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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Freedom Within the Ruins

This Day in History: February 18, 1865

American Civil War Memory...

Charleston Surrenders

A City of ruins, —silent, mournful, in deepest humiliation…The band was playing 'Hail, Columbia,' and the strains floated through the desolate city, awakening wild enthusiasm in the hearts of the colored people…

A Northern reporter's description of Charleston, South Carolina, on February 18, 1865. Cited in E. B. Long with Barbara Long, Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), 640.

Charleston, S.C. View of ruined buildings
through porch of the Circular Church (150 Meeting Street)

War. The word itself initiates sights, sounds and smells of devastation. It separates families devouring the very hearts and souls once so loving and peaceful. We have been fortunate on America's shores to have avoided the spoils of war, for the most part anyway. That was not true during the years from 1861 - 1865. The worse kind of war. The war that pitted father against son, brother against brother, American against American in the bloodiest battles ever recorded. Civil War. This was an era that terrified the country, every father, every mother.
The Civil War was a contest marked by the ferocity and frequency of battle. In the scales of world military history, both sides fighting were characterized by their bitter intensity and high casualties. The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease, and 50,000 civilians. "The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought". Without geographic objectives, the only target for each side was the enemy's soldier.
Source: en.wikipedia.org
When Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor in April 1861, few could have been surprised that events in South Carolina would push the nation into civil war. Four years later, at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, 1865, the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina surrendered control of the city to Union Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig. With commanding General William T. Sherman's arrival imminent, evacuation of the city began on February 17 and continued through the early morning hours of February 18. The city had been under siege since July 10, 1863. 

Charleston, S.C. St. Michael's Church

 "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free.
Honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.
We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.
~President Abraham Lincoln, message to Congress, 1862

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