New Years Eve 1861 At Fort Sumter Charleston SC

Posted By : manager

Posted : August 19, 2020

By D. Michael Thomas








By September 1863, Union guns on Morris Island had battered Fort Sumter into ruins reducing it to an infantry outpost. Hand-picked to command Sumter, Major Stephen Elliott, a Beaufort native, was under orders to hold the fort to the last extremity and performed magnificently. Under his superb leadership, Sumter repulsed one major assault and deterred others through constant vigilance.  Elliott and his engineers accomplished a near miracle by re-establishing a battery facing the entrance to Charleston harbor. From October 25 – December 11, Union guns fired about 19,000 heavy shells at the fort. While the garrison troops were rotated every few weeks, Major Elliott remained on post every day. His diligence, energy and heroism made him a darling of Charleston and Confederate president Jefferson Davis promoted him to Lt. Colonel through presidential proclamation.

General Quincy Gillmore, commanding U.S. troops around Charleston, demonstrated his own admiration for Elliott’s soldierly qualities in an unprecedented manner on December 31, 1863. Though Gillmore’s guns fired on the city of Charleston and several Confederate positions around the harbor, not a shot was fired at Sumter. However, at sundown Union guns on Morris Island fired two shots over Sumter to attract the attention of the fort’s sentries. When the fort’s evening gun fired moments afterward, the U.S. flag on Morris Island was lowered to half-staff briefly, and then raised again, in formal salute to its erstwhile commander.

It is the only known instance in which Old Glory was dipped out of respect to a wartime foe in any conflict.

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