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First Shot at Charleston Fired by Union Ships????
Moderators: gpthelastrebel, 8milereb, Patrick
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gpthelastrebel
Sat Aug 14 2010, 03:15PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4073
First Shot at Charleston Fired by Union Ships????

Does anyone have any information on the incidents below? This certainly apperas to be before the Confederates fired the first shot.

GP

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". . . an incident occurred, which I have never seen recorded, but which seems to me worthy of not. A vessel suddenly appeared through the mist from behind the Bar, a passenger steamer, which was made out to be the Nashville (New York to Charleston). She had no colors set, and as she approached the fleet she refused to show them. Captain Faunce ordered one of the guns manned, and as she came still nearer turned to the gunner. 'Stop her!' he said, and a shot went skipping across her bows. Immediately the United States ensign went to her gaff end, and she was allowed to proceed. The Harriet Lane had fired the first shotted gun from the Union side."
Civil War correspondent, G. S. Osbon
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Captain Faunce would record in his memoirs that he fired the first shot of the war for the U.S. Navy and he stated it was on the late morning of April 12th. Also, the Naval O.R. does not record the incident. Also the Union reports in the Naval O.R. makes it sound as if the bombardment was already in play as the ships approached the bar. The Confederate Army O.R. reports the fleet off Charleston well before they started firing on Fort Sumter. The following is the first Union account that contradicts the Union O.R.'s.
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"A sailor of fortune": Personal Memoirs of Captain B. S. Osbon By Albert Bigelow Paine, 1906
But the Harriet Lane proved to be an excellent sea boat, and on the 11th of April we were off Charleston Bar, with all hands eager to learn what our real duties were to be. If I remember rightly, the Pawnee was already there, and perhaps the Baltic and Pocahontas. At all events, we arrived about the same time—all but the three tugs, of which we had been deprived in the heavy storm off Hatteras. We anchored a little closer to the Bar than the others, and Captain Faunce went aboard the Pawnee, the senior ship, to report our arrival, and to arrange for a code of signals which would be unintelligible to the enemy. The sea was still heavy, the sky dark and stormy, and all buoys had been removed from the channels. It was impossible for vessels of any size to go inside the Bar, and as our tugs still failed to appear we were at a loss what to do. As we lay there waiting and undetermined, an incident occurred which I have never seen recorded, but which seems to me worthy of note. A vessel suddenly appeared through the mist from behind the Bar, a passenger steamer, which was made out to be the Nashville. She had no colours set, and as she approached the fleet she refused to show them. Captain Faunce ordered one of the guns manned, and as she came still nearer turned to the gunner.
" Stop her!" he said, and a shot went skipping across her bows.
Immediately the United States ensign went to her gaff end, and she was allowed to proceed. The Harriet Lane had fired the first shotted gun of the war from the Union side. I may here note that the Nashville was subsequently converted into a Confederate privateer, to which we shall have cause to refer again in these papers, and it seems a strange coincidence that I should thus have seen the first shot fired upon her, and was to see the last, which ten months later would send her to the bottom of the sea.
Still at dusk on the evening of the 11th our ill fated tugs had not arrived, and without them our launches were of no avail. Captain Faunce looked out over the gloomy, unmarked channel.
" For God's sake," he said, " I hope they don't expect us to take these big vessels over the Bar."
We knew that we had been located by the enemy, for small craft had been scouting around during the evening, returning to the Confederate forts. As for Anderson, it was unlikely that he knew anything of our arrival, or that the enemy would give him either time or opportunity to acquire this knowledge. Night came down, dark, stormy, and ominous.
There was no very sound sleep on any of the vessels. I turned in about midnight, but I was restless and wakeful. At length I was suddenly startled from a doze by a sound that not only wakened me, but brought me to my feet. It was the boom of a gun. From Fort Johnson a fiery shell had described an arc in the night and dropped close to the ill-fated Sumter. A moment later when I reached the deck, Morris Island had opened with a perfect roar of artillery. It was now half-past four in the morning, April 12th, 1861, and the Civil War, which was to continue through four years of the bitterest, bloodiest strife this nation has ever seen, had begun in earnest, at last."

(Notes provided by David Upton)
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gpthelastrebel
Sat Dec 10 2011, 02:54AM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4073
More Sources----

See also --
http://www.uscg.mil/history/articles/Civil_War_Strobridge.asp

Photo -- note title
http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/HarrietLane1858.pdf

http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=2333&page=1
Pulsifer, F.H. "Under Lincoln, Cutter Harriet Lane Fired First Shot of Civil War..." Coast Guard Magazine (Feb 1928), pp. 3-5.

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gpthelastrebel
Sun Oct 01 2023, 10:09AM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4073
https://www.history.uscg.mil/Browse-by-Topic/Assets/Water/All/Cutters-65-ft-or-greater/Article/2054643/harriet-lane-1858/

Harriet Lane again transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 for service in the expedition sent to Charleston Harbor, S.C., to supply the Fort Sumter garrison. She departed New York 8 April and arrived off Charleston 11 April. The next day she fired a shot across the bow of Nashville when that merchantman appeared with no colors flying. Nashville avoided further attack by promptly hoisting the United States ensign, but two days later raised the Palmetto flag to begin her career as one of the most elusive Confederate privateers. When Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter 13 April, Harriet Lane with drew with her sister ships.
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gpthelastrebel
Wed Oct 11 2023, 09:28PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4073
Fom a Coast Guard Site

USRC Harriet Lane


by William H. Thiesen, PhD
Atlantic Area Historian
United States Coast Guard

On April 12th, 1861, the Coast Guard’s legacy service of the Revenue Cutter Service made history as the nation plunged into the abyss of civil war. What turned out to be the war’s first naval combat mission paired up the Service’s finest revenue cutter with the Service’s most distinguished captain. Named for the niece of unmarried President James Buchanan, Harriet Lane, who served as the nation’s original first lady, cutter Harriet Lane represented one of the most technologically advanced steamships in Federal service in 1861. The cutter’s captain, John Faunce, had served as an officer since 1841 and served as a captain since 1855.

Faunce had won national acclaim serving as a member of the U.S. Navy’s 1858 South American expedition against the military regime in Paraguay. Faunce sailed Harriet Lane to Paraguay with the naval squadron supporting discussions between an American envoy and Paraguay’s dictator regarding damages from an unprovoked attack by the Paraguayan army against the survey ship USS Water Witch. The expedition’s display of sea power won the U.S. an official apology, an indemnity for the family of an American killed by the attack, and a commercial treaty highly advantageous to the U.S. In his final report, the squadron leader singled out Harriet Lane for special recognition for extricating the navy’s ships, which ran aground throughout the riverine expedition.

In April 1861, with the standoff between Federal troops and Secessionist forces in Charleston, South Carolina, President Abraham Lincoln authorized a Federal expedition to relieve Fort Sumter. The expedition consisted of transports with 500 troops and an armed escort including Harriet Lane. During the voyage south, a severe storm separated the cutter from the convoy, so she arrived on April 11th, before the other ships. News of the cutter’s arrival spread quickly in Charleston. In the early morning of April 12th, Confederate cannons at Fort Moultrie opened fire on Fort Sumter to prevent the fortresses reinforcement with Federal troops. These were the first artillery shots fired in the Civil War.

Later that morning, elements of the expedition found Harriet Lane at a pre-arranged rendezvous point and the revenue cutter tried to escort them to beleaguered Fort Sumter. As the ships neared the fort, artillery fire grew so heavy that the expedition had to turn back. Harriet Lane returned to her station guarding the harbor entrance and, later that morning, the cutter observed the approach of a steamer flying no colors. The cutter ordered the vessel to heave to and show her colors. The unidentified vessel ignored these signals and steamed on toward Charleston. Faunce ordered a 32-pound cannon shot fired across the ship’s bow, which turned out to be the South Carolina steamship Nashville. Historians consider the shot across Nashville’s bow the first naval shot of the Civil War. Nashville finally raised an American flag and Faunce allowed her to pass into Charleston Harbor; however, the Nashville later served as an infamous blockade-runner and Confederate cruiser.

With a fusillade of cannon fire raining down on Fort Sumter, and no protection for the Federal ships, further relief efforts appeared futile. Federal forces within the fort finally raised a flag of truce and the relief expedition evacuated the garrison from the fort. Harriet Lane escorted the ships back to New York and continued to serve a vital role in Union naval operations until her capture in 1863 by an overwhelming Confederate force at Galveston, Texas.

After she served under the Confederate Marine Department of Texas, she was converted into a blockade runner and named Lavinia. She departed Galveston on April 30th, 1864 and sailed to Havana, where Cuban authorities interned her. In 1867, the cutter and former captain were re-united when Captain Faunce and a crew traveled to Havana to return Lavinia (ex-Harriet Lane) to the United States. The cutter was then converted to a bark rig, sold off to private owners and renamed Elliott Richie. In May 1884, after nearly thirty-five years of government and commercial service, she was finally abandoned in the waters off Pernambuco, Brazil.

If you are curious to know the fate a particular cutter, please submit its name and years of service to editor©cgaalumni.org and you may see it featured here in a future issue.
Photo captions
Top: Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane forces the merchant steamer Nashville to show her colors during the attack on Fort Sumter, 12 April 1861. This illustration, titled “The Cutter Harriet Lane Fires across the Bow of Nashville,” was painted by Coast Guard artist Howard Koslow.

Bottom: Captain John Faunce, commanding officer of Cutter Harriet Lane at the onset of the Civil War. He ordered her gun crews to fire the first naval shot of the Civil War outside Charleston Harbor. (Library of Congress photo)







[ Edited Wed Oct 11 2023, 09:29PM ]
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