Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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Interesting from Fort Sumter.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, February 11, 1861.


Return of Women and Children—Condition of the Fort—Preparations for Defense—A Supply of Provisions—Details from Charleston, &c.

The steamer Marion, Capt. Adams, arrived at New York on Wednesday, from Charleston, with the women and children from Fort Sumter. She brought sixty passengers in all, and of these twenty-five are children. On their arrival at New York they were taken to Fort Hamilton, where they will remain for the present. The following is a full list:

Mrs. S. A. Cox and child, C. W. Hersey, Felix Rafferty, Robert Jackson, George Leighton, George Stenhouse, Samuel N. Holmes, H. H. Stafford, Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Whitesfield, Mrs. Hammer and two children, Miss Smythe, G. Patterson, John Hasbeton, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Neilen and three children, Mrs. Burns, Miss Burns, Mrs. Galway and two children, Mrs. Smith and two children, Mrs. Renihan and two children, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. McDonald and two children, Mrs. Carroll and three children, Mrs. McMann and three children, Mrs. Rice and one child, Mrs. Murphy and one child, Mrs. Davis and one child, Mrs. Strand and one child, Mrs. Sheaverer and one child, Samuel Simon, and six in the steerage.


The women and children mentioned above, the Times says were embarked by order of Maj. Anderson, for the double purpose of relieving the garrison and placing them out of danger in case an attack should be made. They all appeared in good health, and gave no indications of having suffered by their six weeks residence at the fort. They were all respectably and comfortably clad, and appear to have been well prepared for coming from a comparatively mild to a cold climate in mid-winter. With few exceptions they appeared in good spirits, and some of them even in cheerful humor, and were not at all inclined to put a bad face upon affairs in Sumter. The more intelligent and thoughtful among them, however, appeared anxious and care worn. They had taken leave of their husbands with heavy hearts, and might never see them again. The sight of so many women, many of them intelligent and lady-like, with little families of helpless children clinging to them for support and protection, was calculated to excite deep commiseration.


There had been no reinforcement of Major Anderson up to the time of their leaving, on Friday last. Seventy nine persons, including the officers and band, and exclusive of a working corps of some twenty men, under Captain Foster, constitute the whole garrison—a force generally felt to be insufficient for a rigorous or prolonged defence of the place. “It is a shame,” said one of the most intelligent of the party, “that they should be left there to be destroyed; if the government cannot sent them help, they ought to let them come away.” When Lieut. Talbot returned from Washington, the command were assembled and the decision of the President communicated to them. The expression of confidence reposed in them by the authorities at Washington, gave them new heart, and every man declared he would fight to the last, and die rather than surrender.

A great many guns have been mounted on the second and third tiers, and they are now in as good condition to defend the fort as they will ever be, excepting that they are short-handed. A light is kept burning throughout the night in each of the casemates, and everything ready for instant action. There is no lack of ammunition, and any quantity of grenades, of a destructive character, have been prepared for use a close quarters. There have been no desertions, no disaffections exist, and the entire command entertain the highest respect and even admiration for Major Anderson, with whom they are ready to stand or fall in their country’s defense.


For the first time during their stay at the fort, they received a quantity of fresh beef on Thursday last, but they could not tell where it came from, or whether arrangements had been made to obtain a continued supply. The rations have consisted of salt provisions, with beans and a moderate quantity of vegetables. The flour is reduced to a twenty days’ supply, and hard bread is dispensed twice a week to eke it out. Of sugar and coffee, a half barrel of each is believed to be all there is left. The oil is also getting low, and the greatest economy is practiced in the use of these latter articles. There is a good supply of pork and beef, which must constitute the main reliance of the garrison, unless they are soon supplied.


As the Marion passed Fort Sumter on her way out the whole garrison assembled on the ramparts and gave them three parting cheers, which were tearfully responded to by the departing women and children. Great anxiety was evinced by them to know the course events were likely to take, and the most earnest wishes were expressed that affairs might be settled, and without bloodshed.


The New York Tribune says:

Major Anderson seems to have inspired his men with an enthusiastic devotion. Said one of the women with whom we conversed, “there is not a man but will fight for him, if it comes to the point—if he is left there to be butchered.” And she added, “if it comes to that, it will be nothing but a flood of human blood. They have everything ready for an attack. If they had men enough and provisions enough, the fort could never be taken. If they fight, not a soul can ever come out alive. It is a shame,” continued the woman, her face flashing with indignation, while her voice was tremulous with emotion at the thought of the appalling fate in store for her husband; “it is a shame that the President will leave them in such peril!” “We had to leave our husbands,” said another, “because there was not food enough for us all. And now the government will allow them to be butchered.”

