Southern Chivalry during Civil War’s Opening Battle
The opening battle of the Civil War, the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor on April 12, 1861, was a fierce artillery bombardment that lasted a day and a half. Despite the intensity of the fighting, however, the Confederate forces stopped their shelling when the fort’s flagstaff and American flag were destroyed, as reported in the April 14, 1861, issue of the New York Herald (New York, New York):
During the fire, when Major Anderson’s flagstaff was shot away, a boat put off from Morris Island, carrying another American flag for him to fight under – a noteworthy instance of the honor and chivalry of the South Carolina seceders, and their admiration for a brave man.
This honor and respect between combatants was not unusual in the Civil War. Characteristic, too, was the close relationship some of the antagonists shared. In this instance, the officer in charge of the Union garrison at Fort Sumter was Major Robert Anderson. The Confederate forces arrayed against him were led by General P.G.T. Beauregard, who had been Anderson’s pupil when he taught artillery at West Point, and the two men were close friends. The April 14 Herald article also contained this interesting nugget:
Major Anderson stated that he surrendered his sword to General Beauregard as the representative of the Confederate government. General Beauregard said he would not receive it from so brave a man. He says Major Anderson made a staunch fight, and elevated himself in the estimation of every true Carolinian.
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