James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
supplies.1 The aides considered these terms manifestly futile2 and, acting in accordance with the letter of their instructions, they gave the order to Fort Johnson to open fire; the first shell was fired at half past four on the morning of April 12. This shot, the signal for the bombardment to begin, caused a profound thrill throughout the United States and in point of fact it inaugurated four years of civil war.3
The bombardment was unnecessary. Sumter might have been had without it. Beauregard was needlessly alarmed over the relief expedition that was bringing bread to Anderson. He feared a descent upon the South Carolina coast by the United States fleet then lying at the entrance of the harbor for the supposed purpose of reënforcing Fort Sumter. One of his aides reported that four large steamers are plainly in view standing off the bar. The people in Charleston thought that there were six men-of-war in the offing.4 In connection with the general alarm on shore, it is interesting to note the actual mishaps of the relief expedition. This was intended to consist of four war-ships, three steam-tugs and the merchant steamer Baltic. The Baltic, with G. V. Fox, who had command of the expedition, on board, arrived off Charleston one hour and a half before the bombardment began, but found there only one warship.5 Another6 arrived at seven in the morning; but without
Note 1. O. R., I, 14, 301. In both despatches are provisos unnecessary for this narrative. [back]
Note 4. Chesnut 33, 39. The steamer Nashville from New York [merchant steamer] and a number of merchant vessels reached the bar and awaited the result of the bombardment, giving indications to those inside of a large naval fleet off the harbor. G. V. Fox, O. R. N., IV, 249; Chadwick, 333. [back]