates. like i said many of them are going to go off and do much bigger things during the civil war. some of them are going to die of disease and other things like that. one of the more interesting stories is the man you see in
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the back row second from the right. his name was richard mead and he was a virginian who fought with anderson's men during the battle. but when virginia succeeds on april 17 he resigns and joins the confederate army. he will actually fight against the union before he dies of isease during the war. the union is going to come back n 1861 to south carolina and the confederates are quick to fortify the entire harbor. you can see the massive amount of earthworks around the arbor. the union is going to eventually make that one of their headquarters. they will get onto morris island to get a foothold. they are going to try taking charleston by land and they are
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going to meet utter disaster at the battle of secession ville in which dan gave a wonderful presentation at last year's conference. they are going to keep trying to apture fort sumter by sea. they're going to do an ironclad attack in april 1863 that is repulsed. once they get on morris island they're going to try multiple attempts to try and capture the whole island. you have seen the famous movie "glory" where the battle of wegner happens. hat is repulsed as well. eventually the confederates are going to abandon morris sland. once the union captures morris island they are less than half a mile from fort sumter. rtillery had grown leaps and bounds by this time. the artillery they were using during the first battle was only accurate up to a mile. by this time they have rifles, artillery accurate up to four or five miles. the union have a large cannon,
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the swamp angel, firing rounds into the city of charleston. that was a distance of about four miles. once they get onto morris island the union is going to hammer fort sumter. they are going to fire on it almost continuously all hroughout 1864 and 1865. it is just going to be an unrelenting attack to try capture fort sumter. the new rifle artillery demolishes the wall. this is what it looks like by that point. the rifle artillery smashes through the brick walls, but with a did not realize is it is making it stronger. this message down and basically turned fort sumter into one giant earthwork. the confederates are going to be living like rats on the inside and fighting back to put in groups on there to capture t.
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those are going to be repulsed as well. hey just resort to that. he war starts devolving in south carolina refuses to get ymbolic imports of fort sumter nd give up on fort sumter. this is an image by conrad who painted all sorts of scenes around charleston harbor. you can see this loan confederate century spanning the second national confederate flag. in the distance, you can see the union blockade, all the vessels arrayed, and you can see morris island where they were shelling fort sumter. not only were they shelling fort sumter, they were hitting the ity of charleston. they're going to put union prisoners of war in charleston in the city.
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in retaliation, the union is going to take confederate prisoners and they are going to put them on the edge of morris island to use them as human shields. so, here again, how this warhead devolved from this gentleman's warfare to, by the end, they're literally using prisoners as human shields. but over the course of -- and this is another shot after the war, but fort sumter looked like. over the course of two years, the union is going to fire 3500 tons of metal into the sland. and like i said, just turn it into one giant earthwork. but they never do capture it. they're never able to capture fort sumter. confederates are going to hold charleston until february, 1855. by that point, sherman continued is march to the sea. he goes to columbia instead of charleston.
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it basically made indefensible he city of charleston. so in february 17, 1865, the confederates evacuate charleston and fort sumter. the next day, union soldiers finally get fort sumter and they raised the american flag over t. general sherman, charleston had been ravaged by being shelled during the war. they suffered a fire in 1861 that burned out a lot of the city. general sherman and many union soldiers wanted revenge for having started the war. he wrote, "i doubt any city was ore terribly punished than charleston. but as for people had been gitating for war and discord and finally inaugurated the civil war, the judgment of the world would be charleston deserved the fate that befell her." on april 14, anderson returns to fort sumter to reraise the
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american flag over fort sumter. and the celebration was overshadowed that same night when president abraham lincoln was shot in washington, d.c. at ord's theater. so, what's fort sumter today? oday, if you go visit the fort -- it was used by the u.s. military in the 1940's and now is a national park service site. the immediate thing you notice is there is no more of those three tiers of walls. there's only one level of the brick wall around the island. you'll see this large, black battery built during the panish-american war. it now sits in the middle. numerous changes over there and very little fabric from the original 1861 still exists, but it does exist on different places on the island. inside the battery is a wonderful museum that has a lot of objects related to the battle. this is what it looks like nside today.
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some of the case mates are surviving, so you can check those out. you can see the ruins over here f the different barracks and officers quarters, as well as monuments to the defenders of he fort. ou can still see some of the actual, you know, artillery that was fired inside that siege from 1863-1865 from morris island, still embedded in the brick walls. amazing you can still see that iece of history. inside the museum there, you will see the actual flag. this is the storm flag anderson's men flew during the battle. they also had a larger garrison flag, which is another site run by the national park service down there. fort sumter, of course it's not the only site to see. this is what fort moultrie looks ike.
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this is where the first shots were fired by the confederates, the site of the revolutionary war battle. you can check out that. they interpret all of coastal defense from 1776 on up to world war ii. robably one of the neatest sites is to go to fort johnson, where that first initial shell was fired by. captain george s james. there's a marker denoting that as the first shot of the civil war. morris island is really cool. that's where fort wegner was. but that has changed a lot due to the tides, so there's nothing out there. all the earthwork has been washed away. there's no monuments or markers. it's only accessible by boat, so it's difficult to get out there. you have multiple sites to check out, but charleston overall is a
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beautiful city. a lot of people associate it ith this initial story of what appened there during the civil war, but the history goes all the way back, even before the revolutionary war, and a lot of the original buildings and sites still exist, so it's a wonderful place to visit and involve yourself in a lot of history there. yeah, thank you very much. if you want to read more about this, read more about the initial battle, i recommend "allegiance," very good overview f that first battle. if you want to know about the siege, greed gate of hell by stephen wise. hopefully next year, the former historian, rick hatcher, who i had the privilege of working with, is going to have an emerging civil war series book called "thunder in the harbor" that should cover all of this.
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hopefully include a lot of sites you can visit. but thank you all very much. i appreciate the opportunity to speak here today. >> you're watching american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. explore our nation's past. american history tv on c-span 3. created by american's television companies. today, we provide american americanv to viewer as history. each week. american history tv to real america brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affair issue.
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hour and one day in the world history that is rarely been equaled. these are the first ships to take off in the airborne nvasion. first ship is airborne at 21:54. >> you can take over on public affairs in their entirety on our weekly series "real america." saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. here on american history tv. history,on lectures in a class about how colonial history is remembered through historic sites and monuments and sometimes contested.
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she argues that people associations are influenced by material. and statues of columbus and pocahontas. this video was provided by the university of delaware. eastern, the national world war ii museum hosts an online panel discussion and efforts to document the chinese americans who served in the u.s. armed forces. at 10:00 p.m. eastern as the nation prepares for the transfer of powers to the biden administration, look back at past presidential farewells. doesn't always seem that the chaotic time in our country is right now? the greatest risks and challenges? that isn't really true, when i was first assigned to county

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