Regarding Bruce Smith’s Associated Press article about Robert Smalls in The Augusta Chronicle on May 6 (“Slave’s daring sea escape celebrated on anniversary”): Smalls took part as a pilot aboard the ironclad U.S.S. Keokuk when Abraham Lincoln ordered Rear Adm. Samuel Francis DuPont to try to recapture Fort Sumter on April 17, 1863. The Confederate States of America were occupying the fort at this time.
The CSA not only just won this battle, it must have embarrassed Lincoln. Why? Because the Union – despite having overwhelming firepower – fired only 154 rounds on Fort Sumter. The CSA scored 2,209 hits on the Union fleet from Fort Sumter. Most of the fleet suffered heavy damage.
The Keokuk suffered so much damage that it sank the next day, close to Morris Island. The CSA, under cover of darkness, salvaged the Keokuk’s XI-inch Dahlgren guns. One of the guns was placed in Fort Sumter for defense against the Union.
There were 11 battles at Fort Sumter between the Union and the CSA. Three were major; the other eight were minor, according to historians. Some battles lasted for weeks; others lasted for days or maybe just a day.
What had to be on Lincoln’s mind after losing all 11 battles with the CSA at Fort Sumter may never be known by historians. My guess: Lincoln never understood what the War Between the States was all about.
The war should be called the War for Southern Independence instead of the usual title “the Civil War.” What Gen. William T. Sherman did when he marched through Georgia and South Carolina was not civil – it was just plain criminal. If our soldiers burned cities in Iraq and Afghanistan like Sherman did, there would have been court-martials and prosecutions to the fullest extent of the law.
I am proud of my “cotton-picking” ancestors.