Tuesday, April 12, 2011

150 Years: The Battle of Fort Sumter and the Start of the Civil War

It's been 150 years since April 12, 1861, when South Carolina fired on the U.S. Army stationed in Charleston Harbor. John Morgan's family, living in Coles County, Illinois, would have followed the events closely and with much interest. They had attended at least one of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and they lived close to Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's beloved stepmother.

The Civil War would alter John Morgan's life in many unforeseen ways. He joined the Army on September 6, 1862 along with many other Coles County young men. John's red-headed brother Will also served in the Army.

Since I have already detailed John Morgan's service in the war, I will not retell it here. You can read the Civil War-related posts on this blog:

This post lists all the battles John Morgan fought in and gives more details about his service including the following: "After the Battle of Selma, Captain Owen Wiley wrote that, 'Our loss was one officer killed; six wounded; seven men killed and forty-two wounded. All did their duty, and so deserve the highest praise. Color Serg’t. John Morgan, Company I is deserving the highest credit for his gallantry in action in being the first to plant a flag upon the Rebel works, and for being in the supreme advance until all the Rebel Forts were captured, planting our colors upon each of them successively.'"
"Tell Pa that I wish I was home to help him but as long as there is an armed foe to my country at large, I will be found in the ranks of the Patriot army."
"There is a perpetual skirmish fight going on all along the line in front; some of them terminating in an engagement that would have been counted bloody in the beginning of the war."
This is a letter from a missionary who went on a day trip to Lookout Mountain with John Morgan who was then serving as President of the Southern States Mission. "From this Mt. Bro Morgan showed us several battle fields there was a very noted one on the Mt which we visited"
John Morgan Funeral Address by B.H. Roberts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
"In his youth the great civil war broke out. He joined the Union army and fought through all the years of the great rebellion, serving in honor in the armies of this country. Many a time I have walked with him over Missionary Ridge, where a great battle was fought; along Chickamauga Creek, where the Confederates won a great victory; around the cities of Chattanooga, Franklin, Columbia, Murfreesboro, Knoxville, and throughout the northern part of Alabama."
In addition, here are some posts on Ancestral Ties:

"At the Rigg’s house met uncle Dave Hamilton, here attending G. A. R. Reunion. He came up and had dinner with me. Met a number of old acquaintances."
A Newspaper Clipping about Similar Letters Home from John Morgan during the Civil War and His Son, John Morgan, during World War I
"Congress and northern legisletures [sic] and northern traitors are doing more for the cause of the Rebellion than all the Southern army. They are discouraging the federal army and encouraging the rebels as much as lay in their power. We of the army are in for nothing but the subjugation or annihilation of the south, and if we cannot accomplish it in three years we can in six, but that it is to be done we are satisfied, and that we are the army to do it we are also satisfied!"
John's Brother William Morgan's Veteran Papers (Filing for Disability)

And, finally, here are a few songs that would have been very familiar to John and his fellow soldiers.


  1. I love the Civil War. And I mean that in the nicest historical way. I cannot get enough information in my brain about it. I'm going to DC tomorrow to babysit through spring break but I sure want to see some more sites there and especially at this time - 150 years. Meet me there. We'll do it up good. :)

  2. Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun. There are certainly a lot of Civil War sites in and around DC! And there are so many commemorations going on right now that it would be impossible to visit them all. Some of them you have to be dressed in period clothing to attend, but most of them are open to the public.



  3. Thank you Amy for this wonderful post, I’ve enjoyed it throughout the day. And relish the legacy John Morgan left us. I just turned back to listen to the music you included again. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was first published in the February 1862 "Atlantic Monthly," the month my great grandmother, Mellie Morgan, and John Morgan’s future wife, turned ten-years-old. It was one of her favorites. And according to her granddaughter, she loved watching her grandmother's fingers dance across her keyboard as she played it on the piano. They were grand people; John Morgan, his wives, and families.