This Enfilading Lines blog has been following the 150th anniversary events of many varied items of Civil War history over the past two years. Today (4/12) and this weekend mark the actual mid-point of this remembrance and commemoration. It was 152 years ago today that the War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter (check HERE for my article on that… and click at the bottom of that post to follow others on subsequent days). And it was on April 12, 1865 – 148 years ago today – that a formal ceremony at Appomattox marked the disbanding of the Army of Northern Virginia, effectively ending the war in Virginia. And of course, on the date of April 14 of that year, President Lincoln was assassinated. That same day in Charleston Harbor, a flag-raising ceremony was being held at Fort Sumter (see picture). The Union had actually gained possession of the Fort (essentially in ruins) in February of 1865.
Actually, 150 years ago this past Sunday the Union navy launched a failed attempt at retaking the Charleston Harbor. Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont, the commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, took a fleet of seven monitors and two ironclads to assault the harbor’s defenses. One of the ironclads – the Keokuk – was sunk nearby as a result of the action, and the Confederates managed to salvage two 11-inch Dahlgren guns from it.
The interesting element of tracking along with the sesquicentennial and studying and writing about those themes that catch my interest (and especially writing on the major events) is that it puts the War into a palatable sense of sequential time. It brings to the study of the War a sort of third dimension of feeling that raises the events off the flat landscape of the printed page. It has been enjoyable also to have some isolated facts in the front of my mind on a certain date when perhaps I am hosting someone at Antietam … and I can say, “Actually, it will be 150 years ago tomorrow that so-and-so, commanding that regiment here at Antietam from that spot over there, will be killed at _______ .” And they look at me like I’m a walking encyclopedia. Nope, nope … just a guy with a blog who likes to read and write.