Friday, April 13, 2018

Beginnings...

View from E Battery towards Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC
Google Street View
Zoomed in view, Fort Sumter is that low lying spot on the horizon just to the top left of the concrete post in the foreground.
Google Street View
Something I missed yesterday, something I kept pondering, especially when I considered the date.

"What the heck is it about the 12th of April? What am I forgetting?" I muttered all day long, no doubt my younger colleagues were concerned for my mental well-being. And could they have my desk...

Finally in the mid-afternoon I checked my Yahoo mail account, there it was, an email from the "Today in History" folks. Fort Sumter, the 12th of April is when the bombardment of Fort Sumter began, so began the War Between the States, one hundred and fifty-seven years ago.

As a callow youth, and later as a visitor to Charleston some years back, I always thought that the bombardment of Fort Sumter began along the shoreline of that opening photo. Looking at how tiny the fort looks from there, I had to pull the map back out.

Yup, from that point to Fort Sumter is well over 5,000 yards, better than three miles. Not a problem for modern artillery, bit of a stretch for the standard smoothbore, black-powder, muzzle loading cannon of 1861.

Charleston Harbor, the red circles are Confederate batteries, the red blob is where the park is.
Google Street View
Now I have stood where that top photo was taken. Behind me there was a statue dedicated to the Confederate defenders of Charleston, and in the very nice park behind and around that statue, there were a whole slew of ancient cannon. (Well, ancient by modern standards, state of the art in  1861. Though there were already rifled cannon in production which would supplant, but not totally, the old smoothbores.)

I think the pictures I'd seen as a kid made me think that the war started right there. (Might have been a plaque or two in that park hinting at that as well.) But no, a little research led me to the rough locations of the batteries that actually battered Fort Sumter. Using Google Street View led me to the area of Fort Moultrie. In the next two photos, Sumter is a lot closer.

Fort Sumter is about 1,300 yards from this point.
(You can just see the tall white object marking where the Fort is.)
Google Street View
Zoomed in, the Fort is quite discernible.
Google Street View
From the shore just beyond Sumter, the range is under 400 yards. Well, within the range of even a small cannon.

The fort was rather tall when first built, now it's a shadow of its former self. It wasn't just the Confederates who bombarded it, the Union did as well, later in the war.

12 to 14 April 1861
Amazing the things you learn when you do a little research.

I did take a few pictures when I was down that way. It was right after The Nuke finished Nuke School, Part One (as I like to say).

There used to be another level where I'm standing.
Cannon, lots of cannon.
The view from where the ferry lands.
Charleston in the ferry's wake as we head out to Sumter.
Just before docking...
I should note that Charleston is one of my favorite cities, great food, nice people.

I didn't make a point of advertising that I'm a Yankee. But I'm guessing the accent gave me away.

That business from 1861 to 1865? Something to avoid a repeat of, my fervent hope, and prayer is that it never comes to that again.

Ever.



26 comments:

  1. Personal photos like yours really add to the perspective, only visual aid I can remember from elementary school was that painting you show. WOW, checked the comments from two days ago, 80! There are some smart people reading here and contributing. Can hear Canadians overhead honking and there's 6-10" of the white forecast tonight into tomorrow.

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    1. The other day stirred a lot of emotions, there are a lot of smart people who stop by here, I learn from all of you.

      Another six to ten inches of snow? Wow, my daffodils are finally blossoming, did have a frost a couple of days ago, hoping the snow is done!

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  2. You are not the only one who prays that way....I suspect that there are a lot of Americans these days who fear that we are heading for a repeat of the civil war.

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    1. And there are any number of fools who wish to foment such a thing, not knowing what the Hell they're wishing for.

      I think that there are enough folks who know better, but a bit of prayer doesn't hurt.

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    2. And there are any number of fools who wish to foment such a thing, not knowing what the Hell they're wishing for.

      Sigh... Rather like back then, although I think it might be fair to say there were more Firebreathers from lower latitudes wishing for it back then. It was only once Ft. Sumter was bombarded that many Northerners decided the fight had come, and once started, they'd best finish it. A bit like Pearl Harbor.

      Ft. Sumter was not only a Beginning, it was the Beginning of the End of a culture that had it chosen so, could have gradually ended what had become a national disgrace outside their region. Like Tsarist Russia from the Decembrist Revolt of 1825, they fought tooth and nail against any further change their society and all they did was to make the final reckoning that much worse. And yet they were lucky compared to the Tsarists or Haitian slave owners. They weren't as bad, and they lost power before Christianity was dying and irredeemable hatred had set in.

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    3. Food for thought - most of the firebrands were politicians, who went nowhere near the fighting.

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  3. It would appear that the three flags other than the Stars and Stripes are, from left to right, the Stars and Bars (First National), the state flag of South Carolina, and the Stainless Banner (Second National). Like the pounding that Fort Sumter received to start the war, William Tecumseh Sherman all but destroyed much of South Carolina in retribution. It is interesting that Sherman is famous for commenting that "War is Hell," and Robert E. Lee for saying “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

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    1. The original intent of the Park Service was to fly the flags over Sumter that had flown over the fort during the war. So you're spot on. Two of the U.S. flags are the 33-star and 35-star versions of the Stars and Stripes.

      When Sherman came through, South Carolina caught Hell, many of the Union troops felt that as SC had "started the war" they should be made to feel its full wrath. Nasty times.

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  4. Thanks for the history update ...and the reminder of where where rhetoriic and obstinacy can lead.
    The language is inflammatory on both sides and that’s not right.

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    1. Any side which calls for violence against a fellow American is NOT my side.

      You hit the nail on the head Skip.

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  5. I went to ROTC summer camp at Charleston AFB. The only weekend we had free, I went to Ft Sumter. Stood on the rampart almost exactly where you took the picture. Interesting place.

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    1. It is indeed. I'd like to get back there some day.

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  6. The next (un) civil war will not have the somewhat neat dividing line that the previous one did. And likely will make that one seem like a Sunday picnic football game. Along with the rest of you, I'm hoping that it doesn't come about.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. I don't think it will happen, but I don't ignore the possibility either.

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    2. I fervently hope it doesn't happen, either. But I wouldn't be surprised, either.

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  7. At the time of the US War between the States, the USA was a second or even third tier nation, more concerned with it's own issues, and only exerting external power really through trade and our merchant fleet. Other nations stood little to gain, other than as a source of money from the sale of arms, from who won the war. Trade would still go on.

    Now, in these days, if the US broke into full civil war, the disruption to global trade, food and money would tank about 2/3rds of the world's nations. Just pulling the funding for the UN to fund the internal fight would cause chaos and disorder worldwide not seen since the 'Great Depression' after WWI. The only nations that would win politically, not financially, would be the Russians and the ChiComms (which would be a death sentence for China-Taiwan, and many other SE Asian countries, like Viet Nam and Korea(s) by the way.)

    I try telling this to the lefties in my town who are openly espousing a civil war (at the same time they removed the local Confederate War Memorial (bye, "Old Joe," at least you got moved instead of being destroyed) and they are all like, "Good, we want the US to be less powerful." Makes me sick. They don't understand that a 2nd World USA would rapidly spiral into a 3rd World USA, a sh*%hole like those they also want us to elevate to our level. They also don't understand that it's a lot easier to fall than to rise.

    Sometimes, okay, all the time these days, I'm really scared for our future. I wonder if this is how the less-political Italians, Spanish, Germans or Russians felt as they watched the forces of socialism rise to power? I never wanted to be part of a nation's "Great Leap Forward," but I fear I'm going to get the opportunity to participate.

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    1. My own observation is that those who scream loudest for dissolution of the nation will be nowhere near the front lines.

      It's the quiet ones you have to watch.

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  8. Somewhere in the nether regions Gavrillo Princip, the Archduke Ferdinand and the German General Staff are shaking their heads--they've seen this movie before. Tito shows up and says, "It's new and improved!" They start throwing popcorn and jujubees (only use I've ever found for those) until he says, "And this time it's got American stars!" They start munching popcorn at that point, only occasionally throwing jujubees. "Sarajevo 3.0" screening now. I'll pass. Oh, look--"The Emoji Movie" is playing...! Where did I put that knife...?

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  9. I think that the folks who are calling for war, or dissolution, have only fought on video games, and never been shot at, or experienced the true hell of war. Probably never even have had a boo-boo or seen a drop of blood.

    I seriously think bringing back the draft, or instituting a mandatory service obligation would go a long ways to calming down some of the snowflake nonsense that is flying around out there, as well as teach some folks that a gun is a tool, just like a chainsaw. To be used, carefully, and with great forethought, but it doesn't get up of it's own accord and go ramming around. And without it, all the other rights, EVERY single one of them, are in grave peril of being repealed lickity-split. As history has demonstrated multiple times over multiple generations and centuries in multiple countries around the world.
    Folks think it would never happen here...to which I reply don't bet on it. The current amount of attempted control by Big Brother is pretty scary already.

    My 2 cents. Which is worth what you pay for it.

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    1. Your 2 cents is well worth it. Your thoughts are much as my own.

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  10. As a topic for next Saturday, 21 April is the 100th Anniversary of the death of Manfred von Richtofen.

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  11. Hey Old AFSarge;

    I went to Fort Sumter while visiting the U.S.S Yorktown at Patriots Point. I didn't realize at first that the upper level was missing until I started reading up on it. I also know that they had "Disappearing Rifles" as part of coastal defense in the early part of the last century. As far as CW 2.0 goes, I don't want to see it in my lifetime or my sons, but the left is pushing really hard. The people that are wanting this have no idea what they are asking for. Their idea of "war" is either video games or as part of antifa attacking those that don't believe like they do. I really hope they wake up before it is pushed to a point of no return.

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    1. Those who advocate violence are quickly cured once they are on the receiving end.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)