Sunday, January 9, 2011

TODAY IN HISTORY: The First Shot of the Civil War - Yes, or No?

For 150 years, cadets at The Citadel, a military school in Charleston, SC, have been claiming the honor of firing the first shot of the Civil War. Today, on the 150th anniversary of that event, here is what happened.

  • Dec. 30, 1860. Pres. James Buchanan orders General Winifield Scott to reinforce Maj. Robert Anderson at Ft. Sumter (Charleston, SC.)
  • Jan. 5, 1861. A civilian supply ship, Star of the West, sails from New York with 250 Federal troops and supplies.
  • Jan. 9. 1861. Star of the West enters Charleston harbor and is sighted by sentries posted on Morris Island. More than 300 SC troops were stationed on Morris Island, including 40 Citadel cadets.
  • 7:00 am. Maj. P.F. Stephens orders troops to open fire. Cadet G. E. Haynesworth pulled a lanyard and opened fire on an unarmed civilian vessel. Seventeen shots were fired, three of them direct hits. Star of the West retreated.
The next morning, the Charleston Mercury newspaper read:
Yesterday will be remembered in history. The expulsion of the Star of the West from Charleston harbor yesterday morning was the opening ball of the Revolution. We are proud that our harbor has been so honored. The state of South Carolina, so long and so bitterly reviled and scoffed at, has thrown back her enemies.

Lt. Smith on the Star of the West said: "The people of Charleston pride themselves on their hospitality, but it has exceeded my expectations. They gave us several balls before we landed."

Is opening fire on an unarmed civilian vessel who doesn't (who CAN'T) return fire enough to be considered the "first shot of the war?"

If a tree falls in the woods and no one can hear it, does it make a sound? If Glenn Beck tells you to buy his book, should you? If Bill Clinton tells you he did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky, did he? If Al Gore tells you to believe in global warning, should you?

You be the judge.

No comments: