April 14, 1861

The Federal troops inside Fort Sumter were up well before daybreak on April 14, 1861, packing their undamaged gear for the voyage north. Throughout the morning, a flotilla of small boats from Charleston gathered around the fort, anxious to view the departure of the Federal troops and the raising of the South Carolina flag. At 2:30 pm with everything packed and ready to go, Major Anderson gave the order to commence the cannon salute tom the American flag, one of the non-negotiable terms he insisted upon before surrendering the fort. Anderson had ordered a 100-gun salute, but when reloading after the 47th shot, a bag of gunpowder being rammed into one of the cannon exploded prematurely, fatally injuring Private Daniel Hough and wounding the rest of the gun crew, one of whom died the next day. Anderson’s men rapidly fired off three more shots from other guns, and the salute ceased at 50. At 4:30 pm, Anderson marched his men out the front gate of Sumter and boarded a small steamer that would ferry the men and their equipment out to the US fleet waiting beyond the sandbars. They had waited too long, however, and low tide had grounded their ferry, so the men from Sumter spent another night in Charleston Harbor, forced to listen to the speeches and salutes of the triumphant Secessionists from within the fort.

Back in Lowell, there was no newspaper on the 14th – it was a Sunday – but the paper of Saturday, April 13 contained the following:

THE WAR BEGUN. By the accounts which we elsewhere publish, it will be seen that hostilities have actually commenced by the rebels of the Southern States. here is ow no longer a doubt as to their purpose, or as to the duty of the National Administration. The accounts thus far give no details by which it can be judged which party had the advantage yesterday, although the despatches are undoubtedly colored by the telegraph operators at Charleston.

The success in this conflict, one way or the other, does not establish anything. Government has undertaken to supply its starving soldiers with provisions, when the traitors make it the excuse for the commencement of hostilities. This was expected, and probably ample preparations have been made for it. No sensible person will doubt the right of the Government to put down the rebellion, and no one will doubt that it is able to do so.

We hope and pray that there will be no delay or child’s play in this matter. Maj Anderson, it is believed, can sustain himself till succoured by the Government, but should he be compelled to surrender, the victor will be a dear one, and will be no means end the contest. The greatest anxiety is felt in the matter by all we meet, and the hopes of all are that Mr. Lincoln has not sent a fleet to Charleston that will be thwarted in its purpose.

From Lowell Daily Courier, April 13, 1861 – spelling true to original.