In reference to the Star of the West some of them may say that in the Fort it was at first supposed to be a ruse on the part of the Carolinians—had sent up the boat and opened the fire, so as to induce Anderson to attack them. But as soon as the garrison found out that this was not the case, every man was eager for the word to apply the matches, which they had ready. Maj. Anderson’s preventing the consummation of this desire, seemed to be the only cause of disaffection among the troops.


We spoke with a bright, intelligent little girl, of some ten years of age, and asked whether she would prefer living in Fort Sumpter or Hamilton; she said she had not seen Fort Hamilton yet, and did not know which she would like best. She said they lived as well as they could expect to in such a place, and added: “We had coffee and hard bread—they call sea-biscuits, hard bread—and soft bread—that is the bread they make at the fort—and butter for breakfast.”

“Did you have anything else?”

“We could not get anything else.”

“And for dinner?”

“We had corn beef and salt pork, and sometimes bean soup and bread.”

“And for supper?”

“We had just the same for supper that we had for breakfast—coffee and bread. We never had any vegetables. The last day we were there we had some fresh beef; that was all the fresh meat we ever had. We had as much as we wanted, such as it was. The men did the cooking, and they were real good cooks. Major Anderson said that when they came from Fort Moultrie they brought many things not in season, and left behind some things they needed. They brought chairs without bottoms, and tables without legs enough to stand up.”

The women say that for a time Major Anderson was not allowed to receive letters, and that now letters show that they have been opened previous to their reaching Fort Sumter. They could buy nothing in Charleston, not even a pair of shoes for their children.

It was believed that the fort would be attacked on the closing of the border State conference at Washington, and the garrison are fully aware that preparations are making for an attack on the fort, and they understand that the great floating battery is nearly completed. It is said to be impervious to the shot from the fort. Extra watch is kept night and day, and many a weary eye is turned daily toward the entrance of the harbor, to catch the first glimpse of the hoped-for vessel with reinforcements.

Not one of the garrison has deserted or attempted to escape. They are all firm and cheerful, ready to resist an attack, but they do not for a moment suppose that they—seventy-nine in number—will be left by the federal government to resist all South Carolina. They would prefer an attack to being starved out.


A correspondent of the New York Times at Charleston, in a letter dated Friday, referring to the departure of the women and children, says:

I counted twenty two women and some thirty children. Among the latter there were little beauties of ten and twelve, with strong Milesian or Teutonic features, and from that age away down to little babies, who have just seen the lights under cover of terrible columbiads, mortars, etc. The women ranged from 16 to 60, mostly hard featured and ordinary in appearance, the common run of soldiers’ wives, although there were a few exceptions. Their bravery, however, made amends for their plain faces. Every one who I conversed with seemed proud of having their husbands at Sumter, and many said they would have stayed up to the bitter end if need be, but the orders were positive, and to-night none but stern, determined men sleep within those now famed walls. Two women stay in Charleston; one of these is only 17, and has been married three months. With true Irish lightness of heart, she said that Michael was a brave soldier, and she hoped for the best.

I had a brief conversation with one of the older women, a corporal’s wife. She seemed to worship the gallant Anderson, and said every man in the fort looked up to him with feelings approaching veneration. I asked her about the Star of the West. Her eyes flashed with patriotic fire. “Ah, sir,” she said, “you ought to have seen our brave commander on that eventful morning. The men were almost uncontrollable; but a word from him staid them. One of the officers was very anxious to fire, if but once, but Major Anderson replied that he would, at every hazard, avoid the shedding of the first drop of blood. ‘If it must come, let it come from our opponents first. On their heads be the crime of bathing their hands in their own brothers’ blood.’” My informant added that “the Major is the soul of honor, and he never will allow that fort to be taken—no, never.” They have been living on salt provisions and hard bread until yesterday, when Anderson’s brother-in-law, the son of General Clinch, brought them down a bountiful supply of fresh food and various delicacies.

The Palmettoans now say that between the 5th and 10th of this month the fort will surely be attacked. One of them gave me a graphic account yesterday of the sand forts on Morris island, and the heavy batteries that frown from Moultrie, Morris and James Island. He says that the James’ Island battery points directly at the gate of Sumter, and the Cummins’ Point one has Columbiads mounted. This is distant only three quarters of a mile from Sumter. This military gentleman acknowledges that this city can be shelled with perfect ease. Gov. Pickens is denounced by many as being a perfect old fogy. I never heard any one speak unkindly of his wife, however. She is a perfect bundle of fascinations, and the younger officers go crazy over her. I saw her at Fort Moultrie the other day, cutting an immense dash. The troops were reviewed for her especial benefit.

Of the 1,300 men on Sullivan’s Island, hardly a company has a dress alike.