The Fall of Fort Sumter

Iron Brigader began its blog with a poem by Edmund Clarence Stedman, a poet from Connecticut who served as a field correspondent for the “New York World” in the early years of the Civil War. Today, we bring you a poem written by a southerner, which versifies the April 13, 1861 bombardment of the Fort, the Stars and Stripes suddenly disappearing and the raising of the Confederate flag after the surrender on April 14, 1861.

by A. D. L., of Raleigh, N.C.

‘T was in the early morning—
   all Charleston lay asleep,
While yet the purple darkness
   was resting on the deep,
In the middle of the channel
   Fort Sumter stood afar,
Above it waved the banner
   which yet bore every star.
Outside the bar, at sunset,
   seven steamers we could see,
We knew they brought the slaves of slaves who would coerce the free.
At midnight came the order that when the day should break
The guns from out our batteries must then their challenge speak.
Oh, how anxiously we waited for the dawning of the day!
There was little sleeping all that night in the forts of Charleston bay.
All night along the seashore and up the shelving strand,
Like the ghosts of our old heroes, did the curling sea-mist stand.
They saw their children watching there, as they had watched before,
When a British fleet had crossed the bar and threatened Charleston shore.
But when the first loud gun announced the dawning of the day,
The mists they broke and, lingering, they slowly rolled away.
When the first red streak upon the east told of the rising sun,
‘T was then the cannonading from the batteries begun.
All day the cannon thundered along the curving shore,
All day the sea resounded with Sumter’s steady roar.
When the land-breeze from the city brought the noon-chimes clear and strong,
We saw the starry flag no more which had floated there so long;
For while the fight was raging we’d seen the banner fall,
A round-shot cut the staff in twain, and tore it from the wall.
But when they raised no other our General sent them one,
For they’d kept the lost one bravely, as true men should have done.
The fleet turned slowly southward; we saw the last ship go,
We had saved old Carolina from the insults of the foe.
Oh, we were very thankful when we lay down to rest,
And saw the darkness fall again upon the harbor’s breast.
For now above Fort Sumter floats a banner yet unknown,
Upon it are but seven stars, where thirty-two had shone.

Source:  The Southern poems of the war (1867), edited by Emily Virginia Mason

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