CW160 Diary: Fort Sumter

This is part of journaling that I’m sharing publicly on anniversary days commemorating 160 years since the American Civil War. It’s a record of random thoughts, commemorations, events, or relevant reading on the anniversary day.

Dear Diary:

I had all good intentions of getting up at 5:00am to read Mary Chesnut’s diary entries in real time for the 160th Anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter. (5am is calculated to account for modern daylight savings time.) But…I went to bed late and decided to get a little more sleep to be able to think better at work.

As I read Mary Chesnut over breakfast, I had a little laugh over this portion and decided that it justified my decision to sleep:

Last night—or this morning truly—up on the housetop I was so weak and weary I sat down on something that looked like a black stool.

“Get up, you foolish woman—your dress is on fire,” cried a man. And he put me out. It was a chimney, and the sparks caught my clothes. Susan Preston and Mr. Venable then came up. But my fire had been extinguished before it broke out into a regular blaze.

Poor Mary Chesnut…there she was unable to sleep from excitement and fears, and she sits down upon a chimney in the midst of the Fort Sumter bombardment! Thankfully, she didn’t have the same fate as the fort in the harbor (serious burning).

It’s a Monday today, so I was working. Afterwards, I finished this article for Emerging Civil War: “And So We Took Fort Sumter”

I felt sad that I couldn’t be in Charleston, South Carolina today. Last year as the pandemic started getting serious, I had mentally set a goal that I would try to be reasonable through the whole thing and surely I would be able to go to Charleston for the Sumter anniversary weekend. Well, that didn’t happen. Since not everything is open yet and I’ve been rationing my out of state travel for family needs, I decided a few weeks ago that this wasn’t going to be the year to see the sunrise rise in Charleston on April 12. Maybe next year…

Here are a few things on my mind around this anniversary:

  • Was Fort Sumter REALLY the start of the Civil War or do I consider another event the start? (Still under mental debate)
  • Good gracious – the communications between Beauregard and Anderson in the official records are SO polite.
  • Anderson raising the U.S. Flag over Fort Sumter in 1865 is literary perfection in real-life history.


Fort Sumter, photographed in 1861

Published by Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, author, speaker, and researcher. Past and present, everyone has a story. What will we discover and discuss?

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