This Week in the Civil War
Posted at: 08/09/2013 9:35 AM
By The Associated Press
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Aug. 11: shelling near Fort Sumter, S.C., Confederate sub to Charleston.
Federal forces continued to lay siege to Confederate forces holding defensive positions in South Carolina’s Charleston harbor area. From late July of 1863 until early September of that year, Union forces were intent on reducing Confederate fighters defending Charleston _ where the Civil War broke out at federally-held Fort Sumter in 1861. The prolonged federal siege began after a failed assault July 18, 1863, on Confederate defenses at Fort Wagner _ led by a courageous black regiment which suffered heavy loss of life. It would not be until Sept. 7, 1863, that Confederate foes would abandon Fort Wagner when their position there became untenable. This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley arrived by train at Charleston after its construction in Mobile, Ala. It was billed as the world’s first successful submarine and seen as a secret weapon for the South in fighting Abraham Lincoln’s wartime blockade of Southern seaports.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Aug. 18: Siege prolonged at Fort Sumter, S.C.
Federal forces have positioned artillery batteries on a barrier island near Charleston Harbor, S.C., and begun firing on Confederate-held Fort Sumter 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. The prolonged bombardment will continue for weeks, though the Confederates remain stoutly entrenched in the massive-walled fort where the Civil War began in 1861. The move comes as Union forces hope to penetrate the Charleston Harbor defenses and seize the city as part of a tightening blockade on Southern river and seaports. The Associated Press, in a dispatch titled "Latest from Charleston" reported on the artillery barrages. It said "the bombardment of Sumter ... proceeds sluggishly" as Union fighters fortified their positions near the harbor. In between bouts of firing, there is calm, "everything perfect quiet except the occasional boom of the guns." Another dispatch said witnesses reported seeing several artillery shells strike Fort Sumter, "which caused the brick and mortar to fly profusely.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Aug. 25: South Carolina fighting, violence in Kansas.
The Associated Press reported in a dispatch dated Aug. 25, 1863: "The bombardment of (Fort) Sumter still continues, and the south wall has been demolished almost to its base." For weeks now, Union forces have been attempting to smash through heavy Confederate defenses on islands ringing Charleston Harbor off South Carolina’s coast. The AP dispatch added that rebel batteries have answered the Union’s artillery bombardment with bursts of return fire at short intervals. Federal forces reported that their casualties are few and that "every confidence in success is felt by the officers and troops." At one point the bombardment became so intense, AP reported, that the entire southwest side of Fort Sumter has been reduced to rubble _ "nothing but a heap of ruins." Even the Confederate flag flying above the fort was shot away during one barrage, The AP reported. In Kansas, meanwhile, authorities report the discovery 150 years ago this week of 28 bodies _ part of the sectarian violence that the war has touched off in the West. Witnesses said in dispatches that the discovery of murdered civilians in one town was "heart-rending and sickening."
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Sept. 1: Confederates abandon Morris Island off Charleston, S.C.
Sporadic shelling of Confederate defenses on Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, S.C., have their effect this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The night of Sept. 6-7, 1863, the Confederate garrison at Battery Wagner on Morris Island was evacuated _ leaving the Union to control the barrier island near the harbor entrance. The battery was the object of a failed and bloody assault in July 1863 by African-American soldiers who fought courageously but were driven back by Confederate foes in fierce combat. One far bigger prize remains elusive to Union leadership: Confederate-held Fort Sumter. On Sept. 1, 1863, a Union frigate and other warships attempt to bombard Fort Sumter, which has been sporadically shelled for weeks from nearby vantage points. But Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began in April 1861, remained firmly in Confederate hands even as it was being pounded to rubble. Attempts to take the fort, including an attempt in early September by hundreds of Union forces, have all failed.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)