Fort Sumter

For the record, today is July 15, 2017, the first day of our week-long family vacation.  This is kind of different from my normal entry, driving and blogging solo, cross-country.  This is a family vacation, kind of unique; really at this point, one of a kind.  We’ve done many week-long boys-only fishing trips to Canada and the ladies have done likewise ladies-only ‘fishing’ trips but this year for the first time we’re doing a Ruts Family vacation.  What’s with that?

My son Bob and I left Ohio on Thursday morning in my favorite car.  We’re the advance party of 18 of us (grandparents, parents and children) arriving hopefully safely today and gathering here.  Agenda is sunbathing, dining, sleeping, playing Monopoly, etc.

Thursday was mostly uneventful.  Nine hours, chauffeured mostly by Bob.  Scenic drive for sure, through the mountains, but Charlotte; yikes, a horrendous traffic jam (if driving south on I-77, exit at Cornelius and take 21S and get back on at Huntersville).  I assumed that Charlotte had some number of historic attractions, sort of like Charleston and Savannah, but alas, not to be (Beth, you were indeed right, should have listened).  So basically we got into a Sleep Inn, sacked out and bolted Friday morning.

Three hours later we’re in Charleston, SC and here, there’s a ton of stuff to see and do.  What we saw and did was Fort Sumter.  The first photo below is of a model of the original five-story fort.

What happened here?  Sort of goes like this.  Flashback to the 19th Century.  Charleston early on being a major port for trade with Europe, was key to the security of our young country.  Key to the outside threats of pirates and enemies of the state.  So after the War of 1812, construction of Fort Sumter began in 1829 on a sandbar in Charleston Harbor.  Year-by-year military budget allotments and some eight million bricks (made by slaves) later, construction moved forward to near-completion in 1860.  Then, with the country split between individual freedom and slavery, north and south, Fort Sumter, along with the other three Charleston harbor forts – Moultrie, Johnson and Castle Pinkney – became, as guardians to the Port of Charleston, significant to the military strategy of both the Union and the Confederacy.  The Union occupied the federal forts here, the small military garrison commanded by Major Robert Anderson.  Brigadier General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate Military, was his opponent.

Flashing back again to a few months earlier, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November, 1860.  Buchanan remained the lame-duck through February, continuing to do nothing about the slavery issue.  Lincoln however was seen as a major threat to the Southern Democrats.  In early March Lincoln was inaugurated, and ended his speech with the following.  “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so . . . We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies . . . The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Regardless, immediately after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina seceded and by the time he was inaugurated, six other southern states followed with their own secession.  And in the ensuing month, the Civil War commenced, right here, at Fort Sumter.  Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, understood the significant need to maintain trade with Europe (tobacco, cotton, indigo) and the crucial need to keep the port of Charleston open.  He declared that Sumter must be taken and on April 12th and 13th Beauregard attacked the fort with artillery lobbed from ships.  4,000 shells and 33 hours later, the fort’s five stories were reduced to the rubble of two and Anderson was forced to surrender.  Sumter fell and the war commenced.  It took another four years, and the reelection of President Lincoln to see the Union flag to be re-hoisted over the fort; the very same battle flag that came down at the surrender.  History made, right here, over 150 years ago.  What a story.

So now we’re back on dry land and this morning on our way to Hilton Head.  More . . . later.



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