151 Years Ago Today ………
To finish off my previous posts on Sumter – writings I would have rather had a year ago, though I had no blog then – here is some more material from my years of Abner Doubleday research. As always when I post something about Doubleday, the words in italics are from him.
Having been evacuated from Charleston, Abner Doubleday and the Sumter contingent of Companies E and H of the 1st U.S. Artillery arrived in New York Harbor on April 18th, and at Fort Hamilton on the 19th. Major Anderson was granted immediate leave, and the command devolved to Doubleday. Anderson was soon after permanently detached (April 30th) and made a brigadier-general in his native Kentucky, but his system had been undermined by his great responsibilities; he was threatened with softening of the brain, and was obliged to retire from active service. <1>
An incredible reception of unbounded enthusiasm greeted the defenders of Sumter upon their arrival in New York. Passing steamers saluted with bells and whistles along with cheers from ferries and other vessels in the harbor. The major newspapers of the city all extended a royal reception and a hearty welcome. For a long time the enthusiasm in New York remained undiminished. It was impossible for us to venture into the main streets without being ridden on the shoulders of men, and torn to pieces by hand shaking. Shortly after our arrival, Henry Ward Beecher came down to the fort to meet us, and made a ringing speech, full of fire and patriotism. It seemed as if every one of note called to express his devotion to the cause of the Union and his sympathy with us, who had been its humble representatives amidst the perils of the first conflict of the war. <2>
The speech from Beecher is noted as occurring on the 11th of May, when the garrison renewed the oath of allegiance. The day was replete with a military parade to render the ceremony more impressive, and a great many visitors heard the spirited speech of the famous Congregationalist clergyman, orator, and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe—the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. <3> Other noted visitors, many of whom were among the most highly distinguished in all walks of life, were regular guests at Fort Hamilton. The Chamber of Commerce of New York voted a bronze medal to each officer and soldier of the garrison. This was certainly of a special pleasure to Doubleday, who had some weeks previously, in the midst of the Charleston Harbor standoff, pondered how very appropriate it would be for them to receive such an honor. On March 1st, Samuel Wylie Crawford wrote in his journal: “Doubleday seems to think that we will be rewarded in some way after our exit from here. Spoke of the metal to be struck as desirable should the suggestion be made with a representation of the evacuation of Moultrie on one side and the word ‘fidelity’ on the reverse.” (Crawford also mentioned that the men were busy on this Sumter day in “playing ball and leap frog.”) <4>
- Abner Doubleday, From Moultrie to Sumter, p. 49.
- Abner Doubleday, Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-’61, pp. 175-176.
- Supplement, vol. 1, serial 2 – Journal of Abner Doubleday, p. 196.
- Supplement, vol. 1, serial 1, p. 42.