The Civil War’s Opening Salvos and a Delayed Telegram

Civil War pic
Civil War
Image: thecivil-war.com

Serving patients in the Henderson, Nevada, area, Dr. Kevin Buckwalter runs a private family practice. Dr. Kevin Buckwalter enjoys traveling in his free time and has a passion for Civil War history.

As reported in a recent issue of The Smithsonian, the outbreak of the Civil War was quite different from the way in which conflicts unfold in our real-time, media-connected era. South Carolina’s secession from the United States on April 10, 1861, kicked off a quick escalation of events, with Fort Sumter, a U.S. garrison in Charleston Harbor, coming under siege from the provisional Confederate army. Numbering 10,000, the rebel forces under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard demanded surrender of the fort from a garrison manned by only 68 U.S. soldiers.

U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson rebuffed this demand, and on April 12, the first shots were fired on the fort by 10-inch siege mortars. The garrison responded with shots of its own, but they were not capable of reaching the Confederate forces. Hauling up the white flag the following day amid heavy bombardment, Major Anderson evacuated the fort and fled north. It was only on April 18th, safely aboard the steamship Baltic, that the major was able to send a telegram to the U.S. Secretary of War describing what had occurred. Within hours, President Abraham Lincoln took action, calling Congress into session and ordering the mobilization of 75,000 volunteer troops.

Kevin Buckwalter- Honoring African-American Heroes of the Civil War

A graduate of the University of Nevada at Reno, Kevin Buckwalter treats patients of all ages in Las Vegas. One of Kevin Buckwalter’s favorite pastimes is studying the Civil War and seeing how its impact can still be felt today.

On February 14, 2015, the City of Burke, Virginia, unveiled a memorial honoring African-American soldiers of the Civil War. This marker is located at Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, a place of historical significance. The Department, originally known as Burke’s Station, was located on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad when originally constructed in 1851.

During the War, it became an important transportation center that provided the Union army with timber for stockades, firewood, and railroad ties, along with numerous other products. At the height of the conflict, more than 1,000 cords of lumber moved from this station every month. Many of the teamsters responsible for transporting the wood to the station were escaped slaves, known as contrabands. Because Burke’s Station was outside of Union territory, these men were at regular risk of capture, enslavement, and even death for contributing to the federal cause.

One notable event occurred on October 28, 1863. Confederate troops seized contrabands, as well as their mules, and ordered that they bring them to Burke’s Station. One contraband escaped and warned the depot. At their approach, Union troops fired a warning shot, which scared the Confederates away. Moreover, they left the contrabands and the mules untouched.