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Opening Guns

June 2024
1min read

In the article entitled “Shadows of the Storm” in the June/July 1981 issue of your excellent and distinguished magazine, several inaccuracies appear.

The most obvious is the statement on page 46 that one of the eight-inch Columbiads in the Iron Battery fired the first shot against Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. This is incorrect. While the Iron Battery did participate in the bombardment of the fort, it is well established that the first shot was fired by the east, or beach, mortar battery in Fort Johnson on James Island, though doubts still exist as to who actually pulled the lanyard. It was probably Lieutenant Henry S. Farley in direct command of the battery, acting on the order of Captain George S. James in overall charge of Fort Johnson.

The caption to the triptych on pages 46–47 states that it was made April 13, 1861, just hours after the Federal garrison surrendered. This is virtually impossible, since the surrender was not agreed on until about 7:00 P.M. that day and the evacuation did not take place until the following day. In all likelihood the photographs were taken April 14.

As the proud possessor of every issue of AMERICAN HERITAGE since its inception, I hate, as I’m sure you do, to see even minor errors creep in.

